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.
Open Meetings Laws
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.
Lawyers disagree on whether Colorado’s Sunshine Law permits the Englewood City Council to choose a finalist for the city attorney’s job behind closed doors.
Six months after a controversial, contentious meeting of the Elbert County Commission, county residents are still waiting to read the meeting minutes.
On matters affecting public information, the General Assembly did little during this year’s session to improve access. The most significant legislative win for government transparency doesn’t actually affect governments.
Although nonprofits serving people with disabilities in Colorado won’t be subject to the state’s open-records law, it appears they will be required to provide the public with certain financial information and other documents.
A Jefferson County charter school violated Colorado’s Sunshine Law and retaliated against a family when the parents asked questions about their daughters’ education, a lawsuit claims.
The Society of Professional Journalists’ Colorado chapter honored Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, with its 2016 First Amendment award. Roberts also won a first-place award for blogging in SPJ’s four-state “Top of the Rockies” contest, which honors journalists in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
A Kiowa resident and Elbert County have settled a lawsuit alleging that county commissioners violated Colorado’s Sunshine Law last spring.