Morgan Smith

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.

SMITH: INSPIRATION FOR THE AGES

My brief, but memorable, experience seeing JFK

The Colorado Statesman

It’s November 22, 2013 and I’m staring at an odd shaped black and white photograph, a photograph I haven’t looked at in years and wasn’t aware I still had. It’s four feet long and 10 inches high and says, “President John F. Kennedy reviews his guard of honor, the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort. Bragg, NC, October 12, 1961.” A long panorama, it depicts the whole 82nd in formation on the runway at Pope Field. In the foreground parallel to the viewing stand where the big brass are gathered is a white convertible — maybe a Chevrolet but I can’t really tell. I can see the helmets of two soldiers.

SMITH: A MAN WORTH KNOWING

Carl Hilliard (and his sense of humor) will be missed

The Colorado Statesman

It hurts to read of the passing of Carl Hilliard. He was a fine reporter — always fair, thorough and objective. He also had a great sense of humor. I was the subject of one of his jokes many years ago.

SMITH: LOOKING FOR RELIEF FROM DYSFUNCTIONALITY

There are lessons to be learned from Obamacare

The Colorado Statesman

Whether Obamacare sinks or swims, there are some important lessons to be learned here.

First, Management by Walking Around still works. Although this is difficult for a Cabinet Secretary like Kathleen Sebelius to do and much more so for a president, it’s impossible not to sense that they’re disconnected from the actual day-to-day workings of government. Governing is not just giving orders or waiting to be told about things; it’s asking questions, being curious, listening, getting information from a variety of sources.

SMITH: AN EXAMPLE OF POLITICAL COURAGE

Mike Strang — Legislator, cowboy and friend

The Colorado Statesman

What do you think about that House district I carved out for you?” Mike Strang asked. It was the spring of 1972 and he was in the Aspen hospital, recovering from surgery.

SMITH: PEOPLE KNEW HIM AND LIKED HIM

Likable ‘Johnny Van’ was focused on Colorado

The Colorado Statesman

John Vanderhoof or “Johnny Van” was Governor of Colorado for only one legislative session — 1974 — but he brought to the table some important new ideas. The problem was that although he was to be his party’s candidate for Governor, he had little support from his Republican colleagues in the House where I served.