Highlights from the blog and news feed
Oct. 5, 2015
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.
Supreme Court testimony: Records rules for the state judicial branch 'do not inspire trust'
The Colorado Supreme Court heard from a state lawmaker and members of the public who are concerned about proposed regulations that will govern access to the administrative records of the Colorado Judicial Branch.
What are the true costs of death penalty cases in Colorado?
Coloradans are engaged in a much-needed debate about the wisdom of continuing to apply the death penalty. To inform that debate, the public is entitled to know precisely what is the cost of taking such cases to trial and through all appeals.
Why should judicial branch records be treated differently from records of other state agencies?
In a letter to the Colorado Supreme Court, the CFOIC and the press and broadcasters associations ask why the administrative records of the state’s judiciary should be treated differently from those of the other two branches of government and all of the state’s political subdivisions.
Proposed 2016 legislation would ease access to the judicial branch's administrative records
A bipartisan trio of state lawmakers announced plans for a bill that would require the Colorado Judicial Branch to ease access to its administrative records by using rules similar to those in the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).
From the Coloradoan (Fort Collins):The attorney for Colorado State University’s Board of Governors wants to limit public-information requests made of CSU only to residents of Colorado. If approved, the request would be a significant — no, make that gigantic — step backward for a community that says it values transparency and openness.
Judge asked to decide whether records on Delta chief's departure must be released to newspaper
From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Delta’s city attorney has asked a district court judge to decide whether documents, which were signed by former Police Chief Robert Thomas and the city, must be disclosed to The Sentinel under the Open Records Act. This, after Thomas’ Grand Junction lawyer objected to public access.
Steamboat newspaper won't sue for release of reports on police misconduct investigation
From Steamboat Today (Steamboat Springs): The Steamboat Pilot & Today and the city of Steamboat Springs have reached an impasse over the release of three portions of the police investigation conducted by independent investigator Katherine Nuanes.
Court slams U.S. Forest Service for withholding Wolf Creek development documents
From The Durango Herald: U.S. Forest Service officials were dealt a blow when a federal court ruled that the agency unjustifiably withheld documents related to the proposed Village at Wolf Creek development.
From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): We’ve grown weary of public officials refusing to disclose public information because they say it’s a “personnel” matter. If they bothered to read Colorado’s Open Records Law, they would see that the Legislature has stipulated that not all data related to employment is exempt from disclosure.
Democrats on legislative panel reject bill on CDOT spending transparency
From the Denver Business Journal: An audit critical of the Colorado Department of Transportation for its lack of clear prioritizing for bridge funding was enough to draw rebukes from the Legislative Audit Committee last month — but apparently the audit was not scathing enough to move the legislative committee that oversees CDOT to demand more transparency from it.
Editorial: CORA should guide rules for judicial branch records
From Steamboat Today (Steamboat Springs): Steamboat Today is joining hundreds of news organizations across the state in asking the Supreme Court to take another look at proposed rules for access to judicial branch records and amend them appropriately to ensure the public and the press have proper access to information about activities of this important branch of state government.
Delta won't discuss severance for departed police chief
From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Delta Police Chief Robert Thomas announced he’s retiring, a month after the city placed him on paid administrative leave for reasons that have never been made public. Asked if the city negotiated a severance package with the chief, the acting city manager said he couldn’t discuss a personnel matter.
Cortez newspaper finally obtains records after six requests
FromThe Cortez Journal: The Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office turned over public records in the Patricia McEachern discrimination case only after a First Amendment attorney requested the records on behalf of The Journal, citing a 2008 Colorado Supreme Court decision.
From The Pueblo Chieftain: In 2012, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the judiciary is not defined as a “state agency” under the Colorado Open Records Act. It was a ridiculous decision. Of course, the judiciary, which includes the courts, probation and related offices, is taxpayer-funded as a traditional part of state government.
From the Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction):In Colorado, the entire judicial branch is not subject to Colorado’s Open Records Act. Instead, it operates by special rules established by the courts themselves. The state’s media organizations say this arrangement has a corrosive effect on the public’s right to know and understand how its government functions.
No release of video or audio depicting judge's behavior
From CBS4 (Denver): Denver County Court administrators say they will not be releasing audio or video recordings taken in a public courtroom that may show a Denver judge acting erratically and inappropriately saying that releasing the recordings is “not in the public interest.”
Colorado Supreme Court weighs secrecy of state ethics commission
From The Colorado Independent: The Colorado Supreme Court now has two cases before it that could either affirm or weaken the authority of the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission to keep much of it’s work reviewing ethics complaints against public officials out of the public eye.
Editorial: Why the secrecy on judge's removal from the bench?
From The Denver Post: Denver officials have failed to release information about one of their own — Judge Kerry Hada, who apparently was removed from the bench on Sept. 11 and escorted from the courthouse after behaving erratically.
Opinion: Body cameras for Denver jail deputies, too
From The Denver Post: While the use of body cameras has been almost universally supported for police officers on the streets, there has been very little attention to their use in jails. Very few jurisdictions nationwide are using body cameras in jails.
Emails between Eaton school officials reveal private discussions about coach's job status
From The Greeley Tribune: Emails between Eaton School District RE-2 school board members and Superintendent Randy Miller reveal a series of discussions board members had — away from the public eye — regarding longtime baseball coach Jim Danley’s job status.
Opinion: Colorado public defender's office is indeed transparent
From The Denver Post: Many media outlets have alleged that Colorado’s Office of the State Public Defender (OSPD) is not transparent. Several elected officials and some prosecutors have opined the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that the OSPD is both transparent and accountable for every tax dollar we receive.
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