Recently retired Denver attorney Marc Flink spent decades fighting alongside news organizations for public access to the records and workings of government — and played a leading role in some of the most consequential First Amendment cases in recent Colorado history.
A Colorado Court of Appeals ruling in the Boulder Daily Camera’s lawsuit against the University of Colorado regents sets “a dangerous precedent that deprives the public of any meaningful oversight and input into the selection process of a public body’s chief executive,” says a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and 12 other organizations.
Allowing the University of Colorado regents to “engage in manipulative word-play and end-run” the Colorado Open Records Act by defining the term “finalist” to mean a sole “nominee” for the CU presidency would “deal a crippling blow” to the statute, argues a brief submitted to the Colorado Court of Appeals on Tuesday by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
Two words come to mind when looking back at 2018’s government transparency highlights and lowlights in Colorado. Judicial secrecy.
HIPAA is the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, enacted by Congress in 1996. The law’s privacy rules, designed to protect the confidential health information of patients, often are misunderstood and misapplied, and that certainly seems to be the case with the July 5 detention of Greene near the state Capitol, according to legal experts.
Two journalist associations and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition sent a second letter to Denver’s new police chief, expressing disappointment in his “dismissive, non-substantive” response to an earlier letter regarding the July 5 detention of Colorado Independent Editor Susan Greene while she took pictures of officers.
“Deeply concerned, dismayed and disappointed” by the detention of Colorado Independent Editor Susan Greene last week while she photographed police officers, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and two journalist associations are urging the Denver Department of Public Safety to institute intensive First Amendment training for its employees.
The city says the Denver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Exploratory Committee, formed by Mayor Michael Hancock, is not bound by the Colorado Open Meetings Law and, therefore, it can meet however it sees fit. But there is a solid legal argument that the state’s open meetings law indeed does apply to the Winter Olympics exploratory committee. And if that’s the case, the public should be notified of all meetings and the committee should bar the public from attending only under the limited circumstances allowed by the law.
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.
The Colorado Open Records Act defines public records to include “all writings made, maintained, or kept” by government or agency. But are records related to a government-issued cellphone disclosable under CORA if the city has access to them but doesn’t maintain them?