Highlights from the blog and news feed
Jan. 3, 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.
Fake news to 'fishing expeditions': CFOIC looks back at 2016
Will 2016 be remembered as the year we realized just how much our democracy depends on an informed citizenry? The fake news epidemic was one of many issues the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition highlighted in 2016 or wrote about on its blog.
As CORA Working Group readies 2017 legislation, Attorney General's office announces opposition
After months of work by stakeholders, proposed 2017 legislation is taking shape that would modernize the Colorado Open Records Act and provide an alternative to litigation for resolving CORA disputes. Despite the progress, however, a formidable roadblock surfaced when the Colorado Attorney General’s office announced that it will not support the most recent bill draft.
UNC doesn't have documents from 2014 assessment of president's performance
The Greeley Tribune: The University of Northern Colorado Board of Trustees in a response to student complaints that included a demand to fire UNC President Kay Norton cited a 2014 “comprehensive assessment” of Norton by an outside consultant as proof of Norton’s strong performance. But when The Greeley Tribune requested that comprehensive assessment, it was told UNC had no such records.
Weld County commissioner notifies county of impending lawsuit over whistleblower violations
The Complete Colorado: Weld County Board of Commissioner Sean Conway notified the county that he intends to sue it, and also name the four other members of the board as individual defendants for violating Colorado Whistleblower protection laws.
Editorial: Transparency the best bet for Union Colony school board
The Greeley Tribune: Union Colony officials have opted to keep the public in the dark about the reasons they decided to part ways with Principal Lance Mosness. And until that changes, there’s no way to assess their decision.
Utility denies sulfur dioxide violations, but still refuses to release emissions report
The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Colorado Springs Utilities officials denied that any sulfur dioxide discharge violations occurred at the Martin Drake Power Plant, but still refused to release the report that purportedly contains that emissions information.
Colorado Springs City Council makes decision on lawsuit settlement behind closed doors
The Gazette (Colorado Springs): All Colorado Springs and Utilities properties were being garnisheed by a local lawyer after the City Council rejected a mediated settlement during an executive session. The Colorado Sunshine Law strictly forbids governmental bodies from making any decision during executive sessions.
Englewood police won't release records related to firing of officer
9NEWS (Denver): It’s not clear what happened in January that led to Megan Feebeck’s actions because the attorneys for the Englewood Police Department refused to release records connected to the former officer’s employment, discipline and firing.
Steamboat council releases transcript of closed-door session after transparency concerns raised
Steamboat Today (Steamboat Springs): The Steamboat Springs City Council voluntarily released the transcript of a closed-door session after Steamboat Today requested a recording of the meeting and alleged the council had violated the Colorado Open Meetings Law by making a decision to file a lawsuit outside of a public session.
Opinion: Where would we be without the mainstream media?
The Pueblo Chieftain: Would things be better without newspapers, TV and radio stations? Would we be better off getting our news through Twitter, as the president-elect prefers, or on the internet’s innumerable sites? I don’t think so. Here are a few things to think about.
Court battle to determine if Basalt council properly held closed-door meetings
The Aspen Times:The judge in a court battle over the propriety of Basalt Town Council’s executive sessions and retention of public records opened the hearing with terse questioning over the need for the litigation.
Crawford recall effort focuses on alleged Sunshine Law violations
Delta County Independent: Members of a recall committee in Crawford cite three reasons for the effort: that Mayor Wanda Gofforth has wasted taxpayer money, has failed to conduct town and executive meetings in compliance with Colorado Open Meeting statutes, and has exceeded her authority.
Kefalas on AG's opposition to CORA bill: 'I'm not award of the rationale or the logic behind this'
Fort Collins Coloradoan: Sen. John Kefalas said he is willing to work with the Attorney General’s office on proposed open-records legislation, unless they are “just against more transparency and open government.”
Arapahoe, Douglas counties to audit local board that manages funding for disabilities
The Denver Post: Arapahoe and Douglas counties will audit the community agency that manages benefit money for people with disabilities, a response to a long-standing request from parents whose children receive services.
Judge blocks Planned Parenthood shooting victims from access in case against gunman
The Denver Post: A judge has blocked victims of last year’s Planned Parenthood shooting access to criminal discovery in the case against the accused gunman, saying Robert Dear’s right to a fair trial outweighs their interests in a civil lawsuit against the healthcare provider.
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!