Editorial: Colorado open meetings law, over and out?

From The Denver Post:  If your local city council breaks Colorado’s open meetings law by conducting a secret vote to fill a vacancy, you could naturally go to court and seek to have the selection of the new council member overturned.

Couldn’t you?

Incredibly, a district judge in Jefferson County has said that’s not true. In a case involving the Arvada City Council, Judge Margie Enquist concluded that even a resident in the affected district had no standing to sue.

She ruled the plaintiff, Russell Weisfield, “has not sufficiently alleged an injury-in-fact. He does not list himself among the four finalists eliminated by the voting procedure (nor does he contend that he had an individual interest in the outcome of the election.)”

Actually, the injury ought to be self-evident. Colorado law prohibits a state or local public body from adopting “any proposed policy, position, resolution, rule or regulation or tak[ing] formal action by secret ballot.” It does this in the interest of government transparency and an informed citizenry. To the extent a city council flouts this requirement, it injures everyone’s ability to function as an informed citizen.

That’s no doubt why the law specifically says “any citizen of this state” has a right to go to court in response to violations.

It’s inconceivable the General Assembly meant only those who lost a secret ballot as candidates or who were expressly advocating for positions at issue in a secret ballot had standing to object.

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