A split screen might be the best way to think about government transparency in Colorado in 2019. On one side is the ground-breaking new state law that opens records on completed police internal affairs investigations. On the other is the trend among law enforcement agencies in our state to encrypt 100 percent of their scanner transmissions.
Colorado Sunshine Law
A major battle plays out daily in Colorado as some of our elected and appointed officials – all of whom took a solemn oath to serve all Coloradans – do everything possible to frustrate disclosing information belonging to the people. These fights involve access to records concerning public policies created with taxpayer dollars.
A Colorado Springs school board circumvented the state’s transparency laws in hiring its superintendent, a parent alleges in a lawsuit that raises issues like those in another recent legal challenge that seeks the names and records of all finalists for the job of University of Colorado president.
A case before the Colorado Court of Appeals focuses on what city councils and other government boards must tell the public before they meet in private.
Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition’s new 30-page “Guide to Colorado’s Open Records and Open Meetings Laws” covers what you need to know about access to information from state agencies and local governments.
Local governments in Colorado would be encouraged to post meeting notices online, rather than in a designated physical location, under a bipartisan bill approved by a committee of state lawmakers.
Two words come to mind when looking back at 2018’s government transparency highlights and lowlights in Colorado. Judicial secrecy.
Colorado lawmakers are taking steps to ensure that people who serve on state government boards and commissions understand their obligations under the sunshine laws and adhere to other “best practices.”
In a year that featured plenty of freedom-of-information lowlights, Colorado lawmakers in 2017 provided a welcome ray of sunshine – a helpful new tool in the never-ending quest for government transparency. Senate Bill 17-040, which modernized the Colorado Open Records Act, was one of many topics featured on CFOIC’s blog and news feed in 2017.
When a charter school board in Pagosa Springs agreed last month to release the audio recording of a closed-door meeting, it was the second time in less than two years that the local newspaper successfully challenged an apparent violation of the Colorado Open Meetings Law (COML) – without going to court.