Aurora council members bump heads over city’s open records policies – for themselves

Aurora Sentinel: About six weeks after City Councilman Charlie Richardson filed the open records request heard ‘round city hall, council members re-upped the debate on how the city fulfills open records requests under state statute.

At the end of the at-times stormy May 6 spring workshop, council members agreed to bring the issue of how the city charges for open records under the Colorado Open Records Act to a future policy committee meeting. The idea of digitizing all records procured through CORA requests in the city was discussed but ultimately dismissed at a Management and Finance Committee meeting earlier this year.

Councilman Bob LeGare suggested the city consider a policy allowing a CORA requester to be eligible for a refund of the fees associated with a request if the final price of the documents was at least 50 percent more than the initial estimate.  Council members expressed tepid acceptance of that proposal.

The latest open records saga was spawned by a request Councilman Charlie Richardson made earlier this year in an effort to procure documents related to to a traffic sign located near an exit lane at the Costco on South Havana Street. Initially estimated to cost about $180 in staff time and printing fees, Richardson became incensed after the estimated price ballooned to nearly $500. He also took issue with the amount of information that was redacted from the documents his request generated.

“May I be so bold to suggest that the basis of the CORA law in Colorado is open access to documents?” Richardson said at the recent meeting at Meadow Hills Golf Course. “It is not supposed to be a minefield in the redaction game, chutes and ladders, OK? … God help any other citizen in this city who tries to go the CORA route.”

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