Highlights from the blog and news feed
Sept. 2, 2014
Newsletter of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, a nonpartisan alliance of groups and individuals dedicated to ensuring the transparency of state and local governments in Colorado by promoting freedom of the press, open courts and open access to government records and meetings.
Reporter files legal action seeking release of Division of Insurance emails on ACA decision
A reporter for the Independence Institute asked for a court order that compels the state Division of Insurance to justify its refusal to release emails discussing the one-year renewal of health insurance policies not in compliance with the Affordable Care Act.
CFOIC president: Englewood council violated Sunshine Law by deciding to hire city manager behind closed door
Englewood’s announcement of a new city manager, more than a week before the City Council is scheduled to vote during a public meeting, is an admission that it violated the state’s Open Meetings Law, says CFOIC President Steve Zansberg.
The dos and don'ts – mostly don'ts – of using email for public officials
Colorado’s Sunshine Law defines a meeting as “any kind of gathering, convened to discuss public business, in person, by telephone, electronically, or by (any) other means of communication.” This includes emailing, texting, tweeting, instant messaging, Facebook messaging, Snapchatting and forms of communication that haven’t been invented yet.
Initiative to open school board labor negotiations certified for November ballot
A statewide initiative that would require school boards to let the public observe collective bargaining negotiations will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced.
Coroners' inconsistent reports muddle efforts to understand shooting deaths
From The Gazette (Colorado Springs): CU News Corps reporters found details of shooting deaths among hundreds of public records kept by county coroners. The records provided valuable context to the total number of gun deaths, and could help shape a better understanding of why so many people die every year from gunshot wounds.
From The Durango Herald:Unless the discussion involves nuclear launch codes or some other sensitive element of national security, secrecy is the enemy of good government. That is true of the federal government, at the state level and most especially in local affairs. And there is no reason that principle should not also extend to schools.
From The Pueblo Chieftain: Colorado voters will have the opportunity in November to shed a little bit of sunshine on contract negotiations for teachers’ unions.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler certified last week a ballot question that would extend the language of the state Open Meetings Law to cover collective bargaining negotiations for educational professionals. The Open Meetings Law, also known as the “sunshine law,” requires that any meeting of a governing body be conducted in public. That being said, it does include provisions in which boards may meet behind closed doors, one of which is personnel matters.
Grand Junction airport board accused of Sunshine Law violation in search for new director
From NewsChannel 5 (Grand Junction): The Grand Junction Regional Airport Board finds themselves amid another legal controversy. A law firm from Denver is accusing the Board of illegally conducting their latest search for a new airport director by violating Colorado Open Meetings Laws.
Boulder council hopes executive sessions find favor with voters
From the Daily Camera (Boulder): City Council members said they hope the restrictions they have placed on a charter amendment that would allow for closed meetings to discuss legal matters related to municipalization will give voters enough comfort to overcome decades of Boulder political tradition.
State treasurer can't have access to PERA members' records, Colorado Supreme Court rules
From the Denver Business Journal: The Colorado Supreme Court dealt the final blow to Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s attempt to get the records of the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association’s top benefit recipients.
Benefield v. Colorado GOP: What legislators need to know as custodians of public records
From Colorado LegiSource: As custodians of public records, legislators should realize that not all constituent communications are exempt from production under CORA. Only constituent communications that were made with an expectation of confidentiality may be withheld.
Editorial: In Pueblo, a lesson in secret governing
From The Denver Post: It’s against Colorado law for elected officials to create public policy in secret. One might think that simple respect for the law would be enough to keep elected representatives from sidestepping public disclosure. But sometimes the wrath of constituents is a more potent force.
From the Colorado Springs Independent: Hundreds of emails obtained by The Pueblo Chieftain call into question whether three Pueblo City Council members violated a law governing open meetings by discussing a trash-collection plan away from public view.
Pueblo City Council member quits after criticism over emails
From The Pueblo Chieftain: City Councilman Chris Kaufman resigned his at-large seat Tuesday, one day after he sat through a long dressing-down from city residents who came to Monday’s council meeting angry about emails between Kaufman, two other council members and a Pueblo County official.
Some demand resignations, recalls of Pueblo councilors over "shadow government"
From The Pueblo Chieftain: Council chamber was packed Monday night as the public came to hold three members accountable, including demands they resign, for working on their own covert agenda, according to city emails reported in The Pueblo Chieftain.
Lawmaker on Division of Youth Corrections exemption: The law needs to be tweaked
From The Gazette (Colorado Springs): After The Gazette was denied access to records detailing violent incidents at a Colorado Springs youth corrections facility, two lawmakers pledged to look into changing a state law that exempts the Division of Youth Corrections from the Open Records Act.
From The Pueblo Chieftain: Twice in recent months, members of the Pueblo City Council have broken the Colorado Open Meetings Law. The first time occurred in May, when the council went into executive session to debate a proposal to redirect a portion of the half-cent sales tax for primary job recruitment. The more recent — and more egregious — incident occurred in July, when council President Sandy Daff and members Ami Nawrocki and Chris Kaufman exchanged surreptitious emails with their political advisor, county Transportation Director Greg Severance.
School districts take wary view of new transparency law
From Chalkbeat Colorado: School district lobbyists did their best to kill the idea during the 2014 legislative session, but now that new financial reporting requirements are law, school districts and the Colorado Department of Education are scratching their heads and sorting out how to make them work.
Legal experts: Pueblo council's email meeting was illegal
From The Pueblo Chieftain: Two nationally recognized experts on open meetings and freedom of information laws confirmed this week that three Pueblo City Council members engaged in an illegal meeting over email with a county employee.
State of Colorado at fault for omission of deadly Arapahoe High shooting from school violence data
From The Denver Post: Colorado Department of Education officials said Thursday that the glaring omission of a fatal shooting at Arapahoe High School from campus violence data stemmed from a processing error by the state, not a failure to report by the school district.
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