The best to you, Henry Sobanet

“Nobody has done more for Colorado than Henry Sobanet. There should be streets, buildings, and airports named after him. Henry stands as the antithesis of everything politics has sadly become. Though he stood at the helm of our budget, he cared not for money, but for making Colorado a better place.”

Budget director Henry Sobanet, center, and the two governors he worked for, Democrat John Hickenlooper on the left and Republican Bill Owens on the right, in 2015. Sobanet’s last day at the Capitol is today. (Sobanet picture)

The year was 2005 and I was assigned to cover the complicated ballot measures Ref C & D, dealing with taxes and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

I called the governor’s budget director, Henry Sobanet, all hours of the day and night. “Is this correct? What if that happens? Does this mean this?”

These days I’m answering phone calls from reporters.

At closing time recently I posted a Tweet about the ballot rejection rates from unaffiliated voters in two counties. Reporters immediately asked if I had more numbers. “I don’t,” I said,  “but I can call around to the clerks and get some.”

“You would do that on a Friday afternoon?” Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio asked.

Yes, because that’s my job.

Sobanet always answered his cell phone. I once had a a fairly lengthy budget conversation with him one Friday night before he finally admitted he was at a party and talking to me from inside someone’s bedroom.

Today is Sobanet’s last day at the state Capitol after serving the state and two governors for 20 years.

Read moreThe best to you, Henry Sobanet

All about Metro State “U”niversity of Denver

The Student Government Assembly at Metropolitan State University of Denver and the wooden U that students decorated.
One side of a wooden U decorated by the Student Government Assembly at Metro State University of Denver.

College was the best five years of my life so I was thrilled to see the Student Government Assembly at Metropolitan State University of Denver take us up on our offer to decorate a wooden U as part of our @UChooseCO campaign.

I love the group shot of the student leaders, and that they decorated their U from a standing up position on one side and a laying down position on the other.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is handing out the wooden U’s as part of the UChooseCO campaign to help educate unaffiliated voters that they can participate in Tuesday’s primary election, but they can only vote one ballot.

The campaign has a web pageFacebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO. Check out more decorated U’s on Facebook and Twitter.

And the other side of the wooden U.

Lawmakers, county clerks, even three singing sisters, have taken part in reminding unaffiliated voters about the election.

So far, 478,309 Coloradans have returned ballots for the primary election. Of that total, 183,446 ballots were cast by Democrats, 185,810 by Republicans and 109,053 by unaffiliated voters.

All about U — and your quest to be Colorado’s first “kid governor”

Hudson Short, 7, who wants to be Colorado’s first “kid governor,” and his wooden U. (Family photo)

Of course our office sent a wooden U to Hudson Short to decorate. How could we resist after he mailed Secretary of State Wayne Williams a letter in May asking to be “Colorado’s first kid governor”?

“Will kid candidates be included in the next election?” Hudson wanted to know. “I want to make Colorado a great place to live. I want to help people, especially the homeless and poor. Would you please let me know how I can be kid governor?”

Well, Hudson, the Colorado Constitution says you have to be 30 to run for governor, but it makes no mention of the office of “kid governor.” We might have to talk with Gov. John Hickenlooper, who leaves office in January, and the Colorado legislature about that one.

It also says you have to live in Colorado, and your mother, Diana Gatschet, tells us you’ll be moving to New York City in August. Have a great time in the Big Apple. Maybe you can be their first kid  mayor.

Read moreAll about U — and your quest to be Colorado’s first “kid governor”

Goodbye to the Renaissance Man, Roger Johnson. Rest in peace.

Roger Johnson at a Broncos game with his two sons, Gunnar, left, and Chris, right. (Johnson family photo)

You have to be intrigued by a guy who brings a guitar to a Christmas party and sings — the Wabash Cannonball?

Yup, Roger Johnson loved that song and plenty of other music. He was first chair in violin in high school and named his daughter, Amy, after his violin teacher. He also loved Rhapsody in Blue, which was played at his memorial service on Sunday.

I only met Roger one time but his youngest son, Chris Johnson, is Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ executive assistant, so I heard plenty about the man whom attorney Brian McConaty eulogized Sunday as a “larger than life character.”

Johnson was a doctor and a lawyer who was proud to have started the Knife and Gun Club at Denver General when he was in the ER.  He and his wife Gail Laxalt Johnson dined at the White House with President Reagan. Johnson shared his prize-winning tomatoes with everyone.

“The term ‘Renaissance Man’ is perhaps overused these days but never more accurately applied than to Roger,” McConaty said during the service.

Gaspar Perricone, who played for Northwesterrn University, and went on to become a Colorado judge.

Roger Johnson was born Oct. 23, 1928, and died May 29, 2018. He was 89. He is survived by his wife and seven children he loved to talk about. (Here is his obituary.)

Johnson attended Northwestern University where his roommate was Coloradan Gaspar Perricone, the star running back for the team when the Wildcats won the Rose Bowl in 1949 . Perricone invited Johnson to Colorado for a visit and that was it. Colorado is where Johnson wanted to live.

Johnson and Perricone were avid skiers. To pay for their lift tickets, they would play guitar and sing at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen. Both men graduated from the University of Denver School of Law and went into the Army.

Perricone went on to become a District Court judge in Colorado. Johnson went on to earn his medical degree at the University of Colorado.

“He would go to medical school during the day and then do the legal briefing work … in the evening with some court people complaining that he smelled like formaldehyde from his Anatomy Lab,” McConaty said.

Read moreGoodbye to the Renaissance Man, Roger Johnson. Rest in peace.

All about U — and me!

My wooden U, painted my favorite color and adorned with some of my favorite things.

The only thing I knew when I started decorating my wooden U is that I would paint it turquoise and put my “I want my Rocky” pin on it.

Then I scoured through my dresser drawers and visited craft and hobby shops. On a road trip to Jackson and Grand counties with Secretary of State Wayne Williams I bought a “I ♥ Colorado” key chain to glue to the side of the U. “I think I’m up to $60,” I told the boss.

The secretary is handing out the U’s as part of the @UChooseCO campaign to educate unaffiliated voters that they can participate in the June 26 primary election, but they can only vote one ballot. The campaign has a web pageFacebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO.

See that “L” on top of my U next to the miniature telephone? I was thinking of spelling “Lynn” out on one of the U legs but the block letters were too big. I liked the L next to the phone because I am always on one. The sack of letters cost around $7 and I’ve got a whole bag of them.

I particularly like the dogs. Those were plastic buttons from Michaels and I cut the backs off with a wire cutter I borrowed from our IT department. I also bought a tiny dog food and water bowl, but decided not to use it.

Read moreAll about U — and me!