Knoedler & Witwer: The next generation

Aida Knoedler and Kit Witwer ran for president of their fifth grade class at Dennison Elementary School in Jefferson County.

Facebook is filled these days with posts about people’s kids running for school offices, but the one that warmed my heart belonged to former state Rep. Matt Knoedler of Lakewood and featured a picture of his daughter.

“Wouldn’t you vote for her? Meet Dennison Elementary’s newly elected 5th grade President!”

Knoedler’s Facebook post inspired several fun comments, including one from Jon Caldara, the political court jester at the right leaning Independence Institute.

“Does that mean she has the power to pardon me?” Caldara asked. “She does but she wouldn’t,” Knoedler replied.

Dennison was one of five Colorado schools recognized Thursday as National Blue Ribbon Schools, cited for high performance on state and national tests, The Denver Post reported.

Aida Knoedler beat more than 10 other candidates, including the son of former state Rep. Rob Witwer, which inspired this gracious tweet:

Knoedler jokingly responded to the Tweet by saying it was “fake news” that his daughter colluded with sixth graders.

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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.

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A good sendoff for a good man

Peter Blake's passions were on display at the reception after his funeral, including his life as a newspaperman -- and a darned good one.
Peter Blake’s passions were on display at the reception after his funeral, including his life as a newspaperman — and a darned good one.

I didn’t know that the late journalist Peter Blake’s middle name was Carson until his funeral Saturday, but how appropriate because it made me think of a quote from Carson the butler on Downton Abbey: “The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end that’s all there is.”

At a reception after the funeral, a room was filled with mementos of Blake’s life: journalism awards, family photos, a pennant from his beloved Philadelphia Phillies and plenty of baseball memorabilia.

Blake died Dec. 7 after being diagnosed in October with a fast-moving tumor. Up until that point, the 80-year-old was still working as a journalist and breaking stories.

When news broke of Blake’s death, a number of his former colleagues at the Rocky Mountain News remarked, “Pete was 80?” He was an ageless kind of guy.

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Journalist Peter Blake, 1936-2016: The end of an era

Journalist Peter Blake has died at the age of 80. (Rocky Mountain News/Ellen Jaskol/Denver Public Library)
Journalist Peter Blake has died at the age of 80. (Rocky Mountain News/Ellen Jaskol/Denver Public Library)

When former Rocky Mountain News reporter Peter Blake got up on his roof in mid-October to take care of the air conditioner, his wife Sandy scolded him.

“Peter, you’re 80,” she said. “You shouldn’t be walking around the roof.”

He told her he was fine, but unbeknownst to Blake, he wasn’t. He had no trouble with the roof, but by Oct. 19 he couldn’t throw a baseball and his speech was slurred. He checked himself into a hospital on Oct. 20, where he was diagnosed with a fast-moving brain tumor.

“We were in Palo Alto at the CU-Stanford game and he didn’t even tell us until the game was over because he wanted us to enjoy it,” Sandy said, recalling the visit with her son.

Peter Blake, an avid baseball fan, political insider and smokejumper, died at Denver Hospice on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife, two sons, other family members and a legion of admirers who admired the plain-spoken and tough but fair  journalist.

“Peter was a ‘high-alert’ guy,” said former Gov. Dick Lamm, noting that when his press secretary said Blake wanted an interview “you knew something was up.”

“He was always respectful, but you knew it was not going to be an easy interview. He would dig in places and come up with questions and you needed to be prepared.”

Services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 1401 E. Dry Creek Road. A reception will be held afterward at the church.

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A treasure: newspaper clips and more at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office

A small sampling of the newspaper clips regarding former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan's "furniture caper." (SOS photo)
A sampling of newspaper articles regarding former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan’s “furniture caper” after she left office. (SOS photo)

News clippings from former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan’s “furniture caper.” Scrapbooks from her successor, Natalie Meyer. And an unforgettable feature on Colorado tax zealot Douglas Bruce.

My new intern, Colorado State University student Julia Sunny, and I discovered a treasure trove of items Tuesday when cleaning out my office for a painting-carpeting project this weekend at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. I was told that my predecessor, Rich Coolidge, took two days cleaning out the office when he left last year, but there was still plenty of stuff in the drawers for me to sort through and admire.

Douglas Bruce in 1993 hugs his big ball of string. The photograph accompanied a story on the crotchety architect of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

As someone who spent 35 years working for  newspapers before becoming the spokeswoman for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams last August, I love newspaper clips. Yes, they take up space, but they’re so much fun to pore over.

The 1993 feature on Bruce was written after voters the year before passed his Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. I’ve posted the piece several times in later years after Bruce made news, kicking a photographer on the floor of the Colorado House and a conviction on tax evasion.

But to see the story in print was something else. In the article, Bruce called the then secretary of state a “crook,” the executive branch of state government “pimps,” the state legislature “prostitutes” and anybody else opposed to TABOR as “drones.”

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