Highlights from the blog and news feed
Aug. 29, 2016
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.
CORA Working Group focuses on database records, open data, alternatives to litigation
Immediately after a bill to modernize the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) died in a Senate committee last session, the Secretary of State’s office offered to bring stakeholders together to work on a 2017 proposal agreeable to both government entities and records requesters. That effort is well underway this summer and has focused on three main topics.
How to resolve open-government disputes without suing the government
Litigate or give up. Those are your legal options in Colorado if a government entity improperly withholds public records, charges you out-of-line fees for inspection or drags its feet on a records request. The same is true if you suspect that a public body violated the Open Meetings Law. In many other states, however, litigation is not the only way to challenge FOI denials.
Editorial: Great Outdoors Colorado should allow state performance audit
The Denver Post: The dispute that surfaced between the state auditor and the board members of the much-loved Great Outdoors Colorado grant program is puzzling, and it has raised the worrisome question of whether the agency has something to hide.
Fort Collins disability board walks out during dad's public comment about group home abuse
The Denver Post: Parents whose children have developmental disabilities are outraged after a community board that manages their benefit money walked out of a meeting while a father was speaking about his son’s treatment at a group home.
Editorial: How Pagosa Springs ran afoul of Colorado's Sunshine Law
The Pagosa Springs Sun: Things went very wrong when the decision was made to allow parties with whom the town was negotiating to enter the executive session and negotiate, which is not allowed by Colorado’s Open Meetings Law.
The Mountain Mail (Salida): A lawsuit filed against the city of Salida alleges that repeated requests for records under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) have been met with delays, incomplete records and exorbitant fees.
Westword (Denver): The way things stand now, obtaining open records from a government agency in Colorado and then going after said government agency if you feel as though you’ve been wrongly denied those records is tough. Jeffrey A. Roberts puts it more bluntly: “Litigate or give up.”
ACLU suit claims immigration officials not following open records law
The Denver Post: Immigration officials violated federal open-records laws denying documents to a lawyer representing a woman who wanted to legalize her immigration status, according to claims made in a lawsuit filed by Colorado’s American Civil Liberties Union.
Lewis-Palmer school board debates limiting public's right to request records
Tri-Lakes Tribune (Monument):Lewis-Palmer school district staff alerted the school board to a growing “issue” with CORA requests, prompting testy debate and discussion of limiting the public’s right to access documents of its school district.
Loveland council and manager discuss communicating with the public
Reporter-Herald (Loveland): Council emails have been accessible by the public online for less than a month and already, council members are trying to find alternate methods of communication because they say, some members of the public prefer that their emails remain private.
Steamboat Springs council members surprised, angered, stumped by request for emails
Steamboat Today (Steamboat Springs): As more cities across Colorado and the nation put the email communications of their elected officials online for the public to review for free, city council members in Steamboat Springs are still communicating online with each other in a manner that concerns government transparency advocates.
Colorado Public Radio:In what may be a first, Great Outdoors Colorado – the fund that distributes tens of millions of dollars in lottery money to recreational programs each year – has asked a judge to block an audit of its operations.
Academy school board wants to gauge public interest before agreeing to video record meetings
The Gazette (Colorado Springs): In response to a few parents calling for Academy School District 20 to be more transparent by videotaping board meetings and posting them online, the five-member board decided to find out whether other people feel the same way.
Editorial: Colorado lawmakers should stand up for public records
The Denver Post: Open records laws are meant to serve the public’s right to know, and thereby create goodwill and trust between citizens and their public institutions. Given Colorado’s poor track record in this area, we hope Coloradans will demand more from their lawmakers next session.
Judge orders town of Pagosa Springs to make executive session recording public
The Pagosa Springs Sun: Judge Gregory G. Lyman of the 6th Judicial District has ordered the Town of Pagosa Springs to “make available for inspection” 42 minutes of a recording of town council’s executive session from Sept. 17 of last year.
Now you can watch Colorado's Independent Ethics Commission in action
Colorado Times Recorder: After receiving a state grant to broadcast its meetings live over the internet, as well as a lessson from Colorado Ethics Watch on how easy it is to broadcast on the internet, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission has made its meetings open to the public via video livestream.
Archuleta County commissioners hold illegal meeting through email
The Pagosa Springs Sun: On July 17, Archuleta County Commissioners Michael Whiting and Clifford Lucero violated the Colorado Open Meetings Law through email communications. Because of the violations, Whiting gave the emails to SUN staff, which primarily concern a letter of cooperation from the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners to the Southwestern Water Conservation District.
Loveland makes council members' emails accessible online
Reporter-Herald (Loveland): The city of Loveland has now made City Council members’ emails accessible to the public online. The City Clerk’s office launched the same kind of system the city of Fort Collins has used for its City Council emails.
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