This week's restaurant review takes us to Denver and the much-lauded (and recently rebooted and upsized) Squeaky Bean. Co-owners Johnny Ballen and Max MacKissock are doing really kick-ass things with food, and we think it's definitely worth a stop the next time you're northward. (And just to clarify: Every few months, we're folding in out-of-Colorado-Springs reviews for those who like to flex their travel muscles. We're also reviewing local dining classics, like Swiss Chalet or the Sunbird, at about the same pace.)
Anyway, what follows are photos taken by my coworker, Matthew Schniper, of our dinner at the Bean. Check the review for exactly why we freaked out over the following, and enjoy.
Ron Butlin, executive director of the influential Downtown Partnership, has "stepped down" from his post.
Calls by the Indy to the Partnership this afternoon have thus far gone unanswered, but it appears that Butlin did not leave entirely of his own free will, as his resignation is "effective immediately" and a press release did not indicate that he had another position. Butlin said in a press release that he felt a "new era" was opening up for downtown and that he hoped a new leader would handle the changes.
Mayor Steve Bach has been very involved in proposing changes for downtown, which he views as key to Colorado Springs' economic success, though it's not clear whether it was specifically the mayor's influence or objectives that led to Butlin's departure.
Butlin's resignation comes on the heels of another big shake-up in a downtown institution that the mayor had a keen interest in. The city's chamber of commerce and economic development corporation merged earlier in the year into the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, and former leaders were ousted.
Here are the details:
Downtown Partnership executive director Ron Butlin stepping down
Ron Butlin, executive director of the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership, the lead organization for planning, advocating and promoting a vibrant downtown Colorado Springs, today announced that he will resign his post, effective immediately.
Butlin became involved in downtown as a vice president of Classic Commercial, working to redevelop southwest downtown. He was selected as executive director of the Downtown Partnership in 2008. During his tenure, his accomplishments have included:
* Helped implement form-based code and a downtown review board to encourage downtown-appropriate construction and facilitate residential development
* Brought record crowds downtown for events like the Olympic Downtown Party, as part of the Downtown * * * Development Authority's economic development plans
* Streetscape improvements and beautification, which recently won an award from the Historic Preservation Alliance of Colorado Springs
"It's been a pleasure to collaborate with the diverse business people, philanthropists and citizens who love downtown," Butlin said. "There's a new era coming to downtown, and I'm stepping down so that someone else can lead us through those changes. I've accomplished what I set out to do, and I'm ready for a new chapter in my career."
"Ron has faithfully served Colorado Springs downtowners and our city for four years," said Sam Eppley, chair of the Downtown Partnership board. "He has expertly guided us through the toughest economic times seen in decades. We are very sad to see him go and wish him every success in his next endeavor."
Hannah Parsons, a downtown business owner, Business Improvement District board member and chair of the downtown marketing committee, will serve as interim director during a local search for a permanent replacement.
The Air Force Academy has released a statement about this year's "First Shirt/First Snow" event. Turns out that the original injury tally was too low: Actually, 27 cadets were hurt, six of whom were taken to a local hospital.
Here's the release from spokesman John Van Winkle:
News Release #158
Oct. 31, 2012
CADET INJURIES OCCUR AT USAFA
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo., — On Thursday evening, Oct. 25, 2012, cadets participated in an unauthorized, unofficial practice known as "First Shirt/First Snow."
The practice occurs after the first snow of the season, when freshmen cadets try to throw their cadet first sergeant in the snow. The incident resulted in 27 cadets sustaining injuries. Six of these cadets were taken to a local hospital, and have since been released. The 21 other cadets received medical attention for bruises and/or lacerations at the cadet clinic.
Most cadets did not participate.
Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, Commandant of Cadets, upon learning of the incident, immediately disseminated information to the cadets and spoke with all cadets about the incident at two Commandant's Calls on Saturday.
"A relatively small number of cadets chose to take part in this unsafe activity. This incident was unacceptable," said General Lengyel. "Our Air Force expects better. I expect better, and I'm confident the cadets will learn and grow from this."
General Lengyel also emphasized with the entire Cadet Wing:
* Good military units set and enforce high standards and maintain good order and discipline;
* Incidents of this kind are not in accordance with good order and discipline and they are not condoned in the Air Force;
* We teach and practice Risk Management, where we analyze the risk for all activities, and activities like this are not worth the risk of injury or other serious consequences.
Academy officials are investigating the incident, and appropriate measures will be taken.
——- ORIGINAL POST, 12:55 P.M., WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31 ——-
After dealing with a sexual assault scandal in 2003, a religious bias controversy in 2005 and several cheating and drug-use incidents in recent years, the U.S. Air Force Academy apparently now is coping with a hazing-type incident so violent that 23 cadets required medical attention after the event last Thursday.
The news comes via an internal e-mail from Brig. Gen. Dana Born to academy department leaders, obtained by the Independent this morning. (Though its existence initially was news to academy spokesman John Van Winkle, he now says it appears to be authentic.)
“First Shirt/First Snow,” Born writes, is a longstanding tradition. But last week, she says, “A number of cadet squadrons did not keep things under control which resulted in 23 cadets needing medical care, from stitches to concussions to treatment of a human bite on the arm.”
On the night of the first snow of the season, the smacks storm the first sergeant's room, kidnap him, strip him down to his boxers and carry him outside to drag him around in the snow.
Of course, fraternities, sports teams, clubs and even dormitory-floor neighbors engage in plenty of dubious traditions at colleges and universities. But you’d hope that our “officers of character” would refrain at least from biting each other.
Born goes on to say, “Obviously, this has gotten out of hand and cannot be repeated. There is no way we can condone or defend this.”
Van Winkle says the academy is working on a statement in response to the Indy's request for a comment on Born's e-mail message. We will post it as soon as we receive it.
In the meantime, here’s the full text of Born’s e-mail:
From: Born, Dana H Brig Gen USAF USAFA USAFA/DF
Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2012 10:40 AM
Subject: AFTER-ACTION: "First Shirt/First Snow" Tradition?
BACKGROUND: Per the Commandant —- On Thursday night the cadets carried out a ritual known as “First Shirt/First Snow”, a “tradition” that goes back to an unknown time in the past since we’ve added cadet First Sergeant’s to the Cadet Squadrons. This ritual has devolved to become increasingly violent, with significant numbers of cadets requiring medical care over the past two years. What used to be 4 degrees throwing the first shirt into the snow has turned into a brawl between upperclassmen defending the first sergeant and the 4 degrees trying to capture the first sergeant.
DETAILS: We’ve learned many cadets did not participate. Many cadet squadrons kept things under control. A number of cadet squadrons did not keep things under control which resulted in 23 cadets needing medical care, from stitches to concussions to treatment of a human bite on the arm.
BOTTOM-LINE: Obviously, this has gotten out of hand and cannot be repeated. There is no way we can condone or defend this.
WAY-AHEAD: Our Commandant, Brig Gen Greg Lengyel, held two Commandant’s calls this past Saturday and the message reached about 90% of the cadet wing.
A few of his talking points for us to reinforce with our faculty and cadets:
· Good military units set and enforce high standards and maintain good order and discipline.
o Hall brawls are not IAW good order and discipline and they don’t happen in the USAF. The Airmen don’t attack the NCO’s and the Officers don’t brawl with each other.
· In the Air Force we teach and practice Risk Management, where we analyze the risk vs. gain for a given operation.
o The gain of keeping a “tradition” and having fun is not worth the risk of seriously injuring a cadet (loss of PQ or commission).
· This was unacceptable and could not be allowed to happen again, but he left a window open for them to come to him with a proposal for how, in the future, they would execute this within boundaries of good order and discipline and proper risk management.
PLEASE SHARE MESSAGE W/ DF FACULTY AND STAFF: This could potentially still be a hot topic of discussion around the campus this week and I would appreciate any reinforcement of these Commandant’s talking points by Faculty and staff with the cadets.
DANA H. BORN, Brig Gen, USAF
Dean of the Faculty
Note: Reporter Pam Zubeck contributed to this post.
For the celiac sufferers out there, news of a really, truly good gluten-free beer in this week's Dine & Dash column hopefully comes as a welcome surprise.
But in case anyone remains skeptical that Widmer Brothers' brewers can actually extract all the gluten they say they can from the malted barley, I offer the following press release provided by the company, which has additional insight into the gluten-stripping process.
The popular magazine Christianity Today published an article a few days ago questioning the IRS' complete lack of action when it comes to churches violating IRS regulations.
We wrote about such violations a couple weeks back when some local evangelical pastors took part in the fifth Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a nationwide movement of pastors interrupting their regular Sunday sermons to their congregations
to vote for Mitt Romney how to vote.
The strategy is to draw the IRS into a lengthy court proceedings, with the ultimate goal being to overturn the the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which banned certain nonprofits from engaging in partisan speech. The churches participating in the movement are aggressively challenging the law, some going so far as sending copies of their politics-laden sermons to the IRS.
The idea, explains Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with [Alliance Defending Freedom], is to push the issue into court. Then, he says, "We will have a test case, and we will seek to have the Johnson Amendment declared unconstitutional."
Then-Texas Sen. Lyndon Johnson introduced the amendment in 1954 to deal with what he thought was inappropriate campaigning by tax-exempt entities. But Stanley says it infringes on the First Amendment's guarantee to religious freedom.
"You don't get more to the core of religious freedom than a pastor preaching from the pulpit on a Sunday morning." Pulpit Freedom Sunday is less about the restriction on talking about candidates and elections, he says, than "the fact that there is a restriction on the pulpit at all. What we are trying to do is remove an unconstitutional restriction."
And the IRS has, so far, done nothing.
Christianity Today reports that though the IRS only recently announced a moratorium on church audits, Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund), says a moratorium has essentially been in effect since 2009.
An IRS official at the level of regional commissioner or above is required to approve any church audits before they are initiated, according to a law passed in 1984. But in 1996, Congress reorganized the IRS from geographical regions to national practice groups—a move that eliminated the office of regional commissioner.
"The IRS designated an official within [its] exempt organizations section to be the one to approve the church audits," Stanley said.
But that position did not rank high enough to be adequate, the court decided after a Minnesota church challenged the legitimacy of their audit in 2009.
"The IRS shut down all church audits at the time," Stanley said. The agency proposed new regulations in 2009, but never got past the review process, he said.
"After that, it has taken absolutely no action on finalizing the regulations," he said. "They've just been sitting out there."
It wouldn't be a good idea to give much more of Becoming Van Gogh away, but in the course of writing our story of the Denver Art Museum show, I ended up with a lot of great material left I just couldn't help but to share.
Like, for instance, the fact that Van Gogh attempted four careers before becoming a full-time artist. And in each of those endeavors — art clerk, theologist, school teacher, evangelical preacher — Becoming curator Timothy J. Standring says, he failed.
And that, despite his stalling push to spread the faith in south Belgium, he still tried to convey a religious message in his early artwork. Those efforts, though earnest and energetic, are dark and rustic. “He liked worn-out subjects," says Louis van Tilborgh, senior researcher of paintings for the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, who helped curate the show.
This goes on for about five years. And Van Gogh's teaching himself to draw and paint in the process.
“He scrambled," says Standring. "He had to learn how to draw as fast as he could because he wanted to do these kind of moralizing subject matter.”
Then, says Standring, in 1885 he visits the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national art museum: “And he goes through this gigantic, this titanic shift and he discovers color."
With that, Van Gogh slows down on drawing and figures, and begins to focus on color and still lifes. All these elements that before felt "frivolous" to the didactic artist absorb every part of Van Gogh's oeuvre. Now, even portraits get the color treatment, which the DAM displays in two paintings that portray the postman Joseph Roulen and his wife and daughter.
And while the hues verge on electric and the tense brushwork trembles, typical of the artist we know so well, Standring insists that Van Gogh is still learning and borrowing.
“If you took this into ochers and dark colors, you’d find that it’s nothing more than a Frans Hals 17th-century portrait, and that this is based on a prototype that he had seen at the Rijksmuseum by Rembrandt of a mother and a child together.”
And there is one thing that Tilborgh would like to also teach: How to correctly pronounce Van Gogh's name.
It's like this.
But the 31-year-old Democrat says his experience thus far has been anything but easy. Around three weeks ago, he says, he received his ballot and set it aside. Late last week, he ripped it open and discovered a ballot for the June 26 Democratic primary.
"I was like, uh, this is not what I'm looking for," he remembers.
After Dorrance brought his ballot into the Independent, we called El Paso County Elections Manager Liz Olsen. Olsen explained that based on markings on the envelope (which contains no postage stamp) she believes the ballot was mailed back in June. But it's possible that it got misplaced, or was lost in the mail for a time. Olsen's computer also showed that a November election ballot had been mailed to Dorrance, though Dorrance says he hasn't received one.
Dorrance has tried to get a replacement ballot at the county clerk's office, but says he was told that a glitch in the computer system wouldn't allow one to be printed. He's been told to wait for a second mail ballot to be sent to him, but says he may just try to vote at an early voting site.
One would hope that most voters aren't experiencing the same difficulties as Dorrance.
Ordinarily, Olsen says mail ballot voters who don't receive a November ballot can simply go down to a county clerk's office and get a replacement ballot through election day, or bring an ID to an early voting site through Friday and vote there.
If you've long been registered for mail ballots and haven't yet received one, Olsen suggests getting a replacement ballot or going to an early voting site.
Tonight at 7, the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council will be hosting a live interrogation of several political candidates, all for your voting (and viewing) pleasure. Actually, the aforementioned will be more like a pleasurable mixer at the Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery, but the "questions" part still stands.
"Join us for the last mixer of the year as we bring important candidates from across Southern Colorado to meet our entrepreneurs and enterprises," reads a notice of the event. "Don't miss the chance to introduce yourself to current and future leaders at County, State, and City levels. With Amendment 64, new MMED rules, and an important national election just around the corner, you don't want to miss this opportunity to represent yourself professionally and sensibly to the people making decisions impacting your future."
Hey, all you political junkies, have I got news for you.
Tuesday night, Bob Loevy and Thomas Cronin, both Colorado College professors, will be discussing their new book, Colorado Policy and Politics: Governing a Purple State.
Gail Klapper of the Colorado Forum had this to say in the press release:
Tom Cronin and Bob Loevy have captured the complexities of Colorado policy-making in this wonderful book. It clearly explains the challenges our state faces: conflicting constitutional measures; our inclination toward direct democracy through initiatives; and the personalities and organizations that sometimes join hands and sometimes oppose each other as measures move through the system. It's a fascinating read.
The event will begin at 6 tomorrow evening at will be held in the Cornerstone Arts Center at 825 N. Cascade Ave. It is free.
The full press release below.
Often accused of a bent toward fundamental Christianity, the Air Force Academy will hold its Biannual Religious Respect Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday. But its biggest critic, Mikey Weinstein, won't be there.
The conference will outline the academy's Religious Respect Training Program and provide an update of USAFA's ongoing religious training efforts since the last conference in November 2010.
The academy says in a news release:
Conference attendees will comprise a widely diverse mix of religious affiliations (please see list below). Some of this year's attendees include representatives from Earth Centered faiths, Judaism, Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Assemblies of God, Islam, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, United Church of Christ, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, and others. .
Attendees will review and discuss the new Religious Respect Training Program for cadets that includes training in both the Establishment and Free Exercise of Religion clauses of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. It institutionalizes religious respect training among cadets and provides strategies for facilitating the accommodation of religious practice in the military environment as Second Lieutenants in the United States Air Force.
But the conference won't include anyone representing secularists, humanists, atheists, agnostics or Freethinkers, notes Weinstein, a 1977 grad who established the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in 2005 after learning from cadets that Jews were vilified at the academy.
Weinstein has been a presenter at the academy in the past, but not this year.
"The United States Air Force Academy has deliberately planned and marketed this ignominious propaganda travesty, which they disingenuously call a 'Religious Respect Conference', in a blatantly stealth and mean-spirited, exclusivist manner which reeks of bigoted travesty and blatant betrayal of good faith and inclusive diversity," Weinstein says in a statement.
He notes that MRFF currently has 372 clients at the academy, 317 of whom are Christian and another 19 follow other established faith traditions like Islam, Buddhism and Judaism.
He also says, "Look, I've just spent the last four days at the Academy and have had scores of MRFF clients plead with me to my face to even more aggressively expose the fundamentalist Christian oppression which continues unabated there. This 'Conference' is a Poster Child example of this tyranny. MRFF's numerous Academy clients are furious, desperate and terribly hurt about this latest action of unconstitutional religious theater of the absurd. This Academy sponsored 'Religious Respect Conference' is absolutely akin to the KKK hosting an 'African American Appreciation Conference'."
We asked the academy why the non-believers weren't included, but haven't heard back. We'll update if and when we do.
Here's a list of non-academy attendees supplied by the academy:
ACURA, Executive Committee Member
Ms. Kate Holbrook - Representative
Air Education and Training Command Chaplain
Chaplain, Colonel Steve Schaick
American Civil Liberties Union
Mr. Loring Wirbel - Representative
Assemblies of God
CAPTAIN (Ret), Chaplain Charles W. Marvin, USN - Endorser
Associated Gospel Chaplains
CAPTAIN (Ret), Chaplain Steve Brown, USN - Endorser
Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA
Diocese of Colorado Springs, Bishop Michael Sheridan - Representative
Buddhist Churches of America
Reverend Jerry Hirano - Representative
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Chaplain
Colonel (Ret) Frank W. Clawson, USAF - Endorser
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ
Dr. E. Richard Crabtree - Representative
Rocky Mountain Region Director, Anti-Defamation League
Mr. Scott Levin
Earth Centered Spirituality
Reverend David L. Oringderff, PhD - Endorser
Federal Ministries of the Episcopal Church
Canon to the Ordinary (Bishop of Colorado) - The Reverend Canon Carl Andrews - Representative
Islamic Society of Colorado
Imam Mohamed Jodeh - Representative
Interfaith Alliance Foundation
Ms. Arielle Gingold - Representative
Pikes Peak Interreligious Clergy Alliance (PPIRCA)
Mr. Steve Brown - President
United Church of Christ, Chaplain
Reverend Stephen Boyd - Endorser
USAF Chief of Chaplain Corps
Chaplain, Colonel Scott Gardner
PACAF Command Chaplain
Chaplain, Colonel Dondi Costin
ACC Command Chaplain
Chaplain, Colonel Scott Ofsdahl
AFMC Command Chaplain
Chaplain, Colonel Harry Mathis
AFSC Command Chaplain
Chaplain, Colonel Brett Oxman
The Pensions Solutions Team is expected to provide the mayor with recommendations on reducing city pension costs by Feb. 2013.
Most city employees are members of the state pension plan, the Public Employees Retirement Association of Colorado (PERA), though the city has separate pension accounts for firefighters and police officers. Pension costs have risen in recent years, and are expected to continue to grow. Bach has said that he expects costs to exceed revenues in the city in the years to come, and has identified pensions as a major cause of the shift.
“The City's current pension plans are not fiscally sustainable and if not changed will lead to General Fund insolvency," the mayor stated in a press release. "It is essential that the plans be modified for long term sustainability."
The Pensions Solutions Team will be led by CPA Marv Strait. Other members include CPA Kurt Kofford, retired businessman David Sunderland, two City Council members to be announced, City Chief of Staff Laura Neumann, City Chief Financial Officer Kara Skinner, and City Human Resources Director Mike Sullivan.
Here's a cool film site that's new to me: Tugg.
And here's how it works:
As of this posting time, the organizer needs 57 more folks in order to reach the goal of 85 seats sold, which thereby launches the screening.
The award-winning film takes aim at teenage girls living in the U.S. who were adopted from China due to the country's "One Child Policy." Check out the trailer below.
The U.S. Forest Service is beginning its study of the Bear Creek watershed just outside of Colorado Springs, which is the last home of Colorado's state fish, the threatened greenback cutthroat trout.
The Indy ran an extensive article on the greenback, its fascinating history, and the current controversy over its preservation here.
The Forest Service study is the first step in offering better protection to the fish. The study will look at the current condition of the watershed, and how current activities — such as motorcycling — are affecting the health of the area.
When the study is complete, the Forest Service will use it to make recommendations for changes to the area that could include, for instance, moving trails further from the creek.
Next, the Forest Service will do a National Environmental Policy Act study, which will determine if proposed changes are, indeed, the best move for the watershed and what effects they will have. The NEPA will ultimately determine if the changes will happen and how they will take place.
The two studies could take years to complete, and there are plenty of opportunities for public comment along the way. Read on:
U.S. FOREST SERVICE BEGINS BEAR CREEK WATERSHED ASSESSMENT
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Oct. 26, 2012 — Bear Creek on the Pike National Forest is home to the sole remaining population of pure greenback cutthroat trout. This recent discovery has prompted the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to review management of the Bear Creek watershed in El Paso and Teller Counties.
According to Forest Supervisor Jerri Marr, “Given the unique status of the population, we want to ensure our management in the watershed is conducive to the conservation and protection of this rare trout.”
An interdisciplinary team of resource specialists will be conducting a comprehensive review of activities in the watershed. This assessment will describe the current situation and identify key issues affecting the watershed. The outcome will identify opportunities to improve management and provide recommendations for future action. No decisions on future management will be made through the watershed assessment.
We invite the public to visit the USFS website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/psicc for more specific information about the watershed assessment and to view related documents. The public may offer comments regarding key issues and opportunities for improved management by December 1, 2012.
Questions and comments concerning the watershed assessment effort should be directed to Mike Welker, Forest Biologist, at 719-553-1515; email at: email@example.com; or mail correspondence to: U.S. Forest Service, Bear Creek Watershed Assessment, 2840 Kachina Drive, Pueblo, CO 81008.
Following completion of the watershed assessment, the USFS expects to move quickly into a NEPA process, which will also offer a public comment opportunity before decisions are made and projects are implemented.
The Bear Creek watershed is an important recreational area along the Front Range of Colorado. The creek is located on the east slope of Pikes Peak, beginning upstream of Jones Park five miles southwest of Colorado Springs and flowing northeast to Fountain Creek. The entire greenback population is found in 4.1 miles of the stream, of which 1.6 miles are on the Pike National Forest, Pikes Peak Ranger District.
The greenback cutthroat is the State Fish of Colorado and is also listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Construction crews will shutdown one northbound lane of the interstate at that exit for overnight construction work, starting at 7 p.m. While the intersection won't be completely blocked, it might be best to avoid it if you're susceptible to road rage.
I-25 Bridge Work to Impact Traffic this Weekend
COLORADO SPRINGS — Bridge work by the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) will require lane closures on Interstate 25 at Cimarron Street overnight Saturday.
Between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, shoulder closures will be in place on Cimarron (U.S. 24) under I-25. Traffic impacts are expected to be minimal.
Beginning at 7 p.m., only one lane of northbound I-25 will be open at Cimarron for bridge deck repairs, including concrete pouring. The closure continues overnight, with all lanes expected to reopen to traffic by 7 a.m. Sunday. While the lane closures are in place, the Colorado State Patrol will assist with traffic control and enforcing a reduced speed limit through the work zone. Drivers should expect significant delays during the first hours of the closure, with traffic slowing anticipated overnight.
Updated information regarding traffic impacts on this or other CDOT projects is available at www.cotrip.org or by calling 511. To receive project updates via e-mail, visit www.coloradodot.info and click on the cell-phone icon in the upper right-hand corner. The link takes you to a list of items you can subscribe to, including Southeast Colorado.
Drum roll, please.
The city has finally released a statement on stormwater funding.
The City and Colorado Springs Utilities will spend nearly $28M on Stormwater in 2013
Mayor Steve Bach and City Council President Scott Hente are pleased to announce that the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities will together spend $27,772,356 on Stormwater in 2013, according to their proposed 2013 budgets. The funding represents a combination of capital projects, pre-disaster mitigation, staffing, operations and maintenance. It also includes nearly $7 million in Stormwater expenditures to address Waldo Canyon Fire impacts.
Mayor Bach said, “I am pleased that our staff has been able to find additional resources for the City’s critical stormwater needs, and will be coordinating with Colorado Springs Utilities to ensure their funding is also directed at the most urgent stormwater needs.”
“I applaud the City and Colorado Springs Utilities for their commitment to our community and for providing the necessary funding to address these stormwater deficiencies,” said Scott Hente, president of council and the CSU board.
A summary of the funding follows.
Summary of proposed 2013 City Stormwater expenditures
$ 2,000,000 Capital projects funding.
· Top two priority projects are the Mirage channel near Rampart High School and Cottonwood Creek grade control structures between Academy and Union
$ 2,095,350 One time transfer from Springs Ranch General Improvement District.
· The district was dissolved in 1992. The funds collected are proposed to be used for two detention ponds north of Woodmen Road
· In November we will bring a supplemental appropriation before City Council for their approval with the two detention ponds as the proposed use
$ 3,000,000 pre-disaster mitigation grant (75 percent) $1,000,000 match (25 percent) for the Greencrest Channel. Project will stabilize the Greencrest channel in order to facilitate the PPRTA Austin Bluffs widening project west of Academy Boulevard.
$ 3,000,000 pre-disaster mitigation grant (75 percent) $1,000,000 match (25 percent) for Cottonwood Creek at Vincent Drive. Project will stabilize Cottonwood Creek, thereby protecting PPRTA’s Vincent Drive Bridge upgrade.
$ 509,500 Street Division operations and maintenance.
$ 980,000 salaries and benefits for Public Works/City Engineering Stormwater staff.
$ 592,315 for Public Works/City Engineering stormwater operations, which include expenses related to the City’s MS4 permit (education supplies, USGS stream flow and rainfall monitoring, mapping, etc.).
$14,177,165 Total of proposed 2013 Stormwater expenditures.
The City has received a number of grants related to the Waldo fire, which are Stormwater related
$ 461,547 NRCS EWP* grant for Navigators (75 percent) $153,849 match (25 percent).
$ 75,000 NRCS EWP* grant for Flying W (75 percent) $25,000 match (25 percent).
$ 30,000 2012 fire relief fund grant (debris racks south Douglas Creek).
$ 25,000 2012 fire relief fund grant (spillway at Autism Pond).
$ 24,795 Colorado Post - Wildfire Flooding Early Warning Grant (Camp Creek).
$ 795,191 Total of proposed 2013 Stormwater expenditures due to Waldo impacts.
$14,972,356 Total of proposed 2013 Stormwater expenditures including stormwater mitigation due to Waldo Canyon fire.
Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) proposed 2013 budget items related to Stormwater Management
$ 6,200,000 Storm Runoff Mitigation for Fire Impacts.
$ 2,700,000 Protecting Utilities Infrastructure
$ 2,400,000 Fountain Creek Channel Realignment
$ 1,500,000 Proactive Watershed Management
$12,800,000 Total CSU budget related to Stormwater
$27,772,356 Total City Contributions to Stormwater Funding 2013
——- ORIGINAL POST, THURSDAY, 4:06 P.M. ——-
So it's puzzling that Mayor Steve Bach and city administration have lately gone out of their way to hide what appears to be very good news: After years of spending the bare minimum on stormwater, the city will spend as much as $14 million next year. Considering that the city has an overstressed stormwater system, and a souring relationship with Pueblo (the unhappy recipient of that stormwater), one might expect Bach to trumpet the news right away.
The opposite has happened. Two weeks ago, the Indy asked the city to clarify what its total stormwater funding is, because the item is not listed in the 2013 budget. The city was slow to respond. When representatives finally did get back in touch, they claimed that they didn't know what the funding was. They promised to get back with "an estimate," but never did.
In fact, the city still hasn't called the Indy to answer that question — which would seem to be about as simple as they come.
However, in last night's mayoral town hall, Chief of Staff Laura Neumann revealed that the city does know how much it's spending on stormwater, saying:
It is correct that there is an additional $2 million dollars that’s going into capital projects for stormwater. However when you total what we are investing in stormwater operationally by staffing, which is about $1.9 million dollars, in addition to some [Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority] funding ... and some grants, the total that the city of Colorado Springs is going to invest in stormwater in 2013 is actually closer to $14 million dollars.
And we will be doing a press release, hopefully by the end of this week, a joint press release with Colorado Springs Utilities stating what we, together, will be investing. And that number, you can expect, is going to be in the neighborhood of $25 to $28 million dollars, and we’re very excited about that.
It’s not as much as we’d like — some of you know we have a half a billion worth of projects that we need to address — but it's a great start.
No word yet on why the city has been hiding this good news from the press, the public and Pueblo — especially since Pueblo officials have been growing increasingly frustrated with the stormwater situation. But, as of late, it certainly seems like city officials have done little to ease the minds of those in the Utilities world, allowing their silence on key issues to fuel further controversy around the city asset.
All that turmoil comes at a time when the mayor has repeatedly questioned whether City Council should be the governing body of Utilities, and whether Utilities should even remain city-owned.