Morgan Smith

SMITH: NO MORE DEATHS

Local efforts help with immigration reform

Contributing Columnist

Although our political leaders are completely paralyzed in terms of immigration reform, there are important local efforts taking place. Here are several examples that I recently observed in the states of Arizona and Sonora, Mex.

SMITH: UNDERLYING ISSUE OF A ‘FORGOTTEN MILITARY’ IS UNCHANGED

Supporting our vets is a commitment for all of us, not just for Veterans Administration

Contributing Columnist

When former Senator majority leader and presidential candidate Bob Dole says that it’s time for VA Secretary Erik Shinseki to go, we better listen because Dole, a war hero, wounded veteran, great public servant and frequent user of VA services has more credibility on this issue than any American. Having introduced Shinseki at his confirmation in 2009, this must be a very painful experience for him.

SMITH: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WALLY!

Influential lobbyist Wally Stealey is a much beloved figure in Colorado’s political world

By Morgan Smith

I wanted to invite you and Julie to his 80th birthday party. There will be lots of people there you know… It will be a SURPRISE,” wrote Sharon, Wally Stealey’s wife of 57 years.

Well, it was a surprise, a wonderful one. For me, as well as for Wally, the legendary lobbyist from Pueblo who has made his mark on the Colorado political scene for so many years.

SMITH: HE WAS THE POWER TO RECKON WITH IN THE HOUSE

Lifetime achievement award fitting for Valdez

Contributing Columnist

When we took the majority in the 1974 elections because of the Watergate scandal, there never was any doubt but that Ruben Valdez would be our leader and Colorado’s first Hispanic Speaker of the House. He had a quiet charisma, a sense of determination, an innate sense of politics and a calm self-assurance. I was honored to have had the opportunity to nominate him.

SMITH: ‘INVEST IN SOMETHING GREATER THAN YOURSELF’

Three little Colorado non-profits build personal, political relationships with Mexico

GUEST COLUMNIST

Now that preparations are beginning for Governor John Hickenlooper’s June trip to Mexico, it’s worth looking at the importance of building relationships there — relationships with your business partners if you’re a company but also relationships with other countries or regions if you’re a state like Colorado. Colorado has worked hard on this with Mexico, its second largest export market, and has had strong leadership from the Governor. There are three little-known Colorado non-profits, however, that have been critical to this relationship for more than two decades.

SMITH: COLORADANS COULD PLAY ROLE IN HIS PROSECUTION

The recent capture of Mexican drug cartel leader El Chapo was muy importante

The Colorado Statesman

On Saturday, Feb. 22, Mexican officials with help from various U.S. law enforcement agencies captured the notorious leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. In what seems like a tremendous coup, it took place without a shot being fired. Even though there are questions like — “Was this too easy?” or “Will the decapitation of drug cartels only lead to more violence as underlings fight to take the place of the captured leader?” or “Is this just the Mexican government deciding not to continue protecting Chapo?” — I believe that it’s an important accomplishment.

SMITH: HE WAS FUN TO BE AROUND…

Mike Strang remembered by his colleagues

The Colorado Statesman

He was one of the few cowboys who could sit on a horse and roll a cigarette with one hand and also with a match light the cigarette all with one hand,” said former Sen. Tillie Bishop from Grand Junction in a phone message about the death of his colleague, Mike Strang.

SMITH: HE WAS A FEISTY LEGISLATOR

Jack McCroskey was a true fighter and deeply committed to his causes

The Colorado Statesman

I was saddened to read of Jack McCroskey’s death because he was a fighter, deeply committed to his causes. I knew him during the first four legislative sessions he served (1975 to 1978) when two issues were key. The first was a strong severance tax that would bring us in line with other mineral producing states like Wyoming and Montana. The second was Jack’s goal of doing away with the sales tax on food. He quickly developed the slogan, “Tax minerals, not milk” and posed for my camera in one of his odd looking jackets.

SMITH: A MAN BEFORE HIS TIME

Lauen’s efforts to reform prison sentences in Colorado ended up being right after all

The Colorado Statesman

Roger Lauen was a man before his time. Back in the 70s he was one of the few to stand up against the growing movement to pass harsher sentencing laws, build more prisons and expand Colorado’s prison population which had increased ten-fold from about 2,000 prisoners to over 20,000. Those were the years of “getting tough to get elected.”

SMITH: COUNTRIES CLOSE TO BORDER CONTINUE TO DESTABILIZE

Honduran elections provide opportunity to forge America’s strategy in Latin America

The Colorado Statesman

Honduras is a tiny Central American country of eight million people but its Nov. 24 presidential elections offer some important lessons about our role in Latin America, the impact of drugs and violence, and the factors that make a country viable.

Although the conservative candidate, Juan Orlando Hernandez has been declared the winner, it’s hard to say whether we should send congratulations or condolences because Xiomara Castro, the second place candidate, is crying fraud; she and her husband, the constantly disruptive former President Mel Zelaya have already started street protests.