Highlights from the blog and news feed
Jan. 23, 2017
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.
What is the public entitled to know when a government board closes a meeting?
How much specificity is required under the law when a government body votes to go into executive session? In two recent court decisions, judges in Jefferson and Eagle counties offered starkly different viewpoints.
Clean air advocate subpoenaed by Colorado Springs Utilities in records dispute
The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Clean air advocate Jacquie Ostrom is being ordered to testify at a deposition and produce four months of emails or other communications sought in the Colorado Springs Utilities action against Leslie Weise, who has waged court battles for more than a year to obtain air-quality reports commissioned by Utilities.
UNC's document-free presidential review contrary to faculty evaluations, other colleges
The Greeley Tribune: A $45,000 comprehensive assessment of University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton’s performance was completed without documentation, a departure from surrounding universities’ practices, rules for UNC faculty evaluations and standard practice for a consultant who engages in similar work.
Opinion: Public meetings are public for good reason
The Villager (Greenwood Village): While district meetings are a great public-information ploy, city business should be conducted within city chambers and legal notices should be given to citizens on legally published hearings. Council members should discuss these topics on the record for all to hear. Both sides of the issue should be heard and council members vote the proposal up or down.
Steamboat council president uncomfortable with PR person 'manufacturing' quotes for officials
Steamboat Today (Steamboat Springs): Even Steamboat Springs City Council President Walter Magill eventually admitted his “quote” in a recent press release from City Hall didn’t sound like Walter Magill.
Opinion: It's time for professional journalists to stand up and defend the First Amendment
The Greeley Tribune: There is something there, something in writing the story, in seeking the truth, that grabs the heart of a journalist. The professional men and women who write the news are concerned about getting it right, not in mocking someone or defeating them in an election.
Fort Collins Coloradoan: Fort Collins Police Services signed a five year, $885,000 contract with Taser International that will double the number of body-mounted cameras worn by officers in Fort Collins.
Former Fremont County sheriff's captain says he was told to 'keep quiet' about inmate's death
The Pueblo Chieftain: A former Fremont County Sheriff’s Office employee who was told to keep quiet about the death of an inmate at the jail in April 2014 has come forward in the wake of the release of a deposition taken as part of a lawsuit.
Editorial: Weld County commissioners must try to involve public in decision-making
The Greeley Tribune: One of the unsettling issues lingering from the kerfuffle among Weld County commissioners is the allegation they have conducted illegal meetings. Have they violated the spirit or the letter of the open meetings law? We’re not sure. We aren’t able to let them entirely off the hook, nor can we say with certainty they have been conducting public business in private.
Judge rules primarily in favor of Basalt in resident's lawsuit over open meetings
The Aspen Times: A judge ruled that the town of Basalt isn’t conducting business improperly in secret sessions nor did Mayor Jacque Whitsitt violate the Colorado Open Records Act by erasing a text message the judge deemed “transitory.”
Editorial: UNC's breach of public trust with president's assessment is inexcusable, harmful
The Greeley Tribune: When The Tribune submitted a Colorado Open Records Act request seeking to obtain a copy of the assessment, UNC’s response stated there were no records of the evaluation. That’s difficult to understand. It’s hard to imagine any evaluation worth thousands of dollars would generate no documentation.
Denver council approves gift-report rules that require more frequency, better access
The Denver Post: The Denver City Council voted in favor of requiring more frequent reporting, more detail and easier-to-access records of the meals, tickets and most other gifts they receive from donors with a city interest.
Monument attorney faces possible jail time for revealing contents of emissions report
The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Monument attorney Leslie Weise likely will learn Feb. 13 whether she will be sanctioned, fined or even jailed for six months under a contempt citation sought by Colorado Springs Utilities and the city, Colorado Chief Appeals Judge Alan M. Loeb indicated at a hearing.
Is it time for Weld Co. commissioners to revamp their interpretation of the Open Meetings Law?
The Greeley Tribune: A longstanding practice of how the Weld County commissioners conduct meetings may be violating the spirit of the Colorado Open Meetings law. And some commissioners say they are willing to look at changing such practices if they continue to elicit allegations of being improper.
Even Loveland officials in the dark about lawsuit settlement involving police detective
Reporter-Herald (Loveland): A nearly decade-long legal battle involving a Loveland Police Department detective is coming to a close, but even city of Loveland officials are in the dark about specifics.
Weld Co. commissioner claims retatliation for exposing Sunshine Law violations
The Greeley Tribune: Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway has filed a notice of claim against his fellow commissioners alleging retaliation and defamation after he said he publicly exposed their violations of Colorado’s open meetings laws and questioned their use of county funds at an emergency training last summer, among other wrongdoings.
Canyon Courier (Evergreen): Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee is about to quietly become totally transparent, despite the fact that our current school board members, most of whom campaigned on a platform of transparency in government, have yet to publicly discuss or vote on his ouster.
Having your FOI request denied may leave no other option than pursuing legal action against the rejecting public agency or official. The National Freedom of Information Coalition offers financial support to litigate open government lawsuits through the Knight FOI Litigation Fund. Backed by a generous grant from the Knight Foundation, the fund helps to defray upfront costs such as filing fees, depositions, court costs and other expenses associated with legal actions. Applications may be submitted through CFOIC or directly to NFOIC.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on membership dues, grants and gifts. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation or becoming a member. Thank you!