Monday, January 31, 2011

Weinstein takes AFA to court

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Mikey Weinstein's Military Religious Freedom Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the Air Force Academy from having a Christian-based speaker at its National Prayer Luncheon on Feb. 10. The keynote speaker will be Lt. Clebe McClary, a decorated disabled Vietnam veteran who now says he serves the "Lord's Army," according to his website.

Lt. Gen. Gould: Served with papers today.
  • Lt. Gen. Gould: Served with papers today.

The lawsuit argues McClary should be prevented from appearing:
It is contended in this law suit that for the command structure of the AFA to undertake a purely religious activity such as this is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Plaintiff s who are all faculty or staff members, both civilian and military, at the AFA seek injunctive relief in order to stop this from occurring. They are proceeding as John Doe plaintiffs in this action as they fear retribution from the command structure if their identities are revealed.

Academy spokesman Lt. Col. John Bryan said he was aware of the lawsuit. "We'll let the legal process take its course, and we'll abide by the ruling of the court."

The lawsuit was brought in behalf of MRFF, a group of unnamed "John Does" and an academy professor, David Mullin.

The MRFF has stirred the waters for days over McClary's appearance, and various other organizations, including the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, the ACLU, a Muslim organization and many others from across the country, have sent letters to the academy urging Supt. Lt. Gen. Michael Gould to rethink the invitation.

More from the lawsuit:

The net result of the official AFA imprimatur on this event is to foster the correct belief among Plaintiffs as well as numerous other AFA personnel that command endorses this event. This has led to a perception by Plaintiffs and numerous others at the Academy that in order to insure that their Air Force careers proceed in a favorable trajectory, they are expected to attend the Prayer Luncheon and that their careers may suffer if they fail to attend even though attendance is “voluntary.”

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Take this pledge and shove it

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 5:04 PM

By now, many of you know that Jeff Crank has been sending a pledge around to City Council and mayoral candidates asking them to promise never to support a tax increase.

Many have signed. I last wrote about it here. Anyway, while some conservatives think Crank's pledge is a great way to sort out the real fiscal conservatives from the bunch, others think it's incredibly short-sighted.

You're asking elected representatives, after all, to make a decision about how they'll handle problems before they even know what the problems are. And it's not as if those elected officials can raise taxes without voter permission anyway. The most Councilors could ever do is put a question on the ballot and let you decide. Mayors have no say in the matter at all.

For these reasons, a few candidates have come out against the pledge. The most recent (and in our opinion the most humorous) is Council candidate Daniel Freysinger.

For your enjoyment, here's the exchange.

From Jeff Crank:

Dear Daniel,

As a filed candidate for Colorado Springs City Council At-Large, I want to offer you the chance to sign the Americans for Prosperity Colorado Taxpayer Protection Pledge. For too long, voters in Colorado Springs have become disillusioned by many elected officials who talk about cutting the size and scope of city government then find those same elected officials turning to a tax increase rather than making the difficult decisions of governance.

Americans for Prosperity Colorado fundamentally believes that the issues within the city of Colorado Springs can be solved through consolidation, spending reductions and better management of city resources and that increasing taxes on the hard-working citizens of Colorado Springs is not the answer.

The attached Taxpayer Protection Pledge, created by Americans for Tax Reform, has been signed by more than 1,100 officeholders around the country and affords the citizens of Colorado Springs the opportunity to know in advance those who commit to smaller government and who, in advance, make it known that they will not support or vote for a tax increase.

Americans for Prosperity Colorado does not endorse candidates. We will, however, vigorously inform our 6,000 AFP activists in Colorado Springs as well as the citizens of Colorado Springs who has and who has not been willing to sign the AFP Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

I hope that you will sign the pledge today. Please return the signed pledge to me by email to jcrank@afphq.org or fax it to me at (719)495-5041 as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Jeff

Jeff Crank

Colorado State Director

Americans for Prosperity


And the reply from Daniel Freysinger:

As a filed candidate, I will follow the will of the people. I believe that the people have a right to choose to raise taxes just as they have a right to choose not to raise taxes. As such I have rewritten your pledge in a way that I am willing to sign. I have attached it to this email.

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Fountain board loses part-time director

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 3:50 PM

The Pueblo Chieftain reports that Gary Barber won't stay on the job at the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, a panel comprised of officials from Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

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Barber has been interim director, a part-time gig that pays about $40,000. The district was formed in 2009 without a source of revenue, although the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Springs Utilities agreed to put up $300,000 each to cover expenses in 2010 and 2011.

Barber told us recently that there's discussion about asking voters for a property tax mill levy dedicated to the agency. Such a proposal would have to be approved by El Paso and Pueblo County voters.

"When is it appropriate to go to the voters and ask them for a permanent revenue source?" he says. "2012? How do you fund the district until election day? There's uncertainty whether the state economy would have recovered by 2012."

Barber says he presented a budget plan with meager spending through 2016 when the district will get a windfall of millions from Springs Utilities under its agreement with Pueblo County for construction of the Southern Delivery System pipeline.

Meantime, the Chieftain reports, the district decided not to interview any applicants for the director job.

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WinterGreen Celebration event postponed

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 3:26 PM

From the listings desk: Tuesday's U.S. Green Building Council WinterGreen Celebration has been postponed due to the anticipated weather. The new date will be Feb. 15. Here's the listing information from Colorado College:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Celebration: U.S. Green Building Council WinterGreen Celebration — The fourth annual U.S. Green Business Council WinterGreen Celebration is a celebration of the successes of sustainability in Southern Colorado. The event includes food and drink and a keynote address from Sean Smith, USGBC Colorado residential green building advocate and host of the HGTV show "Professional Grade." Registration is free. Please RSVP. http://usgreenbuildingcouncilcolorado.memberlodge.org/southern Sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council Southern Colorado Branch.
5 p.m., Colorado College, Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., free

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Mixed: Return of the Taste

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Sparkles, burger boys, bulls and trolls.
  • Sparkles, burger boys, bulls and trolls.

Joy! Mixed Taste at MCA Denver is back, and "On Ice" this time. To translate, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver will host another series of lectures (with experts) on unrelated topics this spring, likely with drinks available.

With that, I give you the topics:

Feb. 11 — chicken and waffles & the Ice Ages
Feb. 18 — Frank Lloyd Wright & the theory of mountain biking
Feb. 25 — Tammy Wynette & cross-dressing Saints
March 4 — pop music & Stoicism
March 11 — the sonnet & beef jerky
March 18 — Sigmund Freud & sloppy craft

As of this writing the first three sessions have sold out, so act quickly and get your tickets ($15-$20) soon.

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Gazette: Nobody reprints a press release better

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Often a press release is used as a starting point for a reporter to contact the sender and expand upon the original message, but sometimes the message is just shared with the public, as is.

Here at the Indy, we'll only reprint a press release wholesale if it's on our online blog, IndyBlog, and then it's placed in what we call block quotes (in a box, with a gray screen) to denote no original reporting was done. This tactic, minus any clue that the "article" in question wasn't pure shilling, was often used in the Gazette's fabulous source of citizen journalism Fresh Ink — which recently "expanded" by having its individual print run killed and put into the actual Wednesday G — but it seems to have made its way into the real paper as well.

Here's a Gazette story on its website about the coming of comedian Lewis Black:

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And here, complete with the exact same content, capitalization and wording — not to mention missing space after "author," — is the press release from the marketing department for the Pikes Peak Center and Colorado Springs World Arena:

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No huge crime here, and the paper does acknowledge the information's source, if not that the information was not changed (read: fixed) in any way. It's just the typical behavior that the daily usually has exhibited in its citizen paper, creeping its way into the main product.

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King's Chef Diner: Green with envy

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 12:18 PM

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Bonus CineFiles: 50 Cent made a movie, Futurama made a comeback and Archer made my must-see list!

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.

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Gun (Rated R) (Blu-Ray)
Image Entertainment

Wow, is this straight-to-DVD 50 Cent week or what? Here comes Gun, wherein he plays a mumble-mouthed gun-runner. Not only that, Fiddy wrote the damn thing! Outstanding! Newly-released criminal Angel (a deliciously bloated Val Kilmer) is in need of work, so he comes to pal Rich (50) for some illegal weapons, and, as these things do, deals go bad and double-crosses are enjoyed thoroughly. As rote as the plot is, what makes Gun so extraordinary is that it's got a great cast — Kilmer, James Remar, Danny Trejo, John Larroquette — but they are surrounded by the most hilarious of local theater rejects in every other part. To see the way they play off the unrehearsed readings of the hired help, well, it should be shown to drama students. The direction by Jessy (Soul Plane) Turrero isn't much better, but as far as crime flicks written by a rapper who just took a community college screenwriting course, it's pretty darn entertaining!


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Futurama: Volume 5 (Not Rated) (Blu-Ray)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

One of the few shows to get resurrected after its cancellation, Futurama kept in the public consciousness with a handful of made-for-DVD movies until it was finally picked up by Comedy Central for a new series run. Is it as good as the original Fox one? Eh, I never thought the show was all that good on Fox and, here, it's about the same. It's always been one of those shows that is most enjoyable when playing in the background, occasionally turning around to see what was going on. It works just as well here. The volume five set features the first 13 episodes, with each one featuring a far less closeted political bent, with stories about evolution, “robosexual” marriage and the like being intermingled with more silly plots like cats reclaiming their original planet and alien leaders with midlife crises. If you're already a fan, buy now. If not, just catch the reruns.


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Archer: The Complete Season One (Not Rated)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The first season of the animated swingin' spy spoof Archer originally aired on the FX Channel, so that's probably a good reason why I missed it. Now if it had been on Adult Swim — where creator Adam Reed's other shows Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021 were shown — I probably would have actually watched it and been singing its praises for the past few months. Home Movies' H. Jon Benjamin sardonically voices dimwitted super-agent Sterling Archer, who, in-between looking for agency moles and seducing Cuban terrorists, deals with the hilarious perverse lives of the office underlings — an oversexed mom (Arrested Development's Jessica Walters), an undersexed HR rep, a dangerously sexed secretary, his former stacked-rival-agent-ex and her new pencil-pushing boyfriend. It's an extremely funny, overly dirty show that is so clever in the way it parodies typical secret-agent conventions that I sincerely hope they didn't waste all the jokes in season one.

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Chick-fil-A and Focus on the Family: Not fans of gays

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 10:24 AM

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The Christian-backed purveyor, whose pleasure it is to serve the best damn chicken nuggets ever made, is currently in the news for a fun development: Chick-fil-A? Not a fan of gay folks, says Change.org. And like me — with regards to their hate-filled, yet delicious, hunky chunks of white cock meat — guess who those chicken-lovers can't get enough of? Good ol' FotF.

And so it goes like this: Chick-fil-A is a restaurant where franchises frequently donate to anti-gay organizations like the Pennsylvania Family Institute, Focus on the Family and others. The restaurant's charitable arm, WinShape, holds conferences for opponents of gay marriage and praises their work. And this charitable arm's retreat program puts a blanket ban on gay couples using their facilities, because they "do not accept homosexual couples."

Yet the president of Chick-fil-A still says that all people, including LGBT people, are treated with respect by the restaurant? Huh, what a funny definition of respect.

The whole rigamarole began over at the website Good As You, where the function of the restaurant's WinShape organization began to take, uh, shape. Click here for the entire backstory, including a video of Focus president Jim Daly at a conference sponsored by the restaurant's nonprofit, and here to leave comments on the company's Facebook page like this:

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Indy's Cult of Cthulhu

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 9:17 AM

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If there's one thing all of us at IndyBlog agree on, it's, well, nothing.

But at least a few of us are enamored with Cthulhu, the hopefully fictional elder god whose delicate painted visage watches over us from above culture editor Matt Schniper's desk.

Nearly 75 years after avant-horror writer H. P. Lovecraft's death, his unrepentantly savage creation has transmogrified into a cottage industry of cuddly tentacled stuffed animals, Lil Chtulhu tee shirts, Christmas wreaths and bobbleheads.

So really, what better way to start a Monday than with an episode of The Adventures of Lil Cthulhu and this helpful necktie tutorial?

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UPDATE: 5th Congressional candidate not a Dem

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 8:48 AM

UPDATE: Dave Anderson tells us he's not running against Lamborn as a Democrat, but rather is not affiliated with a political party, despite his showing up for Democrat events in the past.
Sorry about that, Dave. While Dems have had a hard time of it in the 5th Congressional, unaffiliated candidates or minor party candidates have had an even tougher time. Good luck with that.
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Democrat Dave Anderson, a Springs businessman, is already planning to announce he'll be a candidate in the 5th Congressional District in 2012, facing off against three-term Republican Doug Lamborn.

Anderson's announcement will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at SouthSide Johnny's, 528 S. Tejon St.

It’s Groundhog Day: What do you want to see, an economic springtime or more winter? If you are ready for a campaign focused on jobs, prosperity, and the recovery of our nation as a global competitor, please join us as Dave Anderson announces his candidacy for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District in 2012.

Lamborn faced retired Air Force officers in his first two elections: Jay Fawcett in 2006 and Hal Bidlack in 2008. Then, last year, Kevin Bradley of Florence gave him a run. Each pulled only about 40 percent of the vote, so Anderson has his work cut out for him in a district that's predominantly Republican. Republicans comprise about half of active voters in the district, while Dems represent only 21 percent and unaffiliated voters, 25 percent.

Anderson says in a press release:


What we're doing economically isn't working. We've spent trillions in stimulus and bail-outs and can't imagine a growth rate that looks like a real recovery. It's time to do something different. The situation IS within our control, IF we are prepared to take six steps that are truly in the national interest. We have the capability to generate millions of primary jobs and to restore income, eliminating the deficits at all levels of government - not by cutting our budgets but by defending our freedom and that of others.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bradley brings U.S. title back to Springs

Posted By on Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Ryan Bradley
  • Ryan Bradley

Ryan Bradley tried to retire, twice, in 2010 before deciding last fall to make a skating comeback after a career filled with much promise but more disappointments.

Sunday, the 27-year-old from Colorado Springs wrapped up a most unlikely week, pulling off his first senior national title at the end of the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, N.C. Bradley couldn't come up with clean landings on either of his two quadruple jumps, but with all the other expected contenders making more mistakes, Bradley held off three surprising challengers who actually outskated him in the free program.

In fact, after the victory, the self-deprecating Bradley admitted to media that he had won with "probably the ugliest national championship program ever." Still, it made his return worth it.

He had waved goodbye to the skating world at the 2010 Nationals after finishing fourth and just missing the Olympic team. Then, after Olympic champion Evan Lysacek chose not to skate at the World Championships last March, Bradley accepted an invitation to join the U.S. World Team. But then he suffered a broken foot in training, tried to skate through it and placed a disappointing 18th at Worlds, leading to his second retirement. But after months of encouraging messages from supporters, Bradley decided to return again, even without the benefit of an offseason international competition.

Now he's heading back to Worlds, this time as champion.

Second place went to Richard Dornbush of Corona, Calif., with Ross Miner of Boston third. Then came two-time defending champion Jeremy Abbott, who bombed in his program and was lucky to salvage fourth. Brandon Mroz of Colorado Springs, who was third in the short program and took the ice Sunday with a great chance of winning a medal, made his own errors and slid to seventh. Two other Broadmoor skaters, Alexander Johnson and Joshua Farris, finished 16th and 21st.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Flatt skates to second, Zawadzki fourth at Nationals

Posted By on Sat, Jan 29, 2011 at 10:04 PM

Rachael Flatt simply couldn't summon another of her usual strong performances Saturday night, and the Colorado Springs teenager had to settle for second place at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, N.C.

Rachael Flatt
  • Rachael Flatt

Flatt, the 2010 Olympian who battled injuries in December and revamped her entire short program in the past month, had a few shaky landings in her free program, and wound up being unable to defend her U.S. ladies title.

"That was frustrating," Flatt admitted moments after her performance.

Alissa Czisny, the 2009 national champion who had bombed at this event last year, came back with new confidence, nailed six triple jumps and clearly deserved the victory. She finished with 191.24 points to Flatt's 183.83.

Those two will represent the U.S. at the World Championships in March at Tokyo. Meanwhile, staying home will be Mirai Nagasu, the favorite this week who had won the short program. Nagasu was sloppy on two landings and some other elements, prompting her coach Frank Carroll to tell her when she came off the ice, "You gave it away." Nagasu finished third at 177.26.

As disappointed as Nagasu was, 16-year-old Agnes Zawadzki was thrilled to come away fourth, as the 2010 U.S. junior champion from Colorado Springs wowed the audience with her mixture of jumps and content. She fell once, toward the end of her program, but held the fourth spot that she had secured in the short program.

Earlier Saturday, the Broadmoor Skating Club picked up a national title as Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin won the senior pairs. That event will be televised Sunday along with live coverage of the men's free program, as veteran Ryan Bradley of Colorado Springs leads the field that includes two-time defending champion Jeremy Abbott, who formerly trained in the Springs until last year.

The coverage starts at 2 p.m. MST Sunday on NBC.

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FrameWorks announces new location

Posted By on Sat, Jan 29, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Christine Colvin, owner of FrameWorks picture-framing studio, has announced that she will move the business to Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave., just east of downtown Colorado Springs.

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The current location at 2236 N. Wahsatch Ave., in the Bon Shopping Center, will close Feb. 21. Colvin hopes to open March 15 at the new location in Cottonwood’s Studio 133, near the front door and reception desk.

The new space, approximately 450 300 square feet, is about one-third the size of the current location. Colvin sees that as giving her an opportunity to lower her prices and simplify her business. (She will no longer display artwork or gifts.) She will accept appointments for Tuesdays through Saturdays, including the evenings, and will accommodate requests for same-day service.

Before moving into the smaller space, Colvin will sell some of her equipment and supplies, such as storage bins and framing equipment. Members of the public may make offers at the Bon location from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5.

Contact her at 636-2427 or via e-mail. For more information, see the store website.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Bachmann asks: Do veterans really need that money?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 4:22 PM

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Here we have, yet again, proof that the superstars of the Republican Tea Party's allegedly grassroots movement are simply unconcerned with the quality of life of their constituency — no matter how God-fearing or patriotic.

The latest insult comes from Rep. Michele Bachmann. In the video below, you can watch her heartfelt well-wishes for the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division before they deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom: "We will be forever grateful for the sacrifices that you make, and are about to make to insure our nation's safety. Know full well, that the thoughts and the prayers of Minnesotans, and of a proud nation will always be with you."

What she neglected to add, though, was that while the nation would always give its thoughts and prayers, that whole part about money for their medical support needs —not so much.

Tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has unveiled a plan for cutting $400 billion in federal spending that includes freezing Veterans Affairs Department health care spending and cutting veterans’ disability benefits.

Her proposed VA budget cuts would account for $4.5 billion of the savings included in the plan, posted on her official House of Representatives website.

...

In a statement, Bachmann said her plan is intended for discussion purposes as an example of ways to cut federal spending to make it unnecessary to increase the current $14.3 trillion limit on the amount the U.S. government can borrow.

Oh I get it. It's just an idea she's throwing out there. Like, when I ask my wife what she feels like for dinner. Chinese? Italian? Cut $4.5 billion from veterans? Whaddya think?

Wondering where she got this bright idea, which could affect at least 3,000 veterans a year? I'll give you a hint: It wasn't something she heard at a Tea Party rally in Duluth.

The two veterans’ program cuts now advocated by Bachman were included in an Oct. 28 report from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, about ways to cut $343 billion in federal spending. The think tank’s report projects that a freeze in VA health care costs would save $2.5 billion.

The report said cutting veterans’ disability compensation for those receiving veterans’ disability income would save $1.9 billion, which is roughly the same savings now claimed by Bachmann.

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