The 2021 Colorado legislative session produced a mixed bag of good and not-so-good developments for those concerned about government transparency.
Open Meetings Laws
A bill that lets public bodies in Colorado disclose just one finalist when choosing a new chief executive officer such as a school superintendent, a university president or a city manager will become law without the signature of Gov. Jared Polis.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition sent a letter to Gov. Jared Polis, requesting a veto of House Bill 21-1051, which would allow state and local public bodies to disclose just one finalist for chief executive officer positions.
Like most other government bodies, special district boards in Colorado have met over Zoom or some other video-conferencing platform during much of the COVID-19 pandemic. But they’ve done so, state lawmakers were told, not knowing for sure whether state law permitted their virtual meetings.
A Colorado Court of Appeals ruling in the Boulder Daily Camera’s lawsuit against the University of Colorado regents sets “a dangerous precedent that deprives the public of any meaningful oversight and input into the selection process of a public body’s chief executive,” says a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and 12 other organizations.
The Boulder Daily Camera formally asked the state’s highest court to review the Colorado Court of Appeals’ 2-1 reversal of a district court ruling against the University of Colorado regents for refusing to publicly disclose the names and applications of all six candidates interviewed for the president’s job that went to Mark Kennedy in 2019.
State lawmakers advanced legislation that would let public bodies in Colorado disclose just one finalist when choosing a new chief executive such as a city manager, school district superintendent or university president.
Calling Colorado’s open-government statutes “seriously flawed” regarding the appointment of chief executives, a Colorado Court of Appeals panel decided 2-1 that a district court judge erred in ruling that the University of Colorado regents should have publicly disclosed the names and applications of all six candidates interviewed for the president’s job that went to Mark Kennedy in 2019.
A judge has ordered a Colorado Springs school board to disclose the recordings and transcripts of executive sessions used to whittle down a group of finalists for the district superintendent’s job.
Elected officials could exchange scheduling emails and other messages that do not concern the “merits or substance” of public business — without worrying about violating the state’s Sunshine Law —under a measure advanced Monday by a Colorado House committee.