Marshall: Transparency and democratic values

Douglas County News-Press: I have been heartened and disappointed by reactions to the Colorado Open Meeting Law (COML) suit that state Rep. Elisabeth Epps and I filed against Colorado’s legislature.

Colorado’s voters enacted COML through a citizen initiative in 1971 by a 20 point margin. Politicians immediately chafed at requiring that they conduct public business publicly. A state senator immediately sued to declare the law unconstitutional for violating First Amendment rights of elected officials. But in 1983, Colorado’s Supreme Court definitively ruled that COML applies to the legislature and legislative caucuses.

Lawmakers, however, have been ignoring COML requirements for years.

I am not a persnickety Dudley Do-Right. I’ve served in places where morally gray decisions often must be made. And we are all fallible. Forgiveness of transgressions with the hope that we can do better is something to which we should all strive. (John 8:3-11, KJV). But after becoming a COML expert through holding Douglas County’s Board of Education accountable for their illegal conduct violating COML, ignoring extensive COML violations in the legislature was too much hypocrisy to bear.

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