Let me spare you the details of a hearing that lasted more than three hours Thursday afternoon, and just say this:
Voters won't be voting in November on county officials' term limits.
It's pretty clear after hours of wrangling over whether the November 2010 ballot measures on term limits were deceptive or not, that (at least three) commissioners aren't of a mind to spend money on an election to give voters a do-over this year.
At issue are measures that gave elected officials a third, four-year term by asking if they should be "limited" to three terms, rather than asking if terms should be extended. Many voters have said they felt deceived.
Thursday, two versions of a possible ballot measure for the 2012 presidential election emerged. One would restrict county elected officials — commissioners, assessor, treasurer and clerk and recorder — to two terms, rather than the three approved by voters last fall.
The other would do the same thing, except it would exclude all current office-holders from seeking a third term next year. Commissioners Sallie Clark and Dennis Hisey are both in their second terms and under the current order of things could seek a third term.
In a nutshell, new Commissioners Darryl Glenn and Peggy Littleton, who took office in January, support the exclusionary version, while Clark and Commission Chair Amy Lathen support the first version. Hisey didn't disclose his preference.
At one point, Lathen and local radio personality and Republican political operative Jeff Crank went at it over who's calling who deceptive, and there seemed to be hurt feelings all around.
But Glenn later said, "I don't want the take away that we're some dysfunctional body. We fight like family," and then move on.
When the meeting broke up at 5:30 p.m., it appeared both versions would come back to commissioners next week, possibly as a measure to certify to the 2012 ballot.
In recent years, UCCS' stage troupe has tended to only utilize an AEA member or two per show on average.
But executive director Drew Martorella, in that same release, says, “We pursued this agreement when it became clear that we wanted to hire more professional actors than our current 'casual' contracts would allow.”
The Small Professional Theater Contract, as it is called, should "raise the bar for our regional non-Equity talent as well," added Martorella.
Theatreworks, with its season-opening performance of The Merchant of Venice on Thursday, Aug. 4, will emerge as the first company in the Pikes Peak Region to work with a seasonal AEA agreement.
Today, Bristol Brewing Co. is releasing its GABF-winning community ale designed to benefit Cheyenne Cañon. The beer is a pinon nut brown, created in 2007, whose proceeds support the 1,320-acre regional park encompassing the Starsmore Discovery Center, Helen Hunt Falls and the trails in that area.
A release party will be held at the brewery's tasting room tonight from 5 to 9; its Facebook page says to expect "sautéed, grass-fed steak and garlic scapes, served over wilted panisse; red Russian kale; [and] pine nut, and goat cheese served in puff pastry." If you miss that, the beer will be available on tap, and in 22-ounce bombers.
The State of the City event Thursday featured not only a sit-down lunch for 700, but a brass fanfare, a violin/guitar performance, and a particularly annoying video touting the "Spirit of Colorado Springs."
We’ve all suffered through such videos. They’re usually part of the fare at corporate get-togethers, and herald an excruciating hour or two of puffery.
[For more on the video, and the atmosphere at the event, see J. Adrian Stanley's post here.]
Awards are awarded, speeches are made by folks who ought to be enjoined from addressing the public, big shots in the audience are recognized, and the Big Man/Big Woman is fulsomely praised.
Soon, he/she will ascend the podium to deliver a tiresome and interminable address, thereby bringing the event to a thankful end.
The State of the City lunch conformed precisely to the corporate template, until Mayor Steve Bach (the Big Man) spoke.
His speech was brief, unpretentious and faintly humorous. He broke sharply from the dreary recitals of his predecessors. He didn’t spend the next 30 minutes praising the city and enumerating all of its remarkable accomplishments.
Instead, Bach summarized the city’s problems in a few sentences: unemployment hovering around 10 percent, flat city revenues, net job losses in the city over the past 10 years, vanishing young professionals, bloated city personnel costs, and increasing demand for city services. He noted that while the city’s military presence has “saved our bacon” during the past decade, we can’t count on it in the future.
“Those decisions are made elsewhere,” he said.
Bach then announced a wage/hiring/promotion freeze for city employees, which he later confirmed was a first step in radically restructuring city government.
“We need to quickly achieve a smarter, leaner city government,” he said, promising to implement zero-based budgeting in the next year.
Bach ended with a call to the audience to step up, to work together, and to help forge shared goals.
“We’re a fragmented community without a shared vision or a shared action plan,” he said, “but from this day we will go forward together.”
Congratulated on the brevity of his speech, the mayor deflected any praise.
“Actually, I ran five minutes over,” he said. “I was timing it on my phone.”
Can Bach actually change things? We’ll see — but whatever your opinion of his nascent administration, the lunch was well-attended by the city’s power elite, most of whom arrived at least half an hour before it was scheduled to begin, and engaged in furious networking.
Considering the intense build-up and wild ticket sales (more than 700), the State of the City Luncheon was not exactly first-rate entertainment. However, there was a lot packed into this luncheon.
Among the highlights:
• The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce (which hosted the event) giving an award to its own group, the Colorado Springs Chamber Rising Professionals.
• Amy Stephens, the Colorado House Majority Leader who's been vilified by members of her own party, being named "Legislator of the Year."
• A Colorado Springs promotional video featuring shots of people about town doing serious business things or serious outdoor things, punctuated by random folks stating over and over again, "That's the spirit!"
• A bizarre presentation by two Colorado Springs Conservatory kids, called "Bach to Bach," in which the two verbally and musically sought to compare the mayor to the famed composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
• An actually fairly informative speech by City Council President Scott Hente, on what the future of Colorado Springs Utilities and Memorial Health System looks like, and on how the Council will work with the mayor.
• An absolutely disturbing performance of royal coronation music by a horns section as Bach took the stage.
• And the speech by Mr. Bach. If you weren't lucky enough to be in attendance, here's the summary: The city has shrinking revenue to meet growing obligations and the needs of an expanding population. The mayor's gonna fix it all, so long as everyone "steps up." Stepping up, by the way, might include opening a door for a stranger. OK.
Then there were the usual bullet points that Bach has been outlining since a press conference weeks ago. For the most part, the speech lacked specifics. The most engaging section — though probably not the most relevant — was definitely the mayor's recounting of his experience riding shotgun in a race car for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
[For a more detailed description of Bach's speech, see John Hazlehurst's blog post here.]
• Last but not least, let's not forget the Broadmoor chicken breasts. Got to say, that mushroom and mustard topping was good.
Sarah Anderson, the El Paso County Republican Party secretary, has created quite a stir, first by taking a public stand against SB 200, then by talking to the media at length about what she sees as the problems within the party, and what is the preferable direction for the party to take.
She says that the response to last week's Independent cover story, Anarchy in the GOP, has been mostly positive. Not only has she received plenty of encouragement from El Paso County Republicans, she says that she has been contacted by people in more than 20 states who say that they are facing the same struggles inside their local parties.
There has, however, been some blowback from older, established Republicans who are concerned that the party's dirty laundry is being aired in public. Plus, they are kinda scared of the libertarian hordes outside the castle walls — they look pretty surly.
Today, Anderson got a copy of emails that have been circulating among Republican elected officials and party leaders, of which the gist has been: What do we do about a problem like Sarah?
She has written a response, which you can read in full after the jump.
The Air Force Academy released the following statement late yesterday, extolling the virtues of the solar array but failing to address the findings of the Pentagon's audit.
"We now have a 6MW solar array. Meter readings for May 2011 (while not operating full capacity yet) showed the array generated 870,571 kilowatt-hours of electricity, representing approximately 10.9 percent of USAFA's electrical load for the month. At $0.059 per kilowatt-hour, that results in an electrical energy costs savings of $51,364. We believe this array will greatly complement our efforts to reduce base operating costs, meet national energy mandates, and highlight the benefits of renewable energy generation. In addition, the array has the potential to save nearly $1M in total energy costs annually, including reducing some 9,400 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. This equates to removing nearly 41,000 cars from the roads over the 25 year warranted life-span of the solar array system. This is a win for not only the Air Force Academy, but the American taxpayer."
————— ORIGINAL POST, MONDAY, JUNE 27, 12:01 P.M. —————-
Earlier this month, the Air Force Academy hosted a dedication of its new 6-megawatt solar array funded with $18.3 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. There was lots of back-slapping and self-congratulating going on among Colorado Springs Utilities officials and the Academy.
Now, the Air Force Times reports the Defense Department isn't very impressed with the project, and, in fact, has released a report criticizing how it was handled.
The Times reports the Pentagon slammed the Academy, "blaming contracting blunders for a seven-month delay and $676,000 in lost interest."
Here's an overview from the DoD report:
What we Found
The USAFA properly justified the solar array project; however, it could have significantly improved planning, funding, and initial execution of the project in accordance with FAR requirements. This occurred because the USAFA incorrectly categorized all project costs as a utility company connection charge and structured the project to require a single advance payment to Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) and the USAFA incorrectly exempted the solar array project from FAR Subpart 32.4, ―Advance Payments for Non-Commercial Items.‖ As a result, the USAFA paid the $18.3 million program funds in advance to CSU instead of the $1.2 million for connection of the solar array to the electrical grid, which was an allowable exemption of the FAR. In addition, as of
December 20, 2010, the project was over 7 months behind schedule, and the USAFA had no financial leverage to ensure its timely completion.
Specifically, the DoD outlined the delays using this chart:
In an e-mail response, Utilities spokesman Steve Berry referred questions about the report's findings to the Academy, but added, "We're proud of the project and our partnership with the Air Force Academy and SunPower."
We've asked the Academy to comment on the report and also to address whether the Academy plans to conduct an administrative review to determine blame, as recommended by the Pentagon. We haven't heard back but will update when we do.
It comes courtesy of the latest National Geographic, whose editors have unearthed a study showing how commercial agriculture made 93 percent of fruit and vegetable varieties extinct over the past century.
On the plus side, that means there’s still more than enough variety to make up a refreshing can of V-8!
But over the long haul, it's probably not such a good sign.
Still, it's worth noting that the study National Geographic cites was conducted back in the days when Monsanto was still better known for Agent Orange (the lethal defoliant, not the punk band) than it was for Genetically Modified Frankenfood.
With so many new and delicious mutant fruits and vegetables looming on the horizon, will Mother Nature’s outdated offerings even be missed?
Viva la diversity!
Sal Pace, the Colorado House minority leader from Pueblo, has been out on the road. Meeting the peeps, shaking the hands, trying to get a feel for the 3rd Congressional District that he is looking to represent.
To do so, he's gonna have to unseat freshman Republican Scott Tipton.
Pace has been keeping us abreast of his travels, what he's learned, how his platform is shaping up. In his latest missive, he's now asking people to kick him 50 bucks. U.S. House campaigns aren't cheap. According to Open Secrets, the average cost for the freshmen House candidates in 2008 (a long time ago) was $1,780,834.
Below is Pace's full message, including the link to his tip jar in case you're feeling generous.
Some people in Congress are more concerned with pushing their agendas instead of focusing on practical solutions to the problems affecting our country. Such political posturing comes at a cost to our communities. Coloradans want a different approach, and that's why I'm running for US Congress.
Since I announced my candidacy, I've been touring Colorado's Third Congressional District. I've met with ranchers and with business leaders, with rafters and with small business owners and they all agree on one thing: they want an effective and transparent government that implements commonsense approaches to solve our problems.
Tomorrow, June 30th is a critical financial reporting deadline and we need to send the message that we want practical solutions! We are so close to our quarterly financial goal - and it has been less than a month since announcing my candidacy.
Divisive rhetoric will only hinder our country's progress.
I base my values on balanced and common-sense approaches. My record in the State Legislature speaks to this.
I placed limits on travel expenses by state-chartered entities after Colorado's worker's compensation insurer flagrantly abused public money for lavish travel expenditures.
I passed legislation to address water quality in one of the district’s most polluted rivers; and created a new law to protect the ranchers in the Pinon Canyon area.
Commonsense approaches like these focus on bettering our communities at home, and not one's standing inside that beltway.
I need your support to change how politics is being done in DC. Can you donate now and help our campaign?
I am going to continue the battle against political maneuvering in DC and bring the conversation back to where it belongs - our dinner tables, our neighborhoods, and our communities; however, I will need your help. The June 30th deadline is less than 48 hour away. Can you donate $50 to ensure we have the resources to reach your community in July?
As promised in this week's "Art and About" photo essay, here's our take on all 11 pieces comprising this year's Art on the Streets exhibition.
Judged by local collector couple Kathy Loo and her husband Jim Raughton (who have both already contributed greatly to the arts scene), this year's batch features interactive works, pieces scattered throughout downtown, and plenty that require a little extra attention to find the magic. Like our mothers always said: It's all about the details.
With that, here are some of our favorites from this year’s Art on the Streets. For a full map or locations, visit downtown80903.com.
For those of a certain cynical mindset, summertime challenges on our local 14er can seem a little ... played-out. Hikers do the Pikes Peak Challenge; runners have the Pikes Peak Ascent and Pikes Peak Marathon and Barr Trail Mountain Race; drivers can do the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Hell, virtually anyone can take the Cog Railway to the top.
So it's probably good to be reminded every once in a while that, you know, it's actually a pretty rare thing to have such an accessible and gorgeous mountain in our midst. Hence our reason for noting that Bicycling magazine has named the Assault on the Peak, scheduled this year for Sunday, Aug. 28, a "Perfect Ride" in its July 2011 issue.
The write-up is short, but here's a snippet:
The toll road tops out above 14,000 feet—one of only two paved roads in the nation to do so—in the realm of mountain goats and views that inspired "America the Beautiful."
Yes, it's the obligatory Katharine Lee Bates reference. Don't let it ruin the moment.
Tune into the Indy Minute — as seen on ABC affiliate KRDO News Channel 13 — each week for details on all the events that entertain and bring our community together. It's simulcast on KRDO News Radio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM.
Thanks for hanging in there with us. It took a few days, but we were able to get a hold of a complete list of the 2011 Colorado Book Awards winners, including local Kirk Farber and his Postcards From a Dead Girl.
The list, released by Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book, is below and follows a brief description of the Awards:
Winners of the Colorado Book Awards were announced on Friday, June 24, at the 20th Annual Colorado Book Awards ceremony, as the culminating event for the Aspen Summer Words writing retreat and literary festival in Aspen, Colorado. Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book coordinates the entry and judging of the awards each year with an army of deep-reading volunteer selectors and judges from around the state. Authors, editors, and photographers and their publishers entered 146 titles this year to compete in ten categories.
One outstanding winner is the Creative Nonfiction book, Paradise General: Riding the Surge at a Combat Hospital in Iraq by Dr. Dave Hnida, Simon & Schuster. Hnida never forgot the horror of his alcoholic father’s WWII experience, revealed during their last time together. The need to understand that horror drove Hnida, as a middle-aged doctor, to sign up for two tours of duty in Iraq.
On the first tour, he was equipped with an M16 and medical tools and worked with convoys along the highways of Baghdad. Hnida worked at a combat-support hospital, the equivalent of a MASH unit, for his second tour, during the surge. Hnida recalls the experience of working with much younger soldiers and doctors and the struggle to adjust to army discipline and protocol on top of the rigors of war and a hostile desert environment. A family doctor in civilian life, he was assigned to the ER, fighting his own constant fear as he worked on wounds no civilian doctor ever saw. Through it all, he developed close and abiding friendships with the other doctors and admiration for the young soldiers who risked their lives on a daily basis.
Dr. Dave Hnida is a practicing physician and an award-winning broadcast journalist. Currently CBS4’s Medical Editor, he joined the CBS4 team in September of 1991, covering medicine for Denver and national viewers for NBC and CBS News. Dave has been working in the Denver area as a family and emergency physician for 25 years. He is a combat-decorated Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves (Medical Corp), serving two tours of duty in Iraq since 2003, and as a medical officer with the National Medical Response Team for Weapons of Mass Destruction, a counter-terrorism medical group.
The Colorado Book Award ceremony was co-hosted by the Aspen Writers’ Foundation and the Aspen Institute at the fabulous Doerr-Hosier Center on the Aspen Institute campus, with global literati — including Dr. John Cole, the Director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress — in attendance.
2011 Colorado Book Award Winners
Touchstones of Design: Redefining Public Architecture by Curtis Fentress, Images Publishing Group Pty Ltd
Landscapes on Glass: Lantern Slides for the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition, by Jack Turner, Durango Herald Small Press
Rival Rails: The Race to Build America’s Greatest Transcontinental Railroad by Walter R. Borneman, Random House
Magnus Maximus, A Marvelous Measurer by Kathleen T. Pelley, pictures by S.D. Schindler, Farrar Straus Giroux
Paradise General: Riding the Surge at a Combat Hospital in Iraq by Dr. Dave Hnida, Simon & Schuster
The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, From Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore, Harper
The Spider's Web by Margaret Coel, Berkley Prime Crime
Warriors: In the Crossfire by Nancy Bo Flood, Front Street Press
Postcards from a Dead Girl by Kirk Farber, Harper Perennial
The Diminishing House by Nicky Beer, Carnegie Mellon University Press
Young Adult Literature
The Secret to Lying by Todd Mitchell, Candlewick Press
———— 1ST UPDATED POST, FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011 at 5:48 PM ————-
We just heard from Kirk Farber that Postcards From a Dead Girl won the 2011 Colorado Book Award for literary fiction. Three cheers for our hometown author! We'll be back on Monday with news on all the awards winners.
———— ORIGINAL POST, FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2011 at 5:28 PM ————-
Farber says he first heard about the nomination from a friend on Facebook (since then, he's received a formal letter from the organization), and that it's a "huge thrill."
Bill Forman interviewed Farber just over a year ago when the Harper Perennial novel debuted. Bill described it this way:
Farber's debut novel chronicles the gradual unraveling of Sid, an increasingly neurotic telemarketer trying to figure out why he's still getting postcards from his former girlfriend, who may or may not be dead.
Engagingly written and darkly humorous, Postcards follows Sid as he stumbles through a series of surreal plot developments involving a survivalist postman, a suspicious 10-year-old and Sid's mother, who definitely is dead.
Farber is up against Jacqueline St. Joan and her novel, My Sisters Made of Light, and Nancy Stohlman, editor of Fast Forward: The Mix Tape.
The winners in all 10 categories will be announced Friday, June 24, at a ceremony at the Doerr-Hosier Center in Aspen. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased via the Colorado Humanities website.
Of course, these awards are for books published in 2010. Since our interview last year, Farber's been keeping busy with two new writing projects. For those who have read and enjoyed Postcards, you'll be excited to know one of them is in a similar "funny literary novel" vein. And the other? He says he's "trying [his] hand at a young adult adventure novel."
Mayor Steve Bach has denied a request to sign a proclamation declaring the week of July 11 to 17 as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Pride & Diversity Week.
That's no surprise, since Bach said he'd do exactly that during his campaign.
But that doesn't make the news any easier to swallow for people like Charlie Irwin, executive director of the Colorado Springs Pride Center.
"We knew that the mayor had no intentions of signing a GLBT proclamation of any kind," Irwin says. "I think the whole thing with working together to better Colorado Springs, I don't think he has a good understanding of what together means."
The proclamation request was submitted one hour after Back was sworn into office June 7. PrideFest is slated for July 16 and 17.
Here's the letter the Pride Center sent to Bach:
We are excited to inform you and city council that the 21st Annual Colorado Springs PrideFest and Parade “Coming of Age — An Iconic Revival Of The Fierce And Fabulous 50’s” will take place on Saturday and Sunday, July 16 & 17, 2011, in downtown Acacia Park.
As one of the largest summer events in Colorado Springs open to the entire community, we’re proud to be celebrating diversity in our area with more than 100 local and out-of-state businesses and nonprofit organizations, including a wide spectrum of community support.
Mayor Bach, the Colorado Springs Pride Center continues to be recognized as a dignified voice that seeks to promote acceptance and understanding of the GLBT community while maintaining our firm commitment to treating those with opposing viewpoints with dignity and respect. Along with the city’s firm commitment to promoting diversity and equality, we once again ask you and the City Council to sign the attached document, proclaiming July 11-July 17, 2011 as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Pride & Diversity Week.
Should you or City Council have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Again, we are committed to continuing open dialogue within Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region so that as a community we can work to foster an atmosphere of tolerance, diversity, equality and respect.
Colorado Springs Pride Center
2508 E. Bijou Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
Bach responded last week with this letter:
June 23, 2011
Mr. Charles B. Irwin
2508 East Bijou Street
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80909
Dear Mr. Irwin:
Thank you for your letter regarding the Colorado Springs PrideFest and Parade occurring in July
and your request for a proclamation.
My priorities are to transform our city government so that it works for everyone again and lead
the charge to facilitate job creation for our citizens. Therefore, I will not be signing
proclamations such as you requested.
I am committed to working diligently to create an environment that encourages economic
opportunities for everyone in our community.
"During Bach's inauguration he spoke of focusing on downtown, 'making it the heart of the community again, as it should be,'" Irwin says in a release. "It doesn't surprise me that this lack of support comes as the Pride Center begins it's fundraising drive to move our Walk In Center aka The Equality Center to the downtown area. Hopefully just a block from City Hall."
Irwin notes that President Obama has issued a proclamation declaring LGBT Pride Month, and Gov. Jon Hickenlooper has proclaimed a GLBTA Community Awards Day in 2011.
Irwin estimates there are between 20,000 and 40,000 people in the Springs region who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, a substantial increase from a decade ago.
If you weren't one of the lucky ones who got tickets to the State of City Luncheon, you can still watch the speech online.
Here is the relevant info:
Mayor’s State of the City speech to be viewer-friendly
The City Communications Department will make video of Mayor Bach’s State of the City speech easily accessible to the public. Citizens unable to attend or watch the event live will have the ability to view Mayor Bach’s speech in two different video formats:
· Access the video through links on the City website’s homepage—springsgov.com.
· Watch the video when it is re-broadcast on SpringsTV Channel 18, the City public information channel.
In addition, the City will also broadcast the remarks of Council President Scott Hente.
This year’s State of the City Luncheon will take place on Thursday, June 30 at 11:30 a.m. at the Broadmoor Hotel. The Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce estimates Mayor Bach’s first-ever State of the City speech will draw one of the luncheon’s largest crowds in history.
For more information, visit springsgov.com or contact John Leavitt at 385-5242.
——- ORIGINAL POST, WEDNESDAY, 2:15 P.M. ——-
Well, who would have guessed? Mayor Steve Bach's State of the City Luncheon has sold so many tickets that it has had to be moved to a bigger venue. Organizers are asking that you take note of the change if you have signed up for the lunch, which is tomorrow.
DUE TO GREAT DEMAND SEATING ADDED FOR STATE OF CITY
Due to the overwhelming demand for tickets, more seating has been added for the State of the City Luncheon with featured speaker, Mayor Steve Bach, this Thursday, June 30th at The Broadmoor. Please see below for more details.
In order to accommodate the larger audience, please note that the event has also been moved from Broadmoor West to Colorado Hall, located behind the International Center, next to the Golden Bee pub.
The public may reserve seats online by going to The Chamber's website at www.coloradospringschamber.org and clicking on "Calendar of Events."