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

Secretary of State works to improve lobbying transparency

The Colorado Secretary of State met with lobbyists and others Wednesday to talk about how to improve the SOS’ online system for filing lobbyist disclosures. Front row, left to right, Megan Wagner with Brandeberry McKenna Public Affairs;  Angie Binder with the Colorado Petroleum Association; Mike Beasley and Alec Wagner of 5280 Strategies; and Loren Furman, with the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. Back row, left to right, are three Secretary of State staffers,  Mike Hardin, director of Business and Licensing, Trevor Timmons, information technology director and Gary Zimmerman, chief of staff. Sitting with them is lawyer-lobbyist Mike Feeley. (SOS photo)

A working group of lobbyists and activists who use lobbying data met with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office this week to talk about how to make the reporting process more workable and transparent.

Lobbyists must register with the Secretary of State, and they electronically file information about the clients they work with and other data.

“You’re here because you’re the ones who have to input the information in the system and we don’t want to make it impossible for you to try to do your job,” said Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert.

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Bruce Benson, one of Colorado’s best

Bruce Benson smiles as he talks to reporters after he was voted to be president of the University of Colorado by the CU Board of Regents Feb. 20, 2008. (Rocky Mountain News/Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library)

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson’s announcement last week that he was retiring in a year brought much deserved accolades about his contributions to education, but the reality is Benson’s investment in Colorado straddles a variety of issues. We are all the better for it.

I covered the legislature in 2005 when deep, deep cuts still hadn’t solved the budget crisis. There were very real behind-the-scene discussions about what was next. Community colleges and state parks were on the list, even though closing them would trigger economic disasters in those regions.

Bruce, an oilman and business executive, and two other high-profile Republicans, Gov. Bill Owens and then CU President Hank Brown, put their reputations on the line to push for the passages of Referendums C and D. The right dissed the tax measures but the trio held firm.

“This isn’t about politics; this is about good fiscally conservative policies,” Benson told the Pueblo Chieftain.

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All about U — and Loveland

The decorated wooden U by state Rep. Hugh McKean, a Loveland Republican who loves where he lives.

What do you mean you were “incredibly uncreative” when you decorated your U, Rep. Hugh McKean? It’s so, well, U! And it’s great.

The Loveland Republican is an unabashed homer who created the hashtag #LoveWhereILive. He hands out bookmarks, stickers and other items with the slogan, so it came as no surprise that he plastered his wooden U with them.

Rep. Hugh McKean and his wooden U.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams handed out the U’s as part of the UChooseCO campaign to help inform unaffiliated voters that for the first time they could participate in Colorado’s primary election.  The campaign also reminded unaffiliated voters who got both the Republican and Democratic ballot in the mail to only vote one. If they voted both, neither counted.

Clerks continue to process ballots, although the election ended at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Check out the incredible U’s decorated by McKean’s colleagues at the state Capitol. Senate President Kevin Grantham capitalized on his noteworthy mustache, while Sen. Kerry Donovan used her ranch experience — and that’s no bull.

The UChooseCO 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 this blog.

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