The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Penfield W. Tate III

Lawyer and state government official Penfield W. Tate III was born on May 19, 1956 to Ellen Mildred Tate and Penfield W. Tate II. Tate grew up on military bases while his father served in the U.S. Army. His family eventually settled in Boulder, Colorado, where Tate’s father became the city’s first African American city councilman and mayor. Tate earned his B.A. degree in sociology at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1978, and his J.D. degree from Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. in 1981.

Upon graduation from law school, Tate obtained a position as a trade regulation attorney with the Denver Regional Office of the Federal Trade Commission. In 1984, Tate left the Federal Trade Commission and joined the law firm of Trimble, Tate & Nulan, founded by his father seven years earlier. He became a partner with the firm in 1988. In 1990, Tate returned to public service in an administrative role at Denver Mayor Federico Peña’s office, but rejoined Trimble, Tate & Nulan in 1991 once Mayor Pena’s term ended. The following year, he and his father founded the law firm of Tate & Tate, P.C. Shortly after founding the new firm, Tate took a leave of absence to become executive director of the Colorado Department of Administration. In 1994, he was elected to the vice chairmanship of the Colorado Democratic Party, which he resigned in 1996 during his successful run for Colorado State House. The following year, he was elected to the the Colorado State House of Representatives, representing the 8th District. In 2000, Tate was elected to serve the 33rd District in the Colorado State Senate. In 2003, he resigned from this position to run for Mayor of Denver, but was defeated. He returned to public finance law practice, and joined the law firm of Kutak Rock in 2015, where he represented public entities, lenders, and underwriters engaged in financing essential public improvements, and advised local and state governments. He was also a frequent panelist on the political talk show Colorado Inside Out.

Tate has served as a trustee of the Colorado Children’s Chorale and on the board of Denver Water, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. He was named the 2004 Father of the Year by the National Father’s Day Coalition and the American Diabetes Association.

Penfield W. Tate III was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 25, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.062

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/26/2016

Last Name

Tate

Maker Category
Middle Name

W.

Schools

Colorado State University

Antioch School of Law

Boulder High School

Charles S. Deneen Elementary School

University Hill Elementary School

First Name

Penfield

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

TAT04

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Grand Cayman

Favorite Quote

The World Is Run By Those Who Show Up.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

5/19/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

BBQ Ribs

Short Description

State government official Penfield W. Tate III (1956 - ) founded the law firm of Tate & Tate before serving as a leader of the Colorado Democratic Party, a Colorado State Senator, and a Colorado State Representative.

Employment

Federal Trade Commission

Trimble, Tate and Nulan, P. C.

Office of the Mayor of Denver

Tate & Tate, P.C.

Colorado Department of Administration

Colorado State Senate

Colorado House of Representatives

Kutak Rock

Trimble, Tate and Nulan, P.C.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:732,10:1220,21:1891,33:3580,40:4394,53:4690,58:6836,91:7354,100:8390,119:8982,129:12432,159:14324,192:15012,201:15614,209:18452,257:18796,262:19398,270:23090,295:25978,350:26966,366:28182,389:28714,397:29094,404:29854,418:30386,426:31298,440:33198,474:33806,483:38329,507:38684,513:39749,536:41595,573:41950,579:42873,594:43654,608:44080,615:45287,631:45571,636:50650,674:51140,683:52190,700:52750,711:54920,764:55200,769:55690,778:56040,784:56460,792:57090,803:57370,808:59050,856:59470,863:63990,894:65358,928:65790,941:67086,965:69462,1025:70326,1050:70902,1064:71622,1091:71982,1097:72774,1111:73638,1132:77238,1210:77814,1219:78102,1224:84900,1281:85835,1299:86430,1308:86940,1315:87705,1327:90320,1332:90796,1341:91748,1362:92224,1371:95284,1438:95964,1449:96236,1454:97732,1477:98548,1492:98820,1497:99840,1516:101268,1543:101744,1552:102696,1565:103104,1572:103376,1577:104124,1590:109260,1617:112970,1711:113530,1727:114650,1747:117170,1807:117730,1816:118220,1824:119550,1851:122880,1867:124080,1891:124640,1903:126640,1940:127200,1949:128960,1983:129840,1996:130800,2009:131600,2020:132640,2040:137652,2103:138191,2111:139038,2150:139654,2161:141579,2189:141887,2194:142426,2202:144043,2231:146738,2273:147200,2280:147508,2285:151946,2324:153017,2338:154025,2356:154277,2361:155222,2382:156671,2413:157175,2425:157868,2435:158561,2449:158813,2458:159065,2463:160577,2497:160955,2505:161585,2519:162593,2539:162845,2544:163349,2553:164231,2573:164861,2586:170016,2620:171465,2663:172221,2679:172536,2685:174048,2730:174426,2739:177324,2809:178899,2841:179466,2860:179970,2870:180852,2892:181104,2897:187190,2948:187894,2966:188214,2973:188534,2979:189430,2996:189878,3005:190262,3013:191798,3046:192438,3058:194422,3107:194678,3112:195766,3131:196214,3139:196470,3144:198710,3198:199094,3207:200182,3234:200886,3246:205588,3259:205852,3264:207100,3281$0,0:5496,66:5956,72:18230,327:18674,335:19118,342:19414,349:20450,365:21486,385:23632,433:24224,442:24890,452:25334,463:25630,468:27258,494:27776,502:30745,519:31564,535:32131,548:33202,598:33517,604:36541,711:36793,716:41456,762:42204,777:44108,824:44720,834:45672,857:46284,870:47100,884:47372,889:49480,933:49820,938:50840,956:51384,966:51656,971:55342,984:56052,1000:59531,1068:59815,1073:60738,1087:61590,1100:66560,1198:67341,1213:67909,1223:68548,1234:69471,1252:74350,1281:77875,1339:78925,1363:80500,1399:80950,1406:81400,1414:82900,1446:90445,1540:93670,1622:93970,1627:95470,1654:95995,1663:96595,1673:97570,1692:100195,1734:101020,1753:105330,1771:106630,1793:108060,1822:108515,1831:110790,1885:111180,1892:111505,1898:111960,1907:112415,1915:113390,1941:116120,1996:116835,2008:117355,2018:122218,2053:128166,2134:129991,2170:130575,2179:134079,2237:135174,2255:135612,2262:136050,2270:137437,2299:138021,2311:138386,2317:138824,2324:139554,2336:144018,2359:144274,2364:145682,2388:145938,2393:146258,2399:146898,2412:151122,2511:155310,2539:157542,2584:157902,2593:158622,2610:160110,2620
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Penfield W. Tate III's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the origins of his name

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Penfield W. Tate III describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about where his father attended law school

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers his father's mayoral campaign in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his father's political career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his parent's personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about handling his father's notoriety as mayor of Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers living in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III recalls living in Germany

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about experiencing racism while attending school in Germany

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Penfield W. Tate III describes the discrimination on U.S. military bases

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Penfield W. Tate III reflects upon his upbringing on military bases

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his community in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Penfield W. Tate III shares his early career aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his experience at University Hill Intermediate School in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the role of religion in his upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers attending Boulder High School in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his decision to attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his father's role as a human rights executive

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III recalls his decision to pursue a career in law

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his experience at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III recalls his experience at the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers being hired at the Federal Trade Commission in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his work with the Federal Trade Commission

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Penfield W. Tate III describes the importance of regulations

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers joining Trimble, Tate, Nulan, Evans and Holden P.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his experience working with his father

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about a memorable case

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers his work with Denver Mayor Federico Pena

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers the inauguration of Wellington Webb as mayor of Denver, Colorado

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his daughter, Elleana Tate

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers his position as executive director of Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his work with the Democratic Party

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers being elected to the Colorado House of Representatives

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the restructuring of his law firm, Trimble, Tate, Nulan, Evans and Holden P.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Penfield W. Tate III reflects upon his efforts in the Colorado House of Representatives

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his legislative work with ownership of medical records in Colorado

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Penfield W. Tate III recalls his advocacy for the LGBT community

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Penfield W. Tate III describes the influence of religion on state politics in Colorado

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Penfield W. Tate III describes the development of the marijuana industry in Colorado

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his role in the Colorado State Senate

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III recalls his decision to run for mayor of Denver, Colorado

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers his mayoral bid in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his role in the Denver Board of Water Commissioners

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about water distribution and supply in Colorado

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Penfield W. Tate III remembers joining Kutak Rock LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about his political commentary

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Penfield W. Tate III shares his thoughts on potential future political endeavors

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the 2016 Presidential Election

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Penfield W. Tate III describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about third party candidates

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Penfield W. Tate III talks about the fate of immigrants protected under the DREAM Act

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III reflects upon his time growing up in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Penfield W. Tate III describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Penfield W. Tate III narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Penfield W. Tate III narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

8$4

DATitle
Penfield W. Tate III talks about his legislative work with ownership of medical records in Colorado
Penfield W. Tate III describes his role in the Denver Board of Water Commissioners
Transcript
But, as I look at my legislative career probably the most rewarding bill I carried was one that was brought to me by a number of constituents. A number of my constituents including one of my personal friends came to me and asked me to carry a bill dealing with medical records. And the law in Colorado at the time was if you are a patient you were entitled to get copies of your medical records from a hospital or a medical provider, but they had the right to and own the original records, which when you think about it you may think that's okay, but the way the law was being interpreted is that included things like X rays and most importantly mammograms. And the, the group of constituents who came to me were all women who were breast cancer survivors, and that struck a chord with me because by that time my mother [Ellen Cooper Tate] had become a breast cancer survivor. She had been detected with breast cancer. She went through radiation and chemo and treatment, and she had to come to Denver [Colorado] for her treatment. She couldn't receive it in Boulder [Colorado], so she would catch the bus every day during the treatment times. I watched her lose her hair. I watched her fingernails and toenails turn black. I watched her lose a lot of weight, but, but she survived it. And what the ladies told me was that when you take a mammogram you have the original film and it's your baseline and so when you do successive mammograms they always compla- compare this year's to your baseline to see if anything has changed. And what was happening is health care providers in Colorado, if women changed jobs or health insurance weren't giving them their original mammograms. They would give them copies, but the copies were so poor that the, the new treating physician couldn't read them and couldn't compare them to see if there was a problem. So, I passed a law and it was passed on a bipartisan basis. Actually it was a piece of legislation and when I ran it and Republicans, particularly Republican women, saw what the state of the law was they got outraged. And when the Colorado medical association [Colorado Medical Society] rose up to object to my bill, they got even further incensed and so I passed the legislation and what we did was we made a change that said if you are a patient and you want your original records no matter what they are you're, the treating entity whether it's a hospital or clinic or doctor has to give you your records. Now you have to pay for them to make a set of copies, but you own your original records and you can walk out the door with them. And, and the two things we gave was you have to pay for the records and the other thing, and then I thought it was fair was if you're a patient and you demand your original records and you get them, if you lose them, damage them, destroy them, you can't go after the provider who gave you your records, and, and I thought that was fair. No one should be able to file a claim against a doctor saying I lost my records in a fire, I'm suing you because the records should have shown something. No, if you take responsibility for getting your records, you're completely responsible for them. So, that was probably the, the piece of legislation that was the most rewarding for me.$Now in 2005 you were appointed by John Hickenlooper to the Denver water board [Denver Board of Water Commissioners], which sounds like a torture (laughter), but it's not, it's not that right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) (Laughter) No it's not that kind of water boarding. And, and Denver [Colorado] is interesting you know people, you'll hear a saying out west that whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting, so water was a precious commodity here. And what happened in Denver over a hundred years ago is the founders of the Denver water company [Denver City Water Company] and one other water company [Denver Union Water Company] merged and formed the Denver Water Department [Denver Water], but the city decided, and I think appropriately so, to, to take the whole issue of water and water management out of the political arena. So rather than keep it as a department of city government where it could be politicized by city council votes and things of that nature, they created it as a separate and autonomous department of city government, so there are five commissioners that run the department, we're appointed by the mayor, but once we are appointed the mayor can't remove us; we serve six year terms and there's no limit on how many terms we can serve. So, yes John appointed me in 2005 and I've been on the board ever since and I'm currently president of the board. This is my second term as president of the board of water commissioners.$$Okay now this is as you indicated is very important for Denver. It's a major export of the City of Denver right is water.$$Right.$$Yeah.$$Yeah, well, well you know what has happened over the years is when this started all of the customers of Denver water were inside the city. But, as the region has grown, literally half of our customers are outside of the City and County of Denver. And on top of that, Denver's water supply comes from the Western Slope, the mountains. In Colorado, most of the water supply for the Front Range communities along the eastern side of the mountains it's basically snow melt from snow that accumulates in the mountains, you know melts, goes into reservoirs, and then gets diverted across the Continental Divide to the Front Range for, for city use. And so that's what we have in Denver. And, and we have senior water rights because the city is so old and has been established much longer than other parts of the state, so, and Colorado has an antiquated system of water law that you don't see in a lot of other places where it's literally first in time, first in right; and Denver is first in time in a lot of instances.