Denver Rustlers meet again, head to State Fair in Pueblo

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne William mingled with fellow Denver Rustlers this morning in Greenwood Village before heading to the State Fair in Pueblo. From left to right, Rep. Dominque Jackson, D-Aurora, Williams, lobbyist Peggi O’Keefe and Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. (SOS photo)

Few organizations bring folks from across the aisle together as much as the Denver Rustlers, a group of business, civic and political leaders who work to help the Colorado State Fair and the rural kids who show their animals there.

The Denver Rustlers mingled this morning in Greenwood Village before boarding three buses headed south to Pueblo.

State Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and his 2-year-old daughter Cora, at the Denver Rustlers event. (SOS photo)

“I’m always honored to spend the day with these people and see the young 4-H’ers and their animals at the fair,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

“This is a proud Colorado tradition that brings people together from across the state.”

The event began at the Tavern Tech Center with lawmakers and lobbyists, City council members and congress members and more. The Rustlers wear distinctive shirts from Rockmount Ranch, courtesy of Mizel’s firm, MDC Holdings/Richmond American Homes Foundation, and straw cowboy hats donated by the Koncilja law firm.

“Sure, people get a little nervous putting that shirt on the first time, but this is one of the great bipartisan days of the year,” said Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. “It’s great to invest in our young people, and it’s just as great to spend a day with people from all parties enjoying each other’s company with no political pressure at all.”

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Colorado’s county clerks contend with democracy and DRIVES

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams joined three members of the Arapahoe County Clerk’s office for a scenic photo outside the Salida SteamPlant where the Colorado County Clerks Association held its summer conference Aug. 20-22. From left to right, Williams, spokeswoman Haley McKean, Clerk Matt Crane and election manager Todd Davidson. (SOS photo)

Colorado’s county clerks gathered in Salida for their summer conference, combining educational workshops on various topics, such as election security, with lighthearted events, including visiting an arcade.

For some, the Colorado County Clerks Association conference was a bittersweet experience — more than one-fourth of the 64 county clerks will run their last election on Nov. 6. Some have decades of experience and have decided it is time to retire, others are term limited or choose not to stay in office.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, back row, left, mingles with county clerks at the opening night reception for the clerks summer conference in Salida Aug. 20-22. Front row: Lincoln County’s Corrine Lengel, Yuma County’s Bev Wenger, and Baca County’s Sharon Dubois. Back row, Williams, Logan County’s Pam Bacon and Adams County’s Stan Martin. (SOS photo)

“Working in the clerk’s office has been a wonderful, exciting ride,” said Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod, who began in 1989, eventually was elected clerk and now is term limited.

“I have been truly blessed to serve the citizens of Moffat County and to be in the company of the smartest, most dedicated, hardworking people in the world.”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams updated clerks on a variety of topics his office is handling.

“I served as El Paso County’s clerk and recorder so I understand what our clerks go through. They don’t just run elections. They record documents and register vehicles and more,” Williams said. “Our office is here to help them in any way we can.”

The clerks praised Williams and his staff for their efforts.

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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.

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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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