Highlights from the blog and news feed
Nov. 2, 2016
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.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition will present Gregory Moore, former editor of The Denver Post, with the Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award at a fundraising luncheon at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
State board of ed 'politicized' approval process for data requests, researchers and advocates say
Education researchers and advocates are worried that a newly formalized approval process will make it harder to get information needed to adequately evaluate existing K-12 programs and to recommend innovations.
Proposal calls for the destruction of old General Assembly files dating to the 1930s
The Colorado legislature’s legal staff will shred old files on each bill and amendment prepared for members of the General Assembly – some going back to the 1930s – if lawmakers approve a proposed new records retention policy.
December hearing set in Basalt open-records court battle
The Aspen Times: An Eagle County District Court judge has scheduled a show cause hearing for December in the open records case that resident Ted Guy filed against the Basalt Town Council, Mayor Jacque Whitsitt and the town clerk.
Temporary restraining order sought to ban enforcement of ballot-selfie law
The Denver Post: Federal Judge Christine Arguello will hear arguments in Denver both for and against a Colorado law originally passed in 1891 that bans people 125 years later from publishing their ballot choices through cellular phone selfies.
No charges in Denver city attorney open-records case
CBS4: Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said his office will not be filing criminal charges against former Denver City Attorney Scott Martinez or any other members of the city attorney’s office in connection with the curious handling of a Colorado Open Records Act request from 2015.
Colorado Public Radio: It’s been more than a year since James Holmes was sentenced to life in prison for the July 20, 2012 shootings that killed 12 and injured 70 at an Aurora movie theater. But, when you search for the shooter’s name on the state corrections website, it says “no results were found.”
Pagosa Springs agrees to pay $35,063 in attorney fees after losing Sunshine Law suit
The Pagosa Springs Sun: The Pagosa Springs Town Council agreed to pay fees and costs of $35,063.50 to attorney Matt Roane, who represented the plaintiff in a suit against the town under the Colorado Sunshine Law.
Federal judge seals 'sensitive' photo of Taylor Swift's alleged groping at Pepsi Center
The Denver Post: A federal judge sealed a photograph that allegedly captures the moment when music superstar Taylor Swift was groped before a 2013 concert by a local radio personality who has since sued the singer for slander.
Audit of commissioner's travel expenses handled outside of public meetings
Post-Independent (Glenwood Springs): An independent audit ordered last year by Garfield County looking into the travel expenses of Commissioner John Martin was handled administratively outside of any public meetings, per the county’s procurement code.
Editorial: A courageous presidential endorsement by Palmer Ridge student journalists
The Denver Post: The recent uproar over a Colorado Springs-area high school newspaper editorial board’s presidential endorsement represents a remarkable and highly worrisome glimpse into the current state of the national debate — and reveals an embarrassingly poor grasp of Colorado’s rights to free expression.
Denver DA says don't post that ballot selfie, but ACLU disagrees
The Denver Post:Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey issued a reminder that it’s illegal in Colorado to show your election ballot to other people and warned that state law makes it illegal to post ballot selfies on social media.
Daily Camera ordered to remove judge's order from the web, but won't be held in contempt
Daily Camera (Boulder):The attorney for a 16-year-old boy charged with attempted murder sought last month to have the Daily Camera held in contempt of court for publishing a Boulder judge’s ruling in the sealed case after she’d read the full seven-page document aloud in open court.
Basalt resident files lawsuit over council's closed sessions, email discussions
The Aspen Times: Basalt resident Ted Guy filed a lawsuit against the Basalt Town Council, mayor and clerk last week to seek a declaratory judgment that the town government is violating the Colorado Open Meetings Law.
Police identify 'cases of interest' to release online
Colorado Springs Independent: Want to dive into police reports about a high profile incident? The Colorado Springs Police Department has started a new service that will allow citizens to study redacted police reports.
The ACLU wants to know why Denver police are collecting social media posts
Denverite:The ACLU of Colorado filed a public records request with the Denver Police Department to better understand how the department is and is not using Geofeedia. The request asks for the department’s current intelligence policy and any additional policies and training materials regarding social media surveillance. The ACLU also requested a full list of search terms that officers have used while deploying Geofeedia.
Judge finds medical marijuana policy promulgated in violation of Sunshine Law
Westword (Denver): The order comes in response to a lawsuit filed by nine doctors referred to in court documents as John Does. According to attorney Rob Corry, who represents them, they filed anonymously because “they were being targeted politically by the CDPHE and the medical board, which worked in concert to develop a secret policy in total, blatant violation of the Colorado Open Meetings Law.”
The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): A Boulder judge deserves the strongest criticism for restraining the press and then keeping that restraint in place even after she realized she had trampled on both the state and U.S. constitutions.
Editorial: DIA keeping too many secrets on its makeover plans
The Denver Post: We’re concerned about DIA’s decision to favor a single team bidding for the terminal’s transformation — Madrid-based Ferrovial Airports and Centennial-based Saunders Construction — and to keep basic details about cost and the team’s selection process under wraps.
Editorial: It's important for school districts to post minutes
The Greeley Tribune:There’s a 2-year-old state law that requires Colorado school districts to post meeting minutes within 10 days of the minutes being approved. Colorado Ethics Watch, a left-leading research and advocacy nonprofit, has done some research to see how Colorado’s schools are doing with the relatively new mandate. The results weren’t great for the state with less than 60 percent of the districts in compliance.
Boulder judge lifts order blocking Daily Camera from publishing warrant, but puts ruling on hold
Daily Camera (Boulder): Boulder judge reversed her ruling prohibiting the Daily Camera from publishing information contained in an arrest-warrant affidavit in an attempted-murder case, but then put that decision on hold for a week while the defense considers an appeal.
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!