If you, like me, are addicted to checking out books, DVDs and such from the Pikes Peak Library District, and if you, like me, are attached at the palm to an iPhone, you're going to love this news.
And though I've only used it for two days, I have to say I'm impressed.
Everything you can do on the website, you can do on the app: search the library's catalog, check your account, renew books you've already checked out, ask a librarian a question, etc. You can also ask the app to find the closest library to your current location and show you on a map where the facility is. (I did think it was a bit funny that the app told me the "Mobile Library Services" was 6,493 miles away, but, you know. It's possible.)
My favorite function to have mobile? Reserving books. I've been known to add books I want to read to my GoodReads account on the fly, jot a book title down on the back of a receipt I try desperately not to lose, even write an author's name on my hand — just so later I can open up my laptop at home and use these as reminders to put titles on hold through the library's website.
Now my hands stay (mostly) ink-free.
The only thing I can't do via the app? Pay my fines. Or as I like to call them, donations.
Contrary to appearances, this isn't motivated by self-promotion. It's actually a cool event that just so happens to have some Indy staff participating in it.
That event is Off the Wall: What Wood You Do?, a FutureSelf show taking place at Marmalade at Smokebrush tomorrow. What Wood You Do? features about 35 artworks made from simple boards that will go up for auction to benefit FutureSelf.
The artists behind the boards include Vicky Gregor, Mothy and Jeff Bieri of KRCC; Christina McGrath of COPPeR; Kat Tudor and Don Goede of Smokebrush; Daisy McConnell of GOCA; and Indy members Sally Piette, Kathy Conarro, Brienne Boortz and myself.
Tomorrow's reception, from 6 to 8:30, will feature live music, food and the silent auction. Bid away, friends.
For more, visit futureself.org.
(And if you're curious as to what I did — as someone with minimal artistic skill, mind you — here's a hint. It's all about the fade, baby.)
Yesterday's "Lunch Break" newsletter from the Colorado Springs Pride Center announced that L.I.F.E. Step Team, who I reported on at the beginning of the month, won first place out of 16 acts in the PrideFest Entertainment Showcase at Stargazers Theatre this past weekend.
Not only did the team take home $200 to add to its college scholarships fund, but it won the opportunity to perform as the 2011 PrideFest opening act for local headliner Arch Hooks.
The 21st anniversary PrideFest is scheduled for July 16 and 17.
The Air Force Academy security forces are investigating the poisoning of professor David Mullin's service dog, which he believes was harmed while he was teaching at the academy and the dog was waiting in his office last week.
On Saturday, the dog, a black lab named Caleb, started acting sluggish, breathing heavy and refused to stand. Mullin took the dog to an animal emergency center where blood and other tests showed he had been poisoned with rat poison or a prescription drug used to thin blood. After several transfusions, Caleb improved but Mullin reports he's still being watched closely. Test samples have been sent to Colorado State University for analysis.
What makes this case suspicious is Mullin has been an outspoken critic of the academy's handling of religion issues. He testified in a federal court case in February that sought to block an evangelical ex-Marine from speaking during National Prayer Day, for example.
While others were reluctant to step forward, Mullin also made a statement to a team led by retired Air Force Gen. Patrick Gamble, who looked into the religious climate at the academy recently.
You can hear the pain in Mullin's voice when he describes Caleb's ordeal. "I've had him since he was eight weeks old," he says of the 2-year-old dog.
Although there have been a rash of dog poisonings in the Old North End and west side, it's doubtful Mullin's dog is a victim of that creep, whoever it is, because Mullin lives in the vicinity of Powers Boulevard and Briargate Parkway. Caleb and his chum, Casper, are hardly ever out of Mullin's sight while at home, but while at the academy teaching, Mullin at times leaves Caleb in his office.
Caleb is trained to provide support to Mullin, who has balance problems and dizzy spells.
If something comes to light in the case, we'll keep you posted.
Sorry boys and girls, but the days of Green and Blue are over. From now until whenever the War of Terrorism© is won, the United States will be in a constant state of Elevated Threat.
The Department of Homeland Security has updated the National Threat Advisory System, doing away with the five-tier system by removing the now-meaningless lower levels of Guarded and Low threat in favor of a two-tier system that merges the top two old alerts — orange and red — to create an even orangier red Imminent Threat Alert.
So, now there are two options for all of us to live in. There is either the lower Elevated Threat Alert, which means that there is a credible terrorist threat against the U.S., or the Imminent Threat, which means that there is credible information about, well, an imminent attack.
And while I am now mentally and existentially prepared for this elevated terror threat, it doesn't appear that NORAD or Northcom have gotten the memo. (Either that, or their IT guys haven't gotten around to updating their websites.)
Which does make you wonder just how vital this alert system actually is — especially when it appears that NORAD and NorthCom don't even agree on which threat level we are currently cowering under.
NORAD is currently flashing the mildly scary Orange level, while NorthCom is flashing the more whimsical Yellow level.
Perhaps this two-tier, scared and scarier system is a means of cleaning up such confusion.
An amended version of Sen. Morgan Carroll's bill to radically alter the Colorado Department of Corrections' policy on the use of long-term solitary confinement was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday.
The Aurora Democrat had originally proposed to end, as the ACLU put it, "the all-too-common practice of warehousing prisoners with serious mental illness in solitary confinement."
"The bill would require a mental health evaluation for prisoners before they are placed in solitary and permit such isolation only in extreme situations," the ACLU stated. "It also would support mental and behavioral health alternatives to solitary confinement through cost-saving mechanisms and ensure that prisoners are reintegrated into the general prison population before their community release."
As the Colorado Independent reported, the bill has been amended to no longer prohibit the DOC from placing certain mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement. Instead, it would fund mental health programs and change the justifications used to place a prisoner in solitary.
During negotiations on the bill, originally intended to radically change when and why prisoners are placed in solitary confinement, the Department of Corrections raised concerns that the bill might affect their ability to control public safety within institutions and said its prescriptive clauses might interfere with implementing recommendations they expect to receive from a review being conducted by the National Institute of Corrections.
“Since we last met, the Department of Corrections has applied for a grant.” Carroll opened. “The purpose of that grant was to do a complete overhaul of the [inmate] classification system including solitary confinement. This is very encouraging news from the department.”
Now that was a surprise — to me, at least!
The decision by defeated mayoral candidates Tom Gallagher, Brian Bahr, and Buddy Gilmore to endorse Steve Bach gives his campaign a substantial boost, and may further reassure conservative voters who may have been concerned about Bach’s character.
I was surprised because, after contacting both Bahr and Gilmore, I came away with the impression that neither was anxious to endorse. I expected a mealy-mouthed statement along the lines of “We are impressed by the vision and competence of both Steve and Richard, and we urge voters to consider their records, their positions, and their plans for revitalizing our great city, blah blah blah…”
Nope. They collectively toed the right-wing line, even scolding Skorman for attacking those poor, pitiful, much-maligned developers.
Clearly, Bach’s views are more consonant with theirs than are Skorman’s. But there may be other factors in play.
Take Tom Gallagher. Not to put too fine a point on it, he needs a job. While it’s doubtful that either Skorman or Bach would hire him, it makes sense to have a friend in the mayor’s office — or, at the very least, not to have an enemy.
Bach strikes me as a guy who holds grudges, who doesn’t forget slights, and who will remember who supported him when he needed it. Skorman’s just the opposite — he doesn’t have an enemies list and is willing to work with anybody who shares common goals. Endorsing Bach won’t damage any future relationship with Mayor Skorman, while endorsing Skorman would freeze you out with Mayor Bach.
And while Buddy Gilmore and Brian Bahr scarcely need jobs, something of the same nature may be in play here. Whether or not they intend to seek elected office in the future, they’d probably like to be involved in some way. They might seek places on boards or commissions, or just the opportunity to present their views on specific issues directly to the mayor. Endorse Skorman, or sit out the election, and Mayor Bach might not return their calls.
By themselves, the endorsements aren’t a big deal. But combined with the well-orchestrated pushback against Skorman’s anti-developer campaign theme, which the pro-Bach forces are cleverly using to put Richard in the anti-business, anti-jobs, anti-decent hardworking conservative suburbanite box, they’ll have an effect.
And although Skorman may have outraised Bach 2-1 in the past couple of weeks, that doesn’t mean that organizations such as Americans for Prosperity, nationally funded by the opera-loving right-wing billionaire Koch brothers (and locally headed by talk show host/Doug Lamborn victim Jeff Crank) don’t have plenty of money to play with.
So the Skorman forces had better step up their game — and they are. After a glass of wine at Rico’s last night, we wandered over to Skorman headquarters at 8:45. I expected that it’d be deserted, but there were dozens of volunteers still there, and they weren’t drinking coffee, gossiping, or preparing to leave.
Their guy needs to regain the momentum that he so clearly had after April 7, and much will depend upon his performance at the May 2 candidate forum at the Pikes Peak Center. Bach has proved to be a skilled counterpuncher, and is far more polished and credible on the campaign trail than he was a couple of months ago.
Yet Skorman’s army of supporters may yet prevail. Despite the howls of tea partiers on the right and unreconstructed radicals on the left, we live in a democracy. Everyone gets one vote: you, me, Bahr, Gallagher, Gilmore, and all of Richard’s contributors.
For those voters looking for an alternative to Doug Lamborn, take heart.
Army veteran and businessman Jim Pirtle will declare his candidacy for Colorado's 5th Congressional District on Sunday.
The Pirtle for Congress Campaign Launch will be held at Bambino's Italian Eatery and Sports Bar, 2849 E. Platte Ave., starting at 6 p.m.
"In honor of my son Jim's ultimate sacrifice, and the sacrifices that all soldiers and soldiers’ families have given to our country, I've decided to dedicate my life to public service," says Pirtle. "I understand the real costs of decisions made in Washington, not just in lives, but in business and freedom. And so I ask you to stand with me and the Unity Party of America as we stand up for you in 2012."
"I'm excited to have Jim declare as the party's first Congressional candidate this early in the 2012 election cycle," says Unity Party Chairman Bill Hammons. "I sold him on running with the Unity Party by pointing out that the party's platform leaves enough room for any reasonable candidate to run on his own deeply held views, and it was good to see that Jim's views are in line with those of Colorado voters, even if they're not in line with Members of Congress who still try to call Colorado home."
Pirtle, a native of Denver's suburbs, joined the Army after high school. He finished college in Denver and then moved to Colorado Springs in 1977. He worked in engineering and management positions for several years before starting a video consulting company which he still owns and operates. Jim is also a certified pilot, flight instructor, member of the NRA, certified firearms instructor, and married father of two children. His son Sgt. James D. Pirtle was killed in action in Afghanistan on May 1, 2009.
Check out where the Unity Party of America, founded on Nov. 4, 2004, stands on various issues.
Here's one example:
Eliminate the Federal Income Tax
Unity supports replacing federal income taxes with a revenue measure based on the carbon content of fossil fuels as a simple way of balancing the budget, combating global warming, and encouraging the development of alternative energy sources. A reduction in fossil fuel consumption would enhance American power abroad by making this nation less dependent on foreign sources of oil.
Lamborn, a Republican, is serving his third term and also is being challenged by Dave Anderson, who isn't affiliated with a political party.
... how about evacuating your neighborhood just for fun?
Well, not exactly for fun. The Colorado Springs Fire Department is hosting a wildfire drill at 9 a.m. on Saturday. And according to a press release, if you're in the Discovery and Comstock Home Owners associations, located on the west side of the city, you'll have the chance to participate in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) evacuation drill.
This drill is part of ongoing wildland fire training focused on the neighborhoods in the WUI environment. Residents will be testing their personal evacuation and reunification plans. The fire and police department operations, emergency management procedures, and the local emergency notification system (ENS) will be tested during the drill.
— 9:00-9:15 am - Drill start time / ENS activation
— 9:15 am - Evacuation begins
— 9:30 am - Residents arrive/check-in at evacuation point located at Woodmen Valley Chapel, 250 E. Woodmen Road
— 9:45 am — Residents complete feedback form
— 10-10:30am - End of exercise/drill
This Saturday, Democratic Rep. Pete Lee will be holding a town hall meeting at Manitou Springs City Hall, 606 Manitou Ave. The topic will be redistricting.
From his press release:
The U.S Constitution requires states to draw new congressional districts after every Census. The target after the 2010 Census is to have about 718,457 people in each of Colorado's 7 districts. Each state has its own process for re-drawing the maps; In Colorado, there is a bipartisan committee consisting of 10 Legislators - 5 from each party - who have the responsibility. They held 10 public meetings around the state to obtain citizen input and have drawn some maps for discussion.
Lee would like your input, as well.
If you're eager to get some redistricting talk on, you can show up tonight for Rep. Marsha Looper's town hall from 6 to 8 at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave. Rep. Larry Liston was supposed to attend, but an eye surgery Monday has taken him out of the game for at least a week.
A quick update on The Lofty's Comic , which we told you about in this early March cover story that centered around local artist Jonas McCluggage.
I attended a small meeting this past Saturday with McCluggage, Josh Kennard and one of the writing collaborators on the project, Demetrios Soutsos.
Most of the sketches for the comic are completed, though McCluggage intends to draw a few more to fill out certain parts of the narrative where he and the team have identified holes.
At present, everyone is more focused on adding text to the comic, but not in the conventional comic manner, i.e., word balloons over the illustrations (as the above cover story details).
Instead, the team has written in both photographer and journalist characters whose work in the story will help explain it better, and justify many of the photographs (actually illustrations) and text passages.
Back in March, McCluggage's plan was to have everything on the creative end wrapped up in time to leave town in May. But he says his plans have shifted, and that he'll now stick around through summer before taking a trip to Ireland and France with a friend in the fall.
So no immediate rush on organizing all of the illustrations and text components into a cohesive narrative, which is still planned to be atypical and a little like a mystery that readers will have to work at to fully appreciate.
The meeting provided an opportunity to photograph a handful of the latest drawings.
So if you enjoyed the series of teasers I posted last month around the cover story's release, you'll love the following images:
Marijuana advocates, medical or otherwise, face an uphill battle, and have for the last 80 or so years. It's hard enough convincing a population under constant bombardment from government-sponsored anti-cannabis messages that some people might actually benefit from the plant, without the threat of infighting.
Well, too bad, because today's an infighting day.
Earlier, members of SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation) and the Women's Marijuana Movement, as well as Stephanie Morphet, the 21-year-old UCCS student who leads the college's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, hit the steps of the Colorado State Capitol Building. Their argument: Marijuana prohibition indirectly encourages college students to drink, and thus suffer increased sexual assaults. The action is meant to also highlight April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Today, those behind the Legalize 2012 campaign made clear that they, um, disagree.
"Legalize 2012 is appalled that SAFER and the Women's Marijuana Movement would exploit the issue of Sexual Assault Awareness to make a case for the legalization of marijuana," the group stated in a news release. "This belittles the real causes of sexual assault and perpetuates the 'blame the victim' mentality that activists against sexual assault have been trying to overcome for years."
In a conversation today (see Thursday's Indy for more), Morphet said stats show 90 percent of college-level sexual assaults involve alcohol, while 50 percent overall are booze-related. While not hitting those exact numbers, a 2002 report by Wayne State University does say "at least half of these [college-level] sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim or both."
Regardless, Legalize 2012 says they're not buying the connection that less alcohol and more pot means less assaults.
"SAFER/WMM do not give any research to back up their assertion ... because there is none," the release says. "Instead, they say that they want the federal government to do a study to explore to 'the possibility that alcohol-related assaults could be reduced if marijuana becomes a legal alternative to alcohol.'
"The Legalize 2012 campaign believes these outrageous statements diminish and cheapen the devastation of someone who has been sexually assaulted. For SAFER/WMM to say to the victims, 'if you would just have smoked a joint, you would not have been raped' puts the blame back on the victim of the assault, not the perpetrators. For SAFER/WMM to say to the perpetrator, 'if you would have just smoked a joint, you wouldn't have the urge to rape someone' ignores the underlying pathology, mental and societal problems that really cause a person to commit sexual assault."
It’s always a pleasure to read opinion pieces by Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen, not to mention those by his predecessor (and former City Council member) Sean Paige. Such elegance! Such incisive reasoning! Such sublimely ideological conclusions!
Like Robert Silver and Barbara Epstein, who founded the New York Review of Books in 1963, they determine the party line for true believers. Silver and Epstein gave the fractious liberal intelligentsia of 1960s New York an authoritative, informed, argumentative, and often censorious voice. NYRB's pages reflected the excitement and tumult of the times, featuring carefully reasoned, beautifully written, and sometimes comically wrong commentaries.
It’s a measure of our city’s delightful eccentricity that Paige and Laugesen have become the Susan Sontags of the Springs, keepers of the flickering libertarian flame and defenders of the holy writ, as first revealed by St. Ayn the Righteous and St. Harry the Publisher.
So when Sean and Wayne join together to condemn Richard Skorman’s campaign theme (Don’t hand over the city to the rascally developers!), you know that something’s up.
In an e-mail touting his blog, Paige asked, “Was anyone else struck by the irony, evident in the first mayoral runoff debate, that it was the supposedly-open-minded, supposedly-tolerant, supposedly-unifying Richard Skorman that came off looking like a divisive, nasty, narrow-minded jerk — a left wing mirror image of Ed Bircham?”
Piling on, Laugesen went after Skorman, suggesting that he, not developers, bears primary responsibility for the city’s sprawling growth.
“The annexation and development plans were caused entirely by a past City Council, but are blamed on evil developers — people who have developed barely a sliver of the (Banning-Lewis Ranch) because of scarce market need for new homes at this time.”
Forget the content what’s the meta-content?
To misquote some dead white guy, “Methinks the opinionators doth protest too much.”
This election should be Bach’s to lose, given the conservative cast of our city. The strident tone of the Paige/Laugesen screeds suggests that Bach may be in trouble otherwise, why bother to beat up Skorman?
And here are a couple of factoids to support such a view.
- In the past couple of weeks, Skorman has outraised Bach by a 2-1 margin. Between 4/07 and 4/20, Skorman took in $118,106, while between 4/11 and 4/24 Bach raised only $64,760. And even that total was inflated by four $5,000 contributors: Gary Loo, Kathy Loo, Gary Erickson, and Stephen Clark. Skorman’s overall total is now $393,574, compared to Bach’s $284,313.
- And has anyone noticed the curious behavior of three conservative former mayoral candidates? Brian Bahr, Buddy Gilmore and Tom Gallagher have been as silent as the tomb, endorsing no one. Does it mean anything? Probably not, but it’ll be interesting to hear what they have to say, should they decide to weigh in.
And as for me, I’ll continue to read Paige and Laugesen … just as I read Sontag.
As the weather turns warmer, the yard sale signs start popping up like tulips. A wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning is driving, biking or walking local neighborhoods searching for just the exact whatchamacallit you've been needing, at a bargain price.
Of course, an even better way to spend a Saturday morning is to hit a community or neighborhood sale.
Fort Carson has announced its semi-annual post-wide yard sale, Saturday, May 7, 8 a.m. And it's free and open to the public. I've never been, but it sounds like a good way to score a lot of deals all at once. (In the event of crappy weather, the event will be postponed to May 14.)
And though it's a ways off, you'll want to mark your calendar now for the Old North End Neighborhood yard sale on Saturday, June 18. The area roughly bounded by Uintah Street, Monument Valley Park, Wahsatch Avenue and Van Buren Street, and which includes Wood Avenue, is known for its fantastic sales, with 90-plus homes usually taking part. Two years ago I picked up a practically brand-new Coach purse for $15, a shiny silver Pottery Barn ice bucket for $3, and a never-used flower cupcake pan from Williams-Sonoma for $2.
On a completely different note, does anyone know why the culture out here is to have yard sales on Fridays and Saturdays? I grew up in a midwest culture of Saturday/Sunday sales, and it royally stinks to be driving to work on Friday morning and eyeballing sales going up when I know I can't stop. Just curious ...
While all cities struggle to address the issues of mental illness, Colorado Springs seems to be particularly affected by its devastation.
Our huge military presence means we're home to lots of soldiers, many of whom return from war with PTSD and other mental health issues.
Our large homeless population is heavily peppered with people who need help — not just with filling their bellies and keeping a roof over their heads, but with maintaining their mental health.
And Colorado also has one of the highest suicide rates in the country.
So it seems appropriate that the Colorado Springs National Alliance on Mental Illness will soon be holding an event to raise awareness of the problem and hopefully take some first steps to solving it. If you're interested in taking part, join NAMI at its upcoming fundraiser at the Antlers Hilton on May 10. Click here to make reservations.
Rewriting the story of mental illness in our community
On May 10 hundreds will gather at the Antlers Hilton for an event to raise awareness and support for the Colorado Springs National Alliance on Mental Illness and its work to improve the lives of individuals and families struggling with mental illness.
“The fear and stigma associated with mental illness can be devastating,” said CS-NAMI Board Chairman, Kathleen Brandt. “The entire community has a stake in rewriting the story for the thousands who struggle with this illness. We must play a role in bringing mental illness out of the shadows and treating it like any other illness.”
The Department of Human Services estimates that one in four adults face mental illness every year. That means that more than 140,000 people in El Paso County face this challenge. Estrangement from families and broken connections often result in increased risk of homelessness, victimization, and even death.
The mission of the Colorado Springs National Alliance on Mental Illness is to improve the lives of individuals with mental illness and their families, friends, and caregivers through education and support and to advocate for better services and understanding of mental illness. In recognition of May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, this event will focus on the lives of some of the extraordinary people who have lived with mental illness.
The event features Colorado’s Poet Laureate Professor David Mason accompanied by the Colorado Springs Conservatory. To learn more and RSVP go to www.namicoloradosprings.org or call 719-473-8477.
To recognize Mental Health Awareness Month, the Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) has produced a bibliography of books and DVDs that focus on mental-health related topics that will be available at the breakfast and at all PPLD branch libraries in May.