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Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition

Highlights from the blog and news feed
June 9, 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.

CFOIC gives Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award to Denver Post Chairman William Dean Singleton

The CFOIC presented William Dean Singleton, chairman of The Denver Post, with the Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award for his sustained and significant record of fighting for open government in Colorado.

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Hickenlooper signs bill to let anyone challenge violations of Colorado's Sunshine Law

Two months after a Jefferson County judge dismissed a citizen’s lawsuit against Arvada for using secret ballots to replace a City Council member, the governor signed legislation to ensure that anyone can legally challenge violations of Colorado’s Open Meetings Law.

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Governor vetoes transportation bill but signs executive order with transparency provisions

Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill intended, in part, to shine more light on public-private partnerships to finance future transportation projects but also signed an executive order implementing the transparency provisions of the legislation.

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El Paso sheriff reverses decision on releasing video apology

From The Denver Post:  Embattled El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has changed his mind about releasing copies of his video-taped apology to employees.

Charles Greenlee , the sheriff’s office’s legal advisor, notified The Denver Post that a copy of the video would be available on Monday. Other media outlets also had requested the video.

Greenlee had denied the Post’s Colorado Open Records Act request for the video, saying it did not meet the definition of a public record.

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Secretary of State denies Citizens United's press pass

From The Denver Post:  A conservative group’s film that was poised to take aim at Gov. John Hickenlooper and the influence of liberal advocacy doesn’t merit an exemption from election finance laws, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office ruled.

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El Paso County sheriff denies Post's request for video apology

From The Denver Post: The El Paso County Sheriff's Office has denied a Denver Post request for a copy of Sheriff Terry Maketa's videotaped apology to employees.

The videotape did not meet the definition of public record, Charles C. Greenlee , legal advisor for the sheriff's office, wrote in a letter denying the request.

Steve Zansberg, president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, called the denial absurd."
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Schlichtman:  A battle worth fighting

From Steamboat Today:  In the past month, the Steamboat Pilot & Today has won two cases filed in response to attempts by the Routt County District Attorney’s Office to seal documents in the Meghan McKeon case. And while we have achieved favorable rulings in court, it is apparent that when it comes to the court of public opinion, the jury is still out.

There have been those who have congratulated us on our fight to uphold the First Amendment and the Colorado Open Records Act, but there are others who have questioned why the newspaper felt it was important enough to go to court to obtain copies of McKeon’s arrest affidavit and her son’s autopsy report. In these instances, the readers said they didn’t want to know the disturbing details of Austin Davis’s death, and they interpreted our attempts to obtain the records as an example of tabloid journalism or sensationalism.

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Editorial: A setback for a probing press

From The Denver Post: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hinted the Justice Department might not seek the jailing of New York Times reporter James Risen for refusing to identify a confidential source, a positive development in what appears to be this administration’s ongoing disregard for press freedom.

The Obama administration has aggressively worked to repress the work of journalists — from secretly acquiring Associated Press phone records to bringing criminal charges in eight cases involving leaks of confidential information, compared to three under all other administrations combined.

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Autopsy report that coroner tried to keep secret says 3-year-old's death was homicide

From the Craig Daily Press:  Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg complied with a judge’s order and made public the autopsy report for the toddler who police believe was left alone for four days in a Steamboat Springs cabin.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Burson concluded after reviewing the toxicology test results that Austin Davis died from “severe dehydration.”

This is represented by the electrolyte levels,” Burson wrote.

Austin’s paternal grandmother, Charity O’Konski, previously had stated Austin died from “extreme dehydration.”

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Fox News reporter Jana Winter won't have to testify about notebook in theater shooting case

From The Denver Post:  The Fox News reporter who wrote about the Aurora movie theater gunman’s notebook won’t have to testify about how she learned about the crucial document, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal on the matter.

Lawyers for James Holmes had appealed a New York court order shielding Jana Winter from testifying about her sources. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced that it had denied the appeal, known as a petition for certiorari.

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Judge orders release of autopsy report on 3-year-old Steamboat Springs boy

From the Craig Daily Press:  A judge has ordered Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg to release the autopsy report for the 3-year-old boy who police believe died here after being neglected by his mother.

The coroner’s office sought to keep the boy’s autopsy report from the public for at least two to three more weeks because the Routt County District Attorney’s Office argued its release could harm the public interest in a fair trial here for Meghan McKeon, the boy’s mother, and heighten public condemnation of her.

The District Attorney’s office and investigators with the Steamboat Springs Police Department also contended the document’s release could compromise the testimony of witnesses in the case.

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School safety data offered to Colorado parents unreliable

From The Denver Post:  A student at Kennedy High School in Denver told police that she had been dating a classmate for one day when he raped her in the boys’ locker room. More than 25 miles north, at a Thornton elementary school, Michelle Judson’s son was stabbed in the finger with a metal ruler, slicing his skin to the bone and forcing him to get five stitches. And Desiree Richie still recalls the day her preteen son made a classmate bleed during a fight at Bruce Randolph School in Denver.

But none of the campuses reported having any assaults during the years the incidents occurred, according to school discipline data obtained through an open-records request made to the Colorado Department of Education.

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Board that oversees City of Champions promises open meetings, open books

From The Gazette (Colorado Springs): When the governing board that oversees the City for Champions projects meets, it will be in open and all of its records will be subject to the Colorado Open Records Act.

The details of the Regional Tourism Act Board, headed by Mayor Steve Bach, Colorado Springs City Council president Keith King and El Paso County Commission chairman Dennis Hisey, are spelled out in a draft of “Rules of Procedure for the Colorado Springs Regional Tourism Act Advisory Board.”

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House: Pagosa Water & Sanitation District business must not be conducted in secret

From The Pagosa Springs Sun:  SUN staff filed a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request with Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) this week following receipt of two emails substantiating that the district’s board of directors held discussions constituting a meeting via email, in violation of the Sunshine Law.

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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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