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Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition

Highlights from the blog and newsfeed
Dec. 30, 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.

State senator plans bill to strengthen journalist shield law in Colorado

Motivated by the ordeal of a Fox News reporter, who could have been jailed for refusing to reveal sources for a story on the Aurora movie theater gunman, Sen. Bernie Herpin says he wants to model Colorado’s press shield law after New York’s law.

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The true value of FOI

A Gazette investigation into a secret spy program at the Air Force Academy was one of three recent news stories that had nothing in common, except the vitally important fact that none could have been reported in such detail, or perhaps even reported at all, without the state and federal laws that ensure your rights of access to public information.

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A big helping of open-government resources

The CFOIC’s new Resource pages include guides to accessing public information and a categorized directory of public data available online.

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Did court ruling on AG consumer complaints have broader implications?

A court decision that let the Colorado Attorney General turn over consumer complaints to the Better Business Bureau, but not to a Denver TV news organization, may have broader implications for the release of public records.

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Jeffco PTA president: School board violates state transparency law

The president of the Jefferson County PTA says her organization is “shocked and appalled” that three new memers of the Jeffco Board of Education hired an attorney without involving other members of the board.

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Gov. Hickenlooper wants to put school budgets online

From The Washington Post: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) will push the state legislature next year to publish details of every dollar earmarked for public education, a move he says would create the country’s most transparent spending system.

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Hearings on psych evaluation of James Holmes will be closed

From The Denver Post: Upcoming hearings about whether the gunman in the Aurora theater shooting will undergo additional psychiatric evaluation will be closed to the public, victims and media, the judge overseeing the case ruled.

Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour granted defense attorneys’ request to close the hearings, which have been scheduled for Jan. 27-30.

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Jeffco school board decision raises questions about transparency

From The Denver Post: The Jefferson County school board’s new majority may have skirted a law that requires them to conduct business openly by hiring an attorney without a public interview process, according to an open government expert.

Thomas Kelley, a lawyer for the Colorado Press Association and The Denver Post, said the board’s 3-2 decision last week to hire Colorado Springs-based law firm Miller Sparks LLC may have violated the state’s open meetings act, which requires board members to conduct business in public.

“It’s not all that common for a board of a public entity to, by itself, conduct interviews, but when they do, at least when it doesn’t involve interviews for a personnel position, they have to do those interviews in public,” Kelley said.

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Record of Gov. Hickenlooper's first six months lost in computer

From The Coloradoan (Fort Collins):  History’s recollection of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s legacy remains to be written, but it’s certain to have some gaps.

A technological crash swallowed the calendar entries from Hickenlooper’s first eight months in office.

“A server crash in 2011 caused information to be erased from the Governor’s calendar for the days of January 1, 2011 to August 31, 2011,” Ben Figa, deputy legal counsel to the governor, wrote in response to a request for copies of the entries.

All that remains of the governor’s calendar from that time are his standing daily appointments — meetings with cabinet members and an hourlong meeting each evening that remains a mystery because details were redacted.

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Editorial:  More transparency needed to improve child welfare system

From The Denver Post: Colorado operates with a disturbing lack of transparency when it comes to information about child abuse investigations.

That needs to change if there is to be continued progress in improving a system that has seen scores of children diein recent years after they had contact with social services.

State and national disclosure laws should be revised to require the release of basic information about investigations.

Confidentiality laws were enacted with the idea of protecting the privacy of children and families. However, the result is a system that is almost impossible for outsiders to examine and critique.

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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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