Guardian investigation honored

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Bay Guardian News Editor Rebecca Bowe and Staff Writer Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez are being honored by the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California with a James Madison Freedom of Information Award for "Friends in the Shadows," our investigation of the shady ways that developers and other powerful players buy influence at City Hall.

The package of articles, prepared for the Guardian's 47th anniversary issue of Oct. 6, used extensive public records to show how contributions to the city's various "Friends Of..." organizations create cozy relationships between regulators and the regulated, donations that are often designed to skirt public disclosure requirements.

"Their detailed and thorough account explored a trail of money through myriad city agencies and departments," the awards committee wrote, noting how the paper "used public records, interviews and independent research to probe how developers, corporations and city contractors use indirect gifts to city agencies to buy influence."

The Guardian will profile the other winners in our annual Freedom of Information Issue on March 12, and all the winners will be honored at SPJ's James Madison Awards banquet on March 20.