By Steve Zansberg
It is a tremendous honor and a privilege to have been elected to serve as president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
Colorado’s citizens owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to my law partner and mentor Tom Kelley, who has led the CFOIC for the past 17 years. Tom has been an incredible leader and steward of this organization. He is among the most knowledgeable, thoughtful and well-regarded champions of transparency, not only here in Colorado but throughout the nation. Most recently, Tom spearheaded the effort to convert the CFOIC into a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation to enable the exciting transition now underway.
With the traditional news media facing economic challenges, the CFOIC has evolved to help meet a vital need. The organization is committed to helping not only journalists, but all citizens – the backbone of our democracy – expose the conduct of public business to what Justice Louis Brandeis called the disinfecting power of sunshine.
Since coming to Colorado from Florida a few years ago, Durango Herald Editor Don Lindley has inspired and prodded the CFOIC to transform itself from a relatively small group of committed citizens and organizations into a formidable presence and an effective advocate for open government in our state.
With grant money from the National Freedom of Information Coalition and private contributions, we recently hired Jeff Roberts, a former Denver Post reporter and editor, as our executive director. Jeff has already done an incredible job rewriting the Guide to Colorado’s Open Records and Open Meetings Laws, completely remaking the CFOIC’s website, with a blog, valuable resources and reports on significant government transparency issues, and working to build a more dynamic organization.
The CFOIC has embarked on an ambitious agenda to become the state’s most effective voice and resource to promote open government by forming an increasingly broad coalition of civic groups, businesses and individuals who – despite very different political persuasions and myriad other interests – share the common goal of keeping a watchful eye on the workings of our government. The CFOIC will act as a chorus. By joining together this multitude of voices, we can greatly amplify our collective impact in the state legislature, the courts and the public debate.
I hope you will join the CFOIC and will contribute – your time, energy and financial resources – to help us accomplish this ambitious agenda. As James Madison wrote, “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or, perhaps both… A People who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
Follow the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition on Twitter @CoFOIC. Like CFOIC’s Facebook page. Do you appreciate the information and resources provided by CFOIC? Please consider making a tax-deductible donation.