Public documents that are created and compiled by tax-supported entities such as school districts, municipalities and counties should be easily accessible for the public, newspapers and other interested groups.
When a Republican lawmaker in Colorado recently called his hometown newspaper “fake news,” the family-owned Grand Junction Daily Sentinel didn’t let it go unchallenged. The paper’s publisher, Jay Seaton, wrote a pointed column taking the state senator, Ray Scott, to task over the allegation.
Weld County attorneys filed a motion with Weld District Court seeking the court’s opinion on the release of records requested by The Greeley Tribune. The records relate to a harassment complaint against Commissioner Sean Conway, as well as a subsequent investigation and report by Mountain States Employers Council.
Weld County commissioners went into private, executive session to discuss a county employee’s accusations of harassment against Commissioner Sean Conway.
The General Assembly has a chance to bring forfeiture activity and spending into the light of day. The Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 136, which would dramatically improve reporting requirements for Colorado’s forfeiture laws.
A Denver police officer accused of recording himself with his own body camera as he stole $1,200 from a suspect’s vehicle has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to 18 months probation.
Not every public official or every government entity we cover is guilty of trying to bypass the Colorado Open Records Act. But a couple recent examples have reminded me that transparency in government can be an annoying, pesky, downright difficult concept to follow.
A tried-and-true method for avoiding that accountability is to undermine the credibility of the speaker. When Sen. Scott asserts that The Daily Sentinel is “fake news,” he intends to diminish The Sentinel as a purveyor of reliable information.
Colorado government entities can make access to public records virtually impossible, or at least very difficult to review simply by putting the information into a format that is far from user-friendly. That’s why we support state legislation, Senate Bill 40, to require government officials to release data, if requested, in a “structured data or searchable format.”
The contempt citation sought against clean-air activist Leslie Weise, and her appeal of a lower court ruling, both were dismissed by the Colorado Court of Appeals. Weise and Colorado Springs Utilities – which sought the contempt citation – are to pay their own attorney fees and court costs, according to the agreement.