Ending what Sen. John Kefalas called “the most incredible journey,” Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that modernizes the Colorado Open Records Act by clarifying the public’s right to copies of digital public records.
It’s long overdue for one of the absurd practices of some Colorado government offices to end. Specifically, Senate Bill 17-040 has been proposed in the Colorado General Assembly to close a loophole created by officials and bureaucrats avoiding their responsibilities to provide citizens access to the information which everyone always has agreed is public.
Emails of public officials are open for inspection under the Colorado Open Records Act, depending on their content. Such messages can reveal important insights into how government decisions are made, but using CORA to obtain emails can be a frustrating and sometimes futile exercise because records-retention policies tend to be vague and discretionary.
A judge ordered Adams County to describe records withheld from a lawyer who is fighting the impoundment of a pit bull that bit a mail carrier two years ago.
Complaints and disciplinary actions against public school bus drivers are not “personnel” records that must be kept confidential, an Arapahoe County District Court judge ruled.
Congress and state legislatures that provide public funds to police departments to deploy body-worn cameras should attach strings to that purse and mandate that there be a strong presumption of public access to such recordings, with only narrow, carefully defined exceptions.
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.
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.
Registration is open for the 2015 national FOI Summit, to be held at the Curtis Hotel in Denver on Oct. 9-10.
Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill intended, in part, to shine more light on public-private partnerships to finance future transportation projects but also signed an executive order implementing the transparency provisions of the legislation.