State Open Government Activist is 2014 FOI Hall of Famer
Well known for his public advocacy and a frequent panelist and speaker throughout New Jersey, John Paff this year becomes the 15th inductee into the State Open Government Freedom of Information Hall of Fame. Known as the “Heroes of the Fifty States,” the joint initiative of the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and the Society of Professional Journalists recognizes the recipient’s “long and steady effort to preserve and protect the free flow of information about state and local government that is vital to the public in a democracy.” Formal induction takes place on October 24 at the 2014 NFOIC Freedom of Information Summit in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Paff has been dubbed “New Jersey’s busiest open government activist” by reporter Colleen O’Dea, who featured him this February in her New Jersey Spotlight article “Profile: The Man Who Makes Sure Government Works – Right Out in the Open.”
Paff’s interest in government transparency began in 2002 shortly after the New Jersey Open Public Records Act was passed. Since then, he has taken a lead role in the work of the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project and has served as Project Chairman since 2003. He has also served for the past five years on the board of trustees for the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, a non-profit organization devoted to improving compliance with the state’s Open Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act. Paff is also is a gifted writer and blogs about noteworthy issues at NJ Open Government Notes.
Having earned a reputation as a government watchdog, Paff typically juggles five public records requests at any one time. He has filed and won numerous lawsuits against non-compliant public agencies and, in doing so, has made a significant contribution to the body of case law giving teeth to the statutes. “The award judges had a wealth of riches this year in choosing its ‘hero,’ but John Paff stood above the crowd,” said Sarah Nordgren, Director of Content Development for the Associated Press and one of the NFOIC judges who reviewed the nominees. “John is tireless not only in his support of open government, but also in imparting the deep knowledge he has to others, so that they, too, can work to ensure transparency.”
NFOIC’s president, Hyde Post said “John joins a distinguish group of 14 deserving men and women: outstanding individuals who selflessly volunteer their time to ensure open, transparent government, and freedom of information in their states and for their communities.”
The FOI Summit, which also serves as the national coalition’s annual conference, brings together state and regional FOI coalitions and advocates of open government. Tom Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, is this year’s keynote speaker. Visit NFOIC online or call NOW to register for this year’s FOIA Summit. Travel scholarships are available to early registrants.