If it’s becoming commonplace for state and local officials to communicate using disappearing or encrypted messages, what does that mean for government’s obligations under the state’s transparency laws?
Public Records Laws
A free and independent press is fundamental — it is essential — to American democracy at all levels. But knowing that is precisely why Coloradans must begin a conversation about alternative ways to fund local journalism — even ways that involve public dollars.
The state health department could dispose of a former high-ranking employee’s emails because the records retention schedule for state agencies gives officials the discretion to decide which emails are important enough to keep. The Colorado Open Records Act also doesn’t provide any meaningful guidance about the retention of public records.
Actual malice. Autopsy reports. The Columbine killers’ “basement tapes.” Stapleton Development Corp. records. The governor’s cellphone bills. The meetings and records of a county retirement board. Tom Kelley waged court battles over these issues and many more as an attorney for The Denver Post, other news organizations and the Colorado Press Association, steadfastly and expertly defending the public’s right to know and the journalist’s right to report.
Government transparency laws are designed to make sure the government gives you what it’s obligated to give you, even if those documents may be embarrassing or may get someone fired. Recently though, government agencies have been using a new tool to keep documents a secret. That tool is money.
When a government agency wants $5,850 to fulfill a request made under the Colorado Open Records Act, is it effectively denying access to those records?
A Las Animas County District Court judge has ordered the county coroner to pay attorney fees and court costs for improperly denying a Trinidad resident’s request for the autopsy report on a murder victim.
Obtaining public records in Colorado could soon get a bit more expensive. Beginning Monday, July 1, state and local government entities will be allowed to charge a maximum of $33.58 an hour – after the first hour – to fulfill requests made under the Colorado Open Records Act.
A judge in Las Animas County has ordered the public release of an autopsy report that a lawsuit claims was wrongly withheld from a Trinidad resident who runs a Facebook-based community news site.
Colorado does a great job protecting the confidentiality of individual student records but suppresses far too much academic performance data at the school and district level, which can leave families, communities and researchers in the dark about how well groups of students are doing.