Editorial: Trust compromised by feds arrogance

From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Apparently, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell believes the laws of Colorado can be ignored when she and her Washington, D.C., retinue arrive in town — that our laws don’t apply to Beltway bigwigs.

That’s the only message one can glean from Jewell’s refusal to allow a reporter from the Craig Daily Press to attend a meeting Tuesday in Craig that included Jewell, three Moffat County commissioners, Gov. John Hickenlooper and other officials.

Because the three commissioners were present, the gathering clearly qualified as a public meeting under Colorado’s Open Meetings Law, and therefore should have been open both to members of the press and the public. But members of Jewell’s entourage twice escorted Daily Press reporter Erin Fenner out of the meeting room and said it was a private meeting, even after County Commissioner John Kincaid told Fenner’s editor the meeting was open. A radio reporter was also denied access.

It appears only those with press credentials were kept out.

Later, Daily Press Managing Editor Noelle Leavitt Riley spoke to Jewell in person as the secretary was preparing to leave, and Jewell reiterated that the meeting with the commissioners and other public officials was closed.

Jewell and her staff can legally have all the closed-door meetings they want. But Tuesday’s meeting was covered by the state law. Moffat County gave appropriate notice that it was scheduled and open to the public. Jewell has no authority to overrule them and declare a meeting closed that legally must be open.

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