Why Colorado gets a failing grade on access to public information

From Route Fifty: At this point, the battle over access to public records in Colorado has the feel of bureaucratic trench warfare.

Each side knows well where the other side stands and what weapons it has at its disposal. Treaty negotiations stop and start in rooms far from from the action, including courtrooms. Casualties mount. There is no end in sight.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that a state-by-state government integrity assessment released Monday by the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity gave Colorado an F grade for public access to information. The state received a D+ rating overall.

Here are a few of the battles making headlines and clogging inboxes in just the past week.

Three school board members in Jefferson County were recalled from office partly based on accusations that they had skirted state open meetings laws.

Colorado State University President Tony Frank has repeatedly denied requests by the Coloradoan newspaper in Fort Collins to make available a digital database of the salaries of the public university’s 5,000 employees. The newspaper is investigating complaints concerning pay inequities tied to gender bias. But university lawyers say the institution is under no obligation to produce the digital version of the database—a thumb drive or a Dropbox version—because the information is available on a single hard copy of some 150 pages kept at a university library.

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