Colorado Transparency News – Jan. 30, 2018
Newsletter of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping Coloradans understand and use their rights of access to the records and proceedings of government and the judiciary.
SAVE THE DATE! MAR. 16, 2018, FOI WORKSHOP AND AWARDS LUNCHEON
Judge orders Aurora to conduct balancing test in lawsuit challenging denial of police IA records
Citing two Colorado Supreme Court decisions, a judge has ordered the Aurora Police Department to produce a written analysis of “pertinent factors” it did not weigh before rejecting an open records request for an internal affairs investigative file.
Colorado legislators endorse crime victims’ right to know the locations of out-of-state prisoners
State lawmakers advanced legislation that would require the Colorado Department of Corrections to let crime victims and prosecutors know the locations of inmates who are incarcerated out of state.
Judicial committee revives CFOIC’s proposed standard for sealing criminal court records
There is new life for CFOIC’s proposal to set a uniform statewide standard for sealing criminal court files in Colorado.
House committee kills bill aimed at stopping widespread encryption of police radio traffic
Legislation designed to stop law enforcement agencies and other governments in Colorado from encrypting all of their dispatch radio communications died in a committee of the state legislature.
Editorial: Who watches the watchdogs?
The Pueblo Chieftain: When the state’s voters passed a constitutional amendment creating the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission in 2006, the last thing they expected was for the ethics panel to declare itself above the Colorado Open Records Act. But that is what the commission proposes — making its operations less transparent and thus more secretive.
State ethics commission challenged over open records, again
Colorado Politics: The state’s Independent Ethics Commission has decided to write its own rules about how and whether it is subject to the state’s open records law, and that’s drawing pushback from the Colorado Press Association, the Colorado Broadcasters Association, the Secretary of State’s Office and other open records advocates.
Editorial: Coloradans rightly cherish openness; the IEC needs to comply with CORA
The Durango Herald: One of the most basic values of our democracy is that the people on whose behalf, and by whose charge, the government acts have the right to know what it is doing. The rights of the public to scrutinize the records and attend the meetings of public bodies are firmly ensconced in state statutes.
Judge to release ‘vast majority of records’ related to job performance of Weld Co. clerk candidate
The Greeley Tribune: Weld District Court Judge Marcelo Kopcow will release “the vast majority” of records The Tribune has requested on the job performance of Weld County Clerk and Recorder candidate Elisa Kunkel, citing the public’s compelling interest see such records.
Editorial: Records on candidate’s performance in county clerk’s office should be public
The Greeley Tribune: It goes without saying we believe the records we’re seeking should be public. It is true the Colorado Open Records Act provides an exemption that allows government agencies to withhold information in an employee’s “personnel file.” However, courts have consistently defined that exemption narrowly, ruling records showing discipline imposed upon public employees and other records reflecting investigations into their on-duty official conduct are not part of the personnel file exemption.
Boulder County seeks attorney’s fees, related costs in open records lawsuit
Times-Call (Longmont): Boulder County has asked the Boulder District Court to order Gunbarrel resident Kristin Bjornsen to pay more than $3,900 in attorney’s fees and related costs – an amount the attorney’s office contends represents only a small portion of the expenses it incurred in defending the county in Bjornsen’s open-meetings and open-records lawsuit.
Colorado’s oil and gas regulator puts new restrictions on public comments
The Colorado Independent: Next time you want to voice an opinion or concern to state oil and gas regulators, you’ll want to plan ahead.
Denver police acknowledge errors with 1,000 crime reports, prompting internal investigation
The Denver Post: The Denver Police Department has discovered problems with 1,000 of its crime reports, prompting an investigation into who is responsible for the errors and whether someone intentionally fudged the numbers.
Colorado lawmakers look to bolster consumer protections after Equifax breach
The Denver Post: In the wake of last year’s Equifax security breach, Colorado lawmakers in both parties are looking to crack down on companies that collect and store personal information that could be used by identity thieves.
Will UNCs president search be open or closed?
The Greeley Tribune: An open search for the next University of Northern Colorado president would entail bringing the top three or four candidates to campus to meet students, staff and faculty. In a closed search, the board would choose from among the top candidates without publicly revealing who they are.
Estes Valley Planning Commission responds to Sunshine Law violation
Estes Park Trail-Gazette: The Estes Valley Planning Commission held their first meeting after Town Administrator Frank Lancaster alerted the Town Board to a possible violation of Colorado’s Sunshine Law and addressed the issue directly while pledging changes for greater transparency and communication.
Denver is challenging its own ethics board over ‘all in the family’ gift disclosures
Colorado Public Radio: Can a city influence itself? That’s a question the Denver Board of Ethics has asked since November when board members decided that substantial gifts from city agencies to members of the City Council or the mayor’s office required public reporting. But the Denver City Attorney challenged that opinion, saying the city is one family, and council members and other city employees shouldn’t have to disclose gifts from within that family.
Libraries sue Elbert County commissioners over censorship fears
9NEWS (Denver): The people who run Elbert County’s libraries are suing because they don’t want politicians determining who is in charge of what people read.
Denver’s Winter Olympics exploratory committee met, but the public wasn’t invited
The Denver Post: The sports stars, politicians, and business movers and shakers who make up the exploratory committee for a potential Denver bid to host the Olympic Winter Games have begun digging into the issue — but, so far, the discussions are being held behind closed doors.
Editorial: Estes Valley Planning Commission disregarding the rules
Estes Park Trail-Gazette: The use of emails to hold rolling meetings without the public being involved is a serious infraction. As a member of a public board you cannot discuss board policy or business in an email with more than two board members. The Estes Valley Planning Commission violated this rule.
FCC commissioner scolds online Longmont Observer for ‘tacit support’ of pirate radio signal
Times-Call (Longmont): A pirate radio signal that first shot out across Longmont’s airwaves late last year has drawn an unusual, high-level scolding from the Federal Communications Commission — directed not at the illicit broadcasters, but to an online news outlet that wrote about their hijacking of an FM frequency.
FOI Litigation Fund
Having your FOI request denied may leave no other option than pursuing legal action against the rejecting public agency or official. The National Freedom of Information Coalition offers financial support to litigate open government lawsuits through the Knight FOI Litigation Fund. Backed by a generous grant from the Knight Foundation, the fund helps to defray upfront costs such as filing fees, depositions, court costs and other expenses associated with legal actions. Applications may be submitted through CFOIC or directly to NFOIC.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on membership dues, grants and gifts. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation or becoming a member. Thank you!