Editorial: Let’s focus our sunshine

From the Montrose Daily Press: Transparency is under attack in our state.

Colorado has a long and proud tradition of conducting its governmental business in full view of the public. This is thanks in part to Colorado voters who approved a sunshine law in 1972, which requires, with rare and very specific exemptions, that all meetings of governments within the state be conducted in full public view so that people can see what decisions governmental bodies make and what deliberations take place before decisions are made. This law combined with the Colorado Open Records Act has made our government more transparent.

But in a recent court case alleging a violation of the sunshine law in Arvada, a District Court judge declined to rule on whether there was a violation because she said the person who filed the suit lacked standing because he would not have been personally affected by the decision. In the more than 40 years of our sunshine law any person has been able to challenge violations of the law. In fact the Colorado Press Association notes that the premise of the law is that any member of the public should be able to allege a violation.

Thankfully a bill is working its way through the Legislature that would clarify that anyone who has been denied rights conferred by Colorado’s Open Meetings Law can challenge any violation of the law.

Both the Colorado Press Association and the Colorado Broadcasters’ Association are supporting the bill and the Montrose Press is throwing our support behind it as well.

For more information on the bill, visit http://legiscan.com/CO/sponsors/HB1390/2014.

It takes nearly everyone to keep our government transparent. The Montrose Press and other media outlets need public support to keep our representatives open and honest. Contact your representatives to let them know this bill is needed.

It is unfortunate bills like these are needed.

If officials and governments were open and honest, we wouldn’t need all the laws we do today. But we have to accept reality and make do the best we can.

The Montrose Daily Press editorial board includes Publisher Francis Wick, Managing Editor Justin Joiner and Senior Reporter Katharhynn Heidelberg, with community input from Jim Branscome and Dennis Bailey. The positions reflected in an editorial do not necessarily reflect the individual opinions of specific editorial board members.

The full editorial has been reprinted with permission from the Montrose Daily Press.

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