Open records law needs more openness

Daily Sentinel sports writer Allen Gemaehlich ran into an anomaly in the Colorado Open Records Act this week while working on a story about the finalists for the job of women’s basketball coach at Mesa State College. The state law doesn’t require coaching finalists’ names be made public, even though it would require finalists’ names to be public for people seeking to become president of the college.

To his credit, Mesa State President Tim Foster saw no need to withhold the names of the five candidates for the women’s basketball coaching position, and they were published in the Sentinel Wednesday.

But the larger issue is why that dichotomy exists in the state law. We hope some state lawmaker will attempt to change the law.

We realize that a basketball coach affects only a small number of people. But the problem isn’t restricted to this situation.

The law requires that the names of finalists for the position of a school district superintendent be made public, but not those of potential school principals. The public access to the names of finalists for a city manager job is mandated by the law, but not for the position of police chief.

In both of those instances — police chief or school principal — it might be very beneficial for the public to know who the finalists are. Often a citizen who has lived in or has ties to another community will have information about how a candidate performed there.

People should be able to know as much about how their governments conducts business as possible and the current Colorado Open Records Act is an obstacle to that. It needs to be changed.


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