Editorial: Transparency key to democracy

The Colorado Springs Business Journal: Open records and open meetings assure transparent governing. It’s that simple. Any argument for closing records should be met with both skepticism and alarm.

Why? Because keeping records from the public keeps important — sometimes vital — information from the people appointed and elected officials pledged to serve.

In this case, the Colorado Springs Business Journal’s sister paper, the Colorado Springs Independent, and the Colorado Springs Gazette are seeking the autopsy reports of El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick, and a car theft suspect, Manual Zentina, both of whom died in February as law enforcement officials were trying to apprehend Zentina. A bystander was also gravely injured in the incident and that has raised questions about law enforcement procedures.

Robert Bux, the county coroner, is asking the courts to keep the autopsies from public view, citing the grief of the deputy’s widow and his children as the main reason. As much as we understand and sympathize with the family’s grief, more is at stake in this case. Much more.

Open records are about more than an individual — and this court decision is about more than a single case. It will set a precedent for further decisions to keep the public in the dark, whether the case involves law enforcement officials or children or alleged criminals.

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