Highlights from the blog and news feed
July 15, 2015
Newsletter of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, a nonpartisan alliance of journalists, civic organizations and engaged citizens 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.
Assessment records of certain Elbert Co. officials hidden for 'safety' reasons, assessor says
Real estate records, with few exceptions, are public in Colorado. But in Elbert County, southeast of Denver, the assessment records of certain elected officials – including Assessor Billie Mills – are hidden from public view.
Elbert County puts elected officials' property assessments online after CFOIC raises questions
Elbert County put the real estate assessment records of four elected officials online five days after the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition revealed that the information was hidden from public view.
DIY FOI: Lessons learned from challenging a denial of access without a lawyer
Can I do it myself? The CFOIC is sometimes asked this question by folks who want to challenge a denial of public records or a closed-door meeting they believe was held improperly. The CFOIC is building an online repository of pleadings that have been filed in previous lawsuits under CORA and the Sunshine Law. And we have some tips on filing pro se from reporter Todd Shepherd.
Colorado Springs police won't say how officers are disciplined in excessive-force cases
From the Colorado Springs Independent: An investigation of police documents and court records by the Independent found that citizens have reported an average of one use-of-excessive-force episode per week over the last four years, that officers are rarely accountable to anyone outside the department, and that information about discipline resulting from an internal investigation isn’t released to the public.
Lack of electronic records makes tracking insurance complaints costly in Colorado
From The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Insurance data that legal and consumer experts say could be crucial for homeowners choosing insurance companies is virtually impossible to get in Colorado because of limited resources with state’s Division of Insurance.
Colorado Springs police deny requests for internal affairs report on traffic stop
From The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Colorado Springs police say it’s not in the public interest to release internal affairs files detailing the findings of an investigation in a traffic stop in which a black man was pulled from a car, in which he was a passenger, at gunpoint.
Cherry Creek lunch lady releases records on her firing
From The Denver Post: Della Curry, a Cherry Creek Schools kitchen manager who said she was fired for feeding hungry children in violation of school regulations, has made public documents that she says back her claims.
Grand Junction broke law by failing to record city council's executive session
From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): The city of Grand Junction violated state law by failing to record a two-hour executive session last month when City Council members discussed City Manager Rich Englehart’s possible resignation and severance package.
Judge rejects attempt to force FOX31 reporter to reveal sources
From FOX31 (Denver): Last month, Tom Fallis’ defense team subpoenaed FOX31 reporter Justin Joseph to try to get to the bottom of how he knew about Fallis’ arrest and to find out if someone broke grand jury rules to tell him.
Daily Sentinel asks Grand Junction for audiotape of city council executive session
FromThe Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): An attorney for The Daily Sentinel claims the Grand Junction City Council violated the state’s open meetings law when it met in an executive session last month to discuss City Manager Rich Englehart’s possible resignation and severance package.
Cherry Creek school district won't release disciplinary records of fired cafeteria worker
From ColoradoWatchdog.org: Cherry Creek Schools are refusing to release disciplinary records for a food service employee who said she was fired because she gave free food to children who couldn’t afford to pay for school lunch.
Opinion: Few answers from Rocky Mountain Human Services
From The Denver Post: Officials at Rocky Mountain Human Services have been silent on the extent of the agency’s budget deficit or why it occurred. Nor do they have to disclose anything. They are a private nonprofit that doesn’t have to adhere to open-records laws.
Police body-camera footage captures deadly Pueblo shooting
From KOAA5 (Colorado Springs):The Pueblo Police Department has released the body-camera video of a deadly officer-involved shooting. It happened in January earlier this year, less than a week after the department first got the cameras.
Council may have violated intent of Open Meetings Law
From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Grand Junction city councilors may have violated the intent of the Colorado Open Meetings Law when they voted without a word of discussion on a motion to give resigning City Manager Rich Englehart a hefty severance package, even though they weren’t required to do so by his employment contract.
Colorado judicial agencies take different positions on death penalty cost records
From ColoradoWatchdog.org: The Colorado public defender’s office declined to provide defense costs of the death penalty trial for Aurora theater shooting defendant James Holmes, citing client confidentiality, but a different Colorado Judicial Branch agency provided some information for another high-profile death penalty case.
From The Denver Post: Under a state open records law, the ACLU of Colorado is formally requesting the entire file of a recently concluded police investigation that cleared an officer after a controversial Colorado Springs traffic stop that was video-recorded and posted on YouTube.
Colorado Springs councilwoman accuses colleagues of 'pre-planning' vote
From The Gazette (Colorado Springs): An infuriated Councilwoman Helen Collins accused her colleagues of “pre-planning” their 7-1 vote to appoint a hearing officer in her ethics case, against her wishes.
Appeals court: Aspen woman can get records showing whistleblower's identity
From The Aspen Times: A Red Mountain homeowner has prevailed in her legal bid to learn the identity of a person who levied a complaint over a construction project, a decision that could change the way Pitkin County handles whistleblower cases concerning land use.
Boulder releases once-confidential report on planning board investigation
From the Daily Camera (Boulder): Boulder Planning Board member Crystal Gray did not discuss a motion she made supporting a more restrictive version of the city’s height moratorium with other board members before a February meeting that later became the focus of controversy, City Attorney Tom Carr said in a previously confidential investigative report.
Editorial: Unjust secrecy on teacher names in Jeffco sickout
From The Denver Post: Few valid arguments have been made to deny the release of the names of teachers at Standley Lake High School in Jefferson County who called in sick last fall to protest school board policies.
Supreme Court denies Marks' petition for rehearing in CORA case
From The Mountain Mail (Salida): Three years of legal battles came to a halt when the Colorado Supreme Court issued a denial of Marilyn Marks’ petition for a rehearing in a case against Chaffee County.
Objecting to secret meetings, Colo. Springs councilwoman wants 'full trial' on accusations
From The Gazette (Colorado Springs): City Councilwoman Helen Collins has officially requested a “full trial” before the council on three ethics accusations her fellow council members brought against her.
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