Editor’s Column: In support of open records

It’s spring. Oh, not on the calendar quite yet, but I know it’s spring because I have bug bites. I raked my

Niki Turner
flower beds last weekend and came inside with a dozen or so tiny yet interminably itchy bug bites. Trust me, when the first mosquito hatches this year, it will find me. I once got bitten inside a grocery store. If there’s a biting insect in the vicinity, it will find me. Which must mean I’m sweet, right? (Ha!)

Do you know CORA? No, not someone’s long lost great-aunt— CORA is the Colorado Open Records Act, which in the spirit of open government, requires that most public records be made available to the public upon request. CORA was formalized in 1969 and amended in 1996.
Senate Bill 17-040, currently up for debate, is intended to bring CORA into the digital age, clarifying the public’s right to digitized government records in useful format. Some government agencies force people who request records to review them in person, on paper. Others have electronic records available only in formats that are difficult to search and understand.
Amendments to the bill address concerns about personal privacy, cyber security and safety and security of people. The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday with a 4-3 vote.
This isn’t just a bill for journalists, this is a bill for every citizen. As governments transition—along with the rest of us—to digitized records, it’s important that those records continue to be available and accessible to the public. SB-40 doesn’t change which records are open to the public, it just makes sure those records that are digitized are easily available to the public.
In the majority of cases, particularly in local government and special districts (which are also subject to open meetings and records laws), public access to agendas, minutes, workshops and so forth is welcomed and encouraged.
When a governmental entity—on any level—questions or denies the right or role of the press or the citizenry to be present at a public meeting, that’s when rules like CORA are for our safety and protection. When a taxpayer-funded entity wants to conduct business behind closed doors, we need legislation like CORA in place. SB-40 brings a 47-year-old rule into the 21st century. Please consider expressing your support for SB-40 with our state senator, Randy Baumgardner, by phone at 303-866-5292 or email at randy.baumgardner. senate@state.co.us. The bill is expected to go before the full state senate for debate as early as Thursday.

In response to the Rangely Facebook follower who complained about the number of posts she had to scroll through to find a particular story: We schedule all our articles to post to our website throughout the course of the week, not all at once.
Time-sensitive items are posted first. Those posts, once they “go live” are then cross-posted to Facebook and Twitter.
We have no control over when or where our posts show up on individual feeds. Facebook controls that with their mysterious algorithms.
So, if you’re looking for coverage of a particular story, instead of waiting for it to appear on Facebook, I suggest looking in the actual paper, either the print version or the e-edition, which is available on our website.

I know it’s going to snow again (current forecast says we’ll see more of the white stuff by Wednesday), but this weekend looks to be a wonderful opportunity to get outside.
Friday is St. Patrick’s Day, of course. Everyone is invited to come down to the Hugus Building at Sixth and Main for our first annual St. Pat’s Fest to celebrate spring and to raise funds for MS. Kids’ events, sponsored by the rec district, will take place from 6:30-8 p.m., followed by a dance/social from 8-11 p.m. It’s a perfect opportunity to come out of our winter shells and visit with friends and neighbors, all for a good cause!