Blackfoot Woman Wins Open Government Award

A Blackfoot woman who went to court to expose secret payments to a
former school superintendent has been named the recipient of the 2013
Max Dalton Open Government Award sponsored by the Idaho Newspaper

Joyce Bingham will receive the award and accompanying $1,000 prize at
an awards luncheon scheduled for Saturday in Boise.

The Max Dalton Open Government Award has been given each year since
1999 to a citizen or group judged to be an outspoken advocate of
openness in either public records or public meetings on the state or
local level.

In 2012, Bingham, a substitute teacher, made a request under the
Idaho Public Records Law to the Blackfoot School District after
hearing rumors that former superintendent Scott Crane had received a
large payout in exchange for his resignation.

Her request was denied by the school district, so Bingham decided to
take the matter to court. She was later joined in her lawsuit by The
Post-Register in Idaho Falls.

In December, a judge ruled in favor of Bingham, and the documents
subsequently released showed the school district paid $210,000 to buy
out Crane’s contract and then took steps to keep the payments secret.

“Joyce certainly had nothing to gain by taking on the Blackfoot
school district and risking possible retaliation on herself,” INF
Executive Director Tom Grote of McCall said.

“She was willing to devote her energies, and her money, merely
because she thought it was the right thing to do,” Grote said. “That
is the spirit of the Max Dalton award – ordinary citizens who
understand laws exist that give them power to open closed
meeting-room doors and locked file cabinets.”

Other nominees for the 2013 award were:

* Hubert Osborne of Nampa, David Frazier of the public advocacy
website Boise Guardian, and Idaho Citizens for a Safe Environment and
a Transparent Government each were nominated for their pursuit of
information about the Dynamis waste-to-energy project proposed by Ada

* Idaho State Controller Brandon Woolf was nominated for his
launching of the statewide public records website Transparent Idaho.

For details of the award and past recipients, go to IDAHO NEWSPAPER FOUNDATION.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. So the question is did any thing happen to the Blackfoot school board… or did they get a raise for having to put up with a citizen lawsuit?

    EDITOR NOTE–I believe school board members serve without pay. Obviously that;s not the case for the super who pimped them out of about $200K.

  2. Hoorays for Ms Joyce Bingham. What a rare move.
    Teachers rarely have the gumption to take on their school boards as she did.
    I speak as a retired small college teacher. We knew a lot of financial hanky panky was going on re: our board, but the idea of the faculty actually getting off their duffs and doing anything about it was as alien as creatures from outer space.

  3. “risking possible retaliation on herself”

    Here is the fault of the law. When citizens fight evil, the perpetrators fight back. Just as the Guardian has seen with Boise— “well then we won’t include you as press”. And so the evil makes everything difficult. and therefore anyone doing a cost/benefit thought on a single issue is usually going to drop the fight.

    Even if the Blackfood Board did get the full effect of the law, the penalty is minimal- again compared to the risk/penalty.

    Is there a site for this Max Dalton Open Government Award deal– that might detail all these different examples of bad govt.?

  4. In doing a quick google search looks like the rats are deserting the ship

  5. The fact that Ullman is on the list…….

    The good folks at the Foundation should come up with an award in her dishonor, named after her of course.
    What should it be called? The Sharon Ullman……….

    EDITOR NOTE–As one of those nominated, we just returned from the awards luncheon. Ms. Ullman as a former winner was not in attendance. Enough said.

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