Highlights from the blog and news feed
Apr. 25, 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.
Bill introduced clarifying citizens' legal standing to challenge Sunshine Law violations
Following outcry over the dismissal of a lawsuit against Arvada for allegedly violating a 2012 ban on the use of secret ballots, state lawmakers introduced legislation to clarify that any citizen has legal standing to challenge violations of Colorado’s Open Meetings Law.
The House re-passed HB 14-1193, sending it to Gov. John Hickenlooper. If it becomes law, the Colorado Open Records Act will specify research-fee parameters for the first time since it was enacted in 1969.
Senate advances revived but weaker school board transparency bill
A second attempt at boosting school board transparency this session won approval in the Colorado Senate. SB 14-182 is a weaker version of an unsuccessful House bill that would have required the electronic recording of all portions of school board executive sessions, including attorney-client discussions.
FromThe Pueblo Chieftain: There is a disturbing trend in local government, and it’s growing.
That trend is, local elected officials do not want you to hear how they reach difficult or sensitive decisions. They want to have their tough discussions behind closed doors — the politically correct term is “executive session” — and then come out into the public light, pretend they’re all one big happy group of officials, and present a proposal as if everyone totally agreed on it.
Chieftain seeks Pueblo City Council's executive session records
From The Pueblo Chieftain: The Pueblo Chieftain is asking Pueblo Chief District Judge Deborah Eyler to review the records of City Council’s executive sessions to determine if council has violated the state’s open meetings law in discussing the city’s half-cent tax for job recruitment.
Secretary of state lowers fee for open records photocopies
From The Complete Colorado: The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office has lowered its charge on photocopies for open records requests from 25 cents per page to seven cents. The change amounts to a 72 percent savings from the previous price for any citizen or journalist who acquires open records on physical paper copies.
From The Associated Press: A Colorado state senator says she’ll be pushing law enforcement agencies to report statistics showing what happens when trouble at school leads to arrests, but police see the new requirement as just one more unfunded burden.
From The Durango Herald: The city of Durango will be more transparent in sharing local licensing documents with the public, city officials said.
Last month, The Durango Herald highlighted differences between the city and La Plata County in access to licensing documents used to decide whether to give applicants a liquor or medical marijuana business license.
Ridgway school board's adherence to open meetings law questioned
From the Ouray County Plaindealer: Calling for greater openness in the decision-making process, Ridgway citizen Brian Donivan cited misconduct by the Ridgway School Board in use of executive sessions, hiring protocol and open meetings law violations during the public input portion of the board’s regular meeting on Mar. 27.
From The Denver Post: Colorado has created a website that provides the public with child-protection and child-abuse data for each county, making the state one of four in the nation to make such information accessible to the public.
Carroll: No accountability in handout of Rockies tickets
From The Denver Post: If you’d gone to the website of the Denver Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District as recently as a couple of weeks ago, you’d have found no minutes for any meeting during the past 12 months. But this lack of transparency — papered over in recent days by the hasty posting of bare-bones minutes — is only the tip of the iceberg.
Ethics commission changing CORA policy to comply with state law
From The Complete Colorado: On Monday, just after the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) rendered its decision in the matter regarding Governor Hickenlooper, I was kicking around on the IEC’s website looking for some information.
I noticed they had a downloadable version of their Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) policy. These always interest me because on the one hand, having a detailed policy can sometimes be helpful in streamlining the process of records requesting for citizens, but on the other hand, they sometimes include onerous provisions as well.
From The Denver Post: After last fall’s defeat of Amendment 66, the public schools tax hike, Democrats and Republicans alike pledged to resurrect various popular reforms linked to the measure that could be funded independently. And so they have, although the package could be in for stormy weather in the state Senate after passing the House by a comfortable margin.
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