Editorial: Let the sun shine in

From Steamboat Today:  The subject of “work product” has reared its ugly head again with the revelation that Steamboat Springs City Manager Deb Hinsvark recently sent two emails to members of the Steamboat Springs City Council and marked the correspondence as confidential by designating them as work product.

Under the Colorado Open Meetings Law, also known as the Sunshine Law, the use of work product is allowed but limited. Work product can include advisory or deliberative materials assembled to assist officials in reaching decisions, such as preliminary drafts of documents or reports. Work product does not include any final version of a document, report or audit. Any material that previously has been labeled work product automatically becomes public once it is distributed to members of a public body for their consideration at a public meeting.

The correspondence that Hinsvark marked as work product was described to be “mundane” by several council members, but we want to make it very clear that the practice of using the work product label to keep communication confidential and away from the scrutiny of the public and the press is a serious subject.

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