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Hickenlooper Gives First Press Conference As Governor


Photo: Jamie Cotten, State Bill Colorado
Gov. John Hickenlooper laughs with reporters at his first press conference in the governor’s office minutes after his inauguration today.

By Don Knox, STATE BILL COLORADO

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, inaugurated today, elaborated on themes of civil discourse in the wake of the Arizona shootings and also gave more background on three executive orders he signed today.

He also suggested he would look at, though probably not overturn, a controversial executive order issued by Ritter in 2007 that called for collective bargaining for state workers.

It was “largely symbolic,” Hickenlooper said, noting that Ritter’s order did not lead to big increases in the number of workers subject to collective bargaining.

Hickenlooper also confirmed he won’t be moving to the governor’s mansion, though son Teddy, 8, would like to hold some sleepovers there.

On the subject of civility, Hickenlooper said, “We need to listen harder to those people we disagree with.” He described political discourse as a pendulum that sometimes swings toward the overly fractious. But our “unique form of democracy depends on free speech,” he said.

The first of three executive orders requires counties and regions to develop economic plans to submit to state economic leaders. Hickenlooper described it as a “bottom-up” approach that could be blended into regional and statewide plans. He noted that Alabama, for instance, has a military focus in every county and that “national defense creates jobs.”

A second order creates an “ambassador corps” of expatriates who can talk up Colorado and drive business to the state. The idea was suggested by Barry Hirschfeld Jr. of the well-known Denver publishing family, HIckenlooper said. Hirschfeld lives in Tokyo, where he develops real estate. But he and others have a love for Colorado that could be smartly channeled, and “we don’t have to pay anything.”

The third requires state agencies to talk with local governments before promulgating rules. Hickenlooper said he wanted to send a strong signal to cities and counties that the state is their partner.

Asked what he was doing this afternoon, Hickenlooper noted two luncheons, a cabinet meeting, a barbecue, a reception and a concert. He deadpanned that his wife noted it was like any other day “except there were 42 in-laws and seven events.”

Hickenlooper said he planned to attend one hour of a scheduled three hour cabinet meeting today. As early as this morning, Hickenlooper was still naming people to that cabinet.

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