Making an anonymous complaint doesn’t always guarantee confidentiality

From The Aspen Times:  When a local resident reported illegal construction activity to Pitkin County officials in August 2012, he asked them to keep his name confidential, which it has been for nearly three years.

But a recent Colorado Court of Appeals decision could mean the end of a policy by the Pitkin County Attorney’s Office that protects the identity of residents who make land-use complaints.

The appellate court, citing the Colorado Open Records Act, ruled that Pitkin County wrongly withheld the name of a person who complained about illegal construction activity on the property of Red Mountain resident Elesabath Shook. The county plans to see if the Supreme Court will hear its argument to keep the identity sealed.

Aspen and Pitkin County government agencies take varying approaches toward handling resident complaints, which aren’t always subject to confidentiality.

Whether the complaint concerns a land-use violation or criminal activity, the identity of the person tipping off an agency about wrongdoing could become public.

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