Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stifle yourself

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 4:30 PM

In a recent communique to members of the Memorial Commission on Governance and Ownership of Memorial Health System, chairman Steve Hyde noted:

"A reminder of our decision during our first meeting that only I, as chairman, should communicate with the media."

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Huh? Last we checked, members of publicly appointed bodies are free to speak their minds. You know, the First Amendment and all that. Which raises a couple of questions. Is this a power play by Hyde? Since he says no way, are the commission members such wimps that they need his protection from the big bad media?

Apparently, his designation as the mouthpiece was decided at the commission's very first meeting, and he says there's nothing sinister about it.

Still, it seems the rule, by designating a spokesman, means the public won't be hearing anything from commission members Bob Lally, Bill Murray, Jay Patel or Martha Barton, unless they mumble something noteworthy during a public meeting.

Funny, I thought this commission was supposed to conduct a "community conversation" about whether Memorial should be kept, sold or spun off into a different type of agency, such as an independent non-profit. It seems strange, then, that the very people leading the conversation have chosen to muzzle themselves.

Help me understand this.

"I don't remember who brought it up, but there was a general consensus we wanted to make sure we had a consistent correct story about what the commission is doing," Hyde tells me. "With 11 different people none of whom knew each other, they thought we better have one spokesperson for the commission, so we don't have 11 different people telling 11 different stories. There's nothing sinister at all in it. We don't want to misinform the public."

Hyde says he's not muzzling anyone and there's no legal requirement that people keep their traps shut outside of public meetings. He even says he might ask commissioners if they want to revisit the rule. But he also says he thinks reading about dissenting views in the newspaper might undermine the group.

"I undestand your point of view and your job," Hyde says. "It's a good point. In the meetings any commissinoenr can opine on any topic they want. But at least we're all there to hear it and agree or disagree with it. There's a concern that if you were to speak with a commissioner and you might get a point of view that runs counter to a decision or an activity that the commission is performing, a premature judgment, and if it's not expressed as such, you could write a story the commission has decided when it may not be true."

Ah, the risks of a Democracy!

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Manitou EDC, Chamber may merge

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Manitou to better promote biz interests.
  • Manitou wants to better promote biz interests.

A study recommending the consolidation of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Manitou Springs Economic Development Council was presented to the Manitou Springs City Council last night.

The study recommends the merger for the economic reasons, as well as for accountability and efficiency. Council gave an initial nod to the merger; a taskforce will be formed to iron out the details. It remains to be seen whether the boards of the independent Chamber and EDC will agree to the next phase, though it looks promising.

"This is a very promising new direction for these organizations to better serve the business and economic development interests of Manitou Springs, and that benefits all of us," says Manitou Mayor Pro Tem Aimee Cox. "This will provide a consistent vision and plan for future decision-making."

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Pita Pit returns

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Im baaaack.
  • "I'm baaaack."

I spoke to Pita Pit owner Chris Murphy earlier today, who confirms the authenticity of a craigslist post advertising jobs at two reopening Pita Pit locations: 8 E. Bijou St. (634-1748) and 773 W. Garden of the Gods Road (227-7482).

According to Murphy, the downtown location will open tomorrow, April 1, and the Garden of the Gods outfit will open sometime next week, most likely by Friday.

Here's a quick story in his words about the recent closure and reopening:

My wife Jill and I are the original owners who opened these restaurants 7 years ago. We sold them two years ago but as you can see, the new owner didn't do so well. Jill and I decided that we couldn't allow The Pita Pit to die, so through an agreement with the Franchise we are opening them back up and bringing them back to their former glory. I think the best news from all of this is that we are putting about 20 people back to work.

Murphy says he and Jill originally sold because she was virtually running them alone after he joined the military (the year after Pita Pit first opened) and served for five years. But now he says he feels a loyalty to former customers and employees, as well as the franchise (which extended him and his wife, only 23 and 24 at the time, loans and faith) to restore the former glory of Pita Pit.

"The stores are like children to us," he says.

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Save the supplements

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 10:13 AM

Yet another fight is brewing between the natural foods community and government (U.S. senators at the moment, but ultimately the FDA) over nutritional supplements.

I received my monthly mailer from Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers (where I do a fair amount of shopping) yesterday, in which the company devotes half a page urging folks to contact their representatives in opposition of the Dietary Supplement Safety Act (DSSA) introduced by John McCain and Byron Dorgan in February. Here's a portion of the argument:

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If passed, the bill would provide the FDA absolute power to arbitrarily ban any supplement it sees fit. Additionally, the burdensome and duplicative record-keeping requirements would put most of the businesses in the dietary supplement industry out of business. DSSA is a real threat to our hard-won health freedoms; particularly our right to become educated about nutrients ... Tragically, this bill is being proposed under the guise of enforcing anti-doping in sports and preventing the adulteration of dietary supplements with steroidal drugs.

If you've read enough, you can find a link on Vitamin Cottage's home page to a form letter against DSSA, organized by Citizens for Health.

But if you want to dig a little deeper, both in opposition to and support of the bill, here are some sites to visit:

USA Triathlon supports DSSA, offering a quote by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency calling the bill "fair and balanced."

This Medical Doctors' open letter opposes DSSA, citing concerns that patients who use high-quality supplements to treat serious illnesses might lose access to them.

This post by author David Gorski in Science-Based Medicine provides a great deal of background dating back to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994, citing pros and cons of DSSA, but ultimately arguing for the bill, concluding with the statement:

Whatever bill passes, the McCain or Durbin bill, as has been true for 16 years now, something needs to be done to fix the the DSHEA, or, as I like to call it, the Supplement Manufacturer’s Protection Act. As long as the DSHEA remains intact, it’s more or less the honors system for supplement manufacturers, and I don’t trust supplement manufacturers any more than many trust big pharma. In fact, in many cases, they are becoming one and the same. Big pharma recognizes profit potential when it sees it, and supplements can be marketed without all that pesky and expensive testing that are required for new drugs.

Lastly, here's a YouTube audio clip from radio show Coast to Coast AM discussing the issue:

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why they're starving

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 5:52 PM

OK — I'm a total sucker for these informative activist videos. It's probably the clever art and easy message.

I'm just glad that folks like Denis van Waerebeke find the time to make these. This one explains the baffling nature of the international food market, and how the first world causes developing nations to go hungry.

How to feed the world ? from Denis van Waerebeke on Vimeo.

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Ham it up

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Celebrating the resurrection is way more tasty with ham.
  • Celebrating the resurrection is way more tasty with ham.
Easter is upon us.

For many Christians, that means thinking about sacrifice, renewal, forgiveness, and of course, ham.

Unfortunately, not everyone in Colorado Springs has a big juicy piece of meat for their Sunday brunch. The poor among us are in grave danger of going ham-less. And that's why the Springs Rescue Mission is asking anyone who can to donate a ham.

Here's the info.:

Hams for the Hungry and Homeless

Colorado Springs, CO — March 29, 2010 — Springs Rescue Mission is in urgent need of a large amount of Hams as it prepares to feed hundreds of Colorado Springs homeless and hungry this Saturday, April 3 at its annual “Easter Alive Celebration” to be held at First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs.

In addition, any donations of non-perishable food items in large quantities are encouraged to help fill many food boxes that will be given away to families in need throughout the month of April.

Also needed are vehicle donations to help several families who need help with transportation. Through a community outreach network, the Mission helps families with children who have special medical needs who travel back and forth to doctor appointments throughout the month. Good used vans would be preferable for these families.

Where to drop off any donations:
Drop off hams and non-perishable food donations at 1 West Las Vegas Street in Colorado Springs.

For more information:
Please call Patricia Garcia of Springs Rescue Mission at (719) 314-2356 for more information about the Easter event.

To learn more about Springs Rescue Mission visit their web site at: www.springsrescuemission.org.

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Personhood measure makes ballot

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 8:42 AM

Though it briefly appeared that Coloradans would be spared from a second round in the fight over when human life begins, proponents of the so-called "personhood" amendment met their signature requirement in overtime.

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Backers of the measure came up close to 16,000 signatures short at their first deadline in February, but they more than doubled that amount during the cure period that ended March 18. (Check out the secretary of state's news release here.)

A similar measure lost 73-27 in 2008. This time, instead of the term "person" applying from the time an egg is fertilized, it has been reworded to apply the term at the beginning of "biological development." (Here's the full text of the measure.)

Opponents are gearing up for another fight. The following is from a blast email from the group ProgressNow Colorado:

Sad to say, but it's official. Amendment 62, the so-called "Personhood Amendment", will be on the November ballot in Colorado. Again.

This may sound crazy, because it did to us when we first learned about it. But this amendment would actually change Colorado's constitution to deny women access to things like birth control, in-vitro fertilization, as well as banning all abortions without exception.

The Denver PostĀ opposed Amendment 48, the 'prequel' back in 2008, saying it would create "an absurd and unworkable maze" by pushing the definition of "personhood" to fertilization. (6/2/08)

Hopefully most Coloradan's will see that Amendment 62 is just plain nuts. But we also know how confusing ballot issues can be. So let's all do what we can to defeat 62.

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Race for Divide mayorship getting tight

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 8:19 AM

Walter
  • Walter

Spright
  • Spright

Yes, it's true, and with a few days left before the grand tally, it's still anybody's game. The question remains: will Divide go republicat or dogocrat?


That's right, for those not in the know, this election determines an animal figurehead to guide the Teller County hamlet. It's all part of a fundraising effort devised by the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter.

And so, with a slim margin of 75 votes, the leader is Walter, the orange tabby. A close second and third, dogocrat leaders Spright and Diesel.


Here's the thrilling wrap-up:

For weeks Spright has held a comfortable lead in the campaign for the Mayor of Divide, with Walter a distant second and Diesel coming in third, just behind Walter. Three weeks ago Diesel slid past Walter to regain his former position of second place. Upon hearing the news, Walter supporters sprang into action casting over 300 votes for their boy in a single week. This had Spright supporters concerned as it brought Walter to within just 200 votes of what had been a long standing lead for Spright. Encouraged by their success, Walter supporters forged ahead casting an unprecedented 696 votes last week placing their favorite feline in first place by a margin of 75 votes.

Diesel
  • Diesel

Votes are counted online at tcrascolorado.com and polls will remain open through midnight April 6. Each vote costs $1 and benefits the TCRAS, of Divide.

The inauguration party will take place on April 11 at noon at the shelter, located on 308 Weatherville Road. All people and leashed pets are welcome to the celebration, which will feature the other candidates and a barbecue cookout. How's that for bipartisanship?

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Monday, March 29, 2010

A glimmer of hope?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 5:50 PM

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Of the 8,000 or so streetlights the city is turning off to save money, about 172 have been adopted by residents so they'll keep burning.

"The response has been fairly consistent since we announced the program," city spokesman John Leavitt says in an e-mail. "Most citizens/customers seem to accept the streetlight deactivation as a
way for the City to reduce one cost. Some are actually happy that it is happening. But some customers are very concerned about their light being turned off. Concerns range from increased crime to encroaching wild animals. A small percentage of those who call in are interested in the adoption program. Most want the City to reconsider what it has done and turn the light back on."

Leavitt couldn't say how much money has been paid in the adoption program, because some lights cost more to keep burning that others.

Based on the 113 requests made on line, which doesn't include requests done by phone or through the mail, the biggest rescue effort has taken place in the Broadmoor area with 21. Second high is ZIP code 80919 in northeast Colorado Springs with 15. Tied for third at 10 each are ZIP codes 80917 (Village Seven) and 80907, an area that flanks Interstate 25 north of Fillmore to Austin Bluffs Parkway.

Go here for information on the program.

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Music Monday: Devendra Banhart show canceled due to freak-folk accident

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 3:09 PM

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If you were thinking of going up to see Devendra Banhart at the Ogden Theatre tomorrow (Tuesday) night, you might want to think again.

“So your old pal Devendra just broke some bone in his leg skateboarding before the show yesterday,” wrote Banhart in his blog yesterday, adding that, although he wanted to play his upcoming shows "like in a bed or something," the doctors wouldn't go for it.

The talented central figure in what's been called the “freak-folk” movement, Banhart had been touring with his latest band, the Grogs. (His previous group's have included Stoner Boner, Las Putas Locas and the Hairy Fairy Band.)

If you bought advance tickets, you can get your refund at the Ogden or Bluebird box office, or whatever outlet you bought them from originally.


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Tuition increase at UCCS will be 7 percent

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 2:43 PM

It's not the worst possible increase, but in-state undergraduates at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs can expect to spend an average of $420 to $450 extra next school year on their tuition.

That works out to an average 7 percent increase, below the maximum of 9 percent set by Gov. Bill Ritter and the Legislature. It comes as UCCS and other public colleges and universities react to declining funding from the state.

Graduate students will also see 7 percent increases.

Of some comfort: UCCS administrators expect the total cost for in-state undergrads, including tuition, fees, room and board, to increase less than 4 percent.

Here's video from CNN of a student protest earlier this month about declining funding:

Continue reading »

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Review: New show at the FAC

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 2:17 PM

My first piece of advice upon entering Conflict | Resolution is this: Have patience.

This exhibition is fantastic, but it is difficult. In a manner befitting a deep theme like struggle and strife, conclusion and compromise, this show is tough to grasp at first.

Of all the shows that comprise the main exhibition, W Dictionary by 62-year-old Mexican artist Carlos Aguirre is the biggest challenge. Both highly political and starkly minimal, Aguirre’s work resists all things topical and extra; most of his pieces in the exhibit are vinyl stickers attached directly to the gallery walls. He also employs light boxes and boards for his newspaper clipping works, with nothing overdone or decorated. W Dictionary is situated in the large gallery on the top floor, a move that beautifully highlights the empty after-feeling of Aguirre’s work.

The W in W Dictionary stands for George W. Bush
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
  • The "W" in W Dictionary stands for George W. Bush.

The most striking work is Aguirre’s ongoing installation of death announcements from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, printed in the New York Times. From 2006 on, Aguirre has collected the clippings and added them to the piece, called "Names of the Dead," which has grown into a large grid of clippings tacked neatly to the wall with simple pushpins. The clippings are arranged in an ombre spread of tones related to newspaper decay, fading from a bluish white to a dull yellow. Curator Tariana Navas-Nieves explains that "Names" is made up of nearly 1,000 clippings, and will continue to grow; Aguirre has just sent some fresh announcements to add to the work.

Aguirre employs word play to fuel his political comments. One example is “Collateral Damage,” a chilling piece that blends the phrase “collateral damage” with “murder of civilians” into one long unintelligible word. This dark puzzle illustrates the often-cruel nature of euphemisms, Navas-Nieves says, adding that one of W Dictionary’s main themes is to question how words have changed meaning since 9/11, primarily through the media.

Elsewhere, viewers will find Bill Viola’s “Tempest,” a 15-minute super-slow-motion video of a group of people mown down by a tidal wave. “Tempest” possesses a similar thread of elegance and restraint, magnifying the threatening message without exploiting it. But it takes a fair amount of concentration to watch the entire film.

Tempest lacks audio, which adds to the eerie impact.
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
  • "Tempest" lacks audio, which adds to the eerie impact.

To balance the aggressive simplicity of much of Conflict, the pieces by Chris Weed and Sean O’Meallie offer work that pleases the eye quickly, through bright colors or visually arresting designs. Which isn’t to say they lack depth — it just takes a little less digging to get into the heart of the works.

Weed’s "Spores" litter the museum’s front lawn but also pop up inside the institution like a clever leitmotif. One spore stands guard at the entrance of the show, while a pair rest under dramatic lighting on the gallery floor. The interplay of the heavy shadows against the highlighted tines of each spore offers a brilliantly moody emotional outlet that contrasts with the stored rage and grief permeating much of the rest of the show.

Conflict is on display through June 20. For more information, visit www.csfineartscenter.org or go here.

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Time to ditch the plastic

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Last Monday, to mark World Water Day, film activist Annie Leonard, of the Story of Stuff project, released a new video called the Story of Bottled Water.

Watch it here:

Now that you've learned to say "no" to bottled water; that 1 billion people around the world have no access to clean water; and that "Carrying bottled water is on its way to being as cool as smoking while pregnant," you can read Kirsten Akens' interview from this past December with Leonard here.

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Zoo still searching for missing otter

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 12:00 PM

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has lost one of its North American river otters. Kitchi and three other otters broke out of their enclosure last Thursday, and while the other three were recovered safely, Kitchi remains AWOL.

Kitchi is about 4 feet long with brown fur and a white muzzle.
  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Kitchi is about 4 feet long with brown fur and a white muzzle.

The zoo has set up an otter hotline at 648-7348 for community members to call if they spot Kitchi or signs of an otter's presence, such as tracks or fish remains. The zoo asks that you do not approach the animal, but take note of where and when you saw it and what direction it was heading. Photos and videos help.

Broadmoor-area residents are asked to check their pools and ponds for otter activity, with this reassuring note from the zoo:

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo wants to assure the community that their pets and family members are safe if they do not provoke or corner the animal, but koi or other ornamental fish in decorative ponds are at risk. North American river otters are indigenous to Colorado, so the current spring weather in the area should be of no concern to the 25-pound aquatic mammal.

For full details, visit the zoo's Facebook post here.

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Abortion ban will be on ballot

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 11:51 AM

The Associated Press is reporting that a controversial measure that would ban abortions in Colorado will be on the ballot this November.

It originally looked like the measure would fail for a lack of signatures, but more signatures were produced in time to make the initiative a go.

From the AP:

A proposal to ban abortion in Colorado will be on state ballots this fall.
The Secretary of State's Office said Friday that Colorado-based Personhood USA submitted enough valid signatures to put an abortion- ending proposal to a statewide vote this fall.
The proposal would give unborn fetuses human rights in the state constitution, setting up a likely conflict with the U.S. Constitution over a woman's right to abortions.
The group is pushing similar measures in 40 states this year.
Personhood USA first turned in almost 80,000 signatures in February, nearly 4,000 more than what it needed to get the proposal on the state ballot. But thousands of the signatures were rejected. The group turned in several thousand more signatures last week, and those were accepted.
A similar anti-abortion measure was on Colorado ballots in 2008, and voters soundly rejected it.
The Associated Press

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