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.
Litigate or give up. Those are your legal options in Colorado if a government entity improperly withholds public records, charges you out-of-line fees for inspection or drags its feet on a records request. The same is true if you suspect that a public body violated the Open Meetings Law. In many other states, however, litigation is not the only way to challenge FOI denials.
Colorado’s Sunshine Law is supposed to prevent more than two members of a local public body from exchanging thoughts outside of a public meeting on matters related to their jobs as policymakers. But Lakewood City Council members appear to be doing just that in a recent email provided to the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
The private emails flap was one of many transparency-related stories we highlighted in 2015 or broke ourselves.
Russell Weisfield and the city of Arvada have settled a lawsuit over Arvada’s use of secret ballots to eliminate candidates for a vacant city council seat.
The Colorado Supreme Court let stand an appellate court ruling that reinstated a citizen’s lawsuit against Arvada for violating the Colorado Sunshine Law.
Despite a 2012 Sunshine Law amendment that bans the use of secret ballots to make most decisions, some municipal governments in Colorado have continued to fill city council vacancies by voting anonymously.
An Arvada resident who sued his city for using secret ballots to fill a council vacancy can indeed show that he was injured by the closed-door process, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday in overturning a district judge’s decision to dismiss the case.
Russell Weisfield, whose lawsuit over the use of secret ballots by the Arvada City Council led to a change in the state Open Meetings Law last year, won the Colorado Press Association’s “Friend of the First” award.
For the CFOIC, revisiting 2014 reveals a somewhat troubling string of stories about issues and problems affecting government transparency in Colorado. Consider them one by one and you might not be all that concerned. But put them in a list and you could reasonably conclude that open government in the Centennial State is still a work in progress.