Highlights from the blog and news feed
Mar. 15, 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.
Join CFOIC, 9NEWS and the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists on 9NEWS' Facebook page at 6 p.m. March 15 for a Sunshine Week panel on "Getting to the truth in an age of alternative facts."
Digital public records bill heads to Senate floor with amendments intact and an appropriation
The open-records modernization bill survived the Senate Appropriations Committee, but lawmakers retained amendments that could let governments withhold some records now available for public inspection.
A $6,750 deposit to search the city clerk's emails? Records retention an issue for small governments
Emails of public officials are open for inspection under the Colorado Open Records Act, depending on their content. Such messages can reveal important insights into how government decisions are made, but using CORA to obtain emails can be a frustrating and sometimes futile exercise because records-retention policies tend to be vague and discretionary.
Zansberg: 'Fake news,' 'the lying press' and our democracy
Responsible and democracy-loving public officials should reserve the “fake news” label exclusively for the type of garbage for which it was created and has come to be understood: complete and utter fabrications that have no basis in fact, and no legitimate sources to support the published allegations.
CORA modernization bill clears first legislative hurdle – with amendments
A bill to modernize Colorado’s open-records law cleared its first legislative hurdle, but lawmakers added amendments that could be broadly interpreted to allow the withholding of some records currently available for public inspection.
Public records laws don't always ensure a transparent government
Colorado Springs Independent: Every year, reporters observe Sunshine Week by celebrating the efforts of those in our industry who shed light on the dark corners of government, and by pushing for greater transparency. In that spirit, the Independent spoke with Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, about the state of Colorado’s two public records laws.
Disability board must begin tracking county tax dollars, county officials say
The Denver Post: An audit of the community agency that manages benefit money for people with disabilities in Arapahoe and Douglas counties could not isolate expenses paid with county tax dollars because those funds are mingled with state and federal funding, says the report released this week.
Montezuma commissioners agree to interview candidates in public
The Journal (Cortez): After objections from the public, Montezuma County commissioners decided to hold candidates interviews for a planning-and-zoning board position in open session instead of in private.
Torrent of leaks pouring from El Paso County, Colorado Springs law enforcement
The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Policies are in place to monitor what information is conveyed to the public by local law enforcement agencies, but a deluge of leaks is leaving rules and regulations awash.
Dobbs: As a journalist I risked my life, but I'm apparently an 'enemy of the people'
The Denver Post: The fact is, this is part of the media’s role: to expose anything from a public official’s incurious ignorance to his malicious misrepresentations to his polarizing polemics to his flat-out lies.
District attorney investigating whether Denver police violated open records law
Denver7: Denver District Attorney Beth McCann has opened an investigation into an allegation the Denver Police Department violated Colorado’s open records law by withholding a letter that criticized the department.
Judge: Weld County must release investigative report on commissioner to newspaper
The Greeley Tribune: Weld District Court Judge Todd Taylor ruled complaints against Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway did not constitute sexual harassment, as Conway’s actions did not create a hostile work environment.
Denver's deputy police chief under investigation for handling of open-records request
The Denver Post: The city of Denver ordered an independent investigation into the police department’s second-in-command for his handling of an internal-affairs case and his response to an open-records request, the Department of Safety announced.
The Denver Post: Government does not need another broad exemption to the Colorado Open Records Act. What government does need is to be required to release documents and data in the usable digital formats in which the information already exists. That is a common-sense change to the existing CORA law that could make it incrementally better and more open.
Why Colorado lawmakers aren't totally open to digital open records
KUNC radio (Greeley): Advocates say Senate Bill 40 does something simple: It brings the Colorado Open Records Act into the 21st century by requiring state agencies to provide information in a digital format — such as a database or a spreadsheet — where feasible. For some, the issue is more complicated.
Amid effort to modernize public records laws, Colo. attorney general pushes for more privacy
The Denver Post: In behind-the-scenes negotiations on a bill designed to make government more transparent in the digital age, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s office offered a series of amendments that could dramatically expand the types of records that can be hidden from public view.
U.S. Supreme Court to Colorado think tank: Disclose your donors or don't run these ads
The Colorado Independent: The nation’s highest court upheld a lower court’s money-in-politics ruling in a case out of Colorado that requires groups to disclose who pays for ads that mention candidates during election season.
Determining if Mesa County employees received pay raises proves difficult
The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Human resources officials with the county said there is no easy way to tell how many of the county’s employees received raises during the period of time County Commissioner Rose Pugliese referred to in her Dec. 12 comments, and said the software used by the county is antiquated and makes accessing employee records complicated.
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!