Highlights from the blog and news feed
Feb. 25, 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.
Arvada resident who sued his city wins Colorado Press Association's "Friend of the First" award
Russell Weisfield, whose lawsuit over the use of secret ballots by the Arvada City Council led to a change in the state Open Meetings Law last year, won the Colorado Press Association’s “Friend of the First” award.
House Judiciary Committee kills bill to make state public defender's office subject to CORA
State lawmakers defeated a bill that would have made the State Public Defender’s Office subject to the Colorado Open Records Act, preferring to let the Colorado Judicial Branch write its own rules for releasing administrative records for that agency and other agencies under its control.
Salazar working on bill to prohibit police from interfering with the recording of police incidents
Recent excessive-force allegations involving Denver police have prompted a state legislator to draft a bill that prohibits law-enforcement officers from interfering with anyone who lawfully records incidents involving cops.
From the Reporter-Herald (Loveland): The beginning of the trial process in Arapahoe County for the man accused in the Aurora movie theater shooting has led to a renewed debate on whether the financial records of the judicial system, and specifically the Colorado’s Public Defender Office, should be subject to the Colorado Open Records Act.
Editorial: Timely remedy for flawed Colorado law on police mug shots
FromThe Denver Post: It’s worrisome any time a law is passed that interferes with freedom of speech or imposes barriers on access to public records. Last year, we were concerned about House Bill 1047, which required any request for a booking photograph to include a signed affidavit that swears the photo won’t be used in online publications that require a fee to remove or delete it.
Chieftain's Roper honored with press association's "Service to the First" award
From The Pueblo Chieftain: The Colorado Press Association presented Pueblo Chieftain reporter Peter Roper with the prestigious Service to the First (Amendment) award. The award is given annually to an individual and/or newspaper that performs outstanding journalism in support of freedom of the press.
FromThe Denver Post: On the same day that state road officials approved a public-private partnership to help finance the $1.8 billion reworking of Interstate 70 in northeast Denver, a bill to add more oversight to such deals was killed in the Colorado legislature.
FromThe Pueblo Chieftain: House Bill 1101 would have clarified that the public defender and alternative defense counsel are, indeed, state agencies that the Open Records Act was intended to cover. It’s a travesty against the public’s right to know just how state-funded lawyers spend taxpayers’ money while defending indigent criminal suspects.
Opinion: Good idea to clarify photo rules in public places
From The Denver Post: A bill being drafted would “clarify” the rules around what law enforcement officials can and cannot do when confronted with someone using a camera. It shouldn’t require clarification, but maybe it does, because cameras nowadays are a ubiquitous and sometimes unavoidable part of our daily lives. And it’s hard for some people to believe that you and I have the right to all but stick a camera in their face.
Ethics Commission looks at trip by Eagle officials who admitted Sunshine Law violation
From the Vail Daily:The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission will investigate a trip to Florida made by two members of the Eagle Town Board last fall to determine if their actions violated Amendment 41 of the state Constitution. The officials have acknowledged “mistakes in procedure” after the trip that violated the state’s Sunshine Law.
From The Denver Post: Thankfully, Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, is drafting legislation that would clarify the rules around what police can and cannot do when confronted with a camera, according to the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
From The Pueblo Chieftain: The public’s right to know should be the guiding light for passing legislation requiring the State Public Defender’s Office to comply with the Colorado Open Records Act. We urge the Colorado House Judiciary Committee to support House Bill 1101, to make sure the public defender does, indeed, come under the Open Records Act. As it should.
From 9NEWS (Denver): The state may never know how much what is already being called the costliest trial in Colorado history in part because those who are defending James Holmes decline to release how much public money they are spending to defend him, according to an investigation by 9Wants to Know.
Opinion: Colorado public defender's office must be transparent
From The Denver Post: The Office of the Colorado State Public Defender claims exemption from the Colorado Open Records Act, the law that mandates transparency in our government and how it spends our hard-earned tax dollars. That exemption renders to the office a level of secrecy not enjoyed by any other state government agency. This lack of transparency robs the public of answers to myriad questions impacting public policy and how we spend Colorado’s limited tax monies.
Readers: Jeffco school board members should keep emails
From Chalkbeat Colorado: We asked our readers, “Should school boards be required to keep electronic correspondence for a certain amount of time? If so, how long and why?” The question was prompted by a recent discussion between the Jeffco Public Schools board and its lawyer, who said the district needed a policy that outlines how it retains electronic files, including emails. But that policy could say emails do not need to be kept.
Court records unsealed by newspaper motion show focus of Grand Junction airport probe
From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Alleged fraud, money laundering and theft involving the leadership of Grand Junction Regional Airport is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation that started in February 2012, while centering on “fraudulent activity” by at least three people, according to court records made public.
Lawmakers seek more transparency about juvenile detention incidents
From ColoradoWatchdog.org: Colorado lawmakers want more information about what’s happening inside the state’s juvenile detention facilities after a skyrocketing increase in fights and attacks that Watchdog.org first uncovered last year.
Columbine killers' "basement tapes" destroyed in 2011, records request reveals
FromWestword (Denver): The Jefferson County sheriff approved the destruction of the so-called Columbine “basement tapes” in early 2011. The obliteration of the videos was only acknowledged recently, though, after a private party filed an open records request seeking access to the them.
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