Some government entities in Colorado are delaying responses to public records requests because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the disruption of day-to-day transparency obligations so far doesn’t seem as severe here as in other parts of the country.
Public Records Laws
In an extraordinary decision which can only be described as a public flailing, the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado – the governing board for the entire CU system – overwhelmingly lost a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) lawsuit in which the Daily Camera newspaper sought to force the university to disclose the six candidates who actually were finalists in last year’s search for a new system-wide president.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition joined 131 other transparency-minded organizations in urging state, local and tribal governments across the United States “to recommit to, and not retrench from, their duty to include the public in the policy-making process, including policies relating to COVID-19 as well as the routine ongoing functions of governance.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic forces everybody to consider limiting their exposure to other people, local elected officials are starting to think about how they can do the public’s business virtually without violating the Colorado Open Meetings Law.
Rejecting the University of Colorado regents’ interpretation of the open records law as “linguistic gymnastics,” a Denver District Court judge ordered CU to produce the names and applications of six candidates interviewed for the president’s job that went to Mark Kennedy last year.
An unnamed physician is trying to stop the Colorado Medical Board from initiating public disciplinary proceedings against her for allegedly providing substandard care to three patients.
On Thursday, Mar. 19, acclaimed Boulder-based journalist and author Jon Krakauer will headline the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition’s 2020 Sunshine Week panel about reporting on campus sexual assault and abuse.
The ruling in the Boulder Daily Camera’s lawsuit over the University of Colorado’s presidential search will hinge on whether words such as “list” and “group” in Colorado’s sunshine laws mean that the CU Board of Regents should have announced more than one finalist – or whether such words can be interpreted as either singular or plural, a judge indicated.
At the bill sponsor’s request, a Colorado House committee killed a measure that would have significantly weakened the 2019 state law that opened records on police internal affairs investigations.
Did the state’s sunshine laws require the University of Colorado regents to publicly name more than one finalist for the president’s job and disclose their job applications?