2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

City may have violated Colorado Open Records Act

Published: June 16, 2014, 10:13 pm, by Monica Mendoza

 

correction: There was no missing email.

The City of Colorado Springs did provide The Gazette with the email correspondence it requested in January.

The confusion happened when the city released one set of email documents to the media and then returned The Gazette’s request, which was similar, two weeks later. The email correspondence thought to be excluded was included in the city’s Jan 24 response to the request for records.

 

 

 

The City of Colorado Springs may have violated the Colorado Open Records Act law when it did not provide all of the email correspondence The Gazette requested related to the city council’s fired legislative assistant.

In January, Mayor Steve Bach fired the City Council’s newly hired legislative assistant George Culpepper. At the time, the city wasn’t saying much about the issue because it was “a personnel issue.”  

On Jan. 10, 2014, The Gazette filed a Colorado Open Records Act request seeking “all emails sent from Dec. 18, 2013 to present day to and from Mayor Steve Bach, all city council members, Keith King, George Culpepper, Laura Neumann, Mike Sullivan, Alaska Airline and Dan Gallagher regarding George Culpepper; and questions to Colorado Springs Airport officials/Alaska Airlines related to potential legislative policy by Colorado Springs City Council.”

The Gazette received more than 300 pages of emails. There were multiple copies of most emails.

The Gazette learned that Bach fired Culpepper after he called Alaska Airlines asking questions about marijuana and the airline’s policy for research related to a city ban on marijuana.

Later, The Gazette obtained the termination notice to Culpepper from the city’s human resources director which described the call to the airlines as an improper act and “so egregious, and so seriously damaging to the airport’s relationship with Alaska Airlines and other potential airlines serving the community, that termination is warranted.”

Today The Gazette received a copy of an email that should have been included in the city’s response to the CORA request but was not.

If one email was left out, were more? If it happened on the Culpepper CORA request, has it happened before?

According the state’s law, “If a government entity refuses to respond to a CORA request, or a requester believes documents are being improperly withheld, the requestor may serve a three-day notice of intent to sue under CORA, and then file a complaint in district court if the issue was not resolved.”

 

The city’s spokeswoman Cindy Aubrey said the city would go back and rerun the Jan. 10 CORA request.

“It is absolutely a serious issue,” she said.

The city has three days to respond.