What do the Utah Senate, many rural and suburban governing bodies in the state, the Salt Lake City Board of Education and the Salt Lake Organizing Committee have in common?

They've all violated Utah's open-government laws and have earned "Black Hole Awards," according to the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.The "honors" were presented Saturday. Local SPJ officials said during the past year, state government officials have played fast and loose with the public's right to know.

Activities that appear to violate Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act and Government Records Access and Management Act span from the governor's office to the City Council in Randolph, Rich County. In the end, the organization said, Utah residents lose because they are kept in the dark about their government.

Awards were given to the Randolph City Council, Gov. Mike Leavitt and rural county commissioners, the Utah Senate, the Salt Lake City Board of Education, the West Valley City Council, the Orem City Council, Utah State University and the Summit County Commission.

"Dishonorable mentions" were given to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini, Attorney General Jan Graham, Utah Board of Regents, Park City Council, South Ogden City Council, Morgan Board of Education and Utah County Sheriff's Office.

These dubious awards are meant to raise public awareness about government agencies and public officials who have failed to let the "sunshine" into the workings of government, the SPJ officials said.

It also shows the need for more education of public officials and enforcement of open government laws by county attorneys and the Utah Attorney General's Office.

The awards are part of a nationwide observance Saturday of Freedom of Information Day which commemorates the birthday of constitutional framer James Madison, a strong advocate for freedom of information.

The recipients are:

- Randolph City Council - Former Randolph Town Clerk Lori Cornia said she was fired in October when she complained to the Utah Attorney General's Office about the council's unadvertised executive sessions. She also says she was excused from closed meetings when she tried to tape them in accordance with the law - and refused to alter the minutes.

- Gov. Mike Leavitt and rural county commissioners - Utah's congressional delegation and Gov. Mike Leavitt met with rural county commissioners behind closed doors to discuss a draft wilderness bill in blatant violation of Utah's Open Meetings Act.

- The Utah Senate - Senators met in a secret caucus in early February to discuss whether to eliminate all extracurricular clubs at all Utah schools because of a proposed Gay-Straight Alliance at East High School.

Because the meeting included senators from both major political parties, some question whether it qualified as a caucus, which is exempt from the open meetings law.

The senators still closed the meeting as a litigation strategy session - even though no litigation was "imminent" as required by law. Senators should have taken a formal vote to close the caucus, and they should have kept minutes or taped the meeting. They did none of those things.

- Salt Lake City Board of Education - The board held a closed meeting in February to "self-evaluate" its controversial decision to ban extracurricular clubs, clearly in violation of the Open Meetings Act. The board has announced plans to travel together to a meeting in Florida and hold a meeting where no constituents can attend.

- West Valley City Council - In a secretive process, the West Valley City hired a lobbyist to help secure $3 million in state funding to build a hockey arena. In a long stretch of the Open Meetings Act exemptions, City Council members say they first considered the lobbyist idea in executive session and then approved the deal while attending a Grizzlies hockey game together without posting an agenda. Officials said the approval wasn't really necessary because the lobbyist contract was only $9,995. That's $5 less than $10,000 contract limit which requires official City Council approval.

- Orem City Council - Orem City continues to fight a court battle against the Provo Daily Herald over release of names of finalists for a city manager's job. The city has maintained that the public has no right to review the identity or qualifications of finalists who applied for the manager position.

- Utah State University - The university refused to release public salary information for its coaches until it was ordered to do so by the State Records Committee.

- Summit County Commission - Summit County Commission apparently has a very liberal interpretation of the Open Meetings Act. The Associated Press reported in December the commission held 28 executive sessions for personnel reasons, 16 for land acquisition, 17 for litigation, and closed three others for combinations of the above.

"Dishonorable mentions" go to:

- The Salt Lake Organizing Committee - While its board of trustees has adopted a policy to abide by the standards of the state Open Meetings Act, the organizing committee's executive board continues to meet secretly and without published agendas.

- Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini - The mayor refused to released key financial information regarding her involvement in the Bonneville Pacific case until ordered by a federal judge.

- Attorney General Jan Graham - Despite campaign promises to open government, her office has shown little interest in pursuing action against government bodies that violate the open meetings or records laws.

- Utah State Board of Regents - The body governing Utah's public colleges and universities engaged in secret behind-the-scenes maneuvering before voting on the controversial proposal to convert all schools to the semester calendar.

- Park City Council - City officials provided little notice to the public before holding "public" meetings on such matters as a building-height moratorium and the status of a newly elected councilman.

- Morgan County School District - The school district is generally resistant to public access. The school board passed a policy that limited public comment at meetings and then reversed the policy. They have made it difficult for reporters to access tape recordings of public meetings.

- South Ogden City Council - Between 1987-95 an investigation has shown the city has failed to keep minutes and other required records of work and executive sessions and some redevelopment agency meetings.

- Utah County Sheriff's Department - The department refused to release photographs from jail bookings, despite their status as public records.