COVID-19 touched nearly every aspect of our lives in 2020 so of course it affected government transparency and public access to courts in Colorado.
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 free and independent press is fundamental — it is essential — to American democracy at all levels. But knowing that is precisely why Coloradans must begin a conversation about alternative ways to fund local journalism — even ways that involve public dollars.
The state health department could dispose of a former high-ranking employee’s emails because the records retention schedule for state agencies gives officials the discretion to decide which emails are important enough to keep. The Colorado Open Records Act also doesn’t provide any meaningful guidance about the retention of public records.
A judge ruled against a Texas-based consultant who alleged that Colorado’s recently retired securities commissioner violated the Colorado Open Records Act by refusing to fulfill a records request “unless and until” the consultant identified his client.
Emails of public officials are open for inspection under the Colorado Open Records Act, depending on their content. Such messages can reveal important insights into how government decisions are made, but using CORA to obtain emails can be a frustrating and sometimes futile exercise because records-retention policies tend to be vague and discretionary.
The Jefferson County School District is finally preparing a policy for the retention of emails used for official business by board members and employees, more than nine months after Chalkbeat Colorado reported that the district has no such policy.