Highlights from the blog and news feed
Aug. 5, 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.
Some governments raise CORA research rates, others not yet in compliance with new state law
A month after a new statewide cap on public records fees went into effect, many governments and agencies in Colorado have adjusted their records policies to comply with the revised statute. But several have yet to post policies that conform to the provisions of HB 14-1193, even though the bill was signed by the governor in early May.
Interactive: CORA research rates before and after HB 1193
Click on the image below for an interactive graphic showing how more than 100 governments and agencies in Colorado have responded to the new statewide cap on fees for open records that went into effect July 1.
Download Zansberg white paper on how emails are treated under Colorado Open Records Act
Just like the rest of us, government officials and employees in Colorado conduct much of their official business online nowadays via emails, texts and social media. But there is a big difference between their emails and the emails of those of us in the private sector: Much, if not most, of their business happens to be our business, especially if it involves the expenditure of public funds.
Video: CFOIC President Steve Zansberg explains new state law that caps fees for public records
In a six-minute video, First Amendment attorney and CFOIC President Steve Zansberg explains what you need to know about the new CORA fees law and what to do if you think you’re being charged too much for public records.
Editorial: Pueblo council members again on wrong side of Colorado Open Meetings Law
FromThe Pueblo Chieftain: An exhaustive Chieftain review of more than 1,000 pages of emails found that three city officials blatantly violated the state’s sunshine law in July. The emails show an extensive, two-day conversation in which the city council members were directed — although they claim to have been advised rather than told — on what stance to take on one of the city’s most controversial issues.
Pueblo County official worked to manipulate city councilors in emails
From The Pueblo Chieftain: Emails obtained under the Colorado Open Records Act show that three council members illegally discussed and reached conclusions about city issues in email conversations with a county official, rather than in public meetings.
From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Like most newspapers, we are strong advocates for shield laws that provide some protections for journalists who play a critical role in American-style democracy: to inform so the people can self-govern. Pushing for these protections is not a narrow self-interest. A free press is necessary to act as a watchdog for our government, but it can’t do its job if the government can intimidate reporters. Anyone who values transparency in government should support the concept of reporter’s privilege.
Editorial: School superintendent should reveal punishment of upperclassmen
From the Craig Daily Press: Five Moffat County High School coaches were asked to resign following an alleged hazing incident that took place at football camp from June 18 to 20 in Evanston, Wyoming. The coaches were asked to resign after the school district completed its investigation of the coaches and students. What’s still unknown is the disciplinary action the school district will take against the upperclassmen who allegedly hazed freshmen.
Colorado gets an "F" for accessibility of executive orders
From the Sunlight Foundation: What do weather disasters, new educational mandates and drilling for gas on state land have in common? All of them can be regulated through the power of the governor’s executive order.
Editorial: Disdain for transparency from Greeley school board nothing to smile about
From The Greeley Tribune: When the Greeley-Evans School District 6 Board of Education forced out Superintendent Ranelle Lang in a negotiated resignation this June, there was precious little discussion — at least in public — about the move, which cost taxpayers more than $250,000.
Greeley-Evans school superintendent resigns amid allegations of secret board meetings
From The Greeley Tribune: Ultimatums, secret meetings and charges of Open Meeting Act violations brought the festering tension among the Greeley-Evans School District 6 board members and former Superintendent Ranelle Lang to a boil, resulting in Lang resigning at a cost to taxpayers of more than a quarter million dollars.
Editorial: Closed Denver police disciplinary hearing is wrong call
From The Denver Post: The decision to bar the public from a Denver police disciplinary hearing involving an extramarital affair appears to be an effort to avoid embarrassment. Frankly, that’s just not a good enough reason.
From The Durango Herald: The Colorado Open Records Act is based on the premise that public documents – that is, those created by public bodies for their official business – are, by and large, available for public inspection. There is a lengthy and justifiable list of exceptions to that premise, of course, which includes personnel files, medical and mental-health data, trade secrets and library records, among many others, but the presumption of openness rules the day. The underlying notion that the public has a right to see most public documents is solid in Colorado, and the state Supreme Court recently bolstered that foundation with its ruling that those who successfully sue to access public records are entitled to recover attorneys fees. It was a sound decision.
From the Colorado Springs Independent: “Putting the fox in charge of the henhouse” may be an overused phrase — yet it’s hard to think of another that more aptly describes the way the city of Colorado Springs responds to records requests for city officials’ emails, the Indy has discovered.
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