May 042010
 
Authors: Madeline Novey

Mike Nosler, the top legal counsel for the CSU System Board of Governors, said in a meeting Tuesday that the board should adopt a new open records policy that would allow them to delete electronic messages that are older than one month.

The move, suggested about a month after the Collegian requested a large amount of e-mail material from the board, is expected to alleviate the legal counsel’s time woes in finding and vetting content for open records requests, which can be filed by anyone.

BOG spokesperson Michele McKinney said in a phone interview that the move has nothing to do with the Collegian or any other media entity’s request for records. It’s a part of the process of evaluating system practices now that a chancellor is in place.

Nosler said members should delete e-mails that address matters of “incidental business” like personal communications between board members.

Any person can file an open records request with the board, a public entity, and the board is required to comply within a certain amount of time, generally three days, depending on the breadth of the request.

BOG chair Patrick McConathy asked for clarification on what Nosler was asking the board to do and if what he recommended was best practice.

“I just want to make sure that we’re not doing something we shouldn’t do,” McConathy said.

Nosler assured members that this policy is legal under state open records and meeting rules that dictate what information state agencies are required to archive. The new policy is modeled after those in place at CSU-Pueblo and CU-Boulder, he said.

A second proposed policy change said that the CSU System would require that all open records requests be submitted to General Counsel’s office by mail or fax to ensure that the agency responds within three days, as required by open records law. General Counsel would also require a $20-per hour service charge plus the cost of printing to provide documents requested under CORA, he said.

It’s not unusual for the CSU System to adopt these kinds of rules, said Chris Beall, a Denver-based attorney who represents the Collegian and the Fort Collins Coloradoan. State agencies and municipalities can set their own standards for records retention as long as it complies with open records law.

The system has an obligation to preserve any information that would be relevant to a request from the public, Beall said.

No decision was made regarding the policy. The board moved to discuss and vote on the matter in today’s meeting.

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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