Thursday, July 26, 2012

Local buildings squeeze into energy-efficiency battle

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 at 1:56 PM

Memorial North Medical Office Building is among the six Springs competitors
  • Memorial North's Medical Office Building is among the six Springs' competitors.

Six commercial buildings around the Springs are battling with 3,200 other nationwide in the realm of health and environment protection, as the Environmental Protection Agency launches its third annual Energy Star National Building competition.

The purpose of the year-long battle is “ to improve energy efficiency, lower utility costs and protect health and the environment.”

Here are the competing buildings from Colorado Springs: Memorial North Medical Office Building One, 4110 Briargate Pkwy.; Sterling House of Briargate, 7560 Lexington Drive; Wynwood of Colorado Springs, 2780 Vickers Drive; Sunrise of University Park, 2105 University Park Blvd.; Brookdale Place of Colorado Springs, 10 W. Monument St.; and Village at Skyline, 2365 Patriot Heights.

Along with others in all 50 states, administrators in these buildings will use an online tool to track their energy consumption; last year's winner reduced energy used by more than 63 percent in just one year. Along the way, they're supposed to teach all of us some strategies for saving energy.

Here's the full release:

Seventy-five Colorado buildings battle to get energy efficient in EPA’s third annual Energy Star National Building Competition

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program launched the 2012 National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings with a record 3,200 buildings across the country going head to head to improve energy efficiency, lower utility costs and protect health and the environment.

Seventy-five buildings in Colorado will participate in the competition. A complete list, which can be sorted by state, can be found here: http://www.energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings

Commercial buildings in the U.S. are responsible for about 20 percent of the nation’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion annually in energy bills. In 2011, the 245 participants saved $5.2 million on their utility bills and prevented nearly 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, equal to the emissions from the electricity used by more than 3,600 homes a year. By improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings, such as schools, offices, hospitals and retail stores, competitors will reduce energy waste and save on utility bills while protecting the environment and people’s health.

"This year the number of teams committing to increase energy efficiency through the Energy Star Battle of the Buildings is larger than ever before — more than ten times as many as last year. We're expecting record energy savings as more and more buildings cut back on their energy use," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "We wish the best to the thousands of teams competing, but we know the big winners will be the American people, who will benefit from the innovative ideas that emerge from the competition. As in years past, these ideas will translate into new ways we can all cut energy use, save money on our power bills, and reduce the carbon pollution that is changing our climate."

More than 30 different types of commercial buildings are facing off in this year’s National Building Competition, representing all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. The competitors range from a Kmart store on the island of St. Thomas to a crime lab in Phoenix to a federal office building in Nome, Alaska. The number of participants in the National Building Competition has jumped from 14 buildings in 2010, the competition’s first year, to 245 in 2011 to over 3,200 this year.

Competitors use EPA's Energy Star online tool, Portfolio Manager, to measure and track their buildings’ monthly energy consumption. Last year, the University of Central Florida won after cutting the energy use of an on-campus parking garage by more than 63 percent in just one year.

Throughout the year-long competition the public can keep track of the progress made by buildings on the web.

A list of buildings leading the competition at the half-way point of the competition will be released in Fall 2012. The winner along with top finalists in each building category with the largest percentage reduction in energy use in 2012 as compared to 2011 will be recognized in April 2013. Additionally, this year EPA’s WaterSense program, in partnership with Energy Star, will recognize top water use reducers as a part of the competition.

Launched in 1992 by EPA, Energy Star is a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Energy Star program. Over the past 20 years, with the help of Energy Star, American families and businesses have saved about $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.7 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. To date, more than 1.3 million new homes and nearly 18,500 buildings across all 50 states have earned EPA's Energy Star certification. The Energy Star label can be found on more than 65 different kinds of products with more than 5 billion sold over the last 20 years.

List of competitors, social media updates (#ESNBC), interactive map of buildings and photos of the competition: http://www.energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings

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UPDATE: Thanks for the firefighters, feds

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 at 12:45 PM

You know that old saying about looking a gift horse in the mouth? Well, Colorado Springs is guilty as charged.

Rather than simply accepting a generous grant from the federal government to our fire department, the city spent quite a bit of time deciding if they even wanted the money. Which is saying something — given that this is $2 million we're talking about and the city is, according the mayor, pretty darn broke.

But anyway, apparently the feds passed the dental exam. The city is taking the money.


Colorado Springs Fire Department Accepts SAFER Grant

Colorado Springs, CO — The Colorado Springs Fire Department is pleased to announce that we have accepted the 2011 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grant was accepted on 8/23/12.

· The SAFER grant will provide $2,000,430 to fund fifteen new firefighters.

· The grant will fund the firefighters for a two-year period.

· The grant was specifically awarded to assist with defraying the costs associated with staffing Station 21.

· CSFD plans to start its next academy in February 2013.

· The new firefighters will be on the line by early summer 2013 when Station 21 is due to open.

——- ORIGINAL POST, JULY 26, 12:45 P.M. ——-

It's got to be hard to swallow for our hordes of Libertarians, but Colorado Springs once again owes the federal government a "thank you."

First, the feds helped rescue us during the Waldo Canyon Fire. Now they're paying us $2 million to hire more firefighters. We're not sure just yet how many new hires that will fund — we'll update you when we hear more — but, whatever the number, we'd assume the Springs can use them.

Read on:

Udall Congratulates Colorado Springs Fire Department on Receiving $2 Million Competative Grant to Hire Firefighters

Mark Udall issued the following statement after the Department of Homeland Security awarded the Colorado Springs Fire Department with more than $2 million in competitive grant funds to hire more firefighters:

“Throughout this year, we have seen how firefighters have been instrumental to battling blazes throughout the state,” Udall said. “These competative grants funds will help the Colorado Springs Fire Department keep firefighters on the job and protect the people of Colorado Springs.”

The competitive grant was issued under the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program. The grant funds allow fire departments to hire or retain firefighters and enhance their abilities to protect the public from fires and related hazards.

Earlier this year, Udall encouraged fire departments throughout Colorado to apply for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grants.

###

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UPDATE: Drought and wildfires: the new normal?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 at 11:01 AM

There's no good news in the U.S. Drought Monitor's latest report, which, released this morning, includes data through Tuesday, July 24. Check out this new map of national drought conditions below:

The U.S. Drought Monitor is a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center, United States Department of Agriculture, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.
  • The U.S. Drought Monitor is a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center, United States Department of Agriculture, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.

While the overall area of the country experiencing any level of drought conditions stayed largely the same, many regions' extant droughts intensified, with the total area in "extreme" drought — the second-most severe category used in the study — moving from 11.32 percent to 17.2 percent of the country. Meanwhile, 55 percent of the nation’s pasture and rangeland is reported as in "poor to very poor condition".

Our neck of the woods has it even worse. From the report:

Over 80 percent of the topsoil was rated short or very short of moisture in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. Three-fourths (75 percent) or more of the pasture and rangeland was classified as poor or very poor in California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado.

That's notwithstanding the thus-far infrequent monsoon showers we've experienced. And the forecast isn't looking up. “Conditions are likely to persist,” said U.S. Drought Monitor climatologist Brian Fuchs in a press release. “We’ll see further development and intensification into the fall.”

Meanwhile, the media back-and-forth over whether or not climate change is a factor in this year's drought and extreme wildfires shows no sign of abating. Monday, the progressive media watchdog group Media Matters for America jumped on claims made by Americans for Prosperity deputy state director and Colorado Springs resident Sean Paige in an op-ed in Sunday's Denver Post.

In that op-ed, titled, "Do you think climate change is partly to blame for the fires in the West this summer? No," Paige evoked the current drought as a "natural" "climate fluctuation," and called climate change "the ultimate all-purpose excuse." For the wildfires, he laid blame instead on pine bark beetles — and something he called an "analysis paralysis" caused by "professional green extremists." He then pointed to the controversial Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, which he said had been "gutted" of its policies to reduce wildfires. Much of the controversy surrounding that law centered on issues of private logging companies' access to U.S. National Forests, and the logging of medium and large trees versus solely removing ultra-flammable undergrowth.

Media Matters, however, objected to the Post's exclusion of the fact that Paige's organization, Americans for Prosperity, was founded and bankrolled by David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, better known as the notorious Koch Brothers. Their company, Koch Industries, is heavily invested in carbon-based fuels, something that Media Matters argued suggests the Kochs would "benefit financially from convincing the public that our consumption of fossil fuels is a harmless indulgence with no ill effects."

The Denver Post simultaneously published another op-ed, Do you think climate change is partly to blame for the fires in the West this summer? Yes," by children's author and astronomer Jeffrey Bennett, which, as its name suggests, argues the opposite position to Paige's. Check out that article and the original post below for more on the discussion of drought, wildfires and climate change.


—————ORIGINAL POST, WEDNESDAY, JULY 25, 11:34 A.M.—————

The U.S. Drought Monitor is a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center, United States Department of Agriculture, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.
  • The U.S. Drought Monitor is a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center, United States Department of Agriculture, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.

Last week, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's National Drought Mitigation Center released a map that showed 53 percent of the United States experiencing drought conditions, on a scale from moderate through "exceptional." Take out Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and it's 63 percent for the contiguous 48 states. And for almost half (42 percent) of that area, the drought is classified as at least severe. Most of Colorado, according to the map, is in worse-yet "extreme" drought.

80 percent of the area in the 48 states are — at least — "abnormally dry." A total of 1,297 1,369 counties in 29 31 states have been declared federal disaster areas as a result of the drought. That's more than a third of all counties in the United States of America.

As a result, things don't bode well for global food prices.

One thing about climate change is unequivocal: that hindsight is 20/20, that the present is a slippery, knotty thing — that history doesn't reveal itself until after the fact. There's a growing certainty, however, that this summer is going to be remembered as the one when the collective consciousness started thinking of global warming not as "ominous-thing-that-I-can-sort-of-abstractly-imagine-happening-in-some-distant-apocalyptic-future," but as "oh-shit-it's-actually-happening-and-now-it's-one-of-those-things-we-have-to-deal-with."

William deBuys's new, meticulously researched article on Salon.com does plenty to further that narrative. deBuys connects a lot of dots and arrives at the conclusion that the drought in Colorado is, as he says, "the new normal in the American West."

More ominous yet, he connects the persistent drought to this summer's slew of wildfires:


[B]ig fires are four times more common than they used to be; the biggest fires are six-and-a-half times larger than the monster fires of yesteryear; and owing to a warmer climate, fires are erupting earlier in the spring and subsiding later in the fall. Nowadays, the fire season is two and a half months longer than it was 30 years ago.

All of this is hair-raisingly true. Or at least it was, until things got worse. After all, those figures don’t come from this summer’s fire disasters but from a study published in 2006 that compared then-recent fires, including the record-setting blazes of the early 2000s, with what now seem the good old days of 1970 to 1986. The data-gathering in the report, however, only ran through 2003. Since then, the western drought has intensified, and virtually every one of those recent records — for fire size, damage, and cost of suppression — has since been surpassed.

The fires are so big, and the drought so persistent, that the future augurs poorly for entire forest ecosystems, according to the article. And receding forests means less carbon sequestration, and thus more global warming:

Contrary to the claims of climate deniers, the prevailing models scientists use to predict change are conservative. They fail to capture many of the feedback loops that are likely to intensify the dynamics of change.

Climate change could be destroying forest ecosystems--and making them more vulnerable to wildfires
  • Kathy Conarro
  • Climate change could be destroying forest ecosystems — and making them more vulnerable to wildfires.
For example, forests in the American West — like the one that burned in Waldo Canyon — account for some 20 to 40 percent of the total of carbon sequestration in the U.S., according to an article published in the leading journal Science. If we lose 50 percent of those forests, as University of Arizona fire expert Tom Swetnam says could happen by mid-century, we could see a 10 to 20 percent decrease in the amount of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide that U.S. ecosystems can remove from the atmosphere, which could exacerbate climate change.

To be sure, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated elsewhere that they have only “medium confidence” that climate change has altered current global drought patterns, according to a comprehensive summary in the Washington Post. Climate deniers can't get too cocky, though — even the IPCC report acknowledges that climate change is indeed occurring, and that we can indeed expect much more severe drought conditions in the next 30 years, worldwide. The bulk of scientific data certainly seems to refute some of the more pedestrian, casual dismissals of the long-term significance of the drought that have been popping up elsewhere in the media.

And even that aforementioned "medium confidence" (hardly grounds for skepticism) seems to be on the more conservative end of the spectrum. According to the Salon article, the scientific community's verdict ranges from a standoffish “if climate change is occurring, these are the impacts we would expect to see,” to scary factoids like this:

No such equivocation attends a Goddard Institute for Space Studies appraisal of the heat wave that assaulted Texas, Oklahoma, and northeastern Mexico last summer. Their report represents a sea change in high-level climate studies in that they boldly assert a causal link between specific weather events and global warming. The Texas heat wave, like a similar one in Russia the previous year, was so hot that its probability of occurring under “normal” conditions (defined as those prevailing from 1951 to 1980) was approximately 0.13%. It wasn’t a 100-year heat wave or even a 500-year one; it was so colossally improbable that only changes in the underlying climate could explain it.

Check out the full article for a lot more equally damning data.

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Philharmonic awarded $90,000 grant

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 at 10:46 AM

The Colorado Springs Philharmonic has announced it's been awarded $90,000 by the Mary K. Chapman Foundation, which focuses primarily on organizations in Tulsa, Okla., and Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs Philharmonic

According to the press release, the grant will be dispersed over the course of three years, and the Philharmonic will use the money primarily for its Philharmonic Pops series, which this year includes concerts devoted to the music of Led Zeppelin, John Williams and Broadway blockbusters, plus a screening of Casablanca accompanied by the orchestra.

The Philharmonic's 2012-2013 season starts Sept. 15 and 16 with The Pines of Rome, conducted by Josep Caballé-Domenech.

Read the full press release after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Sale of Gazette to 2100 Trust closes

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 at 10:25 AM

1339438199-mzl.png

It took 45 days instead of the anticipated 30, but the sale of Freedom Communications, which includes the Gazette, to 2100 Trust, LLC has closed.

Though terms were not disclosed, a press release says, "In conjunction with the completion of the merger, Freedom Communications has elected to make an additional one-time contribution to the Retirement Plan of Freedom Communications, Inc." The liabilities related to that plan — rumored to be somewhere between $100 million and $200 million — were thought to be one reason the deal took longer than announced.

“These last few years have been difficult ones for the media industry,” says outgoing chief executive officer Mitch Stern in the release. “The severe recession accompanied by swift changes in the methods by which people consume the news posed hard challenges to the industry. Freedom was no exception."

It's all brand new now, though, says incoming owner Aaron Kushner.

"For many years Freedom Communications has stood for journalistic excellence and dedication to the communities that it serves," he says. "We are honored to take the reins of such storied franchises and look forward to working with the many dedicated employees of our newspapers.”

Though the company is keeping the same name, it's not known whether it will continue to be based in California or somewhere else — 2100 Trust is a Boston company. Also, this may not be the last move for our daily, given that the Los Angeles Times reported when the sale was first announced that the Gazette will likely be flipped again before the end of the summer. Content director Carmen Boles has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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The 'Best' time of year

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 at 7:04 AM

Best Of Colorado Springs 2012

OK, as public service announcements go, it's pretty modest. But we do want you to know that voting in the Independent's annual Best Of Colorado Springs competition runs from Wednesday, Aug. 1, through the rest of the month.

When you place your votes — either at csindyballot.com or on a ballot from one of the next four Independent print editions — remember that you can tweet about it with the #IndyBO12 hashtag.

The issues announcing 2012's winners are scheduled for Oct. 17 and 24.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A victory for all the Paulians

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2012 at 6:06 PM

A fan of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul? Got a dog-eared copy of his book End the Fed on your bookshelf, and mises.org bookmarked on your internets?

Rep. Ron Paul
  • Rabblerousing U.S. Rep. Ron Paul

Well, congratulations, as today is an auspicious day in the career of Dr. No.

From ABC News:

The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the Texas Republican's bill to increase the transparency of the Federal Reserve. With bipartisan support, the measure passed 327-98.

For Paul, the path to getting his bill approved in the House has been a long, and often lonely one. He first introduced the bill to a skeptical House a decade ago. While his efforts were ignored at the time, the call to audit the Fed has gained support from mainstream Republicans and Democrats.

Our own Rep. Doug Lamborn voted in support of the measure, H.R. 459. He issued a press release trumpeting the vote:

Congress has the constitutional authority over the nation’s money supply, which it has delegated to the Federal Reserve. However, under current law, Congress is prohibited from looking into how the Fed manages that delegated authority.

“Since the beginning of our nation’s current financial crisis in 2008, the Federal Reserve has tripled its balance sheet through an unprecedented series of bailouts and economic interventions. Much of the Fed’s activities are off limits to Congress for review.

“This is unacceptable. H.R. 459 will open up the Fed’s books for a thorough audit. The American taxpayer deserves to know what is going on with their money.”— Doug Lamborn (CO-05)

But does the bill's passage through the House mean it's destined for the president's pen? It's got to get through the Democrat-controlled Senate first, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, appears unlikely.

A senior Democratic Senate leadership aide said there are no plans to bring the bill up in the Senate, but didn’t rule out an attempt by Republicans to seek a vote on the measure as part of another piece of legislation. The Senate would be almost certain to defeat it given the Democratic majority in the chamber.

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Occupy member to begin court proceedings

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Steve Bass
  • Steve Bass

Jury selection was set to begin today in the case of a former Occupy Colorado Springs protester, according to Patrick Jay, a member of the local Occupy.

Steve Bass, as we reported last year, was the first person to be ticketed by the Colorado Springs police under the city's new "No Camping Ordinance." It was a dubious honor for Bass, who set up his tent in Acacia Park during a local Occupy protest.

Bass was participating in the Occupy Colorado Springs protest. He says others were allowed to sleep in the park, despite having been given previous warnings, because they did not set up tents. Bass violated the ordinance on purpose and hopes his case will challenge the law, which he sees as unfair. He notes that he's a longtime volunteer for services for the homeless.

According to Jay, Bass is being represented by counsel in the trial. He also notes that it interesting that media have reported on the recent arrest of another man as the city's first-ever arrest under the controversial ban.

"The news article omitted mention of the arrest and prosecution of Steve Bass begun last year. Was this an acknowledgement that the November 2011 citation in Acacia Park was to curb protest, not manage vagrancy?" Jay asks in a press statement.

The jury trial will begin Aug. 10.

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Where were city engines during the Waldo Canyon Fire?

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2012 at 4:46 PM

As reported in "Seeing through the haze," in today's Independent, not all the Colorado Springs Fire Department apparatus assigned to the Waldo Canyon Fire were in positions to combat the fire at any given time.

As of today, we haven't been able to find out why that is. City officials have chosen not to address many questions about their part in the planning, staging and oversight of fire resources, and evacuations.

Perhaps the assigned resources not deployed to the fire site were considered "pre-designated resources," as referenced in the Tuesday, June 26, operational plan written by the Type 1 Incident Command team the previous night. In the control operations section about the "Colorado Springs Branch," for which Springs fire officials Steve Dubay, Ted Collas and Steve Riker served as branch directors, the report notes:

"Pre-designated resources will resond [sic] under supervision of OPBD [branch directors] in the event fire crosses the forest/Colorado Springs City Boundary."

The report also notes, "Structure point protection and IA [initial attack] along western boundary of Colo Spgs from US Hwy 24 & 31st Street to the Northern Colo Spgs boundary with USAFA [Air Force Academy]. Continued improvement of two track 'Navigators Road' from quary [sic] northward to Wilson Tank, and from Wilson Tank northeast to Allegheny Rd."

Here's a recent photo of the area immediately south of Allegheny Road.

Regardless, the Independent obtained Global Positioning System coordinates for the locations of every CSFD apparatus assigned to the fire at key points between June 23 and June 26.

Here's a Google Earth map based on the coordinates given for approximately 5:15 p.m., Tuesday, June 26, the time the city issued a press release telling residents in north Mountain Shadows and Peregrine to evacuate, even as fire rushed into their neighborhoods and began destroying 345 homes. Two people, Barbara and William Everett, were killed.

The pink dots are Springs Fire resources the city says were assigned to the fire. Click on the map to see a larger version.

Waldo Canyon Fire, locations
  • All locations were reported within 55 minutes of 5:15 p.m.; all but three were reported within 30 minutes of that time.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

City Council approves PPRTA II

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 5:17 PM

road
  • Ziggy_Mo

Following an unexpected closed executive session, City Council approved the intergovernmental agreement for the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority II ballot issue at today's formal City Council meeting.

Council, which also approved the PPRTA projects list, made one minor adjustment to the RTA language, specifying that money should be allocated for second-priority projects, or "B-list" projects, based on population. The stipulation ensures that Colorado Springs will get the lion's share of PPRTA funding once the highest-priority projects are complete.

PPRTA II will provide millions for transportation improvements if passed by voters in November. The sales tax-based funding would continue for 10 years, and is considered a second phase of the original 10-year PPRTA that voters passed previously in 2004, which is generally viewed positively.

Several El Paso County commissioners spoke to Councilors about the amendment to the RTA language. All said they would accept the change, though some seemed displeased by it. Commissioner Peggy Littleton noted that Colorado Springs residents used roads outside of the city, and that small towns like Manitou Springs were big tourist draws that brought in money for the Springs. The region, she said, is connected, and PPRTA funding should reflect that.

Littleton also noted that all PPRTA member governments, from El Paso County to Ramah to Manitou Springs, would need to approve the amendment. And there's no guarantee they will.

But other commissioners seemed less worried. Sallie Clark left the room with a smile.

"That was fast!" she told the Indy.

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Information on Aug. 28 election, at last

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Colorado Springs Memorial Health System

The Colorado Springs City Clerk's Office has finally made information available about the Aug. 28 special election.

We've been surprised that for at least two weeks, there's been nothing on the city's website about the election. Now, the city is outlining how to register (with just four days left) and how the Waldo Canyon Fire victims will need to go about getting a ballot.

The election is about one question only: Should the city lease city-owned Memorial Health System to the University of Colorado Health System for 40 years? Go here to see the lease and other documents surrounding the proposed transaction, including info on the foundation that will spend the proceeds from the lease.

Here's voting information:

On August 28, 2012, the City of Colorado Springs will hold a special municipal election to vote on the request for authorization to lease Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health. This election will be held by mail-in ballot only. The deadline to register to vote in this election is July 30, 2012. Voted ballots must be received in the City Clerk’s Office or designated drop-off site by 7 p.m. on election night, August 28, 2012. Election Information, Drop-off site locations and Voter registration forms are available at www.springsgov.com/election or at the City Clerk’s Office, 30 S. Nevada Avenue, Suite 101.

Important information regarding mail-in ballots

· Ballots will be mailed the week of August 6, 2012. Ballots cannot be forwarded or held and undeliverable ballots will be sent back to City Clerk's office.
· Ballots will be mailed to the address on record for all active voters registered with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder. Ballots will be mailed to residential addresses unless a mailing address is listed on the voter’s registration.
· Any active registered voter who is absent from their home for any reason, qualifies for an absentee ballot. See FAQ section below on requesting an absentee ballot.

Important for those who have been displaced by the Waldo Canyon Fire

· The USPS is holding mail indefinitely at the Rockrimmon Post Office, 5001 Centennial Blvd, for Mountain Shadows residents whose homes were destroyed or whose mail box is not accessible due to fire damage. However, if a resident filed a change of address with the USPS, the ballot will be returned as undeliverable to the City Clerk's Office since ballots may not be forwarded. You have some options:
o Update your voter registration mailing address by July 30, 2012
o Submit an application for an absentee ballot
o Visit the City Clerk's Office to obtain a replacement ballot
· Visit www.springsgov.com/election for information on how to update your voter registration or obtain an absentee ballot application.

FAQs

ABSENTEE BALLOTS -
WHAT IF I AM AWAY FROM MY RESIDENCE WHEN THE BALLOTS ARE MAILED?

If you will be at an address different from your registered address, you can request an absentee ballot be mailed to you at the address you will be staying. A written application must be submitted for each person requesting an absentee ballot.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to the voter is August 21, 2012, or to request it in person, August 24, 2012. Information and Application Forms are available at www.springsgov.com/election or at the City Clerk’s Office, 30 S. Nevada Ave., Suite 101.

WHAT IF I DON’T RECEIVE MY BALLOT?
If you are an active registered voter and do not receive a ballot, contact the City Clerk’s Office at (719) 385-5901. If your voter registration is verified and current, we will inform you of the procedure to obtain a replacement ballot.

WHY DIDN’T I GET A BALLOT?
Ballots are mailed to all active registered voters at an address within the city limits of Colorado Springs.

If you did not get a ballot, it could be because:

· You moved and did not change your voter registration address; or, you had your mail held or forwarded temporarily because you were out of town
(Election Ballots WILL NOT be held or forwarded by the Post Office; they will be returned to the City Clerk as Undeliverable — the exception to this is for Mountain Shadows residents whose homes were destroyed or whose mail box is not accessible due to fire damage — see Waldo Canyon Fire information above)
· You live outside city limits
· You are not a registered voter
· Your voter status is inactive (if you did not vote in the previous November election, your voter registration may be inactive).
· You can visit www.springsgov.com/election to learn how to register to vote or update your existing voter registration.

WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR RETURNING THE BALLOT?

The ballot must be received in the City Clerk’s Office or designated drop-off site by 7 p.m. on election night (August 28, 2012).

WHAT IS THE POSTAGE REQUIRED IF I CHOOSE TO MAIL MY BALLOT?
First class postage, 45 cents, is required for ballots being mailed. If you need to provide a copy of your identification because your return envelope is marked ID REQUIRED, you may need more postage. A 45-cent first-class stamp is only sufficient if your return envelope weighs 1 oz. or less. If in doubt, check with your Postmaster.

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Care and Share + Chick-fil-A = controversy

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Lynne Telford
  • Lynne Telford
If you're a nonprofit that's hoping to lie low and stay out of politics, you probably want to stay as far away from Chick-fil-A as possible these days.

The fast-food chain, known for its chicken sandwiches, caused quite a stir recently when its CEO announced that the company supported only traditional marriage — meaning it is opposed to gay marriage.

Since then, the company has been condemned by Miss Piggy, among other high-profile folks, and embraced by staunch conservatives like former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The latter is calling for a Chick-fil-A appreciation day on Aug. 1, when all people who don't think gay people deserve the same rights as the rest of us can make a statement by devouring a saturated-fat-laden sandwich.

Michelle Obama would be so proud.

Anyway, the controversy has left Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado in an "awkward position." CEO Lynne Telford explains that the charity's annual Chick-fil-A food drive is scheduled for tomorrow. The deal is pretty straightforward: Bring two nonperishable food items for Care and Share to your local Chick-fil-A, and get a free chicken sandwich.

It's all a part of Care and Share's annual summer-long drive, the Independence From Hunger Campaign. Local groceries stores and other businesses also participate. The goal is to help the charity ride out a slow summer donation season, because needs are typically high in the warm months, mostly because children are no longer being fed free lunch at school.

Now, local LGBT activists are calling on Telford to either cancel the Chick-fil-A drive, or at least make a statement that clarifies that the charity doesn't agree with Chick-fil-A. Local realtor and activist Carolyn Cathey sent an e-mail to her contacts this morning, urging them to write Telford letters and e-mails. Reached by phone, Cathey says Chick-fil-A has sent a message of divisiveness that isn't needed in Colorado Springs.

“What is important is that we show a face of inclusiveness or we’ll never get to a place where we overcome our monogram of being the city of hate,” she says.

Cathey says she thought it may be difficult to cancel the food drive at this point, but that she hoped Care and Share would at least acknowledge the issue.

Telford confirms that the drive will go on.

“We accept money from every legal organization without regard to their politics," she tells the Indy. "We have 12,000 donors in a year, and clearly there’s going to be a lot different things.”

That said, Telford says she does find the situation uncomfortable. She stresses that Chick-fil-A put no restrictions how donations are used, and that Care and Share is an open and accepting nonprofit.

“It is awkward, but we’re trying to feed people — that's what we’re trying to do, and we set this up a long time before any of this came up," she says. "We’re grateful for the food. The summer donations are down because everyone donated to the Waldo Canyon Fire, and we need to respect the people who wanted that food to go to the victims, and so we can’t use that for our normal operations.”

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McEvoy writes to patients (sort of)

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Larry McEvoy. Does that name ring a bell?

While everyone thought he'd been sent packing, he's still sending letters to patients even two months after he left the post of city-owned Memorial Health System's CEO.

Colorado Springs Memorial Health System
  • McEvoy: Still a presence on paper.

Those letters accompany surveys to recent patients of Memorial. One patient who used Memorial's Urgent Care facility received a letter dated July 16 from McEvoy. In it, he explains the importance of filling out the questionnaire — to "help us improve care for future patients and their families."

Then the letter is signed "Lawrence R. McEvoy, II, M.D., Chief Executive Officer."

The last anyone heard of McEvoy was in May when the Memorial board of trustees voted to give him a severance package worth $1.15 million, more than twice what his contract called for. The traveling money drew the ire of City Council, which ousted the board and appointed all new members.

Here's how Memorial spokesman Brian Newsome explains the use of McEvoy's name two months after his departure:

The survey this patient received was part of our ongoing effort to measure employee, physician and patient satisfaction.

We use a company, Press Ganey, to perform this service and administer these
surveys. At the time of Larry's departure, we immediately notified Press
Ganey of this news, with instructions to update the letters.

We are not sure why this was not done at that time, as requested, but we
are working with Press Ganey to resolve this issue as quickly as possible
and ensure no more letters go out with these incorrect signatures.

Patient satisfaction scores are a critical part of our mission to provide
the highest quality health care. They are a key measure in helping us make
improvements.

We apologize for any confusion this may have caused our patients, and we
urge anyone receiving this survey to fill it out and help make the patient
experience better.

Don't forget there's a special election Aug. 28 to vote on the proposed lease of Memorial to the University of Colorado Health. More info on balloting is here.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

City needs money, as 2013 budget talks begin

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 6:30 PM

No surprises here: The city needs money. Lots and lots of it.

At Monday’s informal City Council meeting, City Councilors and Mayor Steve Bach took in the extent of the problem.

For starters, the city has $498 million in backlogged capital stormwater projects, with over $86 million of it listed as “high-priority.” More is needed for maintenance, and given the high probability that water flowing off the Waldo Canyon burn scar will lead to flooding, the needs are more urgent than ever.

The city spent about $3.5 million on stormwater maintenance this year. Bach says he thinks about $15 million a year would be more appropriate — though he has no idea how to fund it. But regional governmental leaders are planning to form groups to look at the issue and search for a regional solution, which might include a tax or fee.

“I think at some point we’re going to have to accept the fact that it’s going to cost money,” Council President Scott Hente said, “and the money’s got to come from somewhere.”

City leaders also heard a preview of the 2013 city budget. Department head after department head paraded in front of Council, highlighting millions in critical needs, from hiring firefighters to watering parks.

Chief of Staff Laura Neumann, who is in charge of the budget process, noted that revenues are expected to increase by $4 to $5 million in 2013 over 2012 budgeted amounts, but overhead costs will increase about $3 million, operational costs will increase at least $5 million, and the city has hundreds of million in unfunded needs, including the costs of overtime for emergency personnel fighting the Waldo Canyon Fire. The latter is expected to run around $3.5 million, with the federal government picking up to 75 percent of the tab.

“It’s kind of staggering when you’re putting together the 2013 budget and trying to consider years ahead,” Neumann said.

Neumann seemed to be looking high and low for ways to save money, noting that the city’s legal department is looking for loopholes that would allow the city to pay an artificially low rate to water parks. A streetlight study is also being performed to determine if the city can do with less light. Lawyers are looking for any way to switch new city employees to a 401k plan instead of a pension. And Neumann plans to see if money could be saved by combining some city administrative functions with Colorado Springs Utilities.

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Man just wanted to see a movie

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 6:03 PM

I've been 23 years old and about to be a new father. I've gone through the hospital system, incurring major costs along the way, with no insurance. But I've never been brutally attacked while I watched a movie.

Caleb Medley, a victim of the violence in Aurora, has experienced all of these things, however. His father-in-law, David Sanchez, an electrician at Schriever Air Force Base, spoke with the Denver Post about his son-in-law's state.

"He is in stable but critical condition and they are monitoring his condition," Sanchez told reporter Jeremy Meyer.

A visit to Medley's website reveals a little bit more about the rough road ahead.


Caleb is now in the ICU, on the ventilator. The surgeon told us he will be in the ICU for one to two weeks if not longer, and is fighting for his life. He has been to surgery twice already, has received over 4 liters of blood, and must go back to get his right eye removed and the pellets from the shot gun removed.

Caleb is a friend, a husband, a son, and about to be a father. Caleb and his family have no insurance, and these hospital bills are going to be well into the hundreds of thousands if not millions. Caleb and Katie will be struggling with these hospital bills for the rest of their lives. So I ask anyone who can donate anything, to please do so for these marvelous people that do not deserve any of this that happened to them. If you cannot donate, please spread the word for Caleb, his family, and all the other victims from this horrible tragedy. If you would like to talk to me, and ask any questions, please feel free to do so. My number is 719-369-7208 or email me at westiclus@yahoo.com.

A fund set up to pay for the aspiring comedian's mounting medical bills has raised $30,634 at the time of this writing. It was around $26,000 half an hour ago, so it seems that the community's doing what it has done all these past months: taking care of its own.

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