A Wisconsin good-government group announced Wednesday that Baraboo News Republic reporter Tim Damos has won its award for media openness.
Each year, the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council hands out Openness Awards dubbed “Opees.” Damos won the 2017-18 Media Openness Award — the “Mopee” — for his dogged coverage of Sauk County government.
“It was a banner year for this Baraboo News Republic reporter covering public officials in Sauk County who seem allergic to open government,” the group states in its announcement.
The group also recognized a corporate whistleblower, a watchdog citizen, media outlets and Gov. Scott Walker for promoting transparent government. It chastised the Legislature, and awarded it a “Nopee,” for blocking the release of public records.
Damos, a News Republic reporter since 2007 and the winner of several Wisconsin Newspaper Association awards for his investigative work, was honored for documenting county leaders’ repeated missteps. He exposed the intrigue behind the former administrative coordinator’s departure and $135,000 contract buyout. He broke stories revealing County Board leaders made false sworn statements and that the county’s former highway commissioner solicited NASCAR tickets from a contractor.
Since May 2015, the Baraboo News Republic has closely followed developments related to turno…
The Freedom of Information Council noted that, based on Damos’ reporting, the News Republic has filed a lawsuit seeking other information, as well as a complaint over a county committee’s failure to adequately provide notice of its discussion about an important personnel issue.
“Tim’s work represents the very best of what we should be doing as journalists,” said Capital Newspapers Regional Editor Todd Krysiak. “He has battled to bring to light important information, and the citizens of Sauk County are better for it.”
The 12th annual awards were announced in advance of national Sunshine Week, March 11-17. Winners will receive their awards at the seventh annual Wisconsin Watchdog Awards dinner in Madison on April 19.
“For more than a decade, the Opees have served to remind state residents that open government is a perpetual struggle, with heroes and villains,” said council president Bill Lueders. “We need as many of the former as we can get.”
The council is a nonpartisan group that promotes open government. It consists of about two dozen members representing media and other public interests.