Medical marijuana advocate Kathleen Chippi tipped us off that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued a clarification on Sept. 21, on the issue of MMJ patients possessing firearms.
And, as written by assistant director of enforcement programs and services Arthur Herbert, the bureau's not a big fan. Titled "Open Letter to All Federal Firearms Licensees," the letter states:
"Therefore, any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition," Herbert writes.
"Further, if you are aware that the potential transferee is in possession of a card authorizing the possession and use of marijuana under State law, then you have 'reasonable cause to believe' that the person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance."
Coloradans being who they are (read: gun nuts) it should be interesting to see how this is received. We'll ask around, and bring you more in the coming weeks.
Recently, we attended Butterflies & Friends, an auction of 31 metal butterflies decorated by local artists. For four years now, the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs has held a call for artists to adorn the butterflies, mounted them outside throughout town over the summer, and then auctioned them off to raise money for local education programs, scholarships and programs like the Crawford House.
This year, half of the proceeds went toward School District 11's Musical Instruments Program, Will Rogers Elementary School and Mark Twain Elementary School. The other half was allotted for the club's Community Service Fund.
Last year, between the live auction and items on the silent auction tables, the club raised around $40,000. This year, with the help of matching grants that number more than doubled, ringing in at just above $100,000.
As for the butterflies themselves, the auction prices began at $300 or $500 apiece. Many sold for well over $1,000; the most expensive work, "Winged Wildflowers" by the Pikes Peak Decorative Painters, sold for $3,800.
Other notables: Last year's Best Artist winner Rebecca Hyde, had her "Unbound" butterfly sell for $1,800; Deborah Nelson's mosaic masterpiece "Daybreak/Nightfall" sold for $3,100; and one of my favorites, the constellation-inspired "Zodiac A Flutter" by Lupita Carrasco, went for $900.
Most of these butterflies are now resting in private gardens, but some like Carole Reece's "I-M C-N U Bear" was donated to the Bear Creek Dog Park.
Big picture? There continues to be a slight decline in the number of dispensaries overall. There are now 736 with on-track license applications with the state. That’s down from 759 when I did the numbers in May and from 818 in August, 2010. (Yes, this licensing process has really been that long.) There are also 291 applications for MIPs, which is actually more than there were in August, 2010.
You can click the above link for a full breakdown, but some takeaways include the fact that Colorado Springs, and El Paso County, have the second highest count of centers and MIPs after Denver (which we could guess). Less predictable is the knowledge that the ZIP code 80909 has the highest concentration of both in the state — 50. (Click here to go directly to the interactive map.)
Last night, at the meeting of the El Paso County Republican Party executive committee, Sarah Anderson resigned as secretary.
In her resignation letter, she pointed out that she will be leaving the party, but not the fight — she will be working a number of primary campaigns, a few in this county.
From her resignation letter:
I set out to accomplish two things as Secretary: the first was to fundamentally change our interactions with Precinct Leaders (something that is still a work in progress, but is significantly better than when I came in); and the second was to focus on reapportionment and the caucus process (accomplished on the first half, and the second half is left in far more capable hands than mine).
I believe very strongly in the integrity of our by-laws, and have grown increasingly concerned with the cavalier treatment of our by-laws by several individuals, who apply them inconsistently at best and only when politically expedient at worst, rather than fairly, impartially, and consistently at all times.
You can read the whole resignation letter here: Resignation Letter.pdf
It was concise and conciliatory, as was county party chairman Eli Bremer's response: "Bremer had this to say of Anderson’s resignation: “Sarah is a talented, passionate, and energetic young lady with a knack for organizing and energizing her supporters. She clearly has a passion for politics and elections. I applaud her decision to move on to other political prospects and apply her talents where she feels they are best suited. I and the Republican Party wish Sarah the best with her future endeavors as she follows her heart in a new direction."
But this morning, Anderson's tone had changed. In a nine-page follow-up open letter to the county Republican Party (posted on her Facebook page), she took to task Reps. Larry Liston, Amy Stephens and Bob Gardner, as well as Bremer and state party chairman Ryan Call.
She ends the letter: "P.S. There is still some unfinished business from the Republican Party Waterboarding… err, Executive Session of 7 July 2011. Stay tuned."
On Thursday, El Paso County commissioners will vote on a deal to settle a lawsuit filed against them by People's National Bank stemming from the commission's denial of a plan for Independence Place at Cheyenne Mountain on the city's southern edge by the World Arena. The bank owns the property in question.
You might remember this controversial development we wrote about in June. It involved a a proposed roundabout at Venetucci Boulevard and Bob Johnson Drive that didn't sit well with the neighbors, including the World Arena and USA Hockey next door.
Place Properties of Atlanta wanted to build a 240-unit complex southwest of Venetucci and Cheyenne Meadows Road to serve Fort Carson, but commissioners rejected the idea on a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Darryl Glenn and Peggy Littleton opposed, meaning they supported the project. Commissioners Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Dennis Hisey voted to reject the project.
After that action, Peoples sued, contending the denial constituted abuse of discretion and an unconstitutional taking of property without due process, County Attorney Bill Louis says.
Now there's a settlement in which the county will approve the plan and let the development proceed with a four-way traffic signal at the intersection of Venetucci and Bob Johnson, Louis says.
The city of Colorado Springs engineer has issued a letter of support for the traffic signal, so it sounds like a done deal. Although Louis says if the city fails to issue the permit for the traffic signal, the county is back in court.
Here's the city's letter:
But not everyone is pleased. One resident of the area contacted us with concerns that the traffic signal will only tie up traffic more, considering there's another traffic signal close by.
If you're interested in voicing your opinion, you can contact the commissioners or go to the meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. Thursday at the County Administration Building, third floor, 27 E. Vermijo Ave.
While in-house chatting with the chef team of Brent Beavers, David Cottrill and Aaron Retka (disclosure: all of whom I know well) at a small, soft opening Saturday night, I got a sneak peek at the tentative full menu, including an $8-per-plate late-night menu that will run until midnight.
A few teasers from the late-night menu: a shrimp corndog with red chile ketchup and key lime mustard; Poutine (kettle fries, chevre, smoked peppercorn gravy); and veggie falafel tacos with herb aioli.
And from the entrée list (again, subject to change before Thursday): the Sencha Salad (featuring my favorite dressing of all time, a smoked tea vinaigrette); red curry/coconut Burmese Yardbird with pineapple tempura and lemongrass dumplings; and a Daube of Lamb "Pueblo" with Mirasol chiles and shallot oatmeal hush puppies.
A note at the menu's bottom reads: "We use exclusively sustainable seafood, natural, antibiotic and hormone-free meats and truly farm-to-table produce."
Without further ado, let's let five images from the night speak more to the meal and what you should plan to see from the culinary team. Click on each photo to enlarge:
Earlier this month, COPPeR held its first artist bootcamp class on how artists, nonprofits and arts organizations should deal with the print media. I was there to share the Indy's best practices (which are pretty easy, just send us an e-mail). But there are numerous other business matters for artists to consider, and COPPeR's upcoming classes are here to help.
Here's the list:
• "Writing for Art Promotion: Bringing Your World to the Public," $5. Tuesday, Sept. 20, 5:15-7 p.m., COPPeR, 121 S. Tejon St., #111.
• "Put the Rights on Your Copyrights," $10. Wednesday, Oct. 12, 5:30-7 p.m. Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave.
• "Trademarks and You," $10. Wednesday, Oct. 26, 5:30-7 p.m. Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave.
• "Social Media and Internet: Avoiding Legal Pitfalls," $10. Wednesday, Nov. 9, 5:30-7 p.m. Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave.
• "PeakRadar.com: How-to Session," $5. Wednesday, Dec. 7, 5:30-7 p.m. COPPeR, 121 S. Tejon St., #111.
Don't ever let anyone tell you that people in Cañon City don't know how to party.
Also don't let them tell you that Colorado has crap wine.
Neither is true, as proved by The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey and its ninth annual Harvest Fest winemaker's dinner, which I attended as their guest this past Friday night. (Seats this year were $95, which included tax and tip.)
According to stats tossed out between eight food and wine courses by winemakers Matt Cookson and Jeff Stultz and winery owner Larry Oddo, the winery is the largest by volume in the state, as well as the most medaled.
Marketing representative Sally Davidson says 60 percent of the wine is still sold in the tasting room, with the other 40 percent going out to liquor stores and restaurants along the Front Range, including prestigious outfits like Denver's The Brown Palace and Morrison's The Fort.
The dinner was held at the Shadow Hills Golf Course, where club chefs and brothers James and David Tracy matched food with a wide variety of the winery's products.
My single favorite course highlighted the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, a surprisingly creamy and smokey pour aged half in stainless steel and half in new oak barrels, with 10 percent Viognier added in for a slight orange hint. That citrus really came out when paired with bites of sautéed shrimp and scallops in an orange shallot sauce.
I also particularly enjoyed an intermezzo of sorbet made with the winery's apple blossom wine, one of my seasonal favorites.
And carrying on the sugar into epic realms, the team paired a chocolate mousse in a pecan tuile with the winery's now sold-out 2009 Divinity Merlot, a super sweet, port-like dessert wine.
As for that thing I said about Cañon City people knowing how to throw down: The first sign of trouble was no dump buckets on the tables. The second was the big — no, HUGE — pours with each course; we're talking full glasses, times eight, so about a couple of bottles of wine per person for the evening. (Yeah ... I let the waiters clear my half-empty glasses.)
Delivering me the coveted quote of the night, one waiter, about midway through, leaned over me and threatened: "I will give you a sippy cup if you don't drink faster." I was too amused to be insulted. (And hey, who doesn't enjoy a good sippy cup now and again? What's a to-go coffee cup, really, with that tiny hole in the lid?)
I've said for years now that this winery puts out great wine, and Friday's dinner served only to highlight that point.
If the aforementioned wines don't interest you, check out their Riesling or 2009 Colorado Cabernet Franc, others that stood out for their style.
At one point, Cookson explained that he's truly taken customer feedback to continue to develop each year's wines. His philosophy: "Let's make it the way you like it."
Hey, works for me.
Westword is reporting that Kathleen Chippi's Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project has received an answer back from the state, and the news isn't great. (See here for our previous coverage of the lawsuit.)
"The State responded by saying none of the plaintiffs have standing, because no one has a fundamental right to medical marijuana in Colorado," [Chippi] says. "They responded to every single paragraph in our lawsuit by saying they're ignorant as to how to respond, since no one has standing. And that's a reference to the Jason Beinor case."
Tomorrow, El Paso County Commissioners will decide whether to award a contract for remodeling Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., to accommodate themselves.
Of the five bids found to be responsive to the request for proposals to revamp the hall, GH Phipps Construction of Greenwood Village submitted the low bid of $720,322. Other bids ranged up to $855,743.
The project will revamp the former Clerk and Recorder's Office into offices for the county commissioners, budget officials, county administrator, public communications and the county attorney.
Those offices now are housed in the County Administration Building, 27 E. Vermijo Ave., which will be remodeled for use entirely by the Sheriff's Office.
It's all part of the county's shift of offices, including the Department of Human Services, Workforce Center, Public Health Department, clerk and recorder, treasurer and assessor from their former locations in the city's core area to the former Intel building (since renamed the Citizens Service Center) at 1675 Garden of the Gods Road.
The entire project is costing taxpayers roughly $50 million, which includes major energy initiatives designed to save the county money on utility bills for years to come. The county got the money by issuing certificates of participation and other securities without consulting voters.
Details of the Centennial Hall remodel weren't readily available today, but we'll provide more information when it's released.
The first installment in a four-year, $2 billion grant program for community colleges across the country has been released, and as U.S. Sen. Mark Udall announced today, $17.2 million of that money was awarded to Colorado community colleges.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor:
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter today announced nearly $500 million in grants to community colleges around the country for targeted training and workforce development to help economically dislocated workers who are changing careers. The grants support partnerships between community colleges and employers to develop programs that provide pathways to good jobs, including building instructional programs that meet specific industry needs.
This installment is the first in a $2 billion, four-year investment designed, when in combination with President Obama's American Jobs Act that would provide additional support for hiring and re-employment services, to increase opportunities for the unemployed.
The initiative complements President Obama's broader agenda for every American to have at least one year of postsecondary education and will help to reach his goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. Every state will receive at least $2.5 million for community college career training programs through this initiative. States without a winning submission named in this round are being contacted by the program's administrators to develop a qualifying project that will immediately receive $2.5 million.
From a press release from Udall's office:
Today, Mark Udall announced that a consortium of Colorado community colleges has been selected to receive a major grant to help train workers for new jobs in high-wage, high-skill jobs.
The consortium, led by the Community College of Denver, will receive the $17.2 million grant, which is designed to help community colleges create job-training programs in partnership with private employers in growing industries, including clean energy, mining, water-quality management, and oil and gas. The schools will build instructional programs that meet specific industry needs, strengthening technology-enabled learning, and allowing students and workers to access free learning materials online.
"This is a win-win for Colorado's workers and employers. By enabling colleges to work directly with private employers, students will get the specific skills that make them competitive for higher-paying jobs in growing industries - and employers will get a well-trained workforce they can rely on," Udall said. "Not only will this program help us put Coloradans to work, it will help strengthen our economy. This is the kind of investment we must make if we are going to position our state - and our nation - to win in the global economic race."
Besides the Community College of Denver, the consortium members are:
1. Aims Community College
2. Colorado Mountain College
3. Front Range Community College
4. Northeastern Junior College
5. Red Rocks Community College
6. Community College of Aurora
7. Lamar Community College
8. Otero Junior College
9. Morgan Community College
10. Pikes Peak Community College
11. Colorado Northwestern Community College
Last summer, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs became part of President Obama's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. Since then, the school has set up a slate of events, and they start tomorrow.
Hosting the first event, a panel discussion, is the UCCS Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life, with help from sponsors Campus Crusade for Christ, Colorado Secularist, Free Thinkers and Skeptics and the Coloradan Buddhist Society.
The public is invited. For more information, go here.
Here's the press release:
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Helping University of Colorado Colorado Springs students who come from different religious traditions or who have no religious commitment find common ground will be the subject of the first event of the White House Interfaith and Community Service Challenge.
The inaugural event, featuring a local pastor and a panel discussion of campus and community leaders, is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 4:20 p.m. Sept. 27 in the University Center Theater.
Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak will introduce Benjamin Broadbent, pastor, First Congregational Church, Colorado Springs, who will speak on the issue of religion in a diverse community. Jeff Scholes, instructor, Department of Philosophy and director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life, will lead a panel discussion of how to address concerns involving religion on the campus. The discussion is a planned kick off of a year-long series of efforts designed to explore how people of differing faiths, as well as those who do not consider themselves religious, can work together toward a common goal.
In June, UCCS was accepted into President Barack Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge for the upcoming academic year. In August, Scholes and Peg Bacon, provost, traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss UCCS efforts for the coming year. Throughout the fall semester, there will be weekly lunch meetings for students interested in a continuing dialogue around these issues. Students will also be invited at the event to participate in the Give! Campaign sponsored by the Colorado Springs Independent this fall and to help with the local parks services this spring.
“We know we have many students at UCCS who have deeply felt beliefs,” Scholes said “We also know that we have many students who believe equally strongly that organized religion or even spirituality is not for them. How do we honor these commitments while attempting to bridge this gap in order to effect real change in our community?”
Panel members will include
Peg Bacon, provost
Kee Warner, associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusiveness, Academic Affairs.
Benjamin Broadbent, pastor, First Congregational Church, Colorado Springs
Kristy Milligan, director, Citizens Project
Jeff Scholes, instructor, Philosophy Department
Caitlin Green, co-director of the Galleries of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, has left her position to pursue other opportunities. Co-director Daisy McConnell will still helm the galleries, GOCA 121 and GOCA 1420, and search for another to fill the position.
"Daisy and I had a very similar vision," Green said today, "so I feel so confident in leaving it in her hands."
Green explained that though she is no longer at GOCA, she is still committed to supporting local arts.
During her three years at GOCA, Green curated and coordinated many avant-garde programs and shows, including the highly innovative AWOL: Art Without Limits series of exhibitions and projects, which included the performance art Autoteatro Series by the U.K. group Rotozaza.
"Working at GOCA was such an honor and I'm so proud of the work we were able to do while I was there," she said. "And it was so much fun to do it."
Followers of this blog may recall that last week, the Denver-based organization — which bills itself as the only full-time professional symphony in Colorado — was in protracted negotiations with the musicians union in an attempt to cut costs by reducing players' salaries.
The CSA has since announced that the union agreed to a total pay reduction of $530,000 in order to help balance next year's operating budget.
In a release headlined "COLORADO SYMPHONY ANNOUNCES POSITIVE VOTE FROM PLAYERS," the organization goes on to note that (emphasis mine):
"Prior to receiving this positive vote from the players, several resignations from the Board of Trustees were received and several were tendered at the meeting for a total of 20 resignations. An overall sentiment of appreciation and love for the orchestra was shared by all of those who issued resignation, and several specifically encouraged the organization to 'be bold, be brave, and be different.'”
Topping it all off, the orchestra's musicians have agreed to play without pay this weekend.
"The Board of Trustees has prioritized their workaround implementing a balanced and approved FY12 operating budget," concludes the CSA, "and establishing an environment of donor confidence which will assist with advancing major gifts to help solve cash flow issues."
It'll be interesting to see how donor confidence is affected by the fallout from a half-million-dollar salary reduction for musicians who were already making less than half of what their Dallas counterparts are paid.
My guess is that a sudden exodus of 20 trustees probably isn't a positive indicator for a "bold, brave, and different" future. Well, maybe different.
On Wednesday, I attended a luncheon at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort with Convention and Visitors Bureau leader Doug Price. The purpose was teaching people in the tourism business how to sell, not just a hotel or an attraction, but a whole city.
I expected a dry speech and drier chicken.
But I was surprised. The chicken was good. And there was very little yakking on the part of Price, who apparently believes that showing really is better than telling. Kudos to him. Instead of passing out in my chocolate mousse, I (and everyone else) filled out a survey.
Since the theme of the luncheon was "Selling Colorado Springs' Unique Strengths and Benefits," Price had each person rate Colorado Springs against a competitive city (in the tourism sense). There were a long list of factors we had to judge, ranging from "access" to "convention center" to "nightlife." Once we were done, we added up our scores, than averaged them across each table.
My table judged Colorado Springs against Vail. Others judged Denver, Albuquerque, San Diego and Tucson. Some tables were more positive than others. Being a bit of a Negative Nelly, I gave Colorado Springs the lowest score at my table, just two points above Vail. Our average came out in the Springs' favor by 13 points. Another group rating Vail put the Springs 19 points ahead.
But other tables weren't so cheery. A table judging Albuquerque put the Springs only 3 points ahead. One judging Tucson put the Springs 2 points ahead. And the Springs was solidly in the negative compared with Denver and San Diego.
So what was the point?
"We, as salespeople, always want to accent the positive," Price noted. "But as salespeople, what we get paid to deal with are the minus-ones, the minus-twos, the minus-threes."
In other words, Price says, salespeople have to predict objections and address them head-on. Sometimes that means building something up — like that fact that the Springs has lots of great meeting spaces, even if it lacks a convention center. Other times, it's as simple as dismissing misconceptions.
"I mean climate, hello," Price said. "How many people still think you can ski here?"
At the close of the meeting, business leaders were asking the CVB for a cheat sheet that would allow them to show the city in its best light.