HARTFORD – The state librarian, a college professor, an NPR editor, a reporter and a retired TV news executive were honored Wednesday for their tireless efforts to keep government records and proceedings open to the public.
The Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information bestowed its Bice Clemow Award on State Librarian Kendall Wiggin, and the Stephen J. Collins Award on Meriden Record-Journal reporter Mike Savino. Champion of Open Government Awards were presented to CCSU history Professor Matt Warshauer, NPR New England Executive Editor John Dankosky, and former Channel 3 News Director Richard Ahles.
Wiggin and Warshauer were recognized for their efforts to make public historical medical records of civil war soldiers suffering from “soldiers heart,” today known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Both have been active in opening the records to the public ever since mental health advocates five years ago passed legislation closing access to those and other historical records. The measure was buried as the 37th section in a 90-section funding bill and passed unbeknownst to legislators voting on it in the last hours of the legislative session.
“The fight to open the records has gone on longer than the Civil War,” said Warshauer, who pledge to come back with a bill again next year. Wiggin stressed “the importance these records play in understanding our history.”
Savino’s award is for his coverage of open government issues while at the Journal Inquirer of Manchester. He has since moved to the Record-Journal, but wherever he plies his trade, it is with a free press “for the people,” he said.
Dankosky, recently promoted from WNPR to the New England-wide editorship, said he shares his award with colleagues Katie Talarski, Jeff Cohen, Colin McEnroe and David DesRoches at WNPR.
Ahles, vice president and former president of CCFOI was recognized for his long service to the group and his exemplary television journalism career. What is most important to him, said the Emmy-award winning journalist, is the friends he has made over the years at work and at the FOI council.
James H. Smith was presented an “Outstanding Service Award” for his five years as CCFOI president.
New officers were elected for the coming year. Dan Klau, an attorney with McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvane