Former Idaho Legislator Awarded 2009 Max Dalton Open Government Award

Gary Ingram poses with 2009 Max Dalton Open Government award plate and plaque during May 2, 2009 awards luncheon in Boise.

Gary Ingram of Coeur d'Alene has been named the recipient of the 2009 Max Dalton Open Government Award sponsored by the Idaho Newspaper Foundation.

Ingram earned the award and an accompanying cash prize of $2,000 for his years of work advancing the cause of open government in Idaho, beginning from his time in the Idaho House of Representatives where he authored the first Idaho Open Meeting Law.

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 1974, Ingram, then a member of the House, convinced the Idaho Legislature to pass a comprehensive and uniform open meetings proposal that applied to all local units of government and state agencies where previously none existed.

In 1977, he proposed, and the legislature approved amendments that said any action taken that violated the law would be held null and void. Another amendment in 1978 that he sponsored clarified conditions under which public agencies could confer with their legal representatives in executive session.

Since his retirement from the House in 1980, Ingram has closely monitored open government trends and intervened where needed. In 2003, he opposed through letters and court affidavits new House and Senate Rules giving those bodies the right to close committee meetings. He later successfully lobbied for language to allow closed meetings only for "extraordinary circumstances."

Ingram's name has frequently been associated with efforts to turn back proposals to weaken the state's open meeting law and proposals to strengthen the law. He also has been at the forefront of exposing attempts to skirt the existing law by governing bodies. He was a strong opponent of amendments to the open meeting law passed this year by the legislature which, among other changes, allows agendas to be changed by governing bodies at any time during a meeting.

"Gary Ingram has spent the last 35 years working to defend the basic principle that citizens should have open access to their government," INF Executive Director Tom Grote of McCall said.

"He is constantly on watch for the seemingly-endless assault on those rights, and this award recognizes his selfless diligence," said Grote, who is also publisher of The Star-News in McCall.

Other Nominees

Other nominees for the 2009 award were:

  • Citizens for An Open Greenbelt, which used public records to show that the State of Idaho intended for bicycles to be allowed along a stretch of Boise River greenbelt in Garden City, despite claims to the contrary by city officials.
  • Confidential Investigations of Hayden Lake, which pursued and substantiated, at its own expense, reports of abuse of state property by employees of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
  • Scott McIntosh, editor of the Kuna-Melba News, for his work to obtain e-mails to substantiate a report that Canyon County Commissioner Steve Rule had sent out a joke e-mail about First Lady Michelle Obama, comparing her to a black widow spider.
  • Paul Alldredge of Caldwell, a long-time open government advocate who operates the blog www.caldwellguardian.blogspot.com.
  • Stand Howland, the former Idaho State Tax Commission auditor who blew the whistle on practices by the commission to make "sweetheart" deals with corporations on back taxes.

 

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