Wanna learn how to help a small business get off the ground? Wanna learn how to get your own small business off the ground?
Sen. Michael Bennet is co-hosting a crowdfunding seminar from 5:30 to 7 p.m. tomorrow at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., for small and start-up business owners and entrepreneurs looking to raise early stage capital, his office says in a release.
The seminar will outline how crowdfunding works and how businesses can make it work for them.
Co-hosts of this free event include Epicentral, Startup Colorado Springs and the Small Business Development Center of Colorado Springs. Space is limited, so those wanting to attend should sign up on the senator's website.
From the release:
Bennet included the crowdfunding provision in the JOBS Act, which was recently signed into law. It allows small, young and rapidly growing businesses to raise funds from small, individual investors online and through social media. The law seeks to address the difficulties small businesses, young businesses and start-ups face in securing capital, compared with larger companies.
Participants will hear from local entrepreneurs and business owners, legal experts and representatives from traditional investment firms in Colorado, including venture capital, banks and microfinance. Scheduled panelists will include: Paul Lizer, CEO, Devium; Jeff Thomas, founder, Invertual; Ben Sparks, attorney, Sparks Willson; Justin Vause, Accion; Robin Roberts, President, Pikes Peak National Bank; Chris Franz, entrepreneur, Angel Investor; John Street, entrepreneur, Angel Investor; Ric Denton, Colorado Springs Technology Incubator.
In addition to learning about crowdfunding, participants will have an opportunity to weigh in on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rulemaking process and offer key input for the commission to keep in mind as it develops specific regulations.
In our current issue, the Indy tells stories of several business owners who are trying to stay afloat after the Waldo Canyon Fire. While none of the businesses along Ute Pass were burned, like 345 homes in northwest Colorado Springs, they were fried by publicity that's kept shoppers away.
So we wanted to pass along a couple of opportunities for those businesses. First, UCCS is offering assistance. Here's the press release:
Small businesses in the Pikes Peak region suffering from reduced sales or customer traffic because of the Waldo Canyon Fire can receive assistance from the Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center hosted by the University of Colorado Colorado Springs College of Business.
The Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center, in conjunction with the Springs Alliance and the Regional Entrepreneurial Alliance, will offer in-person assistance at the El Paso County Disaster Relief Center, 105 N. Spruce, Colorado Springs, or by appointment at the SBDC offices on the UCCS campus.
“We are here now and will remain long after the ashes have settled,” Aikta Marcoulier, director, Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center, said. “The SBDC will assist businesses for as long as it takes. Our mission is to help small business recover and advance from this disaster.”
The SBDC is part of the Pikes Peak Region Business Recovery Team which is working to identify federal, state, local and private resources to assist small businesses in the wake of the June/July 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, the worst in Colorado history.
The SBDC is sponsored by the UCCS College of Business and the U.S. Small Business Administration. It offers business consulting and training that assists small businesses in El Paso and Teller counties. For more information about the SBDC and services it offers, visit www.cssbdc.org or call (719) 255-3844. Businesses interested in receiving assistance may begin by completing a form available at http://cssbdc.org/site/images/pdf/intake%20form%207-2-12.pdf
Next, the state has announced a program of unemployment assistance for which business owners might qualify. The following release was conveyed to us by El Paso County:
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) has announced availability of Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) to help workers who lost their jobs, and self-employed individuals who are unable to work, recover from the effects of the High Park and Waldo Canyon wildfires that began on June 9, 2012.
Affected individuals who live or work in El Paso and Larimer Counties must submit applications for DUA by August 8, 2012. Claims filed after the deadline will be considered untimely and benefits denied, unless the individual provides good cause for filing late. The first possible week of DUA compensation is the week beginning June 10, 2012, and ending June 16, 2012. Benefit payments may continue through December 29, 2012, as long as the unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster.
DUA is available to people who:
Do not qualify for regular state unemployment benefits.
Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment, but were unable to do so because of the disaster.
Can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster.
Cannot reach their place of employment as a direct result of the disaster.
Have been prevented from work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster.
Establish that work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their primary source of income.
Have become the major support of a household because of the death of the head of the household.
To file a claim for DUA, applicants may visit a local Disaster Recovery Center (DRC), the Pikes Peak or Larimer County Workforce Centers, or call the Wildfire Unemployment Resource phone line at 1-888-843-8382 (outside Denver-metro area) or 303-318-9038 (Denver-metro area). The
Wildfire Unemployment Resource phone line requires applicants to leave a message with their name, social security number, callback number, and best time(s) to return their call.
The Waldo Canyon DRC is located at 105 North Spruce Street Colorado Springs, CO 80905
The Pikes Peak Workforce Center is located at 1675 Garden of the Gods Road in Colorado Springs (719-667-3700).
The High Park Fire DRC is located at Johnson Hall, south entrance, 950 E. Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523, room #222.
The Larimer County Workforce Center is at 200 West Oak Street, Suite 5000, in Fort Collins (970-498-6600).
To receive DUA benefits, you must provide documentation to support that you were working, were self-employed, or had prospective employment at the time of the disaster. Self-employed individuals must provide federal tax forms (including all schedules) for the 2011 tax year. The documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA claim is filed.
In addition to DUA benefits, individuals may contact their nearest workforce center to receive job-search assistance. A full list of all workforce centers is available online. Visit www.colorado.gov/cdle and click on Workforce Center Services.
Additional information is available online at www.colorado.gov/cdle.
Perhaps the biggest help to our hometown business owners will be at the cash register. So if you have a few bucks to spend, find your way to the Rockrimmon area, Green Mountain Falls and other areas where some businesses are barely hanging on. Have lunch. Buy a souvenir. Support them.
UPDATE: Neumann Systems Group's Denver attorneys have issued a letter to Tim Leigh demanding he stop passing out wrong information about the company and that he retract his earlier statements. Here's the letter:
Dear Mr. Leigh:
My firm, along with Krendl Krendl Sachnoff & Way, P.C., represent Neumann Systems Group, Inc. (“NSG”). I am writing in response to the libelous statements in your company’s “Weekend Market Report” (the “Report”), which our client received earlier this week.
In the Report, you and your company (Hoff & Leigh) raised a number of “questions” about NSG and its business and compared Mr. Neumann, NSG’s CEO, to Harold Hill, the notorious con man in the “Music Man.” You further stated that CSU extended money for the contract to NSG for the “Neumann Scrubber System” on “the wings of hope & prayer.” These statements are false and libelous.
You and your company clearly have had access to the many public documents that address the questions you raise. In your other roles as City Councilperson and Board member for the $1.1B CSU municipal utility, you have access to much more detailed information about the “questions” to which you imply you are lacking answers. It is disturbing that you have chosen, in the Report, to raise so many questions to which you have already have the answers and therefore imply the organizations responsible are not doing their job. In addition, you and your company seem intent on reporting other inaccurate information which casts aspersions on our client and his company. In short, you have no reason to believe that our client is a con man and no reason to believe that CSU extended this contract on “the wings of hope & prayer”.
Accordingly, we demand that you immediately cease making the aforementioned libelous statements and issue a retraction of the Report. Our client will stand on the truth but will not be intimidated by deliberate lies.
Joel S. Neckers, Esq.
Cathy Krendl, Esq.
City councilman Tim Leigh is blithering about a pollution-control technology and other Colorado Springs Utilities matters by citing incorrect figures and inflammatory language. You know, Leigh is being Leigh.
But when he chooses to mislead on something as important as compliance with environmental regulations or millions of dollars in ratepayer investment, someone needs to set the record straight.
Don't count on the local daily newspaper, which simply posted Leigh's erroneous blather in a blog with no vetting whatsoever.
In his so-called "market report," Leigh likens Neumann Systems Group's emissions control equipment that's in the process of being installed on the downtown Drake Power Plant to Professor Harold Hill, the con man in the Broadway musical, The Music Man. Hill's ploy is to collect money in advance for musical instruments and uniforms and skip town before he has to actually teach the kids to play. When he lingers and is forced to teach them, he devises the "think system" of urging them to play simply by thinking about it.
In his newsletter Leigh says: "In reality, the Neumann System is not without risk. The system has never been proven to work on the currently planned scale. Recall the admonition from Professor Harold Hill trying to get his throng of adolescent musicians to play never before played musical instruments, 'think boys; think!'"
He then quotes wrong figures for Neumann Systems and raises questions, such as whether the city could simply ignore EPA regulations for emissions control. Right. That usually works out fine.
In an interview this morning, president Dave Neumann and Rob Fredell, Neumann's vice president of development, discredit Leigh's assertions.
"We're not selling musical instruments and skipping town," Fredell says. "It’s not very fair to talk like that."
In fact, the $30 million that Springs Utilities committed this year to the Neumann project was approved by the current City Council, who acts as the Utilities Board, which included Tim Leigh, making Leigh's question of who approved the R&D project more than outrageous. Everyone knows the Utilities Board approved it several years ago and every board since then has done likewise, including the current one on which Leigh sits.
Moreover, the Neumann deal is much better than any other available. Not only will the city pay tens of millions of dollars less for the technology, but it also stands to gain a cut of the action if and when the technology becomes widespread and lucrative, not to mention all the manufacturing jobs the new system will create locally. Neumann is marketing to 50 companies nationwide who are standing by to sign contracts based on the technology's performance at Drake. And by the way, three years of exhaustive testing has shown the technology to be sound.
No surprise considering Neumann has worked on some of the most sophisticated laser systems the nation possesses during his Air Force career.
"Money has been appropriated in the last three CSU budgets," Neumann says. "This is all public. The work that was done in validating the technology and leading up to the contract has all been presented to the board. They’ve all had time to read and digest this. They, the new board, agreed to the $30 million appropriation for this year. We’ve got lots of money that has been spent, more than $40 million, and the equipment is arriving at Drake today. What are they going to tell the ratepayers?"
Here are some points on which Leigh is flat-out wrong:
Leigh: The Neumann technology will cost
$240,000 $240 million.
Fact: The technology will cost about $112,000 for Drake and between $75 million and $85 million for Nixon Power Plan. Total cost: Less than $200 million.
Leigh: The Nixon solution is priced at $120 million.
Fact: $75 million to $85 million.
Leigh: "Can we renegotiate a better deal now that we know more about the product? Can we renegotiate a better deal that rewards us for the risk? Can we get at least a 50/50 share of profits?"
Fact: "He’s a real estate guy," Fredell says. "He knows a contract is a contract. This was done in the light of day, not in some dark room, and it’s disingenuous to suggest that just because he’s decided to raise this issue, he should come back and get a better deal."
Leigh seems to be stirring the waters to improve Mayor Steve Bach's chances of getting Drake moved from downtown to make way for a sports stadium. According to legal billings obtained by the Independent, the City Attorney's Office retained Hogan Lovells lawfirm to study such a prospect and paid for consult with Craig Umbaugh in January. Umbaugh has worked on nearly every major professional team and its facilities in the Denver area. Here's part of what the Hogan Lovells website says about him:
Craig Umbaugh focuses his practice in the areas of governmental and legislative law, finance, sports and sports facilities law, and banking and commercial transactions. Craig works with public entities and private clients advising them on issues such as urban redevelopment, negotiation of governmental agreements, elections, financing, construction, design, operation of stadiums and public venues, and the acquisition or relocation of teams. Craig serves as general counsel to the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, the Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District, and The Colorado Bankers Association. He has extensive experience in drafting legislation and counseling clients with respect to state legislative issues. He has advised various clients on election matters, including the conduct of elections, campaign finance reporting, ballot titles, and initiatives and referenda.
It doesn't take a Columbo to decipher what Bach has in mind. He's called not only for the removal of Drake, but also for the sale of the electric utility. Cha ching! Money to pay for the stadium.
When all of the attendant businesses flock to the stadium zone, if they do, who might be there to help them with their real estate deals? Gee. Could it be commercial real estate broker Tim Leigh?
Bach, who has no authority over Utilities policy, persuaded the Utilities Board to spend money on a study of moving or decommissioning Drake, which provides a quarter of the city's power producing capacity.
Today, the Utilities Board will discuss the impact that decision will have on Neumann's plan to install the emissions technology on Drake. Neumann believes in his technology. He's spent a good portion of his professional life creating it. He's ready to debate the ups and downs of adding the technology to Drake, even if for a limited time until another source of power is developed, or installing it at Nixon where additional costs will be necessary to retrofit it there, or scrapping it altogether. (The city does have a "termination for convenience" clause in its contract.)
But Neumann isn't ready to deal with someone who can't get their facts straight, and seems to intentionally want to inflame the public.
"The community at large doesn’t have all the information," Neumann says. They don’t study the budget’s strategic plan for CSU. They don’t study the integrated resource plan. So by throwing this out in the way that he does, he creates an environment that causes people to lose confidence in Council and CSU and their ability to run a $1-billion-a-year corporation."
Here's Neumann's recent letter to City Council.
We called Leigh but haven't heard back. We'll update when we do. We'll also update after this afternoon's Utilities Board meeting.
The 26 S. Wahsatch Avenue club, which over the last six years has hosted touring artists like the Supersuckers, T-Model Ford, Hacienda, Kepi Ghoulie, Gringo Star and Antique Scream, was also a strong supporter of the Colorado music scene, booking local acts like Edith Makes a Paper Chain and the Haunted Windchimes, as well as the Fort Collins band Drag the River, which J.J. plays bass in.
Although the club owner wasn't immediately avaiable to provide further details, interested parties can contact him through his Facebook page. Or you could just check with him in person when his other band, the Nobodys, plays this Saturday at 6 p.m. during Front Range PunkFest 3.
Meanwhile, read more about PunkFest 3, including an interview with organizer Dann Kieta, in this week's Reverb.
When we wrote about the revival of downtown Providence, R.I. — a feat helped largely by arts organization AS220 — one of the successes we documented was the establishment of video game company 38 Studios.
38 Studios, founded by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, had set up shop right across the street from one of AS220's three buildings and symbolized Providence's success in attracting multimillion-dollar businesses to its formerly troubled downtown. The state had offered the company a $75 million loan guarantee to move there in 2010, which "officials said would bring jobs and tax revenue," the New York Times reported last week.
The reason why it's in the news now? 38 Studios was late on last month's payment of $1.1 million to the state economic development agency. Worse, it's laid off its entire 400-person staff.
Perhaps worse still is that the state of Rhode Island is now responsible for part of 38's debt, according to an article posted today by CNNMoney. The cash-strapped state now owes $112 million in loan principal, interest and fees, and taxpayers have little chance of making up even a quarter of their potential losses.
The article points to evidence that the entire enterprise was flawed from the beginning. Despite good intentions of attracting jobs and setting up a skilled technology business with the hopes of attracting others, 38 struggled both internally and externally. Those outside the company feel the state didn't do its due diligence in the deal, either. The article says that nearly all the members of board of directors for the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation have resigned or asked to not be reinstated when their terms end.
"I think Rhode Island was star-struck by Curt Schilling," says Alexander Sliwinski, news editor for the video game site Joystiq. "You didn't see Rhode Island give Harmonix, Irrational, Turbine — all companies with established track records — $75 million to move."
Though analysts estimate 38 Studios is worth about $20 million, its staff (cut with no pay) is where the value of the company lies, intellectual property and half-finished products aside. It's expected that the state will sell all the assets to Electronic Arts.
Forbes, however, sees a silver lining in the fallout. Per an article published Saturday, often the death of a large video game company can prove to be fertile ground for other smaller companies to grow.
The message for state governments looking to boost their economies is to make themselves attractive as a place for games companies to set up. The trick is to achieve a critical mass of developers under your roof, so even if games companies go under, new ones will arise and take root in your soil.
About 40 people gathered at the City Administration Building last night to hash out what should or shouldn't be required of oil and gas drilling companies within the city limits of Colorado Springs. The issue has been triggered by Houston-based Ultra Resources' plan to drill on 18,000 acres of the Banning Lewis Ranch.
It was part of efforts by the City Oil and Gas Committee to deliver a recommendation to the full City Council on June 26 about what's to be done. The funny thing is, the committee can't recommend anything specific.
The main problem: The City Attorney's Office is under the thumb of Mayor Steve Bach and can't follow instruction from Councilors unless there are at least five Council votes directing him to write detailed ordinances for Council consideration. There are only three Council members on the Oil and Gas Committee.
During the five months of meetings, this has meant those Councilors have been unable to request additional research or information from City Attorney Chris Melcher or his staff. Councilor Brandy Williams, who with Val Snider and Angela Dougan represent Council on the committee, admits that the committee hasn't had enough detailed information for members to form opinions on some potential areas of concern.
What's more, when the committee formulates its recommendation on June 4, it can only make general recommendations to the rest of Council. For instance, whether it might consider creating specific zones for drilling, setback requirements, water quality, impact fees and site plan regulations.
"I cannot ask staff to make it any clearer than that because [the city attorney's office is] in the mayor's branch of government," says Williams.
Some residents, unsurprisingly, aren't happy with how the committee process has gone. Several have complained the public was given no chance to comment until Thursday night, and then the format forced people to meet in groups rather than voice their opinions to everyone, as is commonly done in such circumstances.
"It's a poor replacement," resident Lotus told committee chair Snider, referring to the group format. "It's not what we came here for."
One resident labeled the entire process FUBAR, a military acronym for Fucked Up Beyond All Repair.
Other residents complained that the committee never invited residents and officials from other communities that have experienced problems from oil and gas drilling to share their experiences with the city committee.
Lotus said in only three weeks, he's gathered a stack of documents and information about problems that the committee apparently never addressed in a meaningful way.
For example, he said the committee visited Greeley, where drilling is rampant, but left many rocks unturned. "There was no mention of asking for any chemical analysis," Lotus told Snider as other residents huddled around tables. "How many lawsuits have been filed by the people in Greeley? It was like, 'Why did you go there? Doesn't it make sense to go to the communities that are complaining?' I'm baffled by the way this committee can stifle the public the way it has."
Huerfano County is one place where people are up in arms over drilling. Groups have formed to protest and try to stop further drilling by Shell Oil. But the committee didn't consult with those groups or visit Huerfano County.
Snider responded by saying the public wasn't allowed to comment during the committee meetings, because "I was looking to educate the committee. Now we're getting public input, which is great."
Speaking of educating the committee, Williams says outside counsel Howard Boigan with Hogan and Lovells, an international law firm chosen by Melcher to advise the committee, was charged with setting up experts to give presentations to the committee about aspects of the business. Boigan has long represented oil and gas companies, which Williams called "perfect" for the committee, because he brings a great deal of familiarity of the industry to the table.
In any event, Snider admitted the entire process was put off-kilter by the restrictions on the committee that kept it from obtaining staff support, notably from Melcher's office. Asked if he was frustrated, Snider replied, "What's a word for 'politely frustrated'?"
Although some friends of the environment wanted to hand out some information, the city didn't allow it at first. At the end of the meeting, it was given out, but many had left by then. Here's the text of one of those handouts:
POTENTIAL TALKING POINTS
Oil and gas development in Colorado Springs has the potential to cause significant harm to our health and lifestyles. Consider raising the following concerns with City planners and elected officials.
● Restrict Oil and Gas Activities to Appropriate Locations: Do not allow oil and gas activities in residential zones or zones that allow mixed residential and commercial use. Allow oil and gas exploration and development only in industrial and agricultural zones. City regulations would apply everywhere and must take into account impacts to developed areas as well as the undeveloped Banning Lewis Ranch.
● Require Reasonable Setback: Where permitted, oil and gas activities must be set back as far as reasonably possible from homes, occupied buildings, businesses, and sensitive locations such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools, parks and public gathering places; and in all cases a minimum of 500 feet. (Current COGCC setbacks range from 150' to 350' for wellheads.)
● Develop Additional High Density Requirements: Require applicants to undertake a more detailed public notice/public participation process where operations would be located in high density areas. This would include preliminary public scoping meetings to identify specific impacts to surrounding properties.
● Require Detailed Site and Operation Planning: Require operators to prepare a site plan, describing the site and the surrounding neighborhood, and how drilling or location of facilities would impact both the site and surrounding properties. Require operators to prepare a detailed operating plan and reclamation plan. These plans must contain details necessary to allow impacts to other property owners to be identified and mitigated.
● Require Adequate Water Quality Monitoring: Analyze all drilling permit applications to determine potential impacts to aquifers and surface water. Require pre-drilling baseline data gathering and periodic groundwater monitoring to detect spills or leakage of oil, gas, or drilling chemicals and products into aquifers. Require reporting of all spills to City officials.
● Require Applicants to Address Other Environmental and Safety Concerns: Require applicants to address wildlife impacts, impacts to sensitive areas such as streams or wetlands, geohazard or fire hazard areas. Require applicants to prepare a traffic control and safety plan and demonstrate that roads can support heavy equipment traffic or that adequate upgrade or remediation measures will be taken.
● Develop Standard Conditions of Approval: City requirements should be incorporated into standard conditions of approval. By incorporating these conditions into city regulations, the City’s Local Government Designee would be able negotiate agreements with operators and the COGCC with the power of binding local land use regulations at his back. The conditions of approval contained in the COGCC permits for the first two permits should be the standard minimum, included on all permits.
● Impose Impact Fees Covering Actual Costs of Oil and Gas Activities: Require oil and gas permit applicants to pay an up-front fee covering the City’s cost to analyze the application and to inspect oil and gas operations, plus actual impacts to roads, other city infrastructure. Require operators to fund the cost of city inspections if the state lacks adequate staff or funding to conduct needed inspections.
● Limit Waiver of Local Rules to Cases of Actual Hardship or Operational Conflict: Require oil and gas operators to comply with all local rules and restrictions unless this is proven to be technologically or economically impossible or in actual conflict with state regulatory requirements. Require applicants to seek relief through standard City processes, by requesting zoning changes, variances, special use permits, waiver of standard permit conditions, and the like. The burden should always be on the operator to show that it cannot reasonably comply with City oil and gas regulations.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
● No Oil and Gas Operations Near Residential Neighborhoods
● Adequate Local Controls on All Oil and Gas Operations
● Oil and Gas Operations Could Occur Anywhere. City Regulations Must Recognize That.
Ultra Petroleum shareholders will have a third chance to vote on a resolution that calls for the company to report impacts of hydraulic fracturing, as proposed by advocacy group As You Sow at Ultra's annual meeting Wednesday.
We wrote about As You Sow in the context of Ultra's operations in January. Ultra has obtained two state permits to drill in the Banning Lewis Ranch on the east side of Colorado Springs after the company bought 18,000 acres there a year ago.
The city has a moratorium in place until the end of May, which was supposed to give the city time to come up with local drilling regulations, but none has been adopted so far.
Now, As you Sow is trying again to gain momentum on the resolution. Here's the group's press release:
For the third consecutive year, the shareholder advocacy group As You Sow is challenging Ultra Petroleum over its failure to provide investors with sufficient information on steps the Company is taking to address and mitigate the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The environmental, social, and public health impacts of fracking and natural gas drilling are leading to increased community opposition and regulatory scrutiny, which has significant financial and business implications. Shareholders will vote on the resolution on Tuesday, May 22 at the Company’s annual shareholder meeting.
Shareholders are asking the Company to report on the financial impacts of fracking bans, moratoriums, and public opposition that are being felt industry-wide. Ultra has also failed to disclose the fines and enforcement actions they face, stemming from environmental and operational infractions associated with fracking, including air quality violations, pollution of wetlands, improperly lined impoundments, and lack of pollution control measures. The Company has one of the highest rates of violations per well in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, and has incurred over 200 violations in both Pennsylvania and Wyoming in the past five years.
In Wyoming, Ultra has already spent tens of millions of dollars to reduce its hazardous air emissions and will pay several million more to a Wyoming air quality mitigation fund. Shareholders submitted documentation on these and other related concerns to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Last year shareholders had the opportunity to vote on a similar proposal. Support doubled from the 2010 vote to 42% — one of the highest votes ever for a shareholder vote on an environmental or health issue. Nevertheless, Ultra has refused shareholder requests to dialogue on this issue for more than two years; in contrast to many other companies. Ultra also refused to allow shareholders the right to present this resolution at the 2011 annual meeting. The resolution was co-filed by As You Sow and the Green Century Equity Fund.
Chevron and ExxonMobil shareholders will be voting on similar proposals related to their fracking practices at their annual meetings on May 30th.
WHAT: Ultra Petroleum's Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders
WHEN: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT)
WHERE: The Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire, 255 Barclay Parade SW, Calgary, Alberta T2P 5C2
Here's the resolution:
Text from a press release going out momentarily:
The owners of the Colorado Springs Independent, the Pikes Peak region’s largest locally owned media company, will acquire the Colorado Springs Business Journal on June 1, 2012 from the Dolan Company, a national media conglomerate that owns more than 50 publications across the U.S.
The new owners also will apply to service Dolan’s contract publishing of three local military newspapers: the Fort Carson Mountaineer, Peterson (Air Force Base) Space Observer and Schriever (AFB) Sentinel. More than 68,000 local adults read these publications in print, and thousands more via their popular web portals. (see below)
“Local decision-makers with long-term commitments to — and understanding of — our vibrant community are the key to success,” says John Weiss, publisher of the Independent and majority owner of the purchasing group.
“During the next three to six months, to ensure a smooth transition from national to local control, the Independent’s Executive Editor Ralph Routon and CEO Fran Zankowski will divide their time between both organizations. For the time being, former City Councilor John Hazlehurst will also report and opine for both the CSBJ and the Indy."
“We’re looking forward to making the Business Journal a stronger, more essential presence,” says Routon, whose local newspaper roots date to 1977. “Business is the most powerful force shaping the Pikes Peak region.
My mission is to ensure the Business Journal continues to provide timely, accurate and insightful reporting of critical interest to local decision-makers.”
“The current staff at CSBJ and the military papers is rock-solid,” said Zankowski, a longtime newspaper executive who has been at the Independent since 2005. “In the coming months and years we anticipate growing the current 20-person staff to publish even stronger print and online offerings.”
“We are psyched,” added Weiss, who co-founded the Independent 19 years ago. The 1978 Colorado College graduate continued, “Six months from now the CSBJ will be even more of a must-read for everyone interested in understanding the entrepreneurial, civic and demographic forces impacting local business decisions.”
Find out more about the change in Wednesday's Indy.
There's a few things happening on the oil and gas drilling front, so here's the update:
Business students at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs are ready to unveil their findings about whether drilling will be good or bad for El Paso County.
The study, conducted by 25 master's level business students, will be released at 4:45 p.m. Friday in Dwire Hall 121 on the UCCS campus, the university said in a press release. The meeting is open to the public and parking is free.
The comprehensive project researched environmental impact, economic impact, and oil and gas profitability in the county.
“Successful energy exploration and development could create hundreds of well-paying jobs, diversify the tax base, and increase local GDP by as much as 5 percent,” Fred Crowley, senior instructor, College of Business, and associate director of the Southern Colorado Economic Forum, said Crowley said oil and gas exploration could provide a more than $1 billion boost to the local economy. “The challenge for us is, how do we capture those jobs and incomes plus the jobs and incomes of the related service industries that don’t even exist here yet?” Crowley said.
The students have invited public and private decision makers to the presentation in the hope that their research will aid in the decision making process as local governments and business organizations grapple with policymaking related to the emergence of this industry.
Meantime, Vermont last week became the first state in the nation to ban hydraulic fracturing, the use of water, sand and chemicals to break open oil and gas deposits so they can be more economically extracted. More on that is here.
In a related matter, Mary Talbott, a local resident who has remained ever vigilant to new developments in the oil and gas industry, sends us this link about companies writing deals with residents that contain non-disclosure agreements. See that story on truth-out.org here
Here's an excerpt from that story, which also reports that the environmental group Earthjustice contends some of these secret agreements have been made in Colorado.
Besides air emissions standards recently introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency, fracking remains largely unregulated by the federal government and has been linked to earthquakes and air and water contamination across the country. Fracking companies disclose some of the chemicals used in fracking fluid, but others - and their concentrations - are often exempt from disclosure because they are considered trade secrets. Other exemptions buried in state and federal law allow drillers to avoid disclosing contents of fracking fluids after they return from deep underground.
Dr. Jerome Paulson, a physician and director of Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment, said that the fracking industry has told the public that the drilling procedure is safe, so there is no reason to hide information on health impacts from public view. Nondisclosure agreements with private landowners and disclosure exemptions, Paulson said, are preventing doctors from doing their jobs and protecting the public.
"How do we provide appropriate treatment recommendations to who are ill?" Paulson asked during a press conference last week. "For the population of individuals who are healthy, how do we provide prevention recommendations when we don't have the information?"
Lastly, the Western Energy Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group for the drilling industry, is upbeat about a new study "which highlights the adverse impacts of public lands policies on jobs, investment, and state revenue."
Economic Impacts of Oil & Gas Development on Federal lands in the West, prepared by SWCA Environmental Consultants, details the huge economic impact of 22 oil and natural gas projects proposed in the West. Collectively, these projects could create 120,905 jobs, $8 billion in wages, $27.5 billion in economic activity, and $139 million in government revenue every year. The total economic impact of these 22 projects over their anticipated 10-15 year lifespan is $383.5 billion.
In the federal oil and natural gas process, companies are responsible for proposing projects, and the Bureau of Land Management or the Forest Service is responsible for completing the environmental analysis required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Development, and the resulting jobs and economic growth, cannot proceed until the government completes the NEPA analysis.
“Government delays during the environmental analysis phase are preventing significant job creation and economic activity,” said Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs. “If we look at projects outstanding for three years, which represent about 1,631 wells per year, we see that federal government delays are preventing the creation of 64,805 jobs, $4.3 billion in wages, and $14.9 billion in economic impact every year.
“Our members, especially the small independent businesses who are the backbone of the western economy, know first-hand how difficult it is to operate on public lands. Federal policies discourage domestic oil and natural gas production, and put the West at a disadvantage compared to other regions of the country without a preponderance of public lands. This study provides hard evidence of how bureaucratic delays are adversely affecting small businesses and working families,” said Sgamma.
If it could happen in Portland, why couldn't it happen in Colorado Springs?
That has been the underlying theme this week as about 50 people from the Colorado Springs area — split fairly evenly among business, nonprofit and governmental leaders — have spent the past two days in Portland, Ore., learning as much as they can about the Rose City’s transformation over the past two decades.
The probing and analyzing aren’t finished, with one more full day ahead Wednesday before the 2012 Regional Leaders Trip concludes.
Obviously, it’s unrealistic to expect that Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region could emulate every aspect of what has taken place in Portland, if only because of the population and geographical differences.
While the Springs’ metro area has a little more than 600,000 people, Portland’s three-county market adds up to about 2.3 million residents. Portland also has major rivers, making it a major port not far from the Pacific Ocean, and its thriving downtown Portland State University has nearly 30,000 students, three times the size of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Still, it’s easy to see how Colorado Springs might draw from some of Portland’s other major changes since the early 1990s. That’s particularly true in efforts to revitalize, and even remake, the downtown area, with a priority of public transportation (streetcars and light rail in addition to buses) as well as creative approaches to urban-area housing.
Several of Portland’s leaders also have talked about some of the attributes that Colorado Springs and their city have in common, such as desirable living environments and natural beauty that are attractive to visitors, businesses and potential new residents.
Springs Mayor Steve Bach didn’t make this trip, but he spoke by video connection to the group Tuesday morning, asking everyone to look into how Portland’s city government has helped stimulate business development, as well as how public-private partnerships have helped get things done.
Bach admitted that “we don’t have the financial resources” to solve every problem, especially with increasingly dire infrastructure needs (roads and bridges). But he said that he will be coming to the City Council and Board of County Commissioners “in the next month or two” with fresh ideas about how to share services and save money.
The contingent in Portland includes four City Council members (Jan Martin, Val Snider, Brandy Williams and Lisa Czelatdko) and two county commissioners (Amy Lathen and Peggy Littleton), as well as County Administrator Jeff Greene and Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder.
The fourth annual trip (earlier groups went to Austin, Charlotte and Oklahoma City) is organized by the Center for Regional Advancement, an arm of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC. The trip’s published objective is the “look at the commonalities” between the Pikes Peak region and Portland, “searching for innovative ideas and effective partnerships that will drive more economic success.”
But take heart, friends, for there are more than 3,000 like-minded seekers out there who’ve posted their profiles on Survivalist Singles, a dating website that promises you don’t have to face the future — what’s left of it — alone.
While there appears to be no way to sort members geographically (at least not without signing up, which I’m a little reluctant to do), even a casual scroll through their profiles quickly turns up a few Coloradans.
Like, for instance, Chainsaw.
Granted, the name may seem off-putting, but based on her profile page, Chainsaw is an attractive 46-year-old Denver woman who is spiritual but not religious; speaks English, Italian and Spanish; likes nothing better than a quick-witted comeback; goes to Bronco games, museums, art galleries, dancing, and is always up for new adventures.
Chainsaw's favorite food is chocolate. Her favorite color is camo.
“I've been planning and preparing with friends in the mountains for years now,” she writes. “Just found out about this site not long ago, I'm hoping to meet other local preppers, looking for a like-minded man. Drop me a line if that might be you. ;) ”
Chainsaw's winky face, I’m guessing, is meant flirtatiously. Unless, you know, it’s code for something I'm better off not knowing about.
On a related note, Indy Culture Editor Matt Schniper made me promise to include a link to his award-winning story on a local survivalist food manufacturer.
And finally, here’s a real-life preview of the romantic future that awaits you, along with a trailer from the classic dooms-dating flick, Miracle Mile.
Looks like things might work out without the city getting tough with Ultra Resources to gain access to 8,300 acres of Ultra land.
Doug Selvius, vice president of exploration for Ultra Resources' parent Ultra Petroleum, says the company is working with the city to reach some kind of agreeable plan, hopefully by Thursday.
"We should have all of our issues, which are relatively minor, ironed out by then," he says in an e-mail.
And, shame on us, we were wrong about this acreage not being in the city. All six parcels at issue lie within the city limits, assessor records show. The land is taxed as agricultural land based on usage of the property, regardless of how it's zoned. In this case, the land that's part of the Banning Lewis Ranch on the city's eastern side is zoned under a master plan that contains a mix of residential and commercial zoning.
————— ORIGINAL POST MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2:27 P.M. —————
The city is already in court with Ultra Resources over the annexation agreement for Banning Lewis Ranch, a good portion of which Ultra bought last year as an oil-drilling play.
Now, the city is getting ready to take the Houston company to court on something entirely different.
Ultra Resources has refused to allow Colorado Springs Utilities access to roughly 8,300 acres it owns east and southeast of Colorado Springs so engineers can design the Southern Delivery System pipeline that will bring water from Pueblo Dam. Those acres apparently lie in the path of the pipeline and its components.
Tomorrow, City Council is set to give Utilities approval to seek "court intervention" to gain access to the land in order to "design and permit a portion of the Southern Delivery System (SDS) pipeline," Utilities CEO Jerry Forte says in an memo to City Councilors, who sit as the Utility Board.
which are outside Springs city limits (see above), are described as grazing land and are zoned agriculture, according to the El Paso County Assessor's Office. Ultra acquired 18,000 acres on the city's east side last year to drill for oil. The city has a drilling moratorium in place until the end of next month as the city attempts to write oil and gas drilling regulations.
Forte also says in his memo:
All six properties are owned by one entity and they have been notified a number of times over the last six months via phone calls, email, letters and in-person meetings that SDS needs access to the properties to gather critical data required for advancing design and permitting for components of the SDS project. The access agreement does not allow SDS to install permanent improvements on the property. The majority of hte [sic] access activities will be confined to the surface of the land and any limited sub-surface disturbance will be restored to its previous condition, or better.
To date, the property owner's representative has stated that they do not wish to hinder the progress of SDS, but have not granted access to the necessary properties thus far. The owner's representative has not provided justification for the delay in allowing access. Additionally, staff has communicated to the property owner's representative that we are open to negotiate on the language contained in the standard SDS Right of Entry agreement to meet their criteria, yet we have not received proposed changes to the language to date.
"We are in ongoing discussions with them and our hope is that we can get to agreement on it," Utilities spokeswoman Janet Rummel says. "All we're asking is for access so we can do geotechnical work." Utilities wants to locate part of the pipeline and the northernmost pump station on Ultra land, she says.
"Once you get to a certain point, it starts to cost money," she says of delays caused by Ultra's refusal to cooperate. "We're just trying to have that option to take this to court if needed, but again, we're hopeful we'll reach agreement with them. We've even offered that they can adjust the language in our standard agreement. We're willing to work with them in putting any more specific language in the agreement that would make them more comfortable and make sure we're not impacting their operations with anything we're trying to do."
The hassle in bankruptcy court over the annexation agreement pits Ultra, which wants the agreement set aside so the property could be rezoned agriculture to allow drilling, against the city, which wants to keep the master plan for homes and businesses in place.
Utilities has been consistently successful in court over acquisition of land for SDS. If Utilities has hit a snag over merely entering Ultra's property for design and engineering purposes, imagine the fight if the city has to condemn Ultra property. Condemnation is a public taking of private property for a public purpose. Any attempt to acquire land would come later, Rummel says.
From the land of wheat and the Wizard of Oz comes help from the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center in Hutchinson, Kan., in helping the Springs-based Space Foundation get its visitors center project off to a good start.
The Cosmosphere is loaning a collection of 1970s-era Soviet space artifacts, which will be displayed at its headquarters at 4425 Arrowswest Drive.
Since the foundation moved last year into the building, it's been gradually settling in and has a generous amount of space to dedicate to a visitors center and museum.
The Russian items will be on display for three years starting Aug. 1, after making an appearance at the National Space Symposium at The Broadmoor, which closed on Thursday.
On display will be one of the few Lunokhod lunar rovers ever to be displayed outside of the former Soviet Union; a half-scale model, constructed in the Soviet Union, of the Luna 16 Robotic Probe, the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return a sample of lunar soil to Earth, and a prototype of a Sokol (Falcon) Space Suit-K, a pressure suit that was used for on-ground engineering and thermal vacuum tests during Soviet cosmonaut training.
The foundation said in a press release:
"Initially, we will place these three extraordinary artifacts, which the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center has so generously loaned to us, in our extended lobby area," said Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham. "Then, we'll move them into the El Pomar Space Gallery, as part of the first phase of development of our visitors center.
"We're particularly excited because these artifacts represent a rich part of space history that few Americans have been exposed to," he continued. "We are very pleased to be able to display some of the meaningful contributions the Soviet Union made to space exploration."
The Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center is a museum and educational facility in Hutchinson, Kan., that displays and restores spaceflight artifacts and offers educational programs and camps. It is one of only three museums to display flown spacecraft from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, and it has the second-largest collection of flown Soviet and U.S. space artifacts in the world. In addition to being a destination, the Cosmosphere also sponsors traveling exhibits and loans artifacts to other museums and organizations. For more information, go to www.cosmo.org.
"These artifacts on display in our booth at the National Space Symposium are exemplary of the unique and inspiring collection accumulated during our 50-year history and housed at the Kansas Cosmosphere," said Richard Hollowell, interim president & CEO of the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center. "We are excited to continue our mission of honoring the past and inspiring the future of space exploration by sharing these fascinating artifacts with visitors to the Space Foundation through an annually renewable three-year loan agreement.
In a related development, industry leader Northrop Grumman Corp. has donated $375,000 to create a science center and teaching lab at the Space Foundation's headquarters.
The press release explains:
To be known as the Northrop Grumman Science Center, the facility will include a Science on a Sphere™ laboratory and a teaching facility that will be used for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs for teachers and students and for community education outreach efforts.
The Northrop Grumman Science Center is the first major component of the Space Foundation's visitors center, which is under development at 4425 Arrowswest Drive in Colorado Springs, Colo. Construction will begin immediately and the new center is expected to open as early as this fall.
"This generous gift from Northrop Grumman makes it possible for the Space Foundation to realize our vision of an interactive destination for formal and informal public and private education - advancing STEM in the exciting context of space exploration, development and utilization," said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. "We envision a facility where children and adults can participate in highly interactive learning opportunities in multiple disciplines, including astronomy, physics, mathematics, geography, environmental sciences, planetary sciences and biology."
The Northrop Grumman Science Center will have both lecture and laboratory facilities that can be used for pre-kindergarten through graduate-level courses, educator professional development and educational multimedia events and presentations for the general public.
"Northrop Grumman is honored to partner with the Space Foundation to create this exciting new educational facility for the Rocky Mountain region that will help lead the next generation into space," said Gary Ervin, a corporate vice president of Northrop Grumman and president of the company's Aerospace Systems sector. "STEM education initiatives like this are critical for today's children to become tomorrow's leaders in space. They are the future stewards of our nation's leadership in technology to keep both our economy strong and our residents secure while advancing our understanding of the world around us."
The Center will extend the reach and capabilities of the Space Foundation's education enterprise, which offers space-themed, standards-based education programs to teachers and students. Programs include Space Across the Curriculum teacher professional development courses, STARS science enrichment programs for schools, New Horizons community programs that combine school-based education programs with community events and lectures, Audience with an Astronaut sessions for schools, school and youth tours of major space industry exhibits, including those at the National Space Symposium, lesson plans and teaching resources and a NASA Educator Resource Center.
The 28th National Space Symposium opened last night to a full house as the Colorado Springs Philharmonic played, what else?, music from Apollo 13 and selections from Horst's The Planets, ending with "Mars, the Bringer of War.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, science superstar, and currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, was on hand, along with the Space Foundation's CEO Elliot Pulham, to hand out four awards to people who are advancing humankind's reach into the universe. More on those folks is below.
I sat next to Bill Scott, former Air Force flight test engineer and Aviation Week writer, who will sign his books, Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World War III and Counterspace, from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday in the exhibition center pavilion.
After the opening ceremonies, Bill and I took a stroll through the exhibition areas, much expanded from past years, and were greeted by this little fella, Sprockit the Robot.
We also ran into a few local dignitaries who were taking in the exhibits, including Councilman Tim Leigh and El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.
And then we got really lucky. We stumbled onto DeGrasse Tyson. I had been instructed by my sister to do everything humanly possible to get his autograph. My nephew's girlfriend, Natalie Gosnell, is a PhD candidate in astrophysics at the University of Wisconsin and a DeGrasse Tyson admirer.
The author and host of TV show Cosmos graciously whipped out his fountain pen from its leather sheath, and penned, "To Natalie, the universe beckons." DeGrasse signs his book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday in the pavilion.
But geez, there sure were a lot of people. Pulham tells us more than 9,000 people will attend the symposium through the week. The first symposium drew only 247 attendees. This year, there are more volunteers than that, 340, helping the foundation with the symposium.
The symposium also drew the old standby protesters, who show up outside the International Center every year to remind people of how some of the marvels of space are deployed.
The foundation honored the following contributors to the advancement in space. Descriptions of the winners are provided by the foundation:
Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award: Dr. Cynthia D. Waters is director of aviation for The Aviation Academy at T.W. Andrews High School in High Point, N.C. She is an educator, FAA commercial pilot, flight instructor and member of the North Carolina Airport Economic Development Alliance. Waters uses her experience and contacts to provide the Academy's 140 students with career development opportunities in aviation, engineering and aerospace.
John L. "Jack" Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration: The NASA Kepler Mission is being recognized for the discovery of 61 confirmed extrasolar planets and over 2,300 planet candidates in the first 16 months of observations from May 2009 to September 2010. The Kepler Mission findings contain well over 200 Earth-size planet candidates and more than 900 that are smaller than twice Earth-size. Of the 46 planet candidates found in the habitable zone, the region in the planetary system where liquid water could exist, ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size. The cumulative catalog includes: 246 Earth-size, 676 super Earth-size, 1,118 Neptune-size, 210 Jupiter-size and 71 candidates that are larger than twice the size of Jupiter.
Space Achievement Award: Junichiro Kawaguchi, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), who was program director, Lunar & Planetary Exploration Program Group for JAXA, is being lauded for his engagement in planetary robotic exploration, science and technology since the late 1970s, including development and advancement of a series of orbital maneuvering technologies applied to planetary missions.
Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award: The NASA Social Media Team has been selected as the winner of the Space Foundation's Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award, which is presented annually to an individual, team or organization that has made significant contributions to public awareness of, and support for, space programs. "The NASA Social Media Team has been selected for this distinctive honor for creative and pioneering use of social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter, actively engaging millions of people around the world, and even in orbit, in the exciting missions of discovery that continue to be pioneered by America's space agency," Pulham says in a news release.
Stephannie Finley is leaving her job at the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC as president of governmental affairs and public policy.
Although no official announcement has been made, and we've not been able to reach Finley to confirm, she apparently is telling people she's accepted a job at University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Not surprising, considering she's worked with Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak before.
Here's her background, as outlined on the Chamber's website:
Stephannie Finley began her career working for a small business that brokered and distributed goods to military commissaries, including Peterson AFB, the United States Air Force Academy and Ft. Carson. After Midwest Food Distributors was sold, Stephannie entered the world of politics. She has an extensive background working with many levels of government, including most recently the executive branch in Governor Bill Owens’ Administration as Chief of Staff to Lt. Governor Jane Norton. One of the most exciting experiences was serving on the Presidential Advance Team for the White House in the early 90s.
Stephannie served as a staff member for the Colorado General Assembly, chief of staff for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, worked at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as Assistant Director, and was the Director of State Government Relations for the University of Colorado before joining the Lieutenant Governor as her chief of staff. Stephannie was caught up in the excitement of Colorado Springs’ dynamic advancement when she worked with Chancellor (Pam) Shockley (Zalabak) and the UCCS team for almost two years. She witnessed firsthand how the University’s leadership was moving the campus forward through an impressive and effective partnership with the community. Through that interaction, she agreed to join the Colorado Springs Chamber in February of 2006.
Stephannie serves on the School Board of Directors for Hope Online Learning Academy, is on the Board of the Colorado Springs Conservatory and is the co-lead of Citizens for Effective Government. Stephannie was selected to be the co-lead on the City’s Fiscal Sustainability Committee’s City Services Subcommittee and is on the planning team for the Chancellor’s Women’s Leadership Symposium. She was recently chosen by the Colorado Springs Business Journal as one of ten 2008 “Women of Influence” and recently received an award from the City of Colorado Springs for leadership in addressing fiscal sustainability. Stephannie just graduated from the 2009 Colorado Springs Leadership Institute program, where she was chosen by her peers to be Class Representative. She also served in the past as a member of the Board for the Colorado Suicide Prevention Advisory Council and the Colorado Mental Health Board.