Highlights from the blog and news feed
Feb. 2, 2015
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.
State judicial branch drafting new rules for releasing its own administrative records
While lawmakers consider whether to make the state public defender’s office subject to the Colorado Open Records Act, the judicial branch is in the process of writing a new set of rules governing access to most of its administrative records.
Download Zansberg's Communication Lawyer article on cloud-based public records
Technology has made it easier than ever for governments to generate information, yet it also raises barriers to the public’s ability to inspect those records. CFOIC President Steve Zansberg explores this issue in an article for Communications Lawyer magazine.
Statehouse floor access no longer an issue for The Colorado Independent
Legislative leaders have approved Statehouse floor credentials for The Colorado Independent based on the recommendation of the Capitol press corps. The news nonprofit was denied similar credentials in 2014 because of its past affiliation with left-leaning political advocacy groups.
Jessica Hernandez shooting ignites debate over police transparency
FromThe Denver Post: Colorado law allows police and sheriff’s departments wide discretion in deciding how much information they release and when they will release it. However, critics argue that secrecy hinders police efforts to build trust in the communities they serve.
FromChalkbeat Colorado: Jeffco Public Schools should adopt a policy that spells out how long board members should retain emails they send or receive, the board’s lawyer said. That policy could say emails must be kept indefinitely. Or it could allow board members to delete them immediately — leaving no paper trail of district business discussed electronically.
Academy school district to provide more information on board agenda items
FromThe Gazette (Colorado Springs): Parents, teachers and community members now will be able to better understand what’s going on at Academy School District 20′s board of education meetings. The board decided to make some supporting materials for agenda items available to the public before and during school board meetings.
Editorial: ASCSU amends constitution to avoid accountability
From the Rocky Mountain Collegian (Fort Collins): A proposed amendment to the constitution of CSU’s student government codifies a violation of Colorado law, teaches bad habits to future legislators and shrouds a public process in unnecessary concealment.
Editorial: Colorado campaign finance law stifles free speech
FromThe Denver Post: No fewer than two federal courts, one in 2010 and another again last year, have said that this state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act infringes on the free-speech rights of average Coloradans. The question is, will the legislature this year finally do anything about it?
From9NEWS (Denver): Following months of questioning by 9Wants to Know on how the state is spending money on death penalty cases, a pair of bipartisan state legislators have introduced legislation to bring more transparency to the Colorado Public Defender’s Office.
Filling request for records on Colorado pot PSA campaign costs, coincidentally, $420
From MuckRock.org:MuckRock requested all contracts/available drafts/talking points regarding Colorado’s PSA campaign on recreational marijuana. The state health department estimated it would take 21 hours to retrieve and review the documents, for which they’d charge $20 an hour – a grand total of $420.
From ColoradoWatchdog.org: Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Rice asked the Legislature last week for more tax money, but afterwards declined to discuss why the judiciary exempted itself from state open records laws, including how her department spends the hundreds of millions of tax dollars it currently receives.
From The Pueblo Chieftain: Lawmakers change. One thing that doesn’t, though, is the expectation of transparency. And that is what leads us to this friendly reminder about the Colorado Open Records Law.
Petition signed by 6,500 alleges open-meetings law violations by Jeffco school board
From the Canyon Courier (Evergreen): A petition signed by 6,554 Jeffco residents, calling for the resignations of three school board members, alleges violations of the state open-meetings law and other infractions.
Mesa County allows online records requests, raises research fee to $30 per hour
From TheDaily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Journalists, researchers and curious citizens will be able to submit requests for access to Mesa County records online following approval of an amended open records policy.
From the Colorado Springs Independent: ProgressNow Colorado has taken stands on candidates and issues, and mostly has come down on the left side of things. And for new Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman, that means he gets to tell the group to scram when it sends someone to cover Republican meetings.
Public finds it challenging to get information for Pikes Peak area school board meetings
From The Gazette (Colorado Springs): School board meetings are always open to the public, but good luck trying to figure out what board members will be discussing. Agendas for most of the Pikes Peak region’s 17 public school districts do not describe the items to be considered; entries simply say something to the effect of “budget changes” or “approval of minutes,” or reference a board policy number.
From the Elbert County News: A conflict over planning commission bylaws has spawned a far-reaching issue of whether the Elbert County Board of County Commissioners is in compliance with Colorado’s sunshine laws requiring notice of any kind of gathering convened to discuss public business.
FromThe Denver Post: School safety information in Colorado lacks state oversight and varies widely from one district to the next. Thankfully, lawmakers are drafting legislation to fix the flawed system.
Judge: Boulder late in releasing utility data, but city can withhold software
From the Daily Camera (Boulder): Boulder met its obligations under the Colorado Open Records Act with the release of a financial spreadsheet of utility data, but the city should have made that information public sooner, Boulder District Judge Judith LaBuda ruled.
Chaffee sheriff and Monarch Mountain criticized for failing to publicize attempted sex assaults
From The Denver Post: The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office and Monarch Mountain are defending themselves against allegations they failed to publicize two attempted sex assaults at the ski area in an effort to not scare away holiday visitors.
Boulder releases utility's 20-year cash flow in response to CORA lawsuit
From the Daily Camera (Boulder): Boulder officials released a 20-year cash flow summary for the proposed municipal electric utility after a resident sued the city under the Colorado Open Records Act in order to obtain it and other information.
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