Highlights from the blog and news feed
April 13, 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.
Colorado Court of Appeals revives citizen's secret ballots lawsuit against Arvada
An Arvada resident who sued his city for using secret ballots to fill a council vacancy can indeed show that he was injured by the closed-door process, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in overturning a district judge’s decision to dismiss the case.
Many records on state judicial branch employees would be off limits under proposed new rules
Public access to records on employees of the Colorado Judicial Branch would be substantially more limited than what’s available regarding other state government workers under proposed rules endorsed by a committee of the judiciary.
CFOIC and media organizations argue for public release of names of teachers who called in sick
A legal move by the Jefferson County teachers’ union to block the release of names of teachers who collectively called in sick last fall incorrectly claims that information on absences is a private personnel matter, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition argued in a friend-of-the-court brief.
Do closed-door Jeffco "working groups" violate Proposition 104 requirement for open negotiations?
How is it OK for Jeffco school district and union negotiators to meet privately? Didn’t 70 percent of Colorado voters last Election Day approve Proposition 104, requiring open collective bargaining negotiations in Colorado school districts?
State budget includes new AG's lawyer to handle growing number of records requests
The $25 billion budget bill that passed the Colorado Senate includes a relatively miniscule appropriation for a new position in the Attorney General’s office to help with a growing number of requests for public records.
House committee debates "right to record" police, advances bill to promote body cams
A bill that underscores the public’s right to record police activities was met with opposition from law enforcement authorities and prosecutors who called the measure overly punitive and worried about its effect on their ability to obtain recordings as evidence in criminal cases.
Editorial: Strengthening the right to record police
From The Denver Post: Officer Michael T. Slager is being charged with murder for the appalling shooting of an unarmed black man in North Charleston, S.C., for one reason only: The incident was caught on video. The video’s importance is hardly a news flash, and we mention it only to underscore how critical it is that recordings of police encounters with civilians be encouraged and protected, including in Colorado.
Interpretation of 100-year-old law keeps state labor investigations secret
From Rocky Mountain PBS I-NEWS: It is illegal for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to disclose the name of an employer who has violated wage laws, no matter how egregious or – for that matter – benign the employer’s actions are. All complaints and investigations of employers, even after they’ve been resolved, are confidential under the state’s interpretation of a 100-year-old law.
School districts across state finding ways to skirt the intent of Proposition 104
From The Complete Colorado: It appears that lawyers and administrators across the state have found new terminology to skirt the spirit of Proposition 104. At least until a judge is asked to determine otherwise, some are interpreting it to mean that not all negotiation meetings are to be open.
Emails withheld because disclosure may cause "substantial injury to the public interest"
From the Colorado Springs Independent: When the Independent sought emails from private accounts, the city of Colorado Springs asserted that many messages were “so candid or personal that public disclosure is likely to stifle honest and frank discussion within the government” and that “public disclosure … may cause substantial injury to the public interest.”
FromThe Colorado Springs Independent: Don’t think for a minute that the court system in El Paso County welcomes citizens who need to access court records. In fact, Clerk of the Court Lynette Cornelius declares that those records aren’t the public’s records at all.
Opinon: School violence reporting in Colorado needs to be more transparent
FromThe Colorado Statesman: House Bill 1273 not only corrects the clerical error that led to the lack of reporting of the school shooting at Arapahoe High School, it creates an efficient, easily accessible database for parents.
Air Force Academy provides little information about cadet death
FromThe Gazette (Colorado Springs): Officials released few details about an Air force Academy cadet who died after he was found in a school dormitory. An official said the death is not an apparent suicide, but declined to release details of the injuries, including whether the cadet had been assaulted.
Littleton district agrees to release Arapahoe HS shooting reports to Claire Davis' family
From The Denver Post:The Littleton board of education voted unanimously to approve a proposal from Claire Davis’ family to start arbitration proceedings that would avoid a lawsuit over her death and allow for full discovery of events leading up to the December 2013 shooting at Arapahoe High School.
Judge orders documents unsealed in Carbondale murder case
From the Post Independent (Glenwood Springs): New details about what led to the arrest of Arturo Navarrete-Portillo in his wife’s death — Carbondale’s first homicide in 12 years — will be made public, Garfield County District Court Judge James Boyd decided in weighing the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and the press, and the Sixth, which guarantees a fair trial.
State auditor faults CDOT for lack of transparency in U.S. 36 deal
From The Denver Post: A deal that allowed a private company to manage and toll portions of U.S. 36 between Boulder and Denver is actually a good deal for taxpayers, a state audit says. But the review of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s handling of the U.S. 36 contract with Plenary Roads Denver pointed out plenty of flaws, including a lack of transparency with lawmakers and the public.
Glenwood Post Independent asks court to unseal murder case papers
From the Post Independent (Glenwood Springs): The Post Independent asked a Garfield County District Court judge to make public a document that led to the arrest in Carbondale’s first homicide case in 12 years. The PI also seeks to unseal a public defender’s motion that strives to maintain secrecy of the arrest affidavit.
Increasing transparency while making government "a little more hip"
From the Colorado Springs Independent: Government isn’t generally known for innovative ideas. But Go Code Colorado, an award-winning program run out of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Business Intelligence Center, seems like a fresh approach. In just its second year, it’s managed to achieve several goals that tend to elude government offices: increasing transparency, bringing in youthful perspectives, and helping businesses grow.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition's efforts to defend the FOI rights of Coloradans rely on membership dues, grants and gifts. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation or becoming a member. Thank you!