Go Code Colorado: another year of data-driven competition

Simon Tafoya, the policy director for Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams, at the Go Code Colorado challenge kickoff Wednesday night in Denver (SOS photo)

Colorado’s funkiest and most fun data contest — Go Code Colorado — kicked off Wednesday night, marking the fifth year that the Secretary of State’s office has invited creative minds to use public information to build a product that helps businesses.

“We work hard to make data available and usable for Colorado businesses,” Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in his opening remarks.

Previous winners have developed a range of projects. One helped small farmers locate farmers markets and price information. Another created a platform for companies to connect with potential employees based on personality match.

Sen. Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat, heaped praise on the Secretary of State’s office and the award-winning Go Code Colorado program during last year’s competition.

“This is, in my opinion, the epitome of how we should be thinking about government moving forward,” he said. “We should be thinking about how to take the assets and the innovation of the new industries that are popping up around tech and see how that expertise and that talent solves some of the problems that maybe government can’t do on its own.”

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Fracking & friendship: Dan Haley made my nephew’s day

Erin Cummings, who teaches science at Skinner Middle School in Denver, and her student, Maxwell Bungum, my nephew. (Skinner photo)

One day when cleaning out my Google account I saw an e-mail from my nephew Maxwell Bungum that I had missed. I opened it up to find an invitation to edit his fracking homework.

Fracking! Editing! I was too busy to inquire what was going on, but Max called several days later to say, “Did you get my e-mail? You’re supposed to forward it.” Then he hung up and headed for school.

I still didn’t know what the whole thing was about but I forwarded his report to Dan Haley, the president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association. What happened next made a 12-year-old happy, his parents very proud and his sixth-grade science teacher at Skinner Middle School ecstatic.

“A CEO actually took the time to write a full blown letter,” teacher Erin Cummings said. “We need more CEOs to do that. I was shocked when Max showed me the letter.”

Haley told Max his paper was “fantastic.”

“We need more people like you who take the time to research a controversial topic, in this case hydraulic fracturing,” Haley said, “and then draw your own conclusion based on science and facts, rather than what your friends or social media might be saying.”

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OnSight Public Affairs’ holiday card is outta site

This year's holiday card from OnSight Public Affairs, featuring, left to right, Ben Davis, Anne Pogoriler, Curtis Hubbard and Mike Melanson.
This year’s holiday card from OnSight Public Affairs, featuring, left to right, Ben Davis, Anne Pogoriler, Curtis Hubbard and Mike Melanson.

I  realized I had a stack of unopened mail on the dining room table last night and discovered another awesome holiday card, and from one of my favorite political firms.

OnSight Public Affairs went with a “Star Wars” theme, which is perfect timing considering the latest hype over the latest installment. A movie card is included.

“May the holiday be with you!” the cover of the card reads, emblazoned over a galaxy.

The flip side shows the OnSight team —  Ben Davis, Anne Pogoriler, Curtis Hubbard and Mike Melanson — dressed as characters from Star Wars.

I have a long history with three team members.

Melanson, a founding partner, recalls that I physically threatened him during the 2003 Denver mayoral campaign, which I am sure I did. In today’s climate the police would probably be notified but back then it was called “working your sources.

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Sen. Cory Gardner, “our environmentalist,” addresses CACI

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at a lunch Thursday sponsored by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. (Photo courtesy of Evan Semón)
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at a lunch Thursday sponsored by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. (Photo courtesy of Evan Semón)

Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was introduced at a business lunch in Denver on Thursday as “our environmentalist on Capitol Hill” and dang if he didn’t get up and recycle a joke from his 2014 campaign.

Gardner noted that the attack ads aimed at him featured “grainy black-and-white pictures” and seemed to air “every 30 seconds.”

“One of the greatest places you can go to as a Republican in a heated campaign is Cabella’s,” he said, referring to the giant fishing-and-hunting outlet.

Per usual, the line elicited laughter. Gardner talked about customers coming up to him at the Cabella’s in Grand Junction and asking how he was doing. Two men in particular were staring at him. One walked off but the other said, “Hey, hey, are you — ?” and Gardner smiled and said, “Yeah, yeah, I am.”

“So he calls his buddy over and says, ‘Look, it’s Bill Owens!'” Gardner said, referring to a former governor.

The crowd at the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry gathering let out a big laugh, and Gardner then finished off with another line: “So now I go to REI.”

Keith Pearson, chair-elect of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, and Travis Webb, a managing partner at BKD LLP, the new CACI chair, at a lunch Thursday (Photo by Evan Semón)
Keith Pearson, chair-elect of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, and Travis Webb, a managing partner at BKD LLP and the new CACI chair, at a lunch Thursday in Denver. (Photo by Evan Semón)

The crowd also welcomed CACI’s new chairman, Travis Webb, a managing partner at BKD LLP, one of the nation’s largest accounting and advisory firms. The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry ‘s motto is “We champion a healthy business climate.”

Gardner last year defeated Democrat Mark Udall, becoming the first candidate in 36 years to knock off an incumbent Colorado U.S. senator. He told the crowd that he and Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and the rest of the Colorado delegation — featuring three Democrats and four Republicans — get along better than some delegations that are all members of the same party.

“The Colorado delegation works together better than any other delegation in the country,” Gardner said, adding that helped the state get the funding to finish the beleaguered Veterans Affairs hospital in Aurora.

The senator touched on a variety of topics, including broadband, deregulation, marijuana and banking, trade agreements and aerospace and technology. He got a big round of applause when he said the Senate passed the first long-term transportation bill in more than a decade, particularly after he spelled out what that money means for Colorado. And he talked about the need to bring the economic boom in certain parts of Colorado, such as the Denver metro area, to the rest of the state.

Gardner also joked on the situation in Washington, saying he is the only senator not running for president, and noted the one thing D.C. can agree on is who will not be speaker. He then pointed to CACI’s executive director, former state House Speaker Chuck Berry, and said a petition was circulating to put Berry in the post.

The line about Gardner being an environmentalist drew this response on Twitter from Conservation Colorado: “Interesting.” His environmental record was criticized during the campaign.