Michael Smolens is a columnist for the Union-Tribune with a long history of political coverage. He was government and politics editor at the U-T from 1992 until late 2017. During that time he had overseen local, state and national political news. As a reporter, he covered politics at all levels, including San Diego City Hall, and did a four-year stint in the news organization’s Sacramento bureau in the late 1980’s. A native of Wellesley, Mass., Smolens graduated from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, where he majored in English and journalism. Smolens also attended Elmira College in New York and was a goalie on the school’s hockey team. Declining reflexes persuaded him not to seek a career in the NHL.