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Lawmakers warn more open government battles ahead

Open government successes of the 86th Texas Legislature were reviewed with an eye toward future battles during a legislative panel at the Freedom of information Foundation of Texas annual FOI conference.
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, and First Amendment attorney J.T. Richards were on the panel moderated by FOIFT Vice President Arif Panju.

Texas Bar Association presents Gavel Awards

The State Bar of Texas Public Affairs Committee announced the winners of the 2019 Texas Gavel Awards during the recent Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas John Henry Faulk awards luncheon. 
Presenting the awards were Martha Dickie, past president of the State Bar of Texas, and Julie Doss of the State Bar public affairs committee.
The Gavel Awards honor journalism that deepens public understanding of the legal system.
• Online-only Category: Emma Platoff, The Texas Tribune

Brisendine to lead Brownfield economic development efforts

BROWNFIELD – Brian Brisendine is the new executive director of the Brownfield Industrial Development Corp.
His late father was among the founders of the  organization, which serves as the city’s driver of economic development, funded by a half-cent sales tax.
Brisendine had been editor of the Brownfield News since 2008 and publisher since 2017. He resigned Sept. 25 to assume his new position Oct. 1.

Watson calls for more transparency in redistricting process

Sen. Kirk Watson, delivering the keynote address at the FOI Foundation of Texas conference, warned of efforts by some lawmakers to block access to redistricting information and urged Texans to demand more transparency.
Watson, D-Austin, said that while many strides were made in the 2019 legislative session, there are still hurdles to overcome.
He said House Bill 4181 makes more government records subject to legislative privilege, thus shielding them from public access. He said the bill “blew through the House without a hearing” in May and ended up passing the Legislature.

Madison Awards celebrate work by key capitol staff in restoring transparency

James Madison Awards were presented to Katy Aldredge, capitol director for Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, and Kelsey Erickson, general counsel to Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, during the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon at the Information Foundation of Texas conference. Shown are (from left) Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Vice President Arif Panju, Aldredge, Erickson and Sen. Watson.

In recognition of their behind-the-scenes work in helping pass legislation restoring open government in Texas, two Texas Capitol aides were honored with James Madison Awards by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
Kelsey Erickson, general counsel to Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and Katy Aldredge, Capitol director for Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, received the awards at the foundation’s annual state conference.

Texas Better Newspaper Contest opens Sept. 9

Entry period opens Sept. 9 for the 2018-19 Texas Better Newspaper Contest, the largest in TPA history.
Participants may upload entries on the contest platform through Oct. 4
To make the transition to a winter awards presentation from summer, the period for this year’s contest covers more than 18 months. Participants may submit entries from material published from January 2018 through Aug. 31, 2019. In future years, the contest period will be Sept. 1 through Aug. 31. 
Please note two more important changes:

Hall named publisher of Brenham Banner-Press

BRENHAM – Derek Hall is the new editor and publisher of The Banner­-Press. 
The announcement was made by Fred Hartman, president of Washington County Publishing, Inc., parent company of the Banner-Press.
Hall, who has been with the newspaper since 2000, replaced Jay T. Strasner, who joined the Community Impact newspaper group as a general manager in the Dallas-­Fort Worth area.

Hearst names LaBonia senior vice president

HOUSTON – Michael LaBonia, chief revenue officer at the Houston Chronicle, has taken on the additional role of senior vice president for advertising for the Hearst Newspaper Group.
Jeff Johnson, president of Hearst Newspapers, made the announcement. 
LaBonia,who oversees advertising and marketing for the Houston Chronicle Media Group, also oversees advertising performance in all Hearst Newspaper Group markets. 
LaBonia has led the advertising team in Houston for seven years.  

Sacks succeeds Pape as publisher of San Antonio Express-News

A Houston-based Hearst Newspapers executive has been named the new publisher of the San Antonio Express-News. 
Michael Sacks came to Hearst Newspapers in 2012 from Tribune Media and served most recently as the corporation’s senior vice president of operations. 
Sacks manages day-to-day financial operations and long-term strategies at the Express-News. 
Outgoing publisher Susan Pape has become the newspaper’s chairman.  
Pape said she will continue focusing on ways to engage readers, local businesses and the community.