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Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition

Highlights from the blog and newsfeed
Dec. 2, 2013
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.

When public information is not public

A Conifer woman learned recently that open records aren’t necessarily open in Colorado when public and private information are mixed together. The law is different in some other states.

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Littleton voters restrict City Council's use of closed-door meetings

A city charter amendment, which passed with 74 percent of the vote Nov. 5, is much more restrictive than the Colorado Sunshine Law. It allows the City Council to meet behind closed doors for only two reasons.

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Journalist sues Archuleta County commissioner over secret meeting and loses, but would "gladly do the same thing again"

Bill Hudson, publisher of an online community magazine, is out nearly $1,500 after his lawsuit was dismissed. Did the county attorney mislead the court over the actual cost of his legal research in the case?

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Judge rejects secrecy motion in Aurora movie theater shooting case

Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos A. Samour, Jr. denies motion by James Holmes’ attorneys to seal transcripts of proceedings and remove access to pleadings from the court’s website. The CFOIC had opposed Holmes’s request.

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What is a "reasonable" CORA fee?

A recent Court of Appeals decision upheld a 2003 ruling on how much governments in Colorado can charge to research and retrieve records.

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Lakewood councilman claims meetings just a "PR show"

From The Complete Colorado: has obtained sworn testimony in trial audio in which one Lakewood City Council member alleges that the city’s Mayor and councilors make decisions in private, and in advance of actual city council meetings. City Councilman David Wiechman (pronounced WICK-man) said in his testimony that the city council meetings would include “pre-meetings” at which “scripts” would be discussed so the script could be acted out the final public meeting.

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Denver Post editorial:  Public has rights in James Holmes case

From The Denver Post: James Holmes’ attorneys are understandably aggressive in seeking to protect his rights and minimize the accused killer’schances of ending up on death row, but they’ve gone overboard on occasion, too.

And when they recently asked Arapahoe District Court Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. to suppress transcripts of proceedings held in open court, and remove the case filings and index from a court website, they reached the point of absurdity.

Thankfully, Samour refused Friday to further restrict information about the case against Holmes, accused of opening fire in an Aurora movie theater and killing 12 people. It was a welcome development respecting public access.

The request, if granted, would have severely limited the ability of news outlets and the public to view case information. Media organizations, including The Denver Post, strongly objected.

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Denver Post editorial:  PERA transparency gets boost from governor

From The Denver Post: For 2 ½ years, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton has doggedly pursued data in the state pension system that he believes would help him better understand the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association’s future liabilities.

In response, PERA has sought to portray Stapleton as a mischievous rogue rather than a dedicated public servant. Fortunately, that tactic has become a whole lot harder now that Gov. John Hickenlooper has joined Stapleton in asking the state Supreme Court to review an appeals court decision that denied the treasurer access to the data.

Stapleton is a Republican. Hickenlooper is a Democrat. Their joint cause in this case is good government.

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Castle Rock couple sues town for records in police shooting


From The Denver Post: The ACLU and a Castle Rock couple whose car was hit by a police officer’s bullet while he was responding to a burglary in February are suing town officials for records related to the shooting and the officer’s conduct.

Town and police officials have repeatedly denied Michael and Susan Cardellas’ open-records requests for documents detailing the internal investigation into the Feb. 21 shooting, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday. The couple also wants information concerning Officer Terry Watts’ conduct about 1 p.m. that day, when he fired his rifle at fleeing burglary suspects in a Ford Explorer.

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Tribune Editorial:  Weld County Council's secret decision breaches public trust

From The Greeley Tribune:  If the members of the Weld County Council were trying to throw away their credibility and violate the public’s trust, they accomplished their goals when they voted in secret to table an inquiry into the Board of Weld County Commissioners’ secession efforts and then withheld that decision from the public for more than a week.

From the start three weeks ago, when a group of Greeley attorneys sent a letter to the council questioning the authority of the Weld County commissioners to initiate the 51st state movement and seeking a decision from an independent attorney, the council faced a minefield of potential conflicts of interest and questions about fairness.

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The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition's efforts to protect the FOI rights of Coloradans rely on membership dues, grants and gifts. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation or becoming a member. Thank you!
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