Opinion: Revise Colorado open meetings law

From The Denver Post:  Earlier this month, the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear Arvada’s appeal in a case regarding a violation of Colorado’s open meetings law. The case now returns to district court to address other motions filed by Arvada, including whether home-rule cities are subject to the law.

It also is one of many examples of why the law is virtually toothless and needs to be changed.

In January 2014, the Arvada City Council used secret ballots to appoint Jerry Marks to fill a council vacancy. This was done despite a provision in the law that says a local public body may not “adopt any proposed policy, position, resolution, rule, or regulation or take formal action by secret ballots”.

As such, I filed the lawsuit that resulted in the court’s recent refusal.

It has now been nearly two years after Marks’ illegal appointment and two weeks after he was voted out of office, yet the costly case continues.

The purpose of the open meetings law is to provide the public with insight into how policy is made and how their leaders vote. This lets the public help shape policy or determine whether or not to re-elect their officials. Yet when it takes years to resolve violations, how can the public do that?

In another high profile case, the Jefferson County School Board was accused of violating the same law. The accusation even appeared on ballots during the recent recall. School board president Ken Witt vehemently denied those accusations and filed a quixotic complaint against himself for violating the open meetings law.

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