All about U — and Grasslands

The U decorated by Ricardo Baca’s team at Grassland.

Ricardo Baca was just a kid when I met him at the Rocky Mountain News, where he worked from the time he was 18 until he was 22.  When I was briefly assigned to the city desk I used to urge him, “Get out of the office. Go and see things in person.”

Boy, did he, which I why I handed him one of the wooden U’s our office handed out as part of the UChooseCO campaign, and asked him to decorate it.

Talk about a career.  Baca, now 41, went on to work at The Denver Post, where he covered the music scene. He made national news in 2013 by becoming the editor of The Post’s publication, The Cannabist, devoted to covering Colorado’s marijuana industry.

He  left the Post — but not the marijuana world — in 2016 and founded Grasslands, described on its website as a “journalism-minded agency, helping clients in a variety of industries with informed public relations, thoughtful content marketing, contextual social media, top-notch thought leadership work, impactful newsletter campaigns and compelling event execution.” Westword described it as a “full-service agency for cannabis businesses.”

Ricardo Baca on April 20, 2017, when he filed his business registration with the Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

I love that Baca filed his business registration with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office on 4-20 in 2017 — and then asked if I were around so he could say hi.

When he posted a picture of his wooden U on social media he wrote:

  • bruvsI’m proud to live in a state that makes voting so accessible—and thank you to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for asking me to participate in the #UChooseCOcampaign. It’s so great that unaffiliated voters can now participate in Republican or Democratic primary elections in Colorado! Thanks to my Grasslands crew for helping me decorate this U, which seems like it was inspired by my December mg cover, lol. #democracy #grasslandsaf #voteordie

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams handed out the wooden U’s to help inform unaffiliated voters that for the first time they could participate in Colorado’s primary election. The campaign also remind 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.

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.

Colorado cities, towns hold elections Tuesday

Greeley Tribune photo.

Aside from all the buzz surrounding the upcoming primary elections, it is important to remember that 120 cities and towns in Colorado are holding elections Tuesday.

Coloradans will be voting on candidates, ballot questions, or both. Issues on the ballots range from various tax questions to providing broadband service, according to the Colorado Municipal League.

“In cities and towns across Colorado voters have the opportunity to make critical decisions about their local area and government,” Secretary of State Wayne Williams said. “We’ve worked with local clerks to make this year’s election more secure than ever by making available information so that signatures can be verified on each and every mail ballot.  We’re proud of this partnership to ensure the integrity of Colorado’s elections.”

Here is an overview of the issues:

Colorado statutes require an election to allow a municipality to provide broadband service or partner with the private sector to provide that service, and voters in 86 cities and towns have already said yes. This spring, Firestone, Frisco, Lake City, Limon, Lyons and Severance will ask their voters for authorization to move forward in providing broadband.

In separate questions, Naturita voters will decide whether to allow marijuana sales, manufacturing, testing or cultivation, as well as whether to implement a marijuana sales tax and/or excise tax. Berthoud is asking their voters if municipally licensed medical marijuana dispensaries should be allowed to add retail sales.

Marijuana taxes are being considered in Crawford, Delta, Orchard City, Ordway and Yuma.

Term limits
Pagosa Springs voters will consider whether to impose term limits of two consecutive four-year terms, voters in Glendale will decide if their mayor and council members shall be limited to three consecutive four-year terms, and Lyons voters will be asked if their mayor and trustees should be allowed to serve four consecutive two-year terms. Red Cliff voters will be asked if they would like to eliminate term limits.

Tax and bond issues
Fruita voters will be asked to allow the city to retain all revenues from 2019 through 2024.
Alma, Elizabeth, and Lyons are requesting authorization to implement a lodging tax.
Sales tax questions are on the ballot around the state:
• Arriba, Ignacio, Limon – new tax for capital improvements
• Nederland – new tax for roads
• Orchard City – new tax for roads and law enforcement services
• Crestone, Crook, Paonia – new tax for general operating expenses
• La Veta – extension of taxes for museum expenses and street improvements
• Milliken – extension of tax for capital improvements
• Glendale – modification of sales tax to remove earmark restricting use to water related purposes
• Cortez – extension of tax for family recreation center

Basalt is requesting a tax on the sale of tobacco and nicotine products.

Pitkin and Wiley are requesting a mill levy increase to fund streets and related improvements, while Carbondale is asking to extend a current mill levy for the same purpose. Orchard City is requesting a mill levy increase to be used for both roads and public safety expenses, while Ault’s requested mill levy increase is not earmarked for specific use.

Debt authority is being requested by:
• Eckley – $165,000 for sanitation system improvements
• Erie – $13.75 million for a town hall expansion, with authorization to increase mill levy if necessary for repayment
• Limon – $8.68 million for capital improvements
• Nederland – $2 million for wastewater improvements

Publication requirements
To save money on publication costs, Crook, Hugo, Kersey, Lake City, Milliken, and Springfield are requesting authorization to publish ordinances by title only. Pitkin is requesting authorization to no longer publish the bills list or contracts awarded.

Election date
Morrison and Palmer Lake voters will decide whether to move their regular town elections to November of even-numbered years.

Administrative charter amendments
Glendale and Morrison are asking their voters to eliminate, clarify, or otherwise update obsolete provisions of their home rule charter.

Other issues
Other issues to be decided include:
• Antonito – sale of a public building
• Berthoud – 32.44 acre annexation
• Erie – sale of 0.65 acres of town land
• Frisco – sale or lease of a community park for residential use
• Pagosa Springs – remove council districts and provide for council members to be elected at large


Puerto Rico thanks Secretary Williams

The four secretaries of state who co-sponsored a resolution in support of self determination and equality for Puerto Rico were Luis Rivera Marín of Puerto Rico, Nellie Gorbea of Rhode Island, Wayne Williams of Colorado and Jim Condos of Vermont. (SOS photo)

The people of Puerto Rico have a special place in their hearts for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams after Williams co-sponsored a resolution supporting the island’s effort toward statehood.

The flags of the United States and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

That’s the word from Puerto Rico’s secretary of state, Luis Rivera Marín, after the National Association of Secretaries of State voted in support of the resolution at its winter conference in Washington, D.C., this week.

The vote on Monday followed a debate where some secretaries said NASS had no business getting involved in Puerto Rico’s quest for statehood.

“I’m so grateful for Secretary Williams’ support for the people of Puerto Rico,” Marín said. “His support has been outstanding and all of the people of Puerto Rico are really grateful for that.”

Read morePuerto Rico thanks Secretary Williams

Huerfano’s County election: the best kind of Cruz control

Huerfano County Clerk Nancy Cruz with one of her constant smiles as Bill Knowles, a reporter with the World Journal, and Huerfano County Commissioner Gerald Cisneros talk with Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Friday in Walsenburg. (SOS photo)

The line at the Huerfano County Clerk’s counter  never seemed to subside on Friday and Clerk Nancy Cruz said it’s not just because of Tuesday’s election.

Marriage licenses, recording documents, Motor Vehicle registrations, the growing population of Huerfano County has lots of business to do and Cruz’s staff make sure it gets done.

Of course, the election is the big thing right now and the staff and election judges were taking in ballots and scanning them on the new equipment from Dominion Voting Systems.

“What a good system,” Cruz said.

Myrna Falk used to work for the clerk’s office and now is an election judge. When asked her age, she replied, “I’m older than dirt.”

“I can remember when we hand counted ballots in the basement,” she said. “I’ve been through a lot of (election) systems, believe me. But being able to run 25 ballots at a time through (Dominion), that’s something.”

Read moreHuerfano’s County election: the best kind of Cruz control

Colorado’s “messy” caucus, marijuana intrigues Middle Eastern visitors

Video: A visit to Colorado.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to international visitors Wednesday.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to international visitors Wednesday.

Twelve international visitors on Wednesday peppered Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams about everything from marijuana to the “messy” precinct caucuses they observed the night before.

Back in their Middle Eastern countries, they are professors, bureaucrats, candidates and such. They hailed from a variety of countries, including Algeria, Kuwait and Tunisia. Some asked Williams questions in English; others relied on three three Arabic language interpreters.

The visitors were part of the International Visitor Leadership Program, which is under the U.S. Department of State. They also visited the state Capitol.

Palestinian Majed Bamya, who works for the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted that he and has colleagues watched Coloradans caucus Tuesday night.

“It was quite messy,” he told Williams, sharing the the same assessment of many Colorado voters who participated.

“Are you implicated in this messiness?”

Read moreColorado’s “messy” caucus, marijuana intrigues Middle Eastern visitors