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.

Read moreBruce Benson, one of Colorado’s best

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

All about U — and me!

My wooden U, painted my favorite color and adorned with some of my favorite things.

The only thing I knew when I started decorating my wooden U is that I would paint it turquoise and put my “I want my Rocky” pin on it.

Then I scoured through my dresser drawers and visited craft and hobby shops. On a road trip to Jackson and Grand counties with Secretary of State Wayne Williams I bought a “I ♥ Colorado” key chain to glue to the side of the U. “I think I’m up to $60,” I told the boss.

The secretary is handing out the U’s as part of the @UChooseCO campaign to educate unaffiliated voters that they can participate in the June 26 primary election, but they can only vote one ballot. The campaign has a web pageFacebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO.

See that “L” on top of my U next to the miniature telephone? I was thinking of spelling “Lynn” out on one of the U legs but the block letters were too big. I liked the L next to the phone because I am always on one. The sack of letters cost around $7 and I’ve got a whole bag of them.

I particularly like the dogs. Those were plastic buttons from Michaels and I cut the backs off with a wire cutter I borrowed from our IT department. I also bought a tiny dog food and water bowl, but decided not to use it.

Read moreAll about U — and me!

Good-bye to two good cops

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Schrader, who used to carpool to work with Tom Acernio, attended Acernio’s retirement party July 15. On the far left and right are Donna and Tom Acernio. Between them is Sheriff Jeff Schrader and his wife Jane. (Photo by Lynn Bartels)
Trooper Mike Fohrd and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at an event in April. (Photo by Lynn Bartels)

Two of my favorite men in blue — the Colorado State Patrol’s Mike Fohrd and Jeffco Sheriff’s Tom Acernio — were honored at retirement parties last month.

I made it to Tom’s party, which was held July 15 just down the street from my house at the Potenza Lodge in north Denver.  I had to skip Mike’s party the day before at the Governor’s Mansion, and for that I blame Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach because I was working on a news release about the White House’s election commission.

I met Mike in 2000 when I first started covering the state Capitol and he was assigned to the crew guarding then Gov. Bill Owens and his family. Through the years I always delighted in seeing him, whether he was ferrying around a governor or handling security at the Capitol south door.  “You can let her through,” he would tell the security folks. “She practically lives here.”

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Happy trails to Tustin Amole

“Tustin and I are proof that you can be on different sides of the political spectrum and remain close friends. However, I still remember the shock in her voice when she said, ‘You voted for Bill Owens?'”

Five former staffers for the Rocky Mountain News gathered this week to pay tribute to Tustin Amole. After she left the Rocky, Tustin became spokeswoman for the Cherry Creek School District, a job she is retiring from this month. Left to right: Kim Young, Deb Goeken, Amole, Tonia Twichell and Lynn Bartels.

My very good friend Tustin Amole retires at the end of this month as the spokeswoman for the Cherry Creek School District.

Gene Amole.

I was touched that the district asked me to speak at her going-away party Wednesday night, where the three superintendents she has worked for gushed about Tustin — and deservedly so.

As I said in a Facebook item I posted after the party, her late father, the famed columnist Gene Amole, must be busting his buttons in heaven.

Read moreHappy trails to Tustin Amole