Why I gave to Project Angel Heart

Ellis McFadden was memorialized at the Project Angel Heart facility after his death in 2015. (Lynn Bartels/The Spot/Denver Post)
Ellis McFadden was memorialized at the Project Angel Heart facility after his death in 2015. (Lynn Bartels/The Spot/Denver Post)

Many good causes caught my attention on Colorado Gives Day but in the end I chose just one, in honor of a man whom I barely nodded to in life and came to admire in death.

I donated to Project Angel Heart because of the late Ellis McFadden, a community activist, selfless volunteer and “unwavering champion for equality” who died of throat cancer on July 5, 2015. He was 65.

His memorial service was held at Project Angel Heart, which delivers meals to improve the quality of life for those coping with life-threatening illness.

Although I had seen McFadden around the Capitol and at political events, I didn’t even know his name until 2013 when the Colorado Democratic Party honored him at its annual Jefferson Jackson dinner for his volunteer efforts. I mentioned him in an article about the event, but offered no details.

When McFadden was close to death, the legislature honored him as did Gov. John Hickenlooper, who issued a proclamation. Tributes poured in Facebook. That’s when I realized just how special he was.

“It will take an army of volunteers to fill his shoes,” Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver said at McFadden’s memorial service.

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Journalist Peter Blake, 1936-2016: The end of an era

Journalist Peter Blake has died at the age of 80. (Rocky Mountain News/Ellen Jaskol/Denver Public Library)
Journalist Peter Blake has died at the age of 80. (Rocky Mountain News/Ellen Jaskol/Denver Public Library)

When former Rocky Mountain News reporter Peter Blake got up on his roof in mid-October to take care of the air conditioner, his wife Sandy scolded him.

“Peter, you’re 80,” she said. “You shouldn’t be walking around the roof.”

He told her he was fine, but unbeknownst to Blake, he wasn’t. He had no trouble with the roof, but by Oct. 19 he couldn’t throw a baseball and his speech was slurred. He checked himself into a hospital on Oct. 20, where he was diagnosed with a fast-moving brain tumor.

“We were in Palo Alto at the CU-Stanford game and he didn’t even tell us until the game was over because he wanted us to enjoy it,” Sandy said, recalling the visit with her son.

Peter Blake, an avid baseball fan, political insider and smokejumper, died at Denver Hospice on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife, two sons, other family members and a legion of admirers who admired the plain-spoken and tough but fair  journalist.

“Peter was a ‘high-alert’ guy,” said former Gov. Dick Lamm, noting that when his press secretary said Blake wanted an interview “you knew something was up.”

“He was always respectful, but you knew it was not going to be an easy interview. He would dig in places and come up with questions and you needed to be prepared.”

Services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 1401 E. Dry Creek Road. A reception will be held afterward at the church.

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Secretary Wayne Williams doesn’t hold back on elector lawsuit

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has ripped two electors who are suing the state over a law that says they must support Colorado's presidential winner, who was Hillary Clinton. (Carol Lawrence, The Gazette/Special to the SOS)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (Carol Lawrence, The Gazette/Special to the SOS)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has a reputation for being pretty unflappable and low key, which is why his blistering response to two Colorado electors suing the state has attracted such attention.

Evil. Odious. Faithless. Arrogant.

Those were some of the words Williams used in response to the lawsuit challenging a state law that requires the  electors to vote for the presidential winner in Colorado, which in this case was Hillary Clinton.

The lawsuit is part of a longshot effort try to block Republican Donald Trump from officially winning the presidency when the Electoral College votes on Dec. 19.

Williams was the El Paso County clerk and recorder when flames came down the mountain toward his Colorado Springs office the night of the 2012 primary.

Williams is fired up that four of the nine Colorado electors have indicated they want to team up with other electors nationwide to vote for another candidate for president.

“Instead of honoring the will of the Coloradans who voted for them,” Williams responded, “these two faithless electors seek to conspire with electors from other states to elect a president who did not receive a single vote in November.”

Williams took heat on social media for his stance.

Here is Williams’ full statement:

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Goodbye to the positive Jan Perry

Jan Perry and D.J. Davis, at her retirement party Thursday. In the background are campaign finance manager Steve Bouey and Trent Parker from the IT division. (Kris Reynolds photo)
Jan Perry and D.J. Davis, the deputy director of the Business & Licensing Division, at her retirement party Thursday. In the background are campaign finance manager Steve Bouey and Josh Johnson in voter registration. (Kris Reynolds photo)

For someone who worked at the Secretary of State’s office for less than four years, Jan Perry’s retirement festivities were a big deal.

Her colleagues in the Election Division hosted a potluck lunch for her on Thursday. Later that afternoon, other staffers joined them in the conference room for cake, cupcakes and fruit.

Perry admitted she was surprised at how many people showed up, but then as Secretary of Wayne Williams wrote in her retirement letter, “Your co-workers universally love your can-do spirit and willingness to happily take on all duties. Everyone has mentioned how much you will be missed.”

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Secretary Wayne Williams tells JBC why he spent grant funds

Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Joint Budget Committee Tuesday afternoon. With him to his left is Chief of Staff Gary Zimmerman and Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert. To his right is the SOS's budget guru, Brad Lang.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Joint Budget Committee Tuesday afternoon. With him to his left is Chief of Staff Gary Zimmerman and Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert. To his right is the SOS’s budget guru, Brad Lang.

In Boulder County, 158 ballots arrived in the mail the day after the Nov. 8 election. In Larimer County, only one arrived on Nov. 9, but there were 64 ballots the next day.

El Paso County reports that by Nov. 16, it has received 268 ballots that arrived after Election Day, while Douglas County by Nov. 14th had received 213 ballots.

Under Colorado law, a ballot must be in the possession of a county clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. A District Court judge ruled in 2014 that even if ballots are postmarked before the election, they are invalid if they arrive after 7 p.m.

That’s why Secretary of Wayne Williams has been using federal Help America Vote Act funds to assist clerks in paying for 24-hour ballot drop boxes, which are regularly emptied by election workers. Williams was asked to explain his stance regarding the funds when he appeared before the Joint Budget Committee Tuesday afternoon.

“My philosophy is they ought to be used to try to get key parts of the Secretary of State’s mission done. One of the key factors is ensuring that every Coloradan is able to securely cast his or her ballot,” he said.

“My theory is the funds ought be used to help Colorado vote instead of being used to help the Secretary of State have a bank account. So yes, there was a more aggressive use of those grant funds over the past year.”

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