Secretary Williams accepts award from Colorado Nonprofit Association

Michael Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center, on Tuesday accepted awards from Renny Fagan, right, the president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, at an association workshop at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel. (SOS photo)

As a statewide elected official, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is regularly asked to present awards during the Colorado Nonprofit Association conferences, but the tables were turned Tuesday when it was Williams up on stage accepting an award from CEO Renny Fagan.

He joined three state lawmakers and another state agency, the Colorado Department of Revenue, who also were honored with Impact Awards for their help passing a bill this year that allows Colorado taxpayers the opportunity to donate all or part of their tax refund to any nonprofit registered in Colorado.

Three lawmakers share a laugh before being honored Tuesday for their work on a bill that allows Coloradans to donate part or all of their income-tax refund to any registered nonprofit. From left to right, Reps. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver. (SOS photo)

“I think one of the things that Mike Hartman over at the Department of Revenue and I have a common is we’re looking for ways in government to say ‘yes’ as opposed to ways to say ‘no.’ I think both of us are very proud to be a part of this process,” Williams said.

This time, the secretary did not break down.

Also honored was Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver, and Reps. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, who sponsored Senate Bill 141 in the 2018 legislative session.  SB 141 authorizes a new line on the tax form for 2020 called the “Donate to a Colorado Nonprofit Fund,” which allows Colorado taxpayers to donate part or all of their income-tax refund to any nonprofit registered in Colorado.

The effort was several years in the making.

“We’re all here celebrating a kind of a Super Bowl victory, but we had a couple of losing seasons in this deal,” Wilson said, of his and Court’s initial efforts. “A liberal lady and a conservative cowboy working together, what could go possibly go wrong with that deal?”

Read moreSecretary Williams accepts award from Colorado Nonprofit Association

Kurt Morrison hits the road

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Kurt Morrison, who is leaving the Hickenlooper administration, ran into each other this week at The Avenue Grill. (SOS photo)

I’ve been teased about some tweets before, like when I wished Colorado happy birthday but had the age wrong, but nothing beats Gov. John Hickenlooper’s holiday party when I took a picture of Secretary of State Wayne Williams and the gov’s legislative director, Kurt Morrison.

I called them trans buddies, which generated plenty of frantic texts to me. I was simply referring to transportation, I replied. The secretary and the director have worked on road stuff together.

Morrison’s announcement that he is leaving the administration this month revived memories of that incident. I wondered whether I had a picture of him and a co-worker brought up the trans buddies tweet.

But talk about fate. The secretary and I ran into Morrison this week.

Read moreKurt Morrison hits the road

Tom Noel, also known as Dr. Colorado, to appear for Colorado Day

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and University of Colorado Denver history professor Tom Noel, after stepping of a 16th Street Mall shuttle bus on Monday. (SOS photo)

One of the best things about riding the 16th Street Mall shuttle is you run into folks you know, including Tom Noel, a lover of history, particularly Denver and Colorado history.

It turns out Professor Noel, or Dr. Colorado as he is known, on Monday was hitching a ride to his barber so he would look spiffy for Colorado Day today when Noel and other members of the new State Historians Council will be introduced to the public at History Colorado. Noel will lead the group.

I was happy to introduce Noel to my boss, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who asked, “What’s a state historian?”

Read moreTom Noel, also known as Dr. Colorado, to appear for Colorado Day

Late Gov. Ralph Carr, honored yet again

Ralph Carr being sworn in as governor of Colorado in 1941. He went on to be honored for his defense of Japanese-American citizens. (Denver Public Library, Western History photographic collections, The Denver Post)

By Yasaman Hosseni

Late Gov. Ralph Carr, whose fierce opposition to interning Japanese-Americans during World War II led to him being named Colorado’s “Person of the Century,” has been recognized for another honor.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Carr is one of three finalists for the Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award given by the National Association of Secretaries of State. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams nominated Carr for the award, which recognizes acts of “political courage, uncommon character and selfless action in the realm of public service.”

Carr was first elected Colorado governor in 1938, and again in 1940. He stood up to those threatening violence against Japanese interned at the state’s interment camp on the Eastern Plains.

“If you harm them,” the Republican said in 1942, “you must first harm me.”

The winner will be announced during the National Association of Secretaries of State’s 2018 summer conference that kicks off next week in Philadelphia.

Read moreLate Gov. Ralph Carr, honored yet again

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