Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Maggots on a plane — not joking

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Like this. But with maggots.
  • Like this. But with maggots.

And the quote of the day goes to...

Some lady in Alabama, who lent her grace to this sentence: "It only takes one maggot to upset your world."

Simple. Eloquent. True.

So anyway, get this: On Monday a U.S. Airways flight going from Charlotte, N.C., to Alabama had to return to the gate because MAGGOTS were falling from the overhead bin. Turns out somebody had brought a container of rotten meat on the plane, the maggots got out and started falling on the passengers.

I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Ewwwwwwwwww!"

Although, I do have to say that this makes my Monday look fantastic. And I also feel much better about all the lousy plane flights I've survived. Even the one out of Minnesota where I thought the piece of trash was going to fall from the sky because there was so much turbulence. To make matters worse I had a full bladder and no one was allowed to leave their seats. Also, (and I'm not joking about this) I noticed a loose panel behind my head where someone — presumably a staff person — had written "DO NOT TOUCH!!!!" in permanent marker.

Mmmmkay. I'll keep that in mind.

There was also the time that an 80-year-old man and his extremely overweight 40-year-old girlfriend wrenched their seats so far back that they were basically sitting on my husband's and my laps, and proceeded to make out loudly and wetly. His hands were down her pants. His hands were up her shirt. I'm not entirely sure, but I think one of them might be able to claim membership to the Mile High Club on a technicality.

By that point, I had been on a plane or in an airport for 12 hours. I nearly lost it. But then I remembered that screaming bloody murder on a plane is ill-advised these days.

But still. Still. Maggots? Maggots. That beats anything I've got.

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Review: If you missed Idris Khan, here's a little nugget for you

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 5:15 PM

One of the problems of bringing an artist to a show at its closing (versus its opening), is just that: it's over. Any buzz that arises from the event has nowhere to go.

And after being at Colorado College Saturday night, I wanted to share the buzz following "Last 3 Piano Sonatas ... After Franz Schubert," Idris Khan's talk and film with live performance by pianists Susan Grace and John Novacek, previewed by Sarah White in the June 24 issue of the Independent here.

Idris Khan with a larger-than-life piano.
  • Kirsten Akens
  • Idris Khan with a larger-than-life piano.

The talk, in the Cornerstone Arts Center's screening room, lasted about 40 minutes, with a slide show by Khan that delved into his personal history, as well as his transition from photographer to filmmaker to sculptor, and his emphasis in each of these areas on daily practices and rituals.

"When we showed [the Schubert film] in New York, people were sitting through it three or four times because they didn't know when it was ending or when it was beginning," Khan said. "I kind of liked that."

After his talk, the I.D.E.A. Space hosted the film and live concert. Two pianos were set up on either side of three screens, and for the next 20 minutes or so, as Kahn's film screened silently, Grace and Novacek played Schubert's sonatas — together, but not. Each pianist played to his or her own beat, often coming off (intentionally) discordant. They did live what players within Kahn's film do, pressing listeners within different layers of notes, at times comfortably; at other times, poking you out of complacency.

Susan Grace gives Schubert's sonatas her all, against a backdrop of Khan's work.
  • Kirsten Akens
  • Susan Grace gives Schubert's sonatas her all, against a backdrop of Khan's work.

Since the show closed that evening and I can't send you all to CC, I went digging — and found this video of Khan giving a 45-minute talk very similar to the one he gave on Saturday. This speech took place at the Guggenheim, in New York City, back in April. Within it, there's a clip of the Schubert film, sans Grace and Novacek, of course, but it will give you a glimpse into what attendees were able to partake in.

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Gluten-free beer, whiskey tasting, ice cream and more

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Here's a bunch of disparate food bytes as we all start getting antsy for our long 4th of July weekend:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ... rejoice.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ... rejoice.
• In honor of some recently installed bike racks in front of Sonterra Innovative Southwest Grill (28 S. Tejon St.), the restaurant is offering $1 draft beers (limit one per visit) to anyone who bikes to work. According to a hostess, the deal is basically on an honor system — no spandex required.

The Curry Leaf Restaurant is selling ready-to-grill July 4th items available for pickup on the 3rd. The list includes beef, chicken and vegetable kabobs, chicken breasts and potato salad. Call 447-0608 for details and reservations.

• A Boulder-based company called New Planet Beer, that was launched in 2008 and is built around gluten-free products, just released its 3R Raspberry Ale. According to a release:

3R Raspberry Ale is a well-balanced ale beer made from fermented sorghum and corn, natural raspberry puree, orange peel, hops, and yeast. Not overly sweet, the Oregon grown fruit puree creates a beautiful body color with a natural raspberry flavor. The beer has 160 calories and is 5% ABV. The suggested retail price for the 22 oz bomber style bottle is $5.99.

See ... the bear likes it.
  • See ... the bear likes it.

• Not all tastings get as fun of a name as Whiskey For My Men, Beer For My Horses. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will host the event tomorrow, July 1, from 5 to 8 p.m. It features samples from Bristol Brewing, Pizzeria Rustica, Downslope Distilling and Amuzé at the FAC. Tickets are $15 for members, $20 for non-members and $5-off at the door for "guests sporting a big-ass belt buckle." (Nice to see a fine-art venue showing a good sense of humor.)

• In addition to all the farmers markets that have started up, don't forget about the pick n pay option at Harlan Wolfe Ranch hosted by Pikes Peak Urban Gardens. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the growing season; items are 100 percent organic and biodynamic.

Glacier Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato will have a soft opening tomorrow, July 1, followed by a grand opening on July 4th. The new University Village Center location is at 5166 N. Nevada Ave., #100. See our Side Dish write up about the outfit here.

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Indy Minute

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 4:13 PM

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This week featuring the Colorado movie premiere of The Dry Land, the latest in the KRCC World Music series: Ocote Soul Sounds, and the 6th annual Pikes Peak Arts Fest this weekend.

As seen on ABC affiliate KRDO News Channel 13, simulcast on KRDO News Radio 105.5 FM 1240 AM.

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Baby tigers turn one month old

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 3:57 PM

The Denver Zoo celebrated the one month anniversary of the birth of four endangered Amur tiger cubs today. Here are some of the first publicly released photos of the little quadruplet cuties.

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  • DAVE PARSONS|DENVER ZOO

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  • DAVE PARSONS|DENVER ZOO

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  • DAVE PARSONS|DENVER ZOO

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  • DAVE PARSONS|DENVER ZOO

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  • DAVE PARSONS|DENVER ZOO

The cubs were born May 31, 2010 at the zoo. It's estimated that there are only 400 Amur tigers left in the wild. Amurs were once called "Siberian tigers," but now that the animals are only found in the far eastern portion of Asia along the Amur River they are commonly referred to as "Amur tiger."

The cubs are not yet on display for the zoo public to see, but are nice and safe for now in a private maternity den with their mother, Koshka.

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The mighty Pokey LaFarge returning to the Springs

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Less than a month after his last Colorado Springs appearance, America's best ragtime-blues-riverboat-soul upstart Pokey LaFarge is coming back to town. The St. Louis artist, be backed by his South City Three, will return to Front Range BBQ on July 9.

If you haven't already done so, you can go read our Pokey interview, by Indy writer Nick Chambers, and also watch his video below.

In addition to being a fine singer, songwriter, guitarist and all-around entertainer, LaFarge (who looks like a dapper cross between Woody Guthrie and Pee Wee Herman) also plays a mean kazoo.

And, as you've probably guessed, there's an app for that, which you can see demonstrated by scrolling down further still. Granted, the virtual version sounds only slightly less annoying than Donald Duck playing a vuvuzela, but at least it allows you to select from a variety of scales (and that means you can find the right notes with even the tinnest of ears). But it still pretty much sucks. Or, technically, blows.

Anyway, here's Pokey, who doesn't:



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More from the Biennial of the Americas

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 2:16 PM

The main visual art attraction at the Biennial of the Americas, The Nature of Things, is set to open tomorrow.

This beautiful collection of highly original art I already briefly gushed about in a previous blog post, but here's a look at some more works, as well as some incidental views of the exhibition household, the renovated McNichols Building, a marvel in itself.

First up, Karlo Andrei Ibarra's "Continental," a solar-powered neon sign that reads, "I live in America," in Spanish. Simple and yet majestic, this is the first work you see when entering the building. The purple-hued neon flickers with the capriciousness of the weather, an effect exhibition curator Paola Santoscoy says hints at the sign dying and hence, a weakening paradigm.

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  • Matthew Schniper

If you've ever heard of "Prada Marfa" — the sweetheart installation in the perversely hip art spot, Marfa, Texas — then you already know a little about Rael San Fratello Architects. The Oakland, California firm contributed a table of doo-dads that demonstrate 3-D printing technology and their mission for sustainable design. Several models comprise "Earthscrapers or Unnatural Building" that could make a Frank Gehry structure look, well, boxy. Here's one:

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  • Matthew Schniper

Remember, this model was made by a printer.

On the second floor, visitors will find a particularly beautiful installation by Boulder artist Joseph Schaeffer, "The Epoch of Encroachment," comprised of several bell jars mounted on spindly stands and clear plastic tubes that connect to a central terrarium-meets-chandelier hub.

Seemingly benign and just plain pretty, "Epoch" represents nature taking the power back from man, and arming itself in a defense that reclaims the Earth, Santoscoy says.

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  • Matthew Schniper

Here are some details:

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  • Matthew Schniper

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  • Matthew Schniper

Many artists expressed a concern with environmental conservation, including Miler Lagos, whose aptly named "Newspaper Roll" speaks to the use of natural resources to create newspapers and the ephemerality of the medium.

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  • Matthew Schniper

Lagos wrapped newspapers from Philadelphia around a sturdy dowel for 10 days to create the massive log.

For much more on the Biennial and this exhibition, visit biennialoftheamericas.org. See other works by the artists in this show at biennialoftheamericas.org/pages/mcnichols-at-civic-center-park.

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Mayor delivers his last state of the city speech

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 1:38 PM

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Mayor Lionel Rivera delivered his final State of the City address to about 450 people this afternoon at the Doubletree Hotel on the city's south side.

An upbeat Rivera notes, "We live in a city that truly, I think, is envied across the country."

(Though it should be noted, that "across the country" apparently does not include national media outlets which have lately portrayed the Springs as a national laughing stock.)

Rivera says there are lots of bright spots right now in the city. He highlights the way citizens, churches and nonprofits have swooped in to save parks and other city assets that were axed from the city budget as well as solve city-wide problems like homeless housing. He notes that big projects like the Southern Delivery System are going to bring jobs to the region.

The mayor also addressed some problems on the horizon, noting that government pensions were unsustainable, and that the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights would hamper city growth unless future City Councils take action and convince citizens to allow the city to keep future surpluses.

The latter comment drew enthused applause.

The entire speech is below:


2010 State of the City
Mayor Lionel Rivera


June 30, 2010
Good afternoon, everyone. I want to thank the staff at the Chamber of Commerce for hosting this annual event and the great service staff that took care of us today. I am always excited to talk about the work of the City, Colorado Springs Utilities and Memorial Health Systems.
Thank you all for attending today. It’s great to see so many community leaders who are dedicated to working side by side to make Colorado Springs the best place to live, work and recreate. We all want Colorado Springs to be one of the top cities in the country for attracting enterprises and entrepreneurs alike. I do want to recognize one special guest.

2010 Revenue and Budget YTD
2009 was an extremely difficult year for the City of Colorado Springs. The municipal government was not alone. My fellow Mayors from across the country are experiencing the same shortfalls. As city sales and use tax collections plummeted, City Council and City Management were challenged to make very tough decisions including the elimination of approximately 266 staff positions and significant reductions to services. While this has been a sobering time, we have witnessed the resilience of our Staff and the civic pride of many Citizens who have graciously donated their time and resources.

City Council did not want to resort to the severe cut backs in service required to balance the budget. However, like many of you, we had to cut our expenditures to match our revenue. In this economic environment we had to create a new model for providing many of the City services that we all want. And as the old saying goes “necessity is the mother of invention”. The end result is this community became a shining example of problem solving and perseverance. We developed partnerships with faith based organizations, enlisted the help and support of motivated community volunteers, outsourced recreation activities that used to cost the City a substantial subsidy, and turned four other recreation facilities into self sustaining profitable operations that will return funds to general fund.

Out of this paradigm shift came a new phoenix; a group called Proud of our Parks was created. I will ask Steve Immel to stand and be recognized as the chairman of that group of citizens who have, to date, helped adopt 110 trash cans, and 82 combined parks, trails and open space areas. Next year through a new public recycling program we hope to return trash receptacles to all of our parks. Steve had some help, with a generous effort lead by Citadel Broadcasting the word went out over their 6 stations about the needs we had in the parks system and our citizens responded. Kent Hildebrand with Citadel Broadcasting and his team were behind the Picnic and Pickup in the Park resulting in an increased awareness and valuation of our precious assets that make up our prized quality of life.

Two of the most popular spots in Colorado Springs during the hot summer months are the Uncle Wilber Fountain and the Julie Penrose Fountain in America the Beautiful Park. These two fountains were going to be dry this summer if left to the general fund budget. But that was just not acceptable to Kat Tudor and Kristen Downs. Ladies please stand up so folks can see who you are. These two city residents planned, prodded, promoted and persevered to make sure these two citywide treasures were ready to greet eager summer visitors. Between these two ladies and their remarkable committees, over $30,000 was raised for by the Friends of Julie Penrose and the Friends of Uncle Wilber Fountains. On behalf of the joyful kids AND adults of our community, thank you for your work.

Friends of the fountains were not alone in their efforts. Friends of Rock Ledge Ranch — represented by Ron Wright, Friends of North Cheyenne Canon — represented by Lee Wolf, and Friends of Pioneer Museum, represented by Linda Sauer, rallied to keep these unique properties open to their publics and are breathing new life into the programs and stimulating volunteer activity like never before. While Council was able to help bridge the gap in the budgets for these local gems, there is no doubt that without the unwavering efforts of many, many people, the Pioneers Museum, Rock Ledge Ranch and Cheyenne Canon would have been sorely missed.

New partnerships also emerged. The Westside Community Center is open for business through a volunteer effort with the Woodmen Valley Chapel. Dick Siever and Karen Fleming are representing a creative new approach to delivering community services to our Westside neighbors and in many ways even more comprehensibly than the City was. Their three year commitment is funded through volunteers and cash and in kind donations. It’s a shining example of how the faith based community and the City can partner to provide needed services to our citizens. I’m so proud of this effort that I will share a report of our success with my Mayoral colleagues through the USCM.

The Community Center Task Force launched a door-to-door campaign, held a carnival including a dunk tank featuring several of my fellow council members. Eric Phillips spearheaded efforts raising awareness and funding along with neighbors throughout the Hillside, Deerfield and Meadows Park neighborhoods.
People rallied. People pulled together. These people here with us today and hundreds of others all over our community found ways to solve problems.

The City of Colorado Springs has formed a self sustaining partnership with Colorado Springs Swim School to manage Wilson Ranch, Portal Pool and the Aquatic and Fitness Center. This private sector agreement with Colorado Springs Swim School is going strong. The outdoor pools opened for the summer on Memorial Day weekend. The Aquatic and Fitness Center at Memorial Park will re-open in September. Our partnership also has the potential to generate a financial return to the City. I expect see more and more of these public-private partnerships in the future.

Some of our other park and recreation programs and properties did not fare as well in the first half of 2010, but thanks to additional cost savings and better focus from CSU, we’ve been able to improve irrigation and maintenance in our neighborhood parks and medians. 2011 is just around the corner and we will face very similar challenges.

Late last year and earlier this year we faced one of the largest and most important humanitarian programs in the history of our City: addressing the needs of about 550 homeless men and women, who until recently could be seen camping as we drove near downtown along I-25 or Cimarron.

Thanks to generous grants totaling $150,000 from the El Pomar Foundation, and $50,000 federal funding through the City, Homeward Pikes Peak and a small cadre of volunteers have been able to reach out to 382 of these homeless campers.
Of those 382 campers:

• 25% have returned to their families, after case workers were assured that a welcoming family was awaiting them.
• 109 have successfully found employment in the area and have either left the program, or are saving money for their first month’s rent and deposit.
• Some unfortunately been asked to leave the program for various infractions.
• 40% remain in the program, looking for work on a daily basis and receiving case management.
• 13 individuals have voluntarily moved into substance abuse programs.
• 33 of our clients are children.
Thank Bob Holmes for leading the effort.
In addition to El Pomar and the City, I am very pleased to report that through the faith based community we set a matching goal of $50,000. At my request, Senior Pastor Matt Heard of Woodmen Valley Chapel rallied a total of twenty churches and faith-based organizations who contributed toward this generous gift. The goal was exceeded by $10,000 and Homeward Pikes Peak will be receiving contributions totaling $60,000 this week! I’m very grateful to each of you! Pastor Heard could not make today’s lunch, but he is represented by Randy Scott an Elder at WVC.
This has truly proven to be one of the most cost-efficient and effective programs of its kind, and I welcome a visit from Boulder officials so they can see how its done right.

One thing has been proven over and over again, we can solve many of our problems together and that is exactly what it will take as we move forward. Thank you to each and every one of you recognized today and to the dozens of you in the audience who I know work tirelessly to make this the outstanding community that it is. I applaud all of you who volunteer in our great community.

Economic development
As you may be aware, the past seven months have reflected positive year-over-year collections for the sales and use tax revenue. However, with continued uncertainty and turmoil in the world financial markets and the global economy, we believe it is prudent to continue monitoring and adjusting our forecasts prior to releasing the financial picture for 2011, but it looks much better than projected in January of this year.

Despite the difficult economic times we find ourselves in, we are not a community to sit around waiting for things to get better. We approach these challenges head-on.

Earlier this year city council approved a sales tax sharing agreement for the redevelopment of the Mining Exchange Bldg into a new boutique hotel that should further accelerate downtown revitalization and help create several hundred jobs.

We unanimously approved the Copper Ridge Development plan that as it builds out will provide tax revenue to finance the construction of a new Powers freeway connection from I-25 to Hwy 83. The link will provide an opportunity for major commercial development and a more direct link to Colorado Springs airport, and again potentially several hundred more jobs.

In addition to having a vision and supporting future job through new economic development we must also focus on retention of good jobs and trademark marquee industries. Bringing the United States Olympic Committee and six National Governing Bodies to their new headquarters downtown with a 30 year commitment to our community from the USOC is more than retaining good jobs. The USOC represents a national headquarters presence, with global recognition, and an employment base of active professionals who bring their spirit and energy and who are actively engaged in our community and sports tourism industry on a daily basis.

The economic impact of retaining the United States Olympic Committee and it’s inherent sports related industry and tourism, is estimated at $341.3 million in both direct and secondary impacts and $3.4 million of annual sales tax and property tax revenue to our community. Well worth our investment.
An example of that impact is the reoccurring success of the State Games of America and Rocky Mountain State Games driven by the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation. The 2007 and 2009 State games of America drew record participation each year of over 10,000 athletes plus 15,000 family members to Colorado Springs, filling every hotel room during their stay. The success of these games is due to great leadership from the CS Sports Corporation and their partnership with the USOC, and NGB’s athletes, coaches and leadership. We couldn’t stage theses events on such a grand scale without that partnership. The 2010 Rocky Mountain State Games are right around the corner and we expect 7000 athletes from Colorado and surrounding states for this major event.

Let me introduce you to a couple of our Olympic athletes. Jessie Beckom is training for bobsled and comes to us with 2 years as a City Planner in North Carolina. Adam Wheeler. You’ll notice Officer Wheeler is wearing a Colorado Springs Police uniform. Adam won the bronze in Greco Roman Wrestling at the Beijing Olympic Games. He is a full time police officer and we hope a permanent member of our community. We also are fortunate to have the U.S. Paralympics headquartered here in Colorado Springs.

I would also like to recognize Scott Blackmun for his leadership as the Chief Executive Officer for the United States Olympic Committee. And extend my thanks to the USOC and participating NGBs for their generous grant of $250,000 for youth and sports programs at our community centers. I look forward to our renewed partnership driving strong economic development and job growth in sports tourism as called for in the 6035 economic development plan. One of our early economic development successes is the Olympic Assembly being held for the first time in Colorado Springs this September. It will bring over 400 sports professionals and decision makers to our city.

Another tremendous local asset is our strong partnership with our military neighbors. I have tremendous respect for our service members and their families for the sacrifices they make everyday to defend and protect our nation. I’m proud of the Pikes Peak region’s support of our military. A simple example of these partnerships can be seen in the celebration of our nation on July 4th. When the city was unable to fund the traditional fireworks at Memorial Park last year, Fort Carson invited the community to celebrate with them, on base on July 3rd. This year the United States Air Force Academy will host a public event at Falcon Stadium with our own Philharmonic Orchestra on July 4th that brings together our respective communities to celebrate Independence Day. My sincere thanks go out to our neighbors for providing a venue for a great celebration.

Economic development doesn’t just occur on the general city side. A lot is going on at CSU.


Neumann Systems Group
For the last two years we have partnered with local entrepreneur Dr. David Neumann to test and perfect Neumann Systems Group's leading edge emission control technology at the Drake Power Plant. When testing is complete and if certified by the state this summer it will potentially help us meet future air quality standards mandated by EPA. This new technology requires one tenth the space and can be implemented at one half the cost of conventional scrubber technology. If we can implement this new technology it will save our rate payers millions of dollars each year moving forward.

The lower cost and smaller footprint may make this technology appealing to power plants across the nation and has the potential of bringing hundreds of new jobs to the area. If the technology goes commercial, Neumann Systems Group plans to manufacture the equipment right here in Colorado Springs and the need for this leading edge technology is potentially global.


Renewable Energy
We're investing in renewable energy, and we're doing it in low cost ways that make sense for Colorado Springs, leveraging the natural resources that make this a great place to live.
U.S. Air Force Academy solar
Colorado Springs Utilities is working with the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) to build a new solar array on Academy grounds. The solar photovoltaic facility will have a capacity of 4 to 5 megawatts, making it the largest solar array in the state of Colorado. It will provide about 7 percent of the total power requirement at the Academy. Construction will begin by this fall and the project is expected to be completed by Spring 2011. This new energy source will count toward Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard, and construction and ongoing operations of the array will provide jobs for the community.
Water from the mountains: hydroelectric power
Most of our drinking water comes from snowmelt in the mountains. As water flows down the mountains, it builds up enough pressure to turn a turbine and generate electricity for our community. For over 100 years, we've been generating electricity through hydro power and this spring, our fourth hydroelectric plant was completed. Our local hydro capacity is now 35 megawatts, enough power for about 25,000 homes.
Forests in our backyard: biomass power
Colorado has 3 million acres of forest that have been killed by the pine beetle. That’s a lot of dead trees. We want to convert them to electricity. Colorado Springs Utilities is planning to construct and have a woody biomass facility operational by 2012. The renewable energy facility at the Martin Drake campus will generate about 3 percent of our total electric output, reducing the need for 75,000 tons of coal each year. There is a 20-year supply of dead and dying trees in Colorado that can be used for fuel to generate power.

We'll need contractors to cut, collect, transport and process the dead trees. Woody biomass is a low-cost renewable energy source; only hydroelectric power is a less expensive renewable source.

Southern Delivery System
We are on the verge of building one of the largest water projects in Colorado if not the Western United States. The Southern Delivery System is a vital project for the future of Colorado Springs and I believe the region.

Water has special significance to our city, as it does for all cities in this region. Since the days of our founder, General William Jackson Palmer, community leaders have had to be innovative and visionaries to bring water to this parched semi-desert region.

Today, we are continuing the legacy of accomplishing what some claimed was impossible with the Southern Delivery System. This project will provide the water we’ll need through the middle of this century and beyond. SDS will create jobs, support our economy and quality of life, and enable our city to prosper.

SDS will give the entire region an economic boost. And while SDS is a necessity for our community’s future, we have planned the construction to provide opportunities for local businesses and contractors to benefit from work on the project and that work should begin this year.

SDS is a project of critical importance not just for our community, but our region. We have the potential to help some of our neighbors with their future water needs and reducing future rate increases for our community. With SDS, we will be able to serve current and future generations of customers with a reliable water supply for decades to come — a legacy our founding fathers would surely be proud of.

Memorial Health System
Another valuable community asset is our own Memorial Health System. Memorial is providing high quality healthcare to our region and tens of millions of dollars of indigent care. Dr Larry McEvoy, his leadership team and the entire workforce have worked with diligence and compassion to make MHS the leader in healthcare in our region. Their dedicated work has dramatically turned Memorial’s fortune to the positive from the days of the global financial crisis in 2008. The improvements have been financial, in physician relationships, quality of care, medical processes and workforce productivity. MHS is in a stronger position to approach the very uncertain future that is being driven by the recently passed healthcare reform bill. Even though the bill is law the uncertainty is driven by the countless number of rules and regulations yet to be written by the Secretary of Health and Human Service. It is with this backdrop that we have appointed the Memorial Health System Commission on Ownership and Governance. During this time of healthcare and economic uncertainty we must thoroughly examine the benefits and risks of owning a hospital system or of divesting the hospital system from city ownership. I want to complement the commission for the thorough work to date they have done and the options they have identified. They should carefully examine all options, especially those that maintain the community’s access to quality healthcare and provide a substantial economic and financial benefit to our community. I’m happy to see the commission beginning their town hall meetings, so we can hear from our constituents.

Yes, things are looking up but we can't become complacent. While we have many accomplishments to celebrate - we also have some major challenges to still overcome. We can’t control the federal government or the global financial markets, but we can improve how we govern our own operations, advocate for change at the state level, and ask our citizens for their support.

City Council must significantly adjust how we share the cost of healthcare with our employees. MHS has been adjusting their employee healthcare costs to be more in line with practices in the private sector. We must move in that direction for both the City and CSU. Making those adjustments in 2011 could save the City and CSU over $2 million each. That savings can help mitigate future reductions in services for the City and mitigate future rate increases for CSU.

We must demand true pension reform for PERA from our state legislature and new governor. For local governments who participate in PERA, state law mandates that we contribute 13.7% of an employee’s salary while the employee contributes 8%. I don’t think that is fair to tax payers or rate payers. At a minimum, the employer and employee should share the cost equally. After all, it’s our employee who will receive a lifetime benefit when they retire. If we do nothing, I would expect the mandated contribution rate for the employer to go higher in the future and we can not afford that additional cost. This type of reform will save the City, CSU and MHS several million dollars a year and again will mitigate service reductions, future rate increases, or increased hospital charges.
We also need to adjust our public safety pension plans so they are affordable and actuarially sound so they do not place an unreasonable burden on the general fund.

I'm also asking our County Commissioners to reconsider their recent decision to reduce the County's road and bridge mill levy and increase their general fund mill levy. The effect of that policy decision was the reduction of $2.5 million annually from Colorado Springs historical allocation of road and bridge funds and transferring it to the County's general fund. Those funds have historically been allocated to all the cities in the County for road and bridge infrastructure and I'm confident all my Mayoral colleagues would like it restored

As we continue to scrutinize expenditures and revise revenues, other factors are at play. The TABOR formula creates rapid declines in revenue limits in economic downturns, but prevents rapid recovery when conditions improve.
As the economy recovers, what we refer to as the “ratchet-down effect” of TABOR could restrict the city’s efforts to restore services.

With the recent improvements in sales and use tax collections, we are optimistic that the 2011 budget gap that was presented to City Council in January will improve, and we are hopeful that recent sales tax trends signify the beginning of a turn-around for the local economy and our city. If sales tax revenues rebound much stronger than expected and other issues go in the City’s favor we could potentially be in a TABOR surplus. While the surplus revenue could be kept for a one time expenditure with voter approval it would not be added to our TABOR budget baseline for future use for ongoing operations. I think its time to fix that weakness in TABOR, at least temporarily. If it looks like we will be in surplus for 2010, then we should strongly consider placing a measure on the November ballot to ask citizens to allow the City to retain surplus revenue for 2010, 2011, and 2012 and add it to our TABOR budget baseline. It’s the only way we will recover from the ratchet down effect and allow the natural growth in our economy to help us recover. I ask my colleagues to support this concept if revenues rebound strongly.

Lastly we must strongly defend our rights under our City Charter There is no doubt in my mind that the citizens of Colorado Springs gave City Council the right to transfer surplus revenues from CSU to the City's general fund. It’s a practice we've had in place for over 80 years. It's allowed by the Charter, can only be changed with a charter amendment, and we must fight to retain it.

If we can implement the policies I've suggested and future City Councils follow through then I believe we will be in a position to restore many of the public safety programs we've had to cut and restore some of the other services we've had to reduce. I also believe these changes will help begin to restore trust in local government and support a strong mayor form of government if we choose to go in that direction.

My term may end in April or May depending on what happens with the strong mayor proposal, but this is just June so I can assure you I plan to remain energized, engaged and dedicated to the success of this city. I urge you to do the same. The last 13 years have been tremendously rewarding for both me and Lynn. It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Colorado Springs through the good times and our challenging times. I will work diligently with you and my colleagues to insure the City, CSU and MHS are in the best shape possible when we hand over their governance to the new Mayor and City Council in the spring of next year. We have so much to celebrate and be grateful for. We live in a city to be envied and the more we share our creative, innovative and leading edge practices the better prepared we are to grow our reputation as the best city to live, work, raise a family and recreate. Let’s never loose sight of those things that make Colorado Springs the world class city it strives to be.

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Science looks at marijuana; does it cure cancer?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 1:15 PM

We're a little late to this, but a June 19 story published in Science News takes a hard look at marijuana, and its possible medical benefits.

In-depth marijuana knowledge essentially began in 1964 when delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol — THC — was first isolated. Later, studies revealed "the compound binds to a protein that pops up on the surface of nerve cells."

THC molecule
  • THC molecule

A bigger revelation came in 1992: Mammals make their own compound that binds to, and switches on, the CB1 receptor. Scientists named the compound anandamide. Researchers soon found its counterpart that binds mainly to the CB2 receptor, calling that one 2AG, for 2-arachidonyl glycerol. The body routinely makes these compounds, called endocannabinoids, and sends them into action as needed.

“At that point, this became a very, very respectable field,” says [biochemist and discoverer of THC Raphael] Mechoulam, now at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who along with Pertwee and others reported the anandamide discovery in Science. “THC just mimics the effects of these compounds in our bodies,” Mechoulam says. Although the receptors are abundant, anandamide and 2AG are short-acting compounds, so their effects are fleeting.

With foundational knowledge in place, research has turned toward the plant's medicinal value. Besides its traditional uses to help pain, sleep easier and cope with nausea, anxiety and depression, research has recently shown success treating effects of multiple sclerosis (MS).

More than a dozen medical trials in the past decade have shown that treatments containing THC (and some that combine THC with another derivative called cannabidiol, or CBD) not only ease pain in MS patients but also alleviate other problems associated with the disease [such as burning leg pain, and muscle stiffness].

CBD molecule
  • CBD molecule

On its own, CBD has its own benefits: It's an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and as well as toning "down the psychoactive effect of THC without eliminating its medical properties. CBD also mutes the occasional anxiety and even paranoia that THC can induce."

Just one problem:

“CBD has essentially been bred out of North American black market drug strains,” [neurologist Ethan] Russo says. People growing cannabis for its recreational qualities have preferred plants high in THC, so people lighting up for medical purposes, whether to boost appetite in AIDS patients or alleviate cancer pain, may be missing a valuable cannabis component.

Though still not clinically proven in humans, marijuana may offer the biggest benefit of all: cancer treatment.

Biochemists Guillermo Velasco and Manuel Guzmán of Complutense University in Madrid have spent more than a decade establishing in lab-dish and animal tests that THC can kill cancer of the brain, skin and pancreas.

THC ignites programmed suicide in some cancerous cells, the researchers reported in 2009 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The team’s previous work showed that THC sabotages the process by which a tumor hastily forms a netting of blood vessels to nourish itself, and also keeps cancer cells from moving around.

THC achieves this wizardry by binding to protein receptors on a cancerous cell’s surface. Once attached, the THC induces the cell to make a fatty substance called ceramide, which prompts the cell to start devouring itself. “We see programmed cell death,” Velasco says. What’s more, noncancerous cells don’t make ceramide when they come into contact with THC. The healthy cells don’t die.

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FOX news finally prints something we hope is accurate

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Attention, area conservatives: Hell has officially frozen over.

A FOX News outlet is about to be quoted in an Indy piece without being openly mocked. This is largely because the story being quoted from FOX News turns out to be much more fun to mock than FOX News ... at least for today.

Here goes:

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And here: http://www.fox19.com/Global/story.asp?S=12726889

So, anyways, for all those who have long wondered what it would take for us to turn to FOX for our news, there is finally an answer: a cop-car f***er. Duh.

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Feds digging for marijuana dirt

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 1:03 PM

CompleteColorado.com has obtained an e-mail from Dr. Kevin Sabet at the Office of National Drug Control Policy to Ned Colange, Colorado's chief medical officer, requesting "criminal statistics data that are directly connected to medical marijuana dispensaries." (See below for the e-mail in its entirety, or click here).

The data may be for a specific state or nation wide; either would be greatly appreciated. However, since we have had some difficulty finding good data, I would just like to add that the data must be specific and verifiable. Dr. Sabet would also be interested in any information regarding the number or percentage of physicians in any state or nation wide that recommend medical marijuana.

Mason Tvert, executive director of marijuana advocacy group SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation), finds the e-mail suspicious.

First, why is the Drug Czar's office even asking these questions? If the Obama Administration's policy is to refrain from meddling in state medical marijuana laws and industries, why is it spending time and resources on this? Don't they have more important things to be studying at a time when budgets are being slashed due to an economic crisis?

Click to enlarge.
  • Complete Colorado
  • Click to enlarge.

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Red Rocks hosts Wailers this weekend, but which one?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 12:45 PM

So if you're tempted to go see the Wailers when they play Red Rocks with Galactic and Umphrey's McGee this coming Saturday, you might well wonder, which Wailers would that be?

Well, obviously not that first one with Bob Marley (who's dead), Peter Tosh (who's dead) and Bunny Wailer (who's alive but too stoned right now to make it up here from Jamaica).

Nor will there be any Marley family members, at least not in the genealogical sense. The version of the Wailers that's touring through Colorado is centered around Aston "Family Man" Barrett, who was the bassman in both Bob Marley & the Wailers and Lee Perry's Upsetters. Barrett's musical legacy also includes being the mentor of Robbie Shakespeare, reggae's other great bass player, who backed Wailers co-founder Peter Tosh.

To further complicate matters, there's also another group on tour that's calling itself the Original Wailers. That one features former Wailers guitarist Al Anderson as well as Junior Marvin, the Wailers' replacement vocalist after Marley's death. Junior Marvin is not to be confused with Junior Murvin, who scored a hit in Jamaica with "Police and Thieves," which was later covered by the Clash.

Got all that? Yeah, me neither. Anyway, enjoy the show.

You can also click on the video below to watch the band during a recent New York City workout. Definitely more showy than the band that originally backed Marley, but that's not such a bad thing:


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Harbor House grant will help

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 12:16 PM

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Good news for community members that struggle with addiction: Harbor House, a local treatment and counseling center, has just received a $50,000 grant from the Daniels Fund.

The economic downturn has been hard on nonprofits, which have often seen demand for their services grow. With the community attempting to move the homeless off the streets and into homes of their own, Harbor House has played an especially important role, by helping homeless people overcome addiction. Drug and alcohol abuse often helps cause homelessness in the first place. And a homeless person with an overwhelming addiction problem will have a hard time getting off the streets.

This new grant will allow Harbor House to continue to serve the homeless and the poor, who have little or no ability to pay.

Here are the details:


Colorado Springs, CO — Harbor House Collaborative announced today that it has received a $50,000 Daniels Fund grant to support the Harbor House, a supportive housing program, and the Harbor House Clinic, a community drug and alcohol counseling center.

The Harbor House Collaborative provides safe places for individuals to work towards sobriety, healthier living and self-sufficiency. The Harbor House program works with the chronic homeless with chronic substance use, by providing a safe, sober living environment, intensive case management and counseling services. The Harbor House Clinic provides counseling for individuals and families suffering from alcohol and other drug addictions and have little or no ability to pay.

“This grant will enable our organization to continue to meet the Collaborative’s goal of assisting our clients and residents on their path towards self sufficiency, better health and personal dignity,” said Dr. Steven Kidd, Board President.

Bill Daniels, a pioneer in cable television known for his kindness and generosity to those in need, established the Daniels Fund to provide grants and scholarships in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. For more information, please visit www.danielsfund.org.

“With the support of the Daniels Fund, we hope to be able to serve more of our community members in need and continue to build strong, results driven programs within our organization,” said Christine Burns, Executive Director.

For more information about the Harbor House Collaborative, call 719-473-5557 or visit www.harborhouseco.org

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Gov. Roy Romer backs Bennet

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 11:50 AM

In what's shaping up to be the battle of the endorsements, Michael Bennet's campaign for the U.S. Senate today released a letter from former Gov. Roy Romer endorsing the appointee.

Romer served as governor from 1987 to 1999.

Romer says vote for Bennet.
  • Romer says vote for Bennet.

On Tuesday, Bennet's opponent for the Democrat nomination, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, was endorsed by former President Bill Clinton. President Obama appointed Bennet last year to fill the unexpired term of Ken Salazar after appointing Salazar as Interior secretary.

Here's Romer's testimonial:

My life has taken me in many directions, but no honor has meant more to me than the privilege of serving as Colorado's governor, and no matter where my journey leads, that trust — to fight for Colorado — will always be my guide.

That's exactly why I'm so proud to support a fighter for Colorado unlike any I've seen before: Michael Bennet.

Michael brings to public office a strong background of real world experience and a fresh perspective that our political system urgently needs.

Michael's campaign has set a goal of reaching 20,000 donors before the fundraising deadline at midnight tonight — I've already chipped in — can you help reach this goal?

I served for six years as the Superintendent of Schools in Los Angeles. So I can say with complete confidence that what Michael accomplished was remarkable when he was asked to serve as Superintendent of Public Schools in Denver.

Today, Michael is recognized as the one person in the United States Senate most knowledgeable about and committed to making our schools work. That's why he was asked to fill the late Ted Kennedy's seat on the Education Committee.

Meanwhile, his Republican opponents are ignoring the problems in our schools and promoting extreme plans to destroy the Department of Education.

Michael needs our help to remain in the Senate so he can continue to work on real solutions for fixing our nation's schools.

Our actions in next few hours may determine whether Michael will have that opportunity. Please make sure he will: chip in $5 before the midnight deadline.

Michael's record on education would by itself merit my support. But I also support him for a broader and deeper reason.

Our political system, like the schools Michael turned around, is failing. The old divides have grown, and political games are stopping us from solving the most difficult challenges we face.

Washington needs what Michael has proven throughout his career that he can deliver: real change.

The election in November will be here before we know it, and I can tell you from experience — the Republicans will do anything to win.

We need Michael in the U.S. Senate — he can bring about the change our country needs. But to do that, he needs us today: contribute $5 now to help reach the 20,000 donor goal!

Take it from someone who's had the privilege of knowing many extraordinary leaders: Public servants like Michael Bennet don't come around often. Let's make sure Colorado has the benefit of his leadership for many years to come.

Sincerely,

Governor Roy Romer
Governor of Colorado, 1987-1999

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Pueblo's Medimar told to close

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 10:21 AM

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The Pueblo Chieftain is reporting that Medimar Ministry has been told to close, despite owner Tom Sexton having transferred ownership of the medical marijuana center to his wife Karen Garnant after a felony conviction.

"We've tried to operate a model [medical marijuana] business, working with the city along the way," Sexton says to the Chieftain. "But if the city insists that this conversation has to take place in court, I guess that's where we'll have it."

Asked about Tuesday's cease-and-desist order, Pueblo City Attorney Tom Florczak said that when Medimar was granted a sales tax license last year, city officials were not aware at the time that it was for a medical marijuana business. That quickly changed when Sexton and other medical marijuana providers challenged City Council's decision last autumn to impose a moratorium on licensing medical marijuana centers.

Sexton told council he would respect that moratorium, but that changed last spring when a Colorado district court ruled against the city of Centennial, which had tried to impose a ban on a marijuana center after previously granting it a license. When that decision was announced, attorneys for Medimar informed The Pueblo Chieftain the business would resume providing marijuana to patients that had designated it as a caregiver.

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