You think 2010 was bad? Well, 2011 promises to show us engaged in major battles with the powerful banks and their supporters across this state. They are already lined up and are ready to do battle. We cannot run from this…we must go directly into the battle.
I want to make a personal plea and ask that each one of you visit the webpage of the Florida First Amendment Foundation. The Florida First Amendment Foundation is an extraordinarily powerful force in this state and we need them on our side in this war to keep our courts open to the public and to protect our basic rights.
The only reason things are changing at all in this state and in this country is because the antiseptic light of the media is being shown on this whole sordid mess….please read and make a commitment.
To my family, my friends, and my colleagues:
Last year, I sent the first Florida Sunshine Challenge, a personal plea to all of you, asking that you consider making a donation to Florida’s First Amendment Foundation or other non-profit organizations that support and promote the public’s right to oversee government through application of open government laws.
I was extremely pleased and quite heartened by the response: An old friend from high school very generously donated $1,000 to the Foundation, and Gil Thelen, Clendinen Professor at the University of South Florida and Executive Director of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, made a donation of $250 and exhorted his colleagues in state journalism programs to do the same. And Gene Andrews, one of the Foundation’s longest and most ardent supporters, pledged $300 over and above his usual contribution. So I responded in kind, and arranged for my bank to send the First Amendment Foundation a check for $25 on the first of each month, for a total 2010 contribution of $300, matching Gene’s pledge. And now I have a new challenge: Last week, a Tallahassee woman who the Foundation has helped over the past year, sent me an email, telling me how beneficial our assistance and support has been; she ended by making a $1,200 pledge to the Foundation for 2011.
So again, I’m matching this latest challenge by doubling my pledge of last year ““ in acknowledgment and gratitude to all of you who have supported the Foundation’s efforts over the past years, I pledge a $600 donation to the First Amendment Foundation for 2011, and I’m asking each and every one of you to please consider making a donation ““ or a pledge ““ to the Foundation.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of what organizations of the First Amendment Foundation do ““ we act as an advocate for the right of all people to oversee their government and hold it accountable through application of the state’s open government laws. Access to the records and meetings of our government is critical to a strong and vibrant democracy, and we, as citizens, have a fundamental right to know what our government is doing with our money, our natural resources, and our public assets. Without access to government information, we can’t make informed decisions that help us hold our elected representatives ““ our government ““ accountable.
With the downturn in the economy and declining financial assistance from our traditional supporters ““ the media ““ the First Amendment Foundation, like many of its sister organizations in other states, has cut its budget to the bone. We’re cutting staff, reducing office space, giving up convenient but costly on-site parking ““ in short, making do with less. Yet at the same time, demand for our services is greater than ever, and in Florida, as in many other states, we’re facing an even bigger challenge in 2011 ““ newly elected government officials, many of whom have little knowledge or understanding of state open meetings and public records laws. Think of it: a new governor, a new cabinet, new legislative leadership. We’ve got our work cut out for us and we really need your help.
For those of you who already support the Foundation through payment of membership dues or work for a member organization, I ask that you consider a donation in addition to your annual dues or that you make a personal contribution to the First Amendment Foundation. Follow Gil’s example, make a donation and challenge your colleagues to match it. Or, like Gene, make a pledge ““ it’s easy to do and for most, like me, much more affordable. Please, simply donate what you can ““ quite literally, every penny helps and we are extremely grateful for support at all levels.
And for those of you who live somewhere other than Florida, there are organizations like the First Amendment Foundation in nearly every state, so if you’re interested in supporting open government efforts but might not be inclined to support the First Amendment Foundation, I ask that you consider making a donation to your state organization. You can find information about your state open government organization at www.nfoic.org. Click on the ” News and Resources” tab and then “Resources” and you’ll find contact information for each state organization.
Or you might want to consider making a donation to the National Freedom of Information Coalition which, with the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, has worked hard to foster open government organizations in every state in the country. Simply go to the NFOIC website, www.nfoic.org, and click on the ” Donate” tab. You will also find information on national open government organizations that work to ensure access and accountability at the federal level.
For those who would like to make a donation to the First Amendment Foundation, it’s easy to do. You can send a check to the Foundation at
336 E. College Avenue, Suite 101
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Or, you can go to our website, www.floridafaf.org, click on the ” Donate Now” tab on the right side of the page, register with the website, and then make your donation by credit or debit card. The First Amendment Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and all donations are tax deductible. If you’d like to make a pledge, you can either set up an automatic monthly payment with your bank as I did, or you can contact Katie at our office, firstname.lastname@example.org, and she’ll be more than happy to send you a monthly reminder.
Thanks for taking the time to consider this request from me. Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!
Barbara (Catfish) Petersen
President, First Amendment Foundation