Sunshine Week brings cloudiness: citizens unhappy


Posted Wed, Apr 2, 2014

Channel 9-KUSA Denver. [Photo by: Tommy Trask]

Channel 9-KUSA Denver. [Photo by Tommy Trask]

DENVER — The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition punctuated “Sunshine Week” on March 19, 2014 with a panel discussion inside 9-KUSA’s Studio B. hosted by 9-KUSA’s 6 p.m. News co-anchor Kyle Clark.

The panel included Joel Dyer, editor of Boulder Weekly, Keli Rabon, CALL7 investigator for 7NEWS, Steve Zansberg, First Amendment lawyer and president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, along with Melissa Blasius, investigative reporter for 9-KUSA.

Approximately 70 people came from all over Colorado attended. The meeting was open to the public. Many citizens were angry that public officials are not willfully complying with Freedom of Information Laws, by revealing information that they are legally obligated to disclose. Others felt that Colorado’s [Sunshine] Laws are not being enforced.

The public seems to have a more difficult time than investigative reporters and lawyers accessing public records. The forum was held to better educate the public on how to streamline the process of acquiring public records.

“It’s all about control,” said Sarah Watson, after listening to multiple accounts of many Colorado government officials not complying with, or intentionally delaying, public record requests.

Watson attended the discussion to get more information on the legality behind the new video minute records of City Council meetings being kept by the City of Littleton.

The video minutes are ruffling feathers all over Colorado. Maurine Welch, a local volunteer advocate in the disability community, was  concerned that the video minutes cannot even be observed by hearing and vision impaired citizens. “I wonder if having a video recording of meetings is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Welch said.

9-KUSA's Kyle Clark joins panel members in greeting audience members following Wednesday night's "Sunshine Week" meeting. [Photo by: Tommy Trask]

9-KUSA’s Kyle Clark joins panel members in greeting audience members following March 19, “Sunshine Week” meeting. [Photo by Tommy Trask]

The panel was  concerned with Welch’s comment, and Clark quickly turned the question over to the panel’s legal expert, Steve Zansberg. “Whether or not the federal law, which is the supreme law of the land, may impose additional burdens on governments to accommodate people is a very valid point that I can’t offer any opinion on…just haven’t looked into it,” Zansberg said.

The panel was, however, concerned with the disability issue. “That’s something we can bring up,” Clark added. Clark emphasized to audience members that the local news outlets will help citizens out all they can with such problems.

“We’ll drop everything we’re doing,” he said. Rabon echoed Clark’s sediment.

With tension in the studio high, multiple voices could be heard calling for a citizen’s initiative including that of Zansberg. He and the rest of the panel stressed ‘you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,’ but if that fails, then it’s ‘time for somebody to get sued.’

Everybody was in agreement, because the public has the right to know the truth.

For more information on Colorado’s Sunshine Laws or to become a member of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, please visit:

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About Tommy Trask

Thomas Trask is a Denver-Area Freelance Writer and Convergent Journalist.

View all posts by Tommy Trask

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