Romanoff recognized for public service

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

It was back to the Capitol for former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff Thursday.

During a noontime ceremony on the West Steps, Romanoff, who left the House last year when his term expired, received the Sue O’Brien Award for Public Service from the Colorado Freedom of Information Council for his successful effort to bring House floor proceedings to live television. The CFOIC represents news media, libraries, booksellers and other institutions that strive for open government.

Former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff speaks to supporters after accepting the Sue O’Brien award for open government.
Photo by Jason Kosena/The Colorado Statesman

Romanoff, now a resident scholar at the University of Colorado-Denver, said he was happy to be back at the Capitol and excited to accept an award for helping open government proceedings to public scrutiny, something he believes in profoundly.

“When we were debating this bill — and it’s hard to believe there was a debate around this — but at that time one of the skeptical senators said, ‘If we start televising what we do around the Capitol, what if people watch?’” Romanoff said. “I think the bigger danger is what will happen if we do not.”

The ceremony was attended by a small group consisting mainly of House Democrats, lobbyists and legislative staffers.

Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, spoke briefly, recognizing Romanoff’s hard work as speaker and the importance of televising House floor sessions.

CFOIC President Tom Kelley, an attorney for Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz who specializes in media law, speaks during the Sue O’Brien Award ceremony while lawmakers, including Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll and former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff listen.
Photo by Jason Kosena/The Colorado Statesman

“I am very thankful that Speaker Andrew Romanoff made the bold decision to start the Colorado Channel,” Carroll said. “It turned out to be one of the best things that we could do to pursue openness and transparency in government. It’s something that I envision us having in the House of Representatives for a long time because democracy only works if the citizenery is informed about what we are doing.”

The award is named for the late Sue O’Brien, who worked in the private sector as a radio broadcaster and editorial page editor of The Denver Post and in the public sector as press secretary to former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer. Romanoff is its second recipient; the first was Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, who received it last year.

“The CFOIC honors Speaker Romanoff in recognition of his devotion and commitment to making the day-to-day operations of the State Legislature accessible to citizens throughout our state,” said CFOIC President Tom Kelley, an attorney for Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz. “Speaker Romanoff not only helped formulate the plan for what is now The Colorado Channel, he also single-handedly raised a quarter of a million dollars in contributions from private donors to purchase the high-quality broadcasting equipment and fund the project for its first year of operation.”

Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll speaks during the Sue O’Brien Award ceremony as former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, rear, Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, center, and Rep. Sue Schaffer, D-Wheat Ridge, listen.
Photo by Jason Kosena/The Colorado Statesman

After the event, Romanoff told The Colorado Statesman that he is enjoying his new job as a resident scholar at CU-Denver.

“I have been preparing for my first class, a summer course on public policy,” Romanoff said.

When asked if he has made a decision about swirling rumors that he may challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in a primary next year, Romanoff said he had no comment.

— Jason@coloradostatesman