Even before the conference room at the downtown Antlers Hilton hotel had filled, it was clear that the El Paso County Democratic Party was ready to celebrate — and election results on the national level certainly did nothing to dim that.
But it was in the state contests where the effect may be felt soonest, since victories in two local House districts are likely to help give Democrats control of that chamber in January. (They appear poised to hold onto the Senate, too.)
In House District 17, where political newcomer Tony Exum, a Democrat, is set to unseat Republican incumbent Mark Barker.
"My goal from the beginning has just been to hopefully help give people access to the things they need to improve their qualify of life; whether that’s an education, keeping their homes, healthcare — those things that impact people’s lives," said Exum in a quick interview with the Indy. "And just to vote smart on things that improve the quality of life; and things that don’t improve the quality of life, vote smart on those things, too. And do a lot of listening and not a lot of talking."
Meanwhile, having defeated GOP challenger Jennifer George in House District 18, incumbent Rep. Pete Lee said he plans to keep doing what he's been doing. "The big issue is the economy, Colorado’s economy, and job creation," Lee said. "So I wanna work across the aisle with our colleagues up there to see what we could do to invigorate Colorado’s economy and create more jobs."
And as far as the civil-unions bill that died so dramatically in the last session?
"It’ll pass," he said flatly.
(Seconds after this, screaming started in the main conference room as it was announced President Barack Obama had retained office.)
On a more nonpartisan note, Democrats — like folks the world over — were drawn to the triumph of Colorado's marijuana decriminalization bill, Amendment 64. With 63 percent of precincts reporting, it enjoyed a comfortable 53.6 percent to 47.4 percent lead.
"Make no mistake: Our victory tonight will change this country," wrote the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in an e-mail soon after the outcome was assured. "We have put a serious dent in the armor of our federal government's decades-old failed war on marijuana. Citizens in other states now know that if Coloradans can change their laws, they can too. Politicians are now realizing that making marijuana legal is in fact a mainstream, majority-support issue, and will begin to champion our position."
That said, local medical-marijuana advocates remained ambivalent. In one Facebook posting, Audrey Hatfield, president of Coloradans 4 Cannabis Patient Rights, wrote, "Congrats on winning A64! Time will tell ... Hopefully all the ended friendships and personal attacks where worth it all ..."
Ultimately, and regardless of any hoped-for outcomes, however, Exum seemed to say it best, when he responded to our question about how he was feeling: "You know, I was just happy the campaign was over."
El Paso County Republican Party Chairman Eli Bremer did his best to keep the crowd upbeat.
In the ballroom at the DoubleTree Hotel, the Republicans had hung a stage-wide flag. FOX News was on the TV as results rolled in.
Bremer called up to the stage the Republican candidates present who sailed to easy victories: County Commissioners Dennis Hisey and Amy Lathen, and state House Rep. Janak Joshi.
"God bless all of you for being here," Lathen told the crowd.
But there weren't very many high notes for the beleaguered Republicans. Before it was clear that they had lost the race for the White House, it was becoming clear that they were going to lose their one-seat majority in the state House.
In the two competitive House races the Republicans faced in the Pikes Peak region, they lost by sizable margins: Incumbent Rep. Mark Barker fell to newcomer Democrat Tony Exum Sr. in House District 17, while Jennifer George, the first-time candidate who raised an eye-popping $180,000 from 800 donors, failed in her bid to unseat Democratic Rep. Pete Lee in House District 18.
George's campaign wasn't here tonight; it opted to hold its Election Day party at the Ritz downtown.
County Commissioner Sallie Clark faced a challenge from former Democratic Party county Chairman John Morris but pulled off a victory, securing her place for a rare third term. Rare, because the voters also voted overwhelmingly in favor of ballot initiative 1B, which undid the 2010 term-limits ballot initiative that allowed for three terms.
Not many people were fazed by the result of 1B; County Commissioner Peggy Littleton pointed out that she always thought that the voters would vote to strike the term-limit extension. Lathen put it bluntly: "You can't spend two years telling the public how evil we are, and not expect that outcome."
"We put it back on the ballot for folks to get a second try at it," said Clark. "Obviously, my constituents felt that I have done a good job, and I will continue to do a good job for my constituents that I represent."
And Clark said she's excited to do that job.
"There are so many things going on," she said, such as the recovery from Waldo Canyon Fire, "that I want to see move in the right direction."
Clark pointed out that there were reasons to celebrate, including passage of the ballot initiative supporting the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority extension as well as the tax increase for the El Paso County Sheriff's office. "If people see a value in paying more taxes, and you put it on the ballot," she said, "they will vote in support."
And then, of course, there was the confirmation that House District 16 incumbent Joshi and newly elected HD 21 Rep. Lois Landgraf would be headed to the state Legislature — albeit in the minority party.
"We knew we had a lot of work ahead of us," said Joshi. "This just means that we have a lot of extra work."
When we ran our cover story on the Colorado-based Western Tradition Partnership back in January (see "Money Talks" and "WTF is WTP"), the secretive advocacy group was still flying well under the radar. In fact, that’s the big selling-point for WTP, and similar 501(c)4 organizations that promise their corporate and private donors the ability to influence elections with total anonymity.
But this week, the chameleonic conservative action group — which is now calling itself American Tradition Partnership — is falling under a lot more scrutiny. And what’s coming to light isn’t exactly flattering:
• Public Broadcasting Service’s Frontline — which aired a documentary last month on how WTP helped shape the campaigns of candidates in Montana state races — followed up with an article last week entitled “Mysterious Docs Found in Meth House Reveal Inner Workings of Dark Money Group”: “The boxes were examined by Frontline and ProPublica as part of an investigation into the growing influence on elections of dark money groups, tax-exempt organizations that can accept unlimited contributions and do not have to identify their donors. The documents offer a rare glimpse into the world of dark money, showing how Western Tradition Partnership appealed to donors, interacted with candidates and helped shape their election efforts.” (Read the full article here.)
• Yesterday, the PBS public affairs show posted another WTP follow-up report titled “Dark Money Group’s Donors Revealed.” As the article notes: “The details available on WTP, which has worked to elect conservatives in Montana and Colorado and has won national attention for a lawsuit that led the Supreme Court to apply its Citizens United ruling to states, are striking. The bank records highlight WTP’s ties to groups backing libertarian Ron Paul. The Conservative Action League, a Virginia social welfare nonprofit run at the time in part by John Tate, most recently Paul’s campaign manager, transferred $40,000 to WTP in August 2008, bank records show. Tate was also a consultant for WTP. In addition, WTP gave $5,000 to a group called the SD Campaign for Liberty, affiliated with Paul and the national Campaign for Liberty."
• And, to add insult to injury, Denver’s district attorney confirmed yesterday that his office is conducting a criminal probe into Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's alleged use of state funds for partisan purposes. As noted in our aforementioned cover story, Gessler had previously served as lead attorney for Western Tradition Partnership’s lawsuit against Longmont's Fair Campaign Practices Act, and there’s already speculation that the investigation could further tarnish WTP’s reputation.
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.
The Authority was established by the city in 1970 to help fund and finance projects in blighted areas. While its nine-member board is appointed by the mayor and approved by City Councilors, it is governed by Colorado state statutes and does not have to answer to the city on its budget matters. Nevertheless, it cooperated with the city investigation, which came about after several run-ins between Bach and board members.
The city report found defaulted bonds — more than were previously known of — for the University Village shopping center project. But neither the city nor the URA faces any risks due to the defaults at this time. The report also found disorganization in regard to fees for the Ivywild School project.
But perhaps most telling, the report made a series of recommendations that would bring the URA into the fold of the city.
“There are a number of areas where the City and URA can work together to improve the efforts of URA, to use resources more efficiently, and to promote coordinated, effective, and successful urban development in our community,” Bach stated in a press release.
Included in those recommendations: the URA should use free space in the City Administration Building; the city staff should perform work free of charge for the URA; the URA and the city should have combined long-term development plans; and the URA should work with the city and various interest groups to set its priorities.
Some of the recommendations could save the URA money. For instance, the URA pays $1,113 per month in rent for office space, and pays a consultant, Jim Rees, $10,000 per month.
The city did not immediately respond to requests for the cost of the investigation, but it did hire outside help from Hogan Lovells, an oft-hired firm of City Attorney Chris Melcher, to do the work.
Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have issued a letter to Tom Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, urging an in-depth study of fire conditions and what can be done to mitigate the risk as a result of the Waldo Canyon Fire and other wildland fires in Colorado.
Specifically, Udall and Bennet want a "scientific review" of the Waldo Canyon Fire that would cover topics including what treatments were used to stop or slow the fire; the role (if any) of "community wildfire protection plans" in fire management and losses; projected fire-related costs over time; the effectiveness of post-fire stabilization and restoration approaches; and much more.
"We must examine the factors that led to the level of intensity and damage, and learn what we can do to reduce future risks," Udall and Bennet say in the letter. It's dated Oct. 11, three days after the Independent wrote to both senators asking whether the Waldo fire would be studied as thoroughly as the Hayman Fire was in 2002. That study led to an exhaustive report issued in 2003.
The letter: "This type of systematic, in-depth analysis to understand the social, economic, organizational and ecological impacts of these fires is essential to effectively addressing the future of fire management ion the WUI [Wildland Urban Interface] and to mitigating the impact of these large catastrophic events."
Udall and Bennet suggest the Agriculture Department work with Colorado-based institutions, including the USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station, the Southern Rockies Fire Science Network, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, the Western Fire Research Center, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology.
The Rocky Mountain Research Station took the lead in investigating similar issues surrounding the 2002 Hayman Fire, which wiped out more than 137,000 acres and made a one-day, 60,000-acre run.
That fire broke out in early June and eventually burned parts of Park, Teller and Douglas counties. By the end of that month, Udall was quoted as saying it would be "instructive to take a close look at the behavior of the fire, examine the factors that led to its intensity, and see if the way it behaved when it encountered previously affected or treated areas can be instructive in designing future risk-reduction projects."
Those statements led the Forest Service to establish the Hayman Fire Review Panel, which issued a 396-page report in September 2003 that details fire weather, climate, fire behavior, fuel treatments, suppression activities, soils and erosion, aquatic systems and the social and economic issues of the Hayman.
It's not Udall's first foray into investigating the Waldo fire. In August, he conducted an after-action review at Peterson Air Force Base to evaluate how federal and military forces interacted.
Udall spokesman Mike Saccone says in an e-mail the senators "completely expect" Vilsack to take up the study, especially "given the value for forest management, wildfire preparedness, etc., that would emerge as a result of such a study."
Here's the letter:
The Fountain Police Department is warning the public about a suspect that has already approached several children in the area, exposing himself and/or trying to force the children into his vehicle.
Read on to learn more:
Fountain, Colorado — The Fountain Police Department wants to inform the public of an individual that has been reported to expose himself to children or has attempted to lure children in to his vehicle.
These incidents occurred in the City of Fountain with the first reported incident in November of 2011. The incidents are actively being investigated by the Fountain Police Departments Investigations Division and we are asking for the public’s help in identifying this individual.
The suspect is generally described as a white male, between twenty and thirty years of age and who has been seen driving a red or maroon in color sports utility vehicle.
The suspect has typically approached the children during the afternoon and early evening hours.
The Fountain Police Department would like to remind parents to discuss with their children what to do if their children are approached by a stranger and to have a safety plan.
The Fountain Police Department would like anyone with information to call Sergeant Gilbertsen at 719-382-6936, or Crime Stoppers at 634-STOP (7867) and as always, you can remain anonymous.
Dave Neumann, owner of Neumann Systems Group, which developed the NeuStream emissions control technology being installed on coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant, is exploring moving his business elsewhere.
In an exclusive interview with the Indy, Neumann says Councilman Tim Leigh's crusade against his company and his efforts to kill Colorado Springs Utilities' contract with Neumann Systems could lead to the loss of 60 jobs and a multimillion-dollar benefit of the city receiving a cut from the firm's gross sales.
"You can't have somebody out there that is just hammering away and damaging your company," Neumann says.
For the past four months, Leigh has called Neumann's technology "unproven" and "experimental," and challenged the roughly $120 million contract's fairness to ratepayers. Neumann says Leigh has told him the opposition to his technology has been mounted at the behest of Mayor Steve Bach. (We have contacted the mayor's office and will update if and when we receive a response.)
The latest tirade from Leigh came in his so-called "market report," in which he again challenges the technology has the most economical available.
"My colleagues agreed to undertake and study Drake issues at yesterday’s [Wednesday's] CSU Board meeting," writes Leigh, who didn't attend the meeting. "They did not go far enough. We must stop the Neumann spend at Drake now. If there were less costly other options available previously, we must find out if there still are. We don’t have the answers and until we do, we can’t continue to spend, spend, spend."
Springs Utilities officials have repeatedly said the Neumann technology is a third cheaper than other options available today, and energy chief Bruce McCormick reiterated that position today in an interview with the Indy.
"The damage that's been done to our company by Tim Leigh and the feedback we've gotten from prospective customers is unreal," Neumann says. "We're being very badly hurt by the mayor and Tim Leigh."
Although Neumann wrote a letter threatening Leigh with a legal action if he didn't stop disparaging his company with untruths, and said Leigh has "opened himself up to incredible liability," he says he believes it's bad policy to sue a City Councilman.
Neumann says he's met with officials in another state and has a meeting next week with a governor in another state. He also wants to meet with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to explore possible locations in other parts of Colorado.
If Neumann leaves, he'll vacate 45,000 square feet of space on Elkton Drive and the possibility of ultimately occupying 150,000 square feet when his manufacturing operation gears up with orders.
But if the city honors the contract and allows the technology to become functional on Drake, Neumann Systems will stay put, he says. Other utilities are eagerly awaiting a full build-out on Drake to be assure the technology works. The NeuStream has been shown by multiple tests and multiple examinations by experts to work in a test on 20 megawatts of power production. Because the technology is simply an add-on for larger loads, Neumann and Utilities are confident of its efficacy, he says.
"We have been treated great [by the city] up until the last three to four months," Neumann says. "I think we've constructed this win-win partnership with the city and we're delivering low cost emissions control to the city, cleaning the air. Up until that point when the mayor and Leigh decided to take down the Drake plant and us along with it, it's been great. We've had a tremendous opportunity here. There are great people on Council. I think very highly of the vast majority of the people on City Council."
He says Leigh's commentary has led potential customers to question the system. If the city succeeds in driving away his business, it would miss out on a cut of gross sales in a firm that holds 36 patents in nine countries and is working with international distributors.
"There's an awful lot in the works here," he says. "It's a waste of our effort if we're going to be in a community that has a few people who are trying to run us out of town."
Leigh says via email: "Nothing could be further from the truth! I'm an entrepreneur and I love other entrepreneurs. The norm for a business like Mr Neumann's is to let the free market fund his experiments, not unaware ratepayers who can't afford venture capital style risks. If Neumann's stuff proves to be as good as he says, I will be labeled the town clown for questioning it and him, and (rightfully so). That he lashes out in this manner continues to fan my flame of suspicion."
Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL and member of the Advisory Board for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, was one of the three Americans killed in an assault on the American Embassy in Libya on Tuesday, which also claimed the life of U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
The MRFF was formed in 2005 by Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the Air Force Academy, after his son reported cadets using pejorative language against Jews, and faculty and staff advocating for fundamentalist Christianity. Weinstein is Jewish.
"Glen was a true American hero," Weinstein says in an interview. "I know that he took some flak from current and former SEALS for joining our advisory board years ago. But he didn't view the value of a human being based on what religion they are.
"He was the first one to remind me not to be tepid in this fight," he says. "He was the first one that made me realize that the closest you get to drawing blood in the military, the closer you get to combat, the higher the infiltration of fundamentalist Christianity. He didn't care when he suffered derision from other SEALs by coming on board with us, because it was the right thing to do."
Doherty also was among the first to contact Weinstein after the MRFF mounted a billboard in Colorado Springs aimed at the Air Force Academy failing to widely distribute an Air Force Chief of Staff directive on the military's maintaining neutrality on religion. ("It's a sign," Sept. 29, 2011)
Doherty, who was working as a security officer in Libya, left the Navy after serving nine years as a highly decorated SEAL with multiple combat deployments, the MRFF website's biography of Doherty says. While in the Navy, he attended the 18 Delta Special Forces Combat Medical School, the SEAL sniper course, and was an expert in SEAL combat tactics. After separating from the Navy in 2005, Doherty spent four years working as a security and intelligence specialist for government agencies conducting operations in high threat regions, which included Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He had extensive experience teaching and training operators around the world in a broad range of disciplines. An accomplished pilot, Doherty had multi-engine, commercial and instrument flight ratings and was a nationally certified paramedic. He held a bachelor's degree in professional aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a minor in Aviation Safety.
Rain hasn't yet caused major problems in the Waldo Canyon fire burn area, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa reports to us minutes ago.
Although rainfall, which began this morning, has raised Fountain Creek by 12 to 18 inches, Maketa said the burn area appears to be handling the moisture without causing shifting soils.
"But the National Weather Service is tracking two fronts with moderate to heavy rain," Maketa says. "One is to the north and could be moving over the burn area, and one to the south is bouncing around, but they're concerned it could move in the direction of the burn area where both would converge."
Maketa said his Emergency Operations Center is partially staffed and monitoring conditions.
"If we get heavy rains, we will see mudslides and flooding," he says.
City spokeswoman Julie Smith reports this via e-mail:
We have had a couple of guys from our Streets Division and Stormwater Engineering out in that area to check on things this morning. Everything was fine and flowing normally as of the report I heard at around 9 a.m. The City is continuing to monitor the area for flooding throughout the day.
One of the Streets supervisors is headed over to the area right now so there may be an update in about half an hour if you want to check back. We don't expect the report to have changed much.
We received this flood advisory in our in-box this morning from AccuWeather:
Flood Threat Shifts to Colorado, New Mexico
September 12, 2012 — State College, PA-
While Southern California, Nevada and western Arizona trend toward drier conditions Wednesday, the risk of flash flooding will increase in Colorado and New Mexico.
Cities at risk for disruptive downpours and urban flooding include Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Vail, Aspen, Durango, Montrose and Alamosa in Colorado and Sante Fe, Albuquerque and Las Vegas, N.M.
Flash flooding will also be a threat into parts of southeastern Utah and eastern Arizona.
A moist and unsettled air mass will bubble into dangerous, slow-moving thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening hours.
In some areas, rainfall will exceed one inch or more in a couple of hours. Places that receive rainfall of this magnitude will have rapid flooding of small streams and normally dry washes.
Along steep canyons, ravines and mountainsides, dangerous mudflows and rockslides are possible.
If you will be driving though mountain and back country roads, hiking wilderness trails, camping or sightseeing, be prepared for flooding.
Be sure to have a plan of action and to let someone know which trails or roads you will be taking.
Keep a keen eye to the sky. Rapidly building clouds and thunder may be your only hint of what may soon follow.
Flood waters can travel a long distance from the origin of the rainfall through dry wash channels and stream/creek/river beds.
Aside from the dangers of flash flooding, the rainfall is greatly needed over the region. Downpours will shift toward Texas and Oklahoma to end the week, where rain is in tremendous need.
Check back often with AccuWeather.com for the latest on this and for all your weather needs.
A release from U.S. Attorney John Walsh's office says that closure letters have been issued to 10 medical-marijuana centers in Colorado still located within 1,000 feet of a school. This is the third in a series of actions, and the smallest so far, though spokesman Jeff Dorschner confirms another wave of similar size will follow in the coming months. Also, one of the 10 is located in Colorado Springs, though it's unknown which center that is.
"Action will be taken to seize and forfeit their property if they do not discontinue the sale and/or distribution of marijuana within 45 days from today, September 17, 2012," reads the statement. "Those who do not comply will be subject to civil enforcement actions and potential criminal prosecution by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)."
The most recent attempt came in the April-May period, with the U.S. Attorney's office saying all 25 centers that were notified had closed. This later proved inaccurate; just one example came when the so-affected Altitude Organic moved from its Colorado Avenue location to downtown.
Nonetheless, Dorschner says every targeted center has complied "without enforcement action being taken."
In 2005, while I was news editor of the Sacramento News & Review, I wrote a profile of Cockburn, who indulged my interviewing skills and spoke off the cuff with rapid-fire intelligence, eloquence and wit. I re-read the article this weekend — you can find it here — and was again amazed at his ability to intertwine arcane historical data with Hunter Thompson-worthy imagery, all in one real-time conversation.
I’m tempted at this point to say "rest in peace," but I think Cockburn would find peace kind of boring. So instead, here are a few of his quotes from our interview.
"These days, we have the Democrats about to sell out on Social Security. They sold out last month on Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You know, they’re incapable—even the most fundamental primitive efforts of protection of ordinary people are beyond them. They can’t do it. I mean, I think they’re a dead letter. They’re a huge rotting albatross hanging around the neck of every single left person in this country. And the left are putting a handkerchief to their nose trying to ignore this festering carcass, dripping with worms, reeking, hanging around their necks: 'No, it’s not. I like it. It doesn't smell bad.'"
"There’s about 30,000 a month on U.S. military bases reading CounterPunch. Now that’s pretty good, isn’t it? If I said to you 30 years ago, “We’re gonna get pamphlets, and we’re gonna go stand outside a U.S. military base and leaflet—and hopefully we won’t get our brains beaten in,” we’d have been happy if we’d have given away 500 leaflets. If we had actually managed to get 500 leaflets into 500 hairy military hands—or delicate military hands, like Lynndie England’s, maybe—we’d have counted it a good day’s work. And here you’ve got 30,000 reading our seditious prose."
"Yeah, globalism is great. It’s been going on for hundreds of years. Oh yeah, I’m against globalism of the bad sort: some fucking company in America going and screwing people in the Third World and not paying them properly. But globalism, I mean, it was very good when the Portuguese—well, it probably had a bad impact on Latin America—but it was good that potatoes and peppers got to Europe. That was early, early globalism. It’s much more rapid these days. You know, the first Indian housewife got the basics for what we regard as the eternal Indian diet in about 1550, and in about 1555 it was on every household menu in the whole of India. Cortez brought turkeys back to Europe in 1519, from the New World, and by about 1535, they were on every German Christmas table as the old traditional turkey dinner, right? And then the Puritans took the turkeys back to America in cages, and when the Indians gave them turkeys for Thanksgiving, there was a tame turkey looking out the little cage at it. That’s globalism."
"I’ve always been an optimist. You have to be an optimist. Because most people on the left, they tend to take a rather grim view of the world, as you may have noticed. You want to just generally be bushy-tailed about things, I think."
If maps are your thing, a bunch of new ones have just been made available by the city of Colorado Springs through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
You can find the latest maps here:
Here's one of them:
Questions have swirled about whether Barbara Jean and William Everett, the couple who died in the Waldo Canyon Fire, were aware the fire was upon them.
In response to our questions, Colorado Springs Police spokeswoman Barbara Miller says this in an e-mail:
While Mr. and Mrs. Everett did not have a land-line phone, our Investigators do know that they were aware of and preparing to, evacuate. When a family member called them, they told him they were getting ready to evacuate. We did have officers on Rossmere Street with a bullhorn as well as, knocking door to door announcing to residents that they needed to evacuate. Our officers only kept a list of names and cell phone numbers of those residents who refused to evacuate.
In other words, the Everetts, both in their 70s, weren't on the list of those who refused to evacuate, so they apparently were trying to leave but were overcome by the flames that poured into the upper Mountain Shadows neighborhoods about 4:30 p.m. on June 26 — 45 minutes before the city issued a press release telling residents to flee.
Read more about the city's handling of the evacuation, as we reported in last week's issue, here.
The Everetts' identities were released by authorities July 5.
Meantime, Denver TV station KMHG-TV is reporting that a significant number of the evacuation phone calls weren't delivered.
A campaign to urge Colorado Springs residents to support a lease of city-owned Memorial Health System is under way, as we reported in this story about the ballot measure.
The mail-ballot election takes place Aug. 28, when voters will decide whether to OK a 40-year lease of Memorial's assets to the University of Colorado Health System in exchange for $259 million up front, $5.6 million a year plus a revenue-sharing program, an average of $28 million a year for capital improvements, and $3 million a year for 30 years to establish a medical school at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS).
The "Great City. Great Care" committee is being headed by Stephannie Finley of Monument, who had served as president of Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs and Policy Division.
Since April, Finley has been the executive director of UCCS's advocacy and partnerships under its University Advancement Division, a part-time position for which she's paid $57,500 annually.
Which could pose a problem if she uses university time to promote the Memorial issue, because the Fair Campaign Practices Act forbids use of public funds, including public personnel, to promote or oppose a ballot measure.
No problem, Finley tells us in an e-mail. Here's her explanation for how she will juggle both jobs without any cross-over into illegal territory:
I have worked for the taxpayer much of my career, so I have a heightened sensitivity about keeping my time accounted for in this process. I have drawn a bright line between my part time work with the University and the campaign, both with time and resources. I have separate phones, separate email accounts, and I work at a coffee shop, my home, or Fed Ex when I am working for the campaign. I work 1/2 time for UCCS and 1/2 time for the campaign and diligently mark off the time each week to account for the time I need to spend doing my UCCS job. With modern technology, I am able to use my personal iPad and iPhone for the campaign. I don't take campaign calls during UCCS time, instead I focus on partnership and advocacy for the University. I just stay focused on the job at hand and make sure they don't bleed into each other.
So far, the committee hasn't filed any campaign finance reports, so it's unknown how much money has been spent, but a mailer landed in mail boxes this week. The talking points:
1. This plan will pump $1.9 billion into the local economy, which will ensure the long-term financial future of Memorial Hospital.
2. Memorial Hospital will be managed by and grow with a dynamic new health care partnership offering a higher level of care for all who live here.
3. As a not-for-profit, University of Colorado Health is well suited to help Memorial Hospital provide the highest level of care for people in need.
4. The new hospital partnership will result in a higher level of care for our military families and TRICARE beneficiaries.
5. The plan allows for a Colorado Springs branch of the University of Colorado School of Medicine that will attract top doctors and medical students.
6. Nationally renowned Children's Hospital Colorado will manage pediatric care at Memorial Hospital.
Note that there's no claim the city and its residents will maintain local control, which they most certainly will not. There will be a local board, but it will be selected with approval from UCH and will have only limited authority over local operations. (See the link above.) All the big decisions will be made by UCH.
For information on the campaign, see greatcitygreatcare.com.