Kristie Wheeler dropped off a letter at Mayor Steve Bach's office, notifying him that she would be appealing his decision to the City Council today. To her surprise, she found waiting for her a document cataloging every call, e-mail and voice message made to the mayor's office about Occupy Colorado Springs.
Wheeler was one of the holders of the 30-day revocable permit for OCS' occupation of a corner of Acacia Park that Bach chose not to extend.
As we reported Tuesday, she had gone to the city administration building Monday to get a copy of the complaints made about OCS, but was told that they couldn't be released due to concerns over citizen confidentiality.
We contacted Cindy Aubrey, the chief communications officer with the city to ask on what grounds this denial was made and to make our own request for the documents. A half-hour ago, Aubrey e-mailed us the same document she gave Wheeler.
Wheeler says that she is pleased with the release, and plans to comb through the complaints, to see how they can address them when they go before the City Council. From her initial review, she points out that a lot of the complaints are prior to when they had the permit.
"A lot of it was just complaining that they didn't like our presence on the corner," she says, "and not that we were doing anything wrong."
Some of the comments are in support of OCS; most are against them. This one compares the protesters to the patrons of the downtown bar scene, and takes the stand that protests can only occur during set hours:
Voice message complaining about the mess in Acacia Park downtown. Yesterday they were out and were going to do some shopping and go to a store on Tejon, pick up some jewelry, get some shoes, eat and ended up going to Manitou and dropped about $500 and did their Christmas shopping at the same time. Decided she is going to boycott downtown until this mess gets straightened out. Said she has some people coming in next week for a wedding and they will probably be going to Manitou then or up to Woodland Park. If you can chase the people out of the bars downtown, then you can chase these people out, too. I know they have the right to protest, but protesting ends at 11pm and they can start back up at 5 in the morning. If you can’t enforce the laws downtown like you do with the homeless and like you do with the bar people, then there is something wrong. We vote, so think about it. Thinks it’s time you put your foot down and enforce the laws that the City has. Don’t let them get away with it because if they get away with it, then the next group will and the next group will, and the next group — and then more and more people will be going to Manitou, Castle Rock and Woodland Park to do their shopping.
Read the rest after the jump.
After a half-hour hearing Wednesday afternoon, City Council adopted an ordinance placing a moratorium on applications for drilling within the city limits. The ordinance is aimed at Ultra Resources, a division of Houston-based Ultra Petroleum, which wants to drill on 18,000 acres it recently purchased on the city's east side, commonly called the Banning Lewis Ranch.
Council also agreed to create a council task force to study and propose drilling regulations within the six-month moratorium, which ends May 31, 2012.
Andrew Casper, an attorney with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, was the only person who spoke against the moratorium, urging the city to work within the state regulatory process, overseen by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, to protect water supplies and other resources.
About a half-dozen residents voiced support for the hiatus, including Mary Talbott. "Six months will not make a huge difference in the oil and gas industry," Talbott said. "The fact that you take the time to develop a coherent set of rules that protect our ... environment and long-term prosperity is very important."
Other residents expressed concerns about groundwater contamination, air pollution and a heavy industrial activity that could discourage the area's prime economic driver — tourism.
The vote was 8-0 in favor of the moratorium, with Councilman Bernie Herpin absent
After the meeting, Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin said the ordinance was necessary, even though Mayor Steve Bach on Monday declared a freeze on the city staff accepting or processing any filings for oil and gas drilling. Here's the memo:
She said the council needs time to build a set of drilling guidelines, because council members themselves lack expertise in that area. She said she doesn't know yet who will serve on the task force.
Asked why the councilors couldn't ask the staff to prepare a proposal, much like the El Paso County commissioners directed their staff to compile proposed regulations, Martin said the council doesn't control the staff ... the mayor does.
She also noted the council has no money allocated for hiring a consultant to assist in drafting regulations.
Consequently, expect to watch a bumpy ride in coming months as the council task force struggles to master a complex topic.
Check the Indy tomorrow at csindy.com for more on the oil and gas drilling situation in El Paso County. County commissioners are expected to hold a public hearing in December on their proposed regulations.
Manitou Springs passed its budget on first reading Tuesday night.
The 2012 all funds budget sits at $15.7 million, the general fund at $5 million, and the city has a reserve of more than $300,000. The reserve has grown significantly in recent years, to the delight of City Council members who say the abysmal savings in past years put the city at risk.
“We’ve never had numbers like that before,” Mayor Marc Snyder said of the reserve. “I can remember years when we went in with a $60,000 reserve.”
After debate, Councilors also opted to give employees a 3 percent cost of living raise and to keep their insurance premiums at the current rate. The increase costs about $98,000.
Councilors had previously considered increasing only salaries that were considered underpaid based on a recent salary survey. Snyder, however, said that plan was unpopular with employees.
“How do you address one particular department or a couple positions without leaving everyone else miffed that they didn’t get an increase?" he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Aimee Cox, however, says she was hoping to use the salary survey to bring wages more in line with the rest of the state, and was disappointed that wasn't happening.
Ahead of tomorrow's gift guide that you'll find in the Indy, let's look at some upcoming food and drink events that just might make a nice early present for someone, including yourself — or at least make for a nice night out disconnected from December mania.
And fear not, I won't make any mention of horse meat.
• Start early, like really early, Thursday by celebrating José Muldoon's first anniversary at its 5710 S. Carefree Circle location. Specials include $1 Coronitas, $2 house margaritas, a free salsa and queso bar from 4 to 7 p.m., giveaways and free tequila samplings. (Happy Friday hangover, amigos.)
• Wednesday, Dec. 14 brings a Christmas Down Under dinner at Jake & Telly's Greek Taverna for $50. Co-owner Jake Topakas claims he's getting "high end wines for half price and want[s] to pass the deal onto you all."
I promised not to mention horse meat, (damn, just did), but I didn't say anything about kangaroo or emu, which you'll find on the menu:
• Not far down the road the following night, Thursday, Dec. 15, Paravicini's Italian Bistro will raid the sea with its The Feast of the Seven Fishes Dinner (also known as "The Vigil" in Southern Italy according to co-owner Franco Pisani, whose family traditionally ate the meal on Christmas Eve). Seats for the wine-paired meal are also $50.
And look, there's not even sea horse on the menu (damn, did it again):
• Lastly, I will offer a couple of gift suggestions good for later in the month, because they're among the better deals I've seen offered by local restaurants this year.
The deal at the latter (Groupon would be proud) is that for $25 you can get a $50 gift certificate.
At Stagecoach, you can buy a punchcard for five entrées (to be used one per month) for only $25; the advertisement claims that each entrée has a $15 value. There's some fine print on both, so make sure to read that.
• Oh — and one final apology about all those entirely accidental and in no-way premeditated horse jokes. If you were offended, I offer you this video clip in hopes of making amends:
A preview of Laura BenAmots' Battle Portraits: Wounded Lions Wounded Lambs will go on display at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center on Dec. 6. The series will hang in the FAC's glass corridor until Jan. 8. The full show will be unveiled Jan. 20 at the Business of Art Center.
SunShare lucked out with a sunny day yesterday for its community solar garden groundbreaking, attended by Gov. John Hickenlooper. The project allows Colorado Springs Utilities' customers to buy a couple of solar panels and get credit on their bills for doing so, rather than have to invest thousands of dollars for their own system.
Here are some photos of the event, compliments of SunShare.
A new study completed by Daniel Rees, an economics professor at the University of Colorado Denver, and D. Mark Anderson, at Montana State University, reveals that states that have legalized medical marijuana have seen traffic deaths drop by nine percent, while beer sales were reduced five percent.
"We were astounded by how little is known about the effects of legalizing medical marijuana," says Rees in a statement. "We looked into traffic fatalities because there is good data, and the data allow us to test whether alcohol was a factor."
The study analyzed traffic-related deaths nationwide, including the areas supporting MMJ, between 1990 and 2009. In the medical cannabis states, the pair found statistics that show alcohol consumption by 20- to 29-year-olds went down.
The economists noted that simulator studies conducted by previous researchers suggest that drivers under the influence of alcohol tend to underestimate how badly their skills are impaired. They drive faster and take more risks. In contrast, these studies show that drivers under the influence of marijuana tend to avoid risks. However, Rees and Anderson cautioned that legalization of medical marijuana may result in fewer traffic deaths because it's typically used in private, while alcohol is often consumed at bars and restaurants.
"I think this is a very timely study given all the medical marijuana laws being passed or under consideration," Anderson says. "These policies have not been research-based thus far and our research shows some of the social effects of these laws. Our results suggest a direct link between marijuana and alcohol consumption."
The study also examined marijuana use in three states that legalized medical marijuana in the mid-2000s, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Marijuana use by adults increased after legalization in Montana and Rhode Island, but not in Vermont. There was no evidence that marijuana use by minors increased.
Look for our interview with Rees in Thursday's Independent.
The move would prevent Texas oil company Ultra Petroleum from drilling in the Banning Lewis Ranch area until Council could set down regulations.
Council plans to hire an outside expert attorney, using funds set aside for that purpose, to look into what laws and regulations would be appropriate.
“I think it's important that we put something in place before they start filing applications to start to drill,” Council President Scott Hente says.
Asked if the Council would have a public process as regulations were considered, he replied, "Absolutely!"
Yesterday, Michael Clifton and Kristie Wheeler visited the city administration building for Colorado Springs to request copies and/or further information regarding the complaints made against Occupy Colorado Springs' nearly two-month encampment in Acacia Park.
Wheeler is one of the occupiers who was granted the permit that allowed the protest to set up and operate at the corner of Acacia for a month with the city's blessings. Clifton operates the YouTube channel AgentOfDoubt and has documented much of the life of OCS.
Their request to see the complaints was denied, they say in the video, because of "confidentially concerns."
The Indy has contacted the city for clarification on its reasoning for the denial.
A couple months ago, no less a celebrity than Snoop Dogg featured a picture of himself with ReMINDers Aja Black and Samir Zamundu on his home page and also tweeted it to his 4-million-plus fans.
Now, “Things Just Ain’t the Same,” the duo’s new video with kindred soul Rebel Diaz, provides more evidence that Snoop recognizes rising stars when he hears them. Check it out below and let us know what you think.
After that, you can scroll down further for a bonus video on behalf of the Occupy movement from Mane Rok, which features the ReMINDers' Aja Black as well as fellow Coloradans Kalyn of Wheelchair Sports Camp, Johnny5 of Flobots and others.
And finally, Samir assures me that he and Aja are working on the ReMINDers' much-anticipated sophomore album, which should be out in early 2012. We'll keep you posted.
The academy has had several dozen Rhodes scholars through the years, as well as other cadets who are recognized for their scholarship. Here's the academy's release:
Cadet 1st Class Zachary Crippen, from Bala Cynwyd, near Philadelphia, is a senior at the U.S. Air Force Academy majoring in foreign area studies with a minor in Arabic. He is currently taking 20 semester hours and maintains a 3.81 grade point average. Crippen is also the cadet wing vice wing commander and the mock trial club captain.
“Over the selection weekend, I had the privilege of meeting eleven of my peers who were absolutely brilliant and more than qualified for the Rhodes Scholarship,” Crippen said. “I don't know why I was selected from that candidate pool, but I am humbled by the enormous opportunity now in front of me and thankful to all the people who have helped me along the way.”
After graduating from the Academy next May, he will enroll at Oxford University in England for two years. He is currently scheduled to become an intelligence officer, but has aspirations of heading to law school and an eventual position as a judge advocate.
The Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest and best known award for international study, were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer. Applicants are chosen on the basis of the criteria set down in the will, including high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor.
“The process itself was one of the most rigorous and time-consuming ventures I have ever completed,” Crippen said. “At the same time it helped me think about my future and clarify how I could channel my passion into creative avenues that would allow me to change the world for the better.”
I swear we will quit talking about Venetucci Pumpkin Ale soon, but I want to briefly revisit Bryce Crawford's Oct. 24 blog post, which in part follows up on some pumpkin ale prospecting done earlier by our friends at UpaDowna.
Remember, that's for a beer that cost about $6 at many reasonable purchase points.
Anyway, to sort fact from potential fiction, I gave the store a call a few minutes ago and got on the phone with owner Wayne Harris, who at first didn't care to give comment, opting instead to offer a colorful opinion on the quality of the Indy.
Pushed to at least verify the UpaDowna post's comment, Harris said he sold several bottles at the $6 rate, but then admitted to selling his last case at the $25 per-bottle rate.
His final quote: "Capitalism is a wonderful thing."
Personally, I'm surprised that anyone was actually willing to pay that rate for the beer. In a way, those consumers are equally to blame if inflated liquor store prices continue in 2012. A message has been sent to liquor stores that they can get away with that maddeningly high rate of mark-up. Our fault.
We're talking about a community ale (that benefits Venetucci Farm) with high community demand.
Unfortunately, it will take a community effort to boycott the places that in the prevailing opinion are trying to profit too much as middlemen.
As always, vote with your dollar to affect the change you wish to see. That too, is a wonderful thing.
Do you have any interest in the proposal to move the local mail processing operations of the U.S. Postal Service from the Springs to Denver?
If so, this upcoming event is made especially for you.
A public meeting will be held to explain the proposed changes at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, at Mitchell High School Auditorium, 1205 Potter Drive, Colorado Springs, CO.
With the deep decline in mail volume due to current economic conditions and continuing electronic diversion, the Postal Service has an excess of employees and equipment in some mail processing operations. A study was begun on Sept. 15 at the Colorado Springs facility to determine the feasibility of consolidating redundant operations to see if any efficiencies and cost savings would be achieved.
Initial study results support consolidating mail processing operations that are currently being performed at the Colorado Springs, CO, Processing and Distribution Center by taking advantage of available processing capacity at the Denver, CO, Processing and Distribution Center in order to increase efficiency and improve productivity.
A final decision has apparently not been made yet, and you have until Dec. 14 to submit your take on the situation. Let 'em know what you are thinking by writing:
Manager, Consumer and Industry Contact
7500 E 53rd Place Rm 2212
Denver, CO 80266-9617
They're like the ingredients used in Coke or Pepsi. They should be disclosed to the public.
So say El Paso County commissioners in a letter to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission about a pending rule to allow oil and gas drillers to protect what chemicals are used in fracking.
Fracking is a process in which liquids or gels are injected into the ground to cause shale formations to break loose and release oil and gas.
The Oil and Gas Commission is considering a rule that would allow the types of liquids used to be protected from public disclosure. But El Paso County commissioners say that's not a good idea.
Although some drillers might argue the liquids are proprietary and constitute trade secrets, makers of Pepsi and Coke are required to disclose the ingredients, but not the exact formula, commissioners argue in a letter due for commission approval at Thursday's county commission meeting.
They also argue that rather than give 48 hours notice to surrounding landowners that fracking will begin so that water well owners can test their wells to serve as a baseline in case of contamination, the state should require all domestic water supplies in the vicinity of fracking to be tested ahead of time.
Commissioners also are calling for an inert "marker" to be mixed with whatever fluids are used in fracking, so it can be traced as the cause of pollution, if such circumstances arise.
It's an urgent matter, because oil companies are filing leases to drill in El Paso County, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will hear testimony and make a decision on the proposed rule on Monday, Dec. 5 in Denver. The meeting will be held at the State Land Board offices (1127 Sherman St. in Denver, third floor conference room) and is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
Here's the entire letter:
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
1120 Lincoln Street, Suite 801
Denver, CO 80203
December __, 2011
Dear Commissioners and Acting Secretary Gowen:
El Paso County is pleased that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is
pursuing rulemaking regarding the public disclosure of chemicals associated with
hydraulic fracturing. We believe that greater transparency related to these matters will
be of benefit to the general public, landowners, water users and providers, and,
ultimately, oil and gas operators because it will build a greater degree of trust in our
El Paso County is in favor of the creation of a chemical disclosure registry. However,
rather than having this registry posted only on a trade association website
(www.FracFocus.org) as is required in the proposed rule, we believe it is necessary to
support transparency, objectivity, and public confidence by posting the chemical
disclosure registry on the COGCC website from the start, not just if the trade
association website proves inadequate in the future. If the disclosures are to be
pursuant to COGCC rules and pursuant to COGCC permits, the disclosures should be
available from the COGCC website so that it is clear that they are public records,
website limit the purposes for which the information on the site can be used and also
without notice. The FracFocus.org website also permits information to be removed
from the site if, at the sole discretion of FracFocus.org or its agents, any information is
deemed “harmful, objectionable, or inaccurate.” This is not the appropriate repository
for public records and, in fact, may violate the preservation requirements for public
We agree with the COGCC and oil and gas operators there is value in protecting
legitimate trade secrets and we support the creation of regulations which create trade
secret protection. However, it is important that there are standards for what qualifies as
a trade secret. Operators must be required to provide a justification or rationale in
support of a claim of a trade secret, and the regulations must provide for discretionary
review of the validity of a trade secret claim by the COGCC.
In particular, we believe that the individual constituents of a proprietary product should
be available to the public but that the proportions of the ingredients are a legitimate
trade secret. This is no different than products which are intended for human
consumption. The individual constituents of Coke, Pepsi, or any other food product are
on the product’s label but the actual recipe is a highly protected trade secret. Because
the main concern regarding hydraulic fracturing chemicals is that they may make their
way into ground water and be consumed by humans it is logical to take guidance from
the disclosure requirements of products intended for human consumption.
Draft Rule 205A(B)(4) states that vendors are not responsible for inaccuracies in
information provided by third party manufacturers, service providers are not
responsible for inaccuracies provided by vendors, and operators are not responsible for
inaccuracies provided by vendors or service providers. This waiver of liability is
unreasonable and unacceptable. Operators are the ones who receive permits from the
COGCC and/or local governments and they should be held responsible for the errors or
inaccuracies of their agents. Because operators have contractual privity with service
providers and vendors etc. they are in the best position to know who these other entities
are and require accuracy of disclosure in their contracts with vendors and service
providers. Surface owners, neighbors, local governments, and the COGCC are only
able to seek redress from the permitted entity, i.e. the operator. This same concern also
applies to Draft Rule 205A(B)(5)(C) (disclosures not required if not disclosed to
operator by vendor, manufacturer, or service provider).
This is of particular significance because few operators actually perform hydraulic
fracturing themselves. Almost always it is a contractor which performs the process and
provides the chemicals used. The only alternative to prevent a very significant
loophole in the chemical disclosure requirements and significant decrease in public
confidence would be to initiate legislation or rulemaking which would license or permit
hydraulic fracturing contractors and hold them responsible for the disclosure of
chemicals used in the process.
El Paso County supports the proposed requirements that operators provide 48 hours
advance notice of intent to conduct hydraulic fracturing treatment to the Commission
and that landowner notices shall include the COGCC’s information sheet on hydraulic
fracturing treatments. COGCC has stated that the purpose of the revisions to
landowner notices is, in part, to “offer instruction in the collection of baseline water
samples if the surface owner is concerned about potential impacts from hydraulic
fracturing.” Because it should be important to operators and the COGCC to have
concern about potential impacts from hydraulic fracturing as well, we think it should be
the operator’s duty to collect baseline water samples in all cases. Landowners may not
be knowledgeable about the proper protocols for collecting water samples. Operator
employees or contractors are familiar with the proper procedures for collecting accurate
baseline water samples.
While hydraulic fracturing fluids are injected thousands of feet below aquifers
containing drinking water, the public deserves reassurance that if and when, and for
whatever reason, these fluids are inadvertently released into the environment in a
manner that causes contamination of soils at or near the surface and/or of drinking
water resources, those responsible for the contamination are held responsible. To that
end, El Paso County requests that the proposed COGCC rules be amended to require
that all hydraulic fracturing fluids include an inert marker that will enable the fluids to
be traced to the source of any contamination.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed rules and we look forward
to revisions in the spirit of greater transparency and accountability.
THE BOARD COUNTY COMMISSIONERS,
EL PASO COUNTY, COLORADO
Amy Lathen, Chair
Sallie Clark, Vice-Chair
Darryl Glenn, Commissioner
Dennis Hisey, Commissioner
Peggy Littleton, Commissioner
The Colorado Environmental Coalition opposes the rule. The group said in a press release:
The proposed rule would give drilling companies the loophole they need so Colorado citizens would not have access to the information they need—and information that Gov. John Hickenlooper believes that citizens deserve.
The proposed regulation requires public disclosure of all fracking fluids but allows companies to hide an unlimited number of chemicals simply by labeling them as trade secrets.
“Commerce City residents are worried about the materials and chemicals used in fracking. Allowing companies to avoid disclosure simply by asserting the need for trade secret protection amounts to disclosure on the honor system,” said Dominick Moreno, Mayor Pro-Tem, Commerce City. “Our residents deserve to know what chemicals are being used only yards away from their homes.”
Under the proposal, the privilege of trade secrets protection would be handed out with no questions asked. Companies would not have to justify or certify their trade secret claims and no state agency would review the requests.
The Sacramento Bee today brings us a tale of the eternal sex-in-advertising dilemma. This time, though, it's about more than family decency, etc. It's about changing the image of marijuana as a medicine.
Most medical marijuana dispensaries refrain from suggestive advertising — and some even feature multiple sclerosis patients or car accident victims who use cannabis for chronic pain.
But the California Organic Collective dispensary in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley touts bikini-clad counter attendants in ads that depict a buxom nurse holding a red, nipple-shaped stethoscope to her breast.
The Reserve dispensary in Sacramento County employed a model in a metal-studded brassiere and Old West gun belt to promote a super-potent "Green Ribbon" strain packing 25 percent of marijuana's psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
Though the article's centered around California businesses, it's a debated topic in these parts as well. Though the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council has generally successfully pressured Springs centers into not using so-called booth babes at local conventions or in their advertising, at Denver conventions it's a much different story. Westword's William Breathes looked at just one such occurrence:
What does a skeezy beauty pageant, and "hot ass" and "best orgasm" contests have to do with medical marijuana? Nothing. But for some reason all three are events were listed as contests as recently as Tuesday afternoon for the upcoming HempCon convention.
So what do you think: Should T-and-A help pitch THC, or do you want just the facts, ma'am?