Highlights from the blog and news feed
Oct. 20, 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.
Is FERPA a good excuse for withholding information about the Arapahoe High killer?
Littleton Schools Superintendent Scott Murphy cited a federal student privacy law as a reason he could not answer reporters’ questions about what school officials knew about threats made by student Karl Pierson before the shooting at Arapahoe High School last December. But FERPA does not apply to adult students who are deceased, according to multiple sources which say that a student’s privacy rights lapse upon his or her death.
Award-winning reporter Benns "cranks out story after story about how citizens deserve better"
Reporter Teresa Benns has endured verbal attacks and threats of physical violence while documenting and commenting on the workings and failings of government in Saguache County and the small town of Center. She perseveres because it’s her duty, she said, accepting the CFOIC’s Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award.
A 2013 report illustrated the confusing and expensive landscape of “research and retrieval” fees charged to CORA requestors by various state, county and municipal government entities. One year later, Colorado Ethics Watch and CFOIC have revisited those same government entities to see if things have improved.
Witt's missing emails point to possible flaws in Jeffco policy, state open records laws
FromChalkbeat Colorado: Call it “the case of Ken Witt’s disappearing emails.” Jefferson County school board president Witt has no official record of district-related messages that he sent or received from a private email address during the last half of September, a time when the suburban county was embroiled in a heated debate about how teachers should be paid and how U.S. history should be taught.
Pueblo council president, accused of making city policy in emails, announces resignation
FromThe Pueblo Chieftain: City Council President Sandy Daff announced she is resigning her seat on Oct. 31. Daff and two other council members were revealed in news reports this summer to have been making city policy, especially concerning trash collection, in emails among each other.
Endorsement: Prop. 104 will open the smoke-filled room
From The Gazette (Colorado Springs): The public’s business should not be conducted in private, behind closed doors. Sometimes it is, and Proposition 104 would fix a big part of the problem. It deserves to win in a landslide.
Steamboat Springs school board makes collective bargaining meetings public
From Steamboat Today:After a lengthy discussion with several public comments, the Steamboat Springs School Board voted to make collective bargaining meetings open to the public, regardless of the outcome of Proposition 104.
Opinion: Limited executive sessions in Boulder will lead to better decisions
From the Daily Camera (Boulder): Boulder City Ballot Question No. 2B presents this question: Shall the City Council be authorized until Dec. 31, 2017 to meet in executive session exclusively for the purpose of obtaining and discussing legal advice, including negotiation strategy, with respect to Boulder’s electric utility, with no final action being taken in any executive session and all such executive sessions recorded in their entirety?
Boulder's Issue 2B allows closed city council sessions
From the Daily Camera (Boulder): Boulder's city charter requires that all meetings be open to the public, and that same public has rejected previous efforts to give the Boulder City Council the executive session authority allowed under state law. Boulder City Council members hope voters will see the issue differently if the only reason they can enter closed session is to receive legal advice related to municipaliization.
Police called on Watchdog reporter who asks for governor's tax returns
From ColoradoWatchdog.org: The campaign spokesman for Gov. John Hickenlooper threatened a ColoradoWatchdog.org reporter with arrest and called police when the reporter attempted to get the candidate’s tax returns, which were distributed to other Colorado media weeks ago.
Saguache commissioners comment on letter about Sunshine Law violations
From the Center Post-Dispatch: During their regular session Tuesday, Saguache County Commissioners heard from County Attorney Ben Gibbons concerning a letter Gibbons received from Colorado Press Association attorney Steven Zansberg regarding open meetings.
Police chief in Monte Vista battles county coroner for autopsy report
From The Monte Vista Journal: Monte Vista Police Chief James Grayson said he had tried several times to get an autopsy report from the county coroner and was unsuccessful even after submitting a Colorado Open Records Request.
From The Durango Herald: For one ballot measure facing voters in November, the question will come down to whether sunshine is a good government measure or a burden to the local control negotiating process.
Endorsement: Proposition 104 shines a light on teacher contract talks
From The Denver Post: The government’s business is supposed to be the people’s business, but that’s sometimes hard to believe when it’s conducted behind closed doors. Proposition 104, which would make school districts’ collective bargaining process open for all to see, is a useful step in the direction of transparency. Voters should approve it.
Proposition 104: Transparency or an assault on local control?
From Sky-Hi News (Grand County): Should collective bargaining between local teachers unions and school districts be open to the public? It is a question Coloradans will decide on the November ballot when they consider Proposition 104..
Open meetings initiative could have unintended side benefit to unions
From Chalkbeat Colorado: The conservative think tank the Independence Institute is no fan of teachers’ unions, so some observers find it interesting that an institute-driven ballot measure might have the side effect of giving those unions a little advantage in contract negotiations with school districts.
Opinion: Yes on Proposition 104 to keep local control with school districts
From The Denver Post: Secrecy is the enemy of good government. Fortunately, here in Colorado, we have developed a strong tradition of transparency and open government so that citizens can see how their tax dollars are being used. One transparency issue, however, that has been killed year after year in the Colorado legislature would have mandated open meetings between school boards and teachers unions during the collective bargaining process.
Opinion: No on Proposition 104 to keep local control with school districts
From The Denver Post: Proposition 104, which voters will see on their ballots this November, has a seemingly simple premise: to require any meeting of a school board or between any representative of employees and the district where a collective bargaining agreement is being discussed, to be open to the public. However, the key word there is “discussed,” because it could end up creating a lot of unnecessary confusion and bureaucracy for Colorado’s school districts and could end up costing taxpayers more money in the end.
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