Started in 2001, this dubious distinction is presented to the individual or organization that, according to chapter members, did the most to block citizen access to public records and proceedings or otherwise violated the spirit of the First Amendment during the past year. Anyone is eligible, but special consideration will be given to public officials and tax-funded agencies that fail to follow the law.
2018 – The Columbus Board of Education, for its secrecy in conducting a search for a new superintendent in 2017-18, abandoned when decisions made in closed meetings in violation of Ohio Open Meetings law came to light in spring 2018.
2017 – The Ohio State University, for its obstruction and delays in responding to public records requests, as reported by The Columbus Dispatch; U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, each for avoiding attendance at local public meetings during the proposed repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, in early 2017.
2016 – The faculty of Ohio Wesylan University, who voted 48-21 on April 18, 2016 to ban journalists from covering their faculty meetings. The meetings long were open and covered by local media and the student press at OWU.
2015 – Ohio Rep. Jim Buchy (Greenville), primary sponsor of House Bill 663, called “Ohio’s Secret Execution Bill.”
2014 – Columbus City Schools for its attempt to shield the press and public from its data-scrubbing scandal and its use of “policy governance” to keep staff and board members from speaking freely to the press and public.
2013 – JobsOhio, which has been a challenge for reporters and a target for critics who feel it’s the black hole of state government, with state money going toward it without public knowledge or real transparency.
2012 – No award
2011 – No award
2010 – Ohio University, which failed to open meetings of its Budget Planning Council — which recommends how to spend tax and tuition dollars — despite an ongoing campaign by The Post, the campus’ independent student newspaper.
2009 – Olentangy Local Schools Board of Education
2008 – Ohio Department of Education
2007 – Ohio Supreme Court justices Paul Pfeifer, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Terrence O’Donnell, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton and Alice Robie Resnick
2006 – The Ohio Supreme Court for a series of decisions which weakened Ohio’s Open Records law. Particularly onerous was the court’s decision to recognize “executive privilege” for the Ohio governor’s office in Dann v. Taft. This exception is not in the state’s Open Records statutes or the Ohio Constitution. In other record-shielding decisions, the court has blocked newspaper access to photographs of police officers and to the home addresses of state employees — both longstanding public documents.
2005 – Sen. Larry Mumper, R, Marion: Sponsored “Academic Bill of Rights” to limit what professors can say in the classroom; Jacqueline Piar, superintendent of Northridge Local Schools: Dismissed the high school principal and sent public records out of the county to shield them from view and asked the Licking County sheriff to drop a criminal investigation.
2004 – Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Robert S. Tongren: Destroyed a $579,000 consultants’ report to hide it from public scrutiny
2003 – Village of New Rome: Refused to provide documents showing how money was spent or how some officials came to occupy their offices
2002 – The Ohio Historical Society: Refused to follow Ohio laws regarding open meetings or public records, even though it received 75 percent of its annual funding from taxpayers; kept executive salaries secret
2001 – Judge Thomas E. Louden of Delaware County Juvenile Court: Sued by The Columbus Dispatch when he improperly closed a detention hearing and posted deputy sheriffs at the doors of the Delaware County Courthouse to keep the media out of the building)