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Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition

Highlights from the blog and newsfeed
Feb. 3, 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 and media consortium ask judge to unseal court records in Owens death-penalty case

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition joined The Denver Post, The New York Times and several other media organizations in asking a judge to unseal court transcripts in the case against death-row inmate Sir Mario Owens.

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Arvada council knew of state law, didn't violate it by using secret ballots, city says

Was the Arvada City Council aware of a 2012 state statute that outlaws the use of secret ballots to make decisions when it voted four times Jan. 10, on anonymous folded sheets of paper, to eliminate candidates for a vacant council seat?

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A word from the new president: An exciting transition is upon us

With the traditional news media facing economic challenges, the CFOIC has evolved to help meet a vital need. The organization is committed to helping not only journalists, but all citizens – the backbone of our democracy – expose the conduct of public business to what Justice Louis Brandeis called the disinfecting power of sunshine.

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Victors in open-records lawsuits should get attorneys' fees, appellate court decides

Winners of open-records lawsuits in Colorado are entitled to attorneys’ fees, even if they succeed in getting only one record released, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled last week.

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Bill adds requirements for holding school board executive sessions

Concerned that some school boards in Colorado are meeting behind closed doors when they shouldn’t be, a state representative has proposed legislation that would give the public more information to gauge whether their elected school officials might be violating the state’s Sunshine Law.

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House committee votes to close 50-year-old marriage license applications

Seeking to protect senior citizens from identity theft, a Colorado House committee voted unanimously to close marriage and civil union license applications that now become public records after 50 years.

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House committee passes measure targeting mug-shot websites

A Colorado legislative committee advanced a bill aimed at stopping Internet sites from publishing mug shots and then charging fees to take them down.

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Bills to strengthen press shield and open association records fail in Senate committee

A bill to increase legal protections for Colorado journalists and their sources died in a state Senate committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee also killed another measure that would have opened records kept by private associations of elected officials that get some of their money from public sources.

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Bill would open records kept by private associations of elected officials

A plan to regulate fees for public records statewide is expected to be one of at least three bills introduced during the 2014 legislative session that would affect the flow or availability of information in Colorado.

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Defense in Aurora theater shooting still pushing for Fox reporter's testimony

From The Denver Post: CENTENNIAL — Defense attorneys in the Aurora movie theater murder case plan to take their effort to subpoena a Fox News reporter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last year, New York’s highest court ruled that a state law there protects journalists from having to reveal their sources and quashed a subpoena for reporter Jana Winter, who is based in New York. Defense attorneys want to find out who leaked information to Winter about a notebook that gunman James Holmes mailed to his psychiatrist.

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Parents left out in the cold when it comes to getting school safety information

From North Forty News (northern Colorado): As the state legislature, school districts and law enforcement agencies discuss how to make Colorado schools safer, the North Forty News found that parents have been left out in the cold because there’s no way to independently verify — either online or via formal records requests — whether the school their child attends is safe.

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Editorial: A curtain over government transparency

From the Reporter-Herald (Loveland): When Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited northwestern Colorado earlier this month, it provided her and other officials the opportunity to view a sage grouse recovery program that has been described as being an innovative way to bolster the numbers of the native birds.

In the process, however, it seems she and her staff found an innovative way to break open meetings laws, too.

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Go Code Colorado a new competition to address issues with public data

From The Denver Post: Colorado on Tuesday launched a statewide public apps challenge called Go Code Colorado. The effort aims to bring government, business and tech communities together to make public data more accessible and expand the state's economy.

State officials say it is the first competition of its kind in the country, using public data to build business tools and bolster sales.

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Colorado's analog records laws lag behind digital practice

From The Colorado Independent: DENVER — This lawmaker is exchanging late-night texts with a pot-industry lobbyist. That lawmaker is instant-chatting from his Gmail account with an insurance industry executive. And in New Jersey, a governor’s staffer sends a message to a Port Authority pal asking him to shut down four lanes of traffic and cause an historic and eventually notorious bottleneck.

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Littleton schools still not responding to requests for threats data

From The Denver Post: Five of the state’s largest school districts have investigated more than 400 threats by students this school year and put 40 of them at the highest levels of concern, according to records obtained by The Denver Post.

But more than a month after the fatal shootings at Arapahoe High School, administrators at Littleton Public Schools still won’t say whether a threat made by gunman Karl Pierson in September prompted the district’s highest security response.

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Press booted as Interior chief Jewell meets Moffat county officials

From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): A meeting about greater sage-grouse that had been touted as open to the press and public was closed to the press Tuesday afternoon, in seeming violation of Colorado’s Sunshine Law.

Erin Fenner, a Craig Daily Press reporter, was told to leave a meeting with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell that followed a Tuesday morning tour of Moffat County sage-grouse habitat on Bord Gulch Ranch. Fenner said she’d heard that the 3:30 p.m. meeting at the Craig American Legion was going to be closed, “but (Tuesday) morning all three county commissioners said (the meeting) was going to be open and the press should come,” Fenner said.

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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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