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
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.
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