Gov. Hickenlooper’s last speech mentions a favorite: beer

Colorado Gov. John W. Hickenlooper delivers his final State of the State address Thursday at the Colorado State Capitol. (Photos by Evan Semón Photography/Special to the SOS)

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former brewpub owner, twice mentioned “beer” when he delivered his eighth and final State of the State Thursday.

The term-limited governor has mentioned beer in at least six of his eight State of the State speeches.

The first reference this year to beer came when the governor talked about “topophilia.”

The brewpub that John Hickenlooper founded, Wynkoop Brewing Co., commemorated his first inauguration with a beer.

“It’s our love of place, and reflects our love of Colorado,” Hickenlooper told the 100 lawmakers and others in the packed House chamber.

“It’s the growling of tractors in Brush’s Fourth  of July parade. It’s the smell of barbecue at the little league ball fields in Sterling on a summer night. If you’ve seen a sunrise over the plains, drank a cold beer after a day of hunting, or consider ‘Rocktober’ a real month, you’ve experienced it.”

He also talked how in ancient Greece, discussions about hot topics took place over large dinners and lasted days.  There was no “cable TV debate or tweet storm,” different viewpoints emerged and people “invested their time in each other, often fueled by wine.”

“Here in Colorado, we’ll stick with beer,” he said, drawing a friendly protest from Rep. Edie Hooten, a Boulder Democrat who likes her wine.

Hickenlooper also said “giddy up” twice on Thursday. That refers to a story he tells often, with someone asking about the opposite of the kind of “woe” that means sorrow and distress and getting the cheerful answer “Giddy up!”

Two years ago, Hickenlooper published his memoir, “The Opposite of Woe: My life in Beer and Politics.”

He ended his State of the State by saying, “Thank you for your partnership, your friendship, and for deepening our love of this wonderful, wild ​place. One last time from this podium: Giddy up!”

Read moreGov. Hickenlooper’s last speech mentions a favorite: beer

Polly Baca, the legendary Latina

Sitting on the side of the Colorado House before it convened Wednesday morning are former lawmaker Polly Baca and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who are involved in a lawsuit over the electoral process. With them are former House Speaker Ruben Valdez and Teresa Duran, mother of the current speaker, Crisanta Duran of Denver. The speaker said her mother is “as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.” (SOS photo)

Former lawmaker Polly Baca, a legend in state and national Democratic politics, delivered the prayer in the Colorado House on opening day Wednesday, 40 years after she began her fourth and final year in the House.

Baca took a break from writing her memoirs to stop by the House chambers. Some of what will be in her book:

She served as the national director for Viva Kennedy in 1968, and was at the California hotel with Bobby Kennedy when the presidential candidate was assassinated.

While serving as the special assistant to the DNC chair she often worked really late. One night in May 1972 she thought she heard something but  didn’t see anyone in the hallway when she checked. She left about 3:30 a.m. and learned later that morning someone had broken into the Watergate.

Read morePolly Baca, the legendary Latina

Eat, drink and make merry with the Colorado Restaurant Association

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, and Grand Junction Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night. (SOS photo)

When I covered the legislature for the Rocky Mountain News the editors loved it that the Colorado Restaurant Association’s reception occurred on opening day, meaning I actually made deadline so I could dash over to the event that night.

My first Blue Ribbon reception was in 2000 and one of the first lawmakers I talked to was Rep. Marcy Morrison, a Republican from Manitou Springs. Where’s that? I asked. She explained it was west of Colorado Springs and I remember thinking, “El Paso County! She must be really conservative!” Talk of an example of why stereotypes don’t work.

These days I don’t have to worry about deadlines, but I still can’t wait for the legislature’s opening day and the best legislative reception of the year. My tweet from last night’s Blue Ribbon reception:

Read moreEat, drink and make merry with the Colorado Restaurant Association

Secretary Williams mingles with lawmakers on opening day

Secretary of State Williams, who lives in Colorado Springs, posed with ROTC students from Mitchell High School in the Springs. The students presented the colors in the House on the opening day of the 2018 legislature. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams greeted lawmakers and other dignitaries today as the 2018 legislative session got underway.

“Opening day is a great Colorado tradition, and I enjoy talking to the lawmakers,” Williams said. “It’s always good to discuss how we can work together for Colorado and its citizens.”

Colorado Secretary of State and three House Democrats, Pete Lee of Colorado Springs, newly selected Dylan Roberts of Vail and Mike Weissmann of Aurora before the start of the session today. (SOS photo)

Williams made stops in the legislative leaders’ offices before heading to the House floor to mingle with Republicans and Democrats, meet new friends and greet old ones, including Tom Kennedy, the father of Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. Tom Kennedy and Williams practiced law at the same time in Colorado Springs.

Speaking of lawyering, at one point Williams and Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, were engaged in a lengthy conversation on the House floor.

“I never knew before, but Wayne used to practice at the law firm where I practice now,” Gray said. “We talked about how he used to practice with some of the people I still work with today.

Read moreSecretary Williams mingles with lawmakers on opening day

Madison Lee’s Merry Christmas to Secretary Wayne Williams

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams displays the gift and cards he received from Madison Lee and her family. He met them last year when he announced that Madison was Colorado’s Doodle 4 Google contest winner. (SOS photo)

One of Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ fondest moments of 2017 was announcing that fourth-grader Madison Lee of Aurora had been named Colorado’s Doodle 4 Google winner, so you can imagine his delight in opening a package from the Lee family.

“Merry Christmas Mr. Williams!” Madison wrote in her homemade card. “Thank you for the work that you do … I’m a fifth grader now, but I’m still not enjoying music or math.”

Then fourth-grader Madison Lee, after Secretary of State Wayne Williams in February 2017 announced that she was the Colorado winner of the Doodle 4 Google competition. (Google)

What Madison loves is art, and that’s how she ended up in her auditorium at Black Forest Hills Elementary last year surrounded by classmates wearing Google T-shirts.

They had no idea that Williams was about to announce that Madison’s drawing had been chosen as the Colorado winner for Google’s annual K-12 nationwide artwork contest for She also didn’t know that her mother, Jungeun Lee, and her father, Kyungjoon Lee, were standing the back of the gymnasium.

In addition to Madison, the Lee family sent a Christmas card to the secretary, thanking him for making the announcement at the school assembly. “It was an amazing, phenomenal moment for us and we appreciate your time,” the Lee family wrote.

“This is just incredible,” Williams said, as he read their cards and unwrapped a box of Lindt truffles. “I had the honor of recognizing Madison as the winner almost a year ago, in late February, and to get notes from the family about what it meant to them — and still means to them — is so touching.”