Highlights from the blog and news feed
Dec. 30, 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's year in review: Transparency highlights and lowlights from 2014
For the CFOIC, revisiting 2014 reveals a somewhat troubling string of stories about issues and problems affecting government transparency in Colorado. Consider them one by one and you might not be all that concerned. But put them in a list and you could reasonably conclude that open government in the Centennial State is still a work in progress.
Successfully challenging a public-records denial should ensure legal fees, amicus brief argues
Successfully challenging a denial of public records entitles you to some portion of your attorneys’ fees even if it was a records custodian who initiated the court action, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and two other organizations argued in a friend-of-the-court brief.
Should Colorado's Sunshine Law apply to county canvass boards?
With possible recounts no longer going forward in three counties, the 2014 election is essentially in the books. But a question lingers: Should county canvass boards, those groups of registered voters appointed to certify election results, be subject to Colorado’s Sunshine Law?
New tracking service compares lawmakers' votes with constituency likes and dislikes
Legislative-tracking services are great for getting information on bills making their way through the Colorado legislature and for following how each state lawmaker votes. But how can you tell if a legislator votes for a bill that her constituency doesn’t like? Or if she votes against a bill that her constituency thinks is terrific?
Editorial: Congress failed on transparency by not updating FOIA
FromThe Denver Post: The ability to solicit information from government officials — particularly when it comes to material showing them in a less-than-favorable light — is a fundamental way of keeping tabs on those in power. So it was disheartening to see Congress fail to pass a bill during the lame-duck session that would strengthen the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Chaffee County asks court to dismiss request for attorneys' fees in open-records case
FromThe Mountain Mail (Salida): Chaffee County asked the Colorado Supreme Court to dismiss election transparency advocate Marilyn Marks’ request that the county pay for her attorney fees in a case stemming from two open record requests Marks made in 2011.
Records originally withheld by Grand Junction district show $27K payment to teacher
From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): A former choir teacher at Grand Junction High School under police investigation resigned her position earlier this month, conditioned on the approval of a settlement with a confidentiality agreement that paid her $27,760 and gave her other considerations, according to records provided to The Daily Sentinel under the Colorado Open Records Act.
Mayor Hancock's office fails to produce documents under open-records request
FromThe Complete Colorado: The Mayor’s office said it could find no documents related to a request for records related to Frontier Airlines. But emails later obtained from Denver International Airport included various employees in the Hancock administration and should have been identified and produced under the Open Records Act. They were not.
Unsealing of documents ordered in Grand Junction airport investigation
FromThe Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): A federal magistrate in Denver ordered the U.S. Attorney to begin the process of unsealing documents related to the investigation of the Grand Junction Regional Airport.
Editorial: A proactive approach to Proposition 104
From Steamboat Today:Steamboat Springs School District is leading the state when it comes to Proposition 104 and the issue of opening the collective bargaining process to the public. Before voters approved the proposition, the Steamboat Springs School Board already had voted to make those meetings open regardless of whether or not the measure received the nod from Colorado voters.
Newly authorized by voters, Boulder holds first closed-door council meeting
From the Daily Camera (Boulder): The Boulder City Council met behind closed doors for the first time, the historic debut of the elected body’s new voter-bestowed ability to discuss municipalization-related strategy and legal advice in secret.
Records show several excessive-force cases in metro Denver jails
From The Denver Post: The Jefferson County sheriff rejected an open-records request from The Post seeking to determine how the officers were disciplined. He cited confidentiality rules in personnel matters — even though sheriffs in other jurisdictions routinely release them to the public.
Opinion: An open letter to Larimer County Clerk & Recorder Angela Myers
From North Forty News: After researching state election statutes and the Secretary of State’s Election Rules, it turns out that I was completely correct and your office and your employees were completely incorrect. The Secretary of State’s Elections Rules contain no requirements or mention of press coverage of the voting process.
Mixed feelings on impact of open teacher negotiations
From TheGreeley Tribune: For Greeley-Evans School District 6 and the Greeley Education Association, who have disagreed more often than they’ve agreed in the past decade, Proposition 104 is a let-the-fireworks-begin moment, right?
Editorial: Data on marijuana edibles should be public
From The Denver Post: The state won’t say how many batches of marijuana edibles have been rejected because of high levels of THC — pot’s psychoactive component that is not to exceed 100 mg per package. That should be publicly accessible information, similar to restaurants’ health code violations or liquor control law violations.
Eagle officials' Florida trip inquiry reveals Sunshine Law violations
From the Eagle Valley Enterprise: An examination of documentation provided in response to questions regarding the propriety of a trip to Florida taken by Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick and Eagle Town Board member Doug Seabury uncovered violations of the Colorado Open Meetings once the pair returned.
Colorado regulators can't answer basic pot questions
From 9NEWS (Denver) and USA Today: Despite a much-heralded system designed to track every marijuana plant grown and sold, and to independently test samples, Colorado’s recreational pot marketplace very much remains “buyer beware,” in large part because state regulators can’t answer basic questions about the industry they oversee.
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