In a year that featured plenty of freedom-of-information lowlights, Colorado lawmakers in 2017 provided a welcome ray of sunshine – a helpful new tool in the never-ending quest for government transparency. Senate Bill 17-040, which modernized the Colorado Open Records Act, was one of many topics featured on CFOIC’s blog and news feed in 2017.
Open Meetings Laws
When a charter school board in Pagosa Springs agreed last month to release the audio recording of a closed-door meeting, it was the second time in less than two years that the local newspaper successfully challenged an apparent violation of the Colorado Open Meetings Law (COML) – without going to court.
Happy birthday to us – and a shout-out to some of Colorado’s original freedom-of-information fighters. Thirty years ago, on Aug. 3, 1987, 24 representatives of various news and public-interest organizations gathered at the Denver Press Club to create a state Freedom of Information Council, the entity now known as the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
The searchable video technology on Platteville’s “Meetings on Demand” page is similar to what you’ll find on many other local government websites in Colorado. But the town of 2,600 paid nothing for it.
An environmental and wildlife activist sued the Boulder County Commission, alleging a “persistent pattern” of improper closed-door meetings and repeated violations of the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).
How much specificity is required under the law when a government body votes to go into executive session? In two recent court decisions, judges in Jefferson and Eagle counties offered starkly different viewpoints.
A Jefferson County charter school board violated Colorado’s Open Meetings Law by failing to sufficiently announce the topics of two closed-door meetings in 2015, a district court judge has ruled.
Will 2016 be remembered as the year we realized just how much our democracy depends on an informed citizenry? The fake news epidemic was one of many issues the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition highlighted in 2016 or wrote about on its blog.
Journalists must “double down on the public trust” and governments must “release their stranglehold on information about the public’s business,” former Denver Post Editor Greg Moore said, accepting an award from the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
Litigate or give up. Those are your legal options in Colorado if a government entity improperly withholds public records, charges you out-of-line fees for inspection or drags its feet on a records request. The same is true if you suspect that a public body violated the Open Meetings Law. In many other states, however, litigation is not the only way to challenge FOI denials.