Polly Baca, the legendary Latina

Sitting on the side of the Colorado House before it convened Wednesday morning are former lawmaker Polly Baca and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who are involved in a lawsuit over the electoral process. With them are former House Speaker Ruben Valdez and Teresa Duran, mother of the current speaker, Crisanta Duran of Denver. The speaker said her mother is “as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.” (SOS photo)

Former lawmaker Polly Baca, a legend in state and national Democratic politics, delivered the prayer in the Colorado House on opening day Wednesday, 40 years after she began her fourth and final year in the House.

Baca took a break from writing her memoirs to stop by the House chambers. Some of what will be in her book:

She served as the national director for Viva Kennedy in 1968, and was at the California hotel with Bobby Kennedy when the presidential candidate was assassinated.

While serving as the special assistant to the DNC chair she often worked really late. One night in May 1972 she thought she heard something but  didn’t see anyone in the hallway when she checked. She left about 3:30 a.m. and learned later that morning someone had broken into the Watergate.

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Colorado’s Wayne Williams, other secretaries of state, discuss request for voter data

Secretaries of state, including Wayne Williams of Colorado, right, answer questions from the media Friday regarding a White House commission letter requesting public voter data. The National Association of Secretaries of State is meeting in Indianapolis for its summer conference.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said today at the National Secretaries of State summer conference that election officials work hard to make it easy to vote but difficult to commit voter fraud.

Williams was one of five secretaries of state from both parties who fielded questions from the media about a request from a White House presidential commission for voter data — a move that has set off a firestorm nationally and in Colorado. State law requires Williams to provide information that is public under the law, and for decades political parties and the press, campaigns and candidates have received voter records.

“You don’t want a secretary of state saying ‘OK, I’m not going to give the information to my political opponents, I’ll just give it to my friends,” he told reporters covering the NASS conference in Indianapolis.

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Secretary Wayne Williams: “That’s the wonder of America”

Friends and families of immigrants taking the oath to become U.S. citizens record the moment. Secretary Wayne Williams is to the left. (SOS photo)
First Lady Melania Trump became a U.S. citizen in 2006.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams congratulated 50 immigrants from 28 countries on becoming Americans during a ceremony Monday in Centennial, telling them there are “very few limits as to what you can do.”

He told the story of Knavs family in Slovenia. Their daughter, who was born April 26, 1970, immigrated to the United States in 2001 and became a citizen five years later.

“In January she became the first lady of the United States,” Williams said. “So look to your left, look to your right. One of those people may be, in 11 years, first lady or first husband of the United States, just like Melania Trump.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen but that’s the wonder of America.”

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Or you can call Jenny at 867-5309

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and White House aide Billy Kirkland today at the National Association of Secretaries of State conference. (SOS picture)

How’s this for brave? A Trump administration official addressing the nation’s secretaries of state today gave out his personal cell phone number.

The only other person I know who regularly hands out his cell phone number is my boss, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who orders business cards by the bushel and gives them to, oh everyone.

Billy Kirkland, the deputy director for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, was part of a panel “State Priorities in the New Trump Administration” during the National Association of Secretaries of State winter conference in Washington, D.C.

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, the former NASS president, offered a bit of advice: If you have questions about elections, hackers, cyber security, ask us. And Kirkland offered his number.*

Schedler and others, including Williams, are miffed with the outgoing administration’s 11th-hour decision to classify election equipment as “critical infrastructure.”

“No one ever asked us how an election was run,” Schedler complained, noting election equipment is not connected to the Internet. “How do you attack something in cyberspace that’s not there.”

Others on the panel included Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, the current NASS president, and  representatives from the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislators and the National Association of Attorneys General.

*No, I’m not giving out the number.

From pucks to presidents: Size matters when it comes to crowds

Joe Sakic hoists the Stanley Cup at the Colorado Avalanche's victory parade in 1996. (Cyrus McCrimmon/RMN/ Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library)
Joe Sakic hoists the Stanley Cup at the Colorado Avalanche’s victory parade in 1996. (Cyrus McCrimmon/RMN/ Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library)

Disputes over crowd size are nothing new, although it was certainly a strange way for President Trump to begin his presidency.

The brouhaha reminded me of one of my favorite crowd size stories, after the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 1996.  I remember the story by the Rocky’s Charlie Brennan because of his great line about Barry Fey, ” a man of considerable experience with big numbers.”

Trump’s press secretary ripped the media  for reporting the size of the crowd was smaller than at past inaugurations, including for Barack Obama’s in 2008. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said “news organizations had deliberately misstated the size of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday in an attempt to sow divisions at a time when Mr. Trump was trying to unify the country,” according to The New York Times.

Here’s the June 14, 1996 story about the size of the crowd at the Av’s parade:

By Charlie Brennan
The Rocky Mountain News

Pick a number. Any number.

That appears to be what Denver officials did Wednesday, in estimating the crowd attending the downtown Stanley Cup parade and celebration: 450,000.

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