Mayor Steve Bach sure has an interesting relationship with the daily newspaper.
Take, for example, what happened when Gazette reporters wrote a perfectly serviceable story about the city's Waldo Canyon Fire After Action Report, released April 3. The newspaper's April 4 story noted the city's shortcomings, along with some strengths, as outlined in the report.
Later on April 4, Bach said during a FOX 21 News interview that he was "disappointed" in the daily's coverage of the report and planned to call the publisher and editor.
The April 5 paper contained a note that the previous day's headline wasn't quite right, because it suggested things went terribly wrong during the fire. (Things did, of course, go terribly wrong, as we've reported in "Misfire," Dec. 12, 2012.)
Two days later, the Gazette carried another correction, this one emphatic about the newspaper having made an error with that original headline (which has since been eradicated from the digital version of the story).
As if that wasn't enough, the following Monday, five days after the April 3 news conference, the Gazette published Bach's news-conference comments word for word — at the top of the front page no less.
The "story" shared top billing in that day's paper with this story.
Rest assured that as of today, it looks like things have been fully smoothed over. In fact, Bach has taken on the role of helping the daily distribute its paper.
In a news release, the city tells us that from 4:30 to 6 a.m. Monday, the mayor will "greet hundreds of frequent flyers with coffee and a complimentary copy of The Gazette and thank them for flying out of the Colorado Springs Airport."
(Bach recently sent long-time airport director Mark Earle packing and now is in the midst of hiring a consultant to help market the airport, which has seen passenger traffic drop over the years.)
Think there'll be a favorable story about Bach in Tuesday's edition?
Once again, the issue of whether Colorado Springs City Council is getting the sound and unbiased legal advice it needs has arisen.
This is not a new issue, as the daily newspaper would have its readers believe. The Independent has been reporting on this for the last two years, most recently in a cover story ("Chris cross," March 6, 2013).
Recently, the City Council, which includes six new members who took office on April 16, expressed concerns all over again that City Attorney Chris Melcher, who was hired by Mayor Steve Bach and can be fired by him, might not give Council the straight skinny on legal matters in which the Council could be at odds with the mayor.
And Bach also can dole out healthy rewards to Melcher, like he did last year when he laid $25,000 on him for handling the Memorial Health System lease, although the city paid an outside attorney $1.5 million for that project. We reported on the bonus here.
Reasons for Council's concerns about Melcher are well-documented in the cover story referenced above.
During Bach's monthly news conference this morning, he was asked about the matter again by the daily's City Hall reporter.
Basically, his message to Council is, take him to court over it.
Specifically, he said:
"I'm surprised there continues to be that conversation, honestly. I talked with Keith King at length and Merv Bennett after they were named president and president pro tem, and our city Charter says there will be one city attorney who supports the mayor and city council" as well as other city entities.
"If the City Council wants to have their own attorney, they need to go to the voters and ask the voters to change that," he added.
He then noted that 50 cities, including Denver, with the same council-mayor form of government (in which the mayor acts as a CEO) have a single city attorney.
"So what is this really about? Honestly, this is an attempt to change the charter without changing the charter, and that's not legal and that's not right," he said, noting Melcher has assigned one of his associates to provide legal assistance to the Council so Council has its own attorney. (Council has expressed concern, though, that the associate, Wynetta Massey, reports directly to Melcher; how unbiased could her legal advice be?)
Bach then gave his suggestion Council sue him.
What I've said to Mr. King is that, and I hope this day does not come, the City Council has recourse, and it's not just about the city attorney. It's about a lot of other things as you well know in terms of this new Council wanting to change the balance between the mayor and council. I told Mr. King and Mr. Bennett, if you truly think the city attorney is not properly advising you, you can always file a petition with the district court. If they don't like what I'm doing, don't believe I should be doing the things I'm doing, and if we can't come to some compromise ... they can file a petition with the district court and ask for a summary judgment. I hope that day doesn't come.
There's just one little problem with that. Do you really think Melcher would allow Massey to file such an action? Doubtful. So how does Council file such a case? Unlike in the past, there are no attorneys on Council. Maybe they could ask for pro bono help from some gutsy lawyer in the community willing to take on such a politically risky case. Or maybe not.
Bach is right when he says the charter could be changed to allow Council it's own legal counsel. That has happened elsewhere in the country. And it should be noted that Council, not the mayor, submits ballot measures to voters.
In other matters at the news conference, city officials announced a plan to spend almost $6 million on parks maintenance and repairs following the April 2 election at which voters gave the city permission to use more trails, open space and parks money on repairs, rather than new development and acquisition.
Among the projects are turf reduction ($467,000), playground replacement ($250,000), ADA improvements ($150,000), installation of artificial turf at Skyview Sports Complex ($2.2 million), irrigation renovations ($250,000) and tennis court replacement at Memorial Park ($1 million), among other projects.
The city will replace 95 lights downtown and in Acacia Park with LED lights, which will save energy while providing brighter lights, which Bach equated to a higher level of public safety. In addition, the building in Acacia Park is being remodeled into a visitors center to be staffed between Memorial Day and Labor Day to help tourists make the most of their visit.
Yesterday, Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights filed suit against the city in its ongoing effort to put a ban on fracking before local voters.
As explained in this week’s paper, the Initiative Title Setting Review Board last week rejected CSCCR’s proposed amendment to the city charter that would prevent “the extraction of natural gas or oil, including but not limited to, the processes commonly known as hydraulic fracturing and/or directional natural gas and oil well drilling, within the City of Colorado Springs.” The board contended the amendment violated the city’s rule against having multiple subjects addressed in a single ballot measure; CSCCR disagrees with that assessment, and even argues that the single-subject rule itself may not be legally valid.
The University of Denver Sturm College of Environmental Law Clinic will take up the cause, pro bono. That clinic is also representing a quartet of environmental groups aligned with the city of Longmont, which is being sued by the state for enacting a ban on fracking there.
“They’re very up to speed on the issue,” says CSCCR’s Dave Gardner. He adds that “the supervising attorney actually taught three classes about fracking at DU in the law school this last semester.”
With the suit filed in the 4th Judicial District, the city will be expected to file an answer. Gardner was unsure of the timeline for that; we have asked the city for more information, and will provide an update if and when we receive it.
Asked about a best-case scenario for his group’s effort, Gardner says that would involve the city simply backing down from its current stance.
“There’s still plenty of room for the city to do the right thing and not waste their resources in court and not waste everybody’s time fighting this in court.”
Here’s the group’s filed complaint:
It's amazing how weathered concrete just haunts your subconscious.
But all joking aside, that sidewalk is your responsibility. And if you're struggling to pay your bills now, just think about how much worse it will be if someone trips on a chunk of cement outside your house and sues you for damages. Because, you know, Murphy's law and all ...
Anyway, I bring all this up because it's a really good time to replace that sidewalk. For a limited time, the city will actually pay for part of the cost. What a bargain! And while your new sidewalk may not bring you years of joy, per se, it will be appreciated by neighbors who use wheelchairs, push strollers, or simply have difficulty walking.
City continues concrete repair cost-sharing option for homeowners
The City of Colorado Springs, with funding from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) and the City General Fund, will continue the 50/50 cost-sharing program to repair/replace concrete sidewalks and curb and gutter adjacent to private property in 2013. Fifty percent of the cost is paid for by the City, while the property owner pays the other half. Concrete must be rated Priority 1 or 2 (explained further in release).
Concrete repairs to sidewalks and curb gutter adjacent to private property are ultimately the responsibility and liability of the adjacent property owner; however, the City has allocated funding to assist with these repairs. Currently there is an approximately 16-year backlog of citizen requests for concrete repair. The 50/50 cost-sharing program is designed to allow citizens to get Priority 1 and 2 areas addressed sooner and allow the City to address more needs with available funding.
In 2012, the City spent $107,500 in PPRTA funding and repaired concrete at 60 residences. For 2013, $115,000 in PPRTA funding plus $200,000 from the City General Fund has been allocated to the 50/50 Cost Share program. The additional General Fund dollars are part of the Mayor’s 2013 breakthrough strategy to increase road and stormwater maintenance.
Repair needs must meet Priority 1 or 2 levels using objective criteria established under the concrete repair program.
Priority 2 areas are those that meet at least one of these conditions:
· 75 to 100 percent of the curb head or sidewalk is chipped or broken
· Concrete has settled at least 2 inches
· 50% or more of the surface has spalled (top ½ to 1 inch has worn away, leaving a rough surface)
Priority 1 areas meet at least one of the Priority 2 conditions AND at least one of these conditions:
· Verified accident or claim for injury caused by damage
· Citizen with a disability whose access is impeded due to damage
· 250 yard proximity to hospital, school, senior center or bus stop
Citizens interested in participating should call 385-5411 to schedule an inspection/rating session with a City/PPRTA inspector. Here are some basic cost estimates for concrete work:
· Remove damaged curb and gutter $5.50 per linear foot
· Install curb and gutter $14.25 per linear foot
· Remove damaged sidewalk $2.25 per square foot
· Install sidewalk $2.90 per square foot
Tonight, folks at the Broadmoor will lay out their plans for millions of dollars in improvements to the resort, in addition to the closing of a well-established route through that part of the city, Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard.
The meeting, by invitation at Broadmoor Hall, is expected to draw a good number of the 1,700 neighbors who were invited. And some of them are likely to criticize those road-closure plans, as indicated by this petition, with its 57 signatures and counting.
Here are a few comments from the petition:
We appreciate all that the Broadmoor does for our community...but closing this major access road would be a disaster! PLEASE reconsider!!!
I am a huge fan of Mr. Bartolin and Mr. Anschutz and grateful to all they do for the community. I can't think of one thing the Broadmoor has wanted to do that I was opposed to. This has huge risk (safety, congestion) for limited upside and so I oppose it.
Any of our elected persons who support this should be subject to recall immediately. Sometimes even the wealthy have to accept being told "what self serving profiteer thought of this insane and dangerous scheme!"
Against closing west Cheyenne Blvd. We have a home in the Old Stage Summer Home Group, and that is our major exit in case of fire.
Recent presentations by CSFD officials said "it isn't IF a fire occurs, it is WHEN it will occur". I hope our local elected and appointed officials can demonstrate more integrity than many of those elected to Washington.
We reported on this issue last week, noting that the hotel's expected request to the city to vacate 3,000 feet of the road comes as the region is mired in an ongoing drought and the Waldo Canyon Fire is still vivid in all of our memories. Broadmoor President and CEO Steve Bartolin told the Indy that the Broadmoor's plans would allow for the vacated road to be used in emergencies. He added that tonight's meeting is only the beginning of engaging with the public, with the resort planning several more community meetings.
After the Broadmoor does file its application to close the street, the city's process requires only one public meeting before City Council.
Deputy Fire Chief Tommy Smith as been named interim fire chief for Colorado Springs, the city says in a news release.
Deputy Chief Smith has served on the Colorado Springs Fire Department since 1991 and has been a firefighter, paramedic, Lieutenant, Captain and Battalion Chief. Chief Smith currently oversees Support Services which includes the Training Division, Medical Division, Division of the Fire Marshal, Fleet and Facilities, Human Resources, Public Communications and Community Education. Chief Smith has a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management in Human Resources.
“Tommy is already a leader in the Colorado Springs Fire Department and will be a great asset to the department during the transition. His experience will serve the city well during this interim period,” said Mayor Steve Bach.
The City will conduct a national search, looking both internally and externally, for our next fire chief.
The release also notes that Smith isn't available for interviews today, and that there will be media availability later in the week.
Chief Rich Brown's "retirement" was announced last week.
The city's procurement department advises the contract was awarded using a Request for Proposals process (Best Value), not a low bid process. The evaluation criteria included construction phasing and traffic control, cost, project approach, qualifications, construction schedule and overall quality and value of the proposal.
Here are the bids:
Lawrence Construction, $22,549,801.77
Kiewit Infrastructure, $27,705,467.50
Wildcat Construction, $24,963,041.82
Sema Construction, $25,632,572.20
Blue Ridge Construction, $25,334,981.20
Also, Mike Chaves, an engineer with the city, says the contract is to be considered by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority board in May and likely will begin in July.
—————ORIGINAL POST, FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 1:09 P.M.—————
Widening of the Austin Bluffs Parkway corridor will get under way WHEN, after the city chose a Littleton company for the $22.4 million contract.
Lawrence Construction Co. was one of five bidders, which included another Littleton firm, Kiewit Infrastructure; Sema Construction of Centennial, and two firms from Colorado Springs, Wildcat Construction Co., Inc., and Blue Ridge Construction.
According to the city's procurement website, Lawrence was chosen as "the highest ranked firm." We've asked for bids from each of the five and will report back if and when we receive a response to our request from the city.
Project objectives, according to the city's website:
Improved east-west mobility per the East-West Mobility Study
Reduce accidents and congestion at signalized intersections
Enhance roadway capacity and safety
Adhere to the City's "complete streets" concept along the corridor
The project follows the construction of an interchange at Austin Bluffs and Union Boulevard, which opened Sept. 11, 2008, and cost $35.8 million.
That project at the new one are funded by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, supported with a 1 percent sales tax approved by voters.
Bids were due at 3 p.m. Thursday for a consulting contract to promote Colorado Springs Airport. The contract is valued at up to $150,000. A contract will be awarded no later than May 29.
This follows the departure of Airport Director Mark Earle late last month, with Mayor Steve Bach saying he wanted to get more aggressive in building the airport's business and attracting an airline.
The request for proposals issued earlier this month sought companies with "in-depth knowledge and expertise in airport marketing and branding strategies and a demonstrated ability to lead an organization through a comprehensive review and restructuring process for its overall marketing program"
The RFP also outlines the following tasks to be performed under the contract:
— Conduct research, including definition of the regional market and analysis of scheduled airline service, charter service market demographics and trends.
— Show how this data could e used to influence marketing and strategy development.
— Assess the airport's existing marketing tools, such as its website and interface with other agencies, such as the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
— Develop a marketing program vision and objectives
— Identify markets to target and strategies for reaching those markets.
— Look at putting together destination travel packages, including airline, car, hotel and attractions, and assess whether it makes sense to develop a Springs "loyalty program."
— Analyze website use, and develop a social media strategy.
The RFP notes that the city has 45 percent "leakage" to Denver International Airport.
The city has been in touch regarding Chief Brown’s current salary: It's $147,657.
---ORIGINAL POST, TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 1:36 P.M.---
Here we go again. Another department head, this time Fire Chief Rich Brown, is retiring, the City of Colorado Springs has announced in a news release.
He's the latest in a long parade of top managers who have left since Mayor Steve Bach took office in June 2011. Others include former City Attorney Patricia Kelly, Economic Vitality chief Steve Cox and Budget Director Lisa Bigelow. All of them, as well as others, "retired," but were paid severance pay anyway, as we reported three weeks ago.
Brown was the chief when the Waldo Canyon Fire swept into the city on June 26 and destroyed 347 homes and killed two people. Management and oversight of the fire was called into question by firefighters and others, as reported in our cover story "Misfire," Dec. 12, 2012.
Even the city's own After Action Report, released April 3, pointed out lack of training at the command level. To read the report, go to springsgov.com and look under Hot Topics.
Notice the city says Brown will stay on as a consultant for several months. Those seem to be code words for "severance pay." The same phrase was used when Bach bounced Airport Director Mark Earle recently.
When we asked about severance pay, the city sent us an e-mail saying, "As stated in the release: Brown will remain with the City as a consultant until the end of the year - receiving his full salary and benefits."
So draw your own conclusion. We're not sure what his current salary, but in December 2011 after being named chief, it was $130,000 a year.
Here's the city's release:
Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown announced his retirement today after 32 years with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Chief Brown worked his way up through the ranks as firefighter, paramedic, Lieutenant, Captain and Battalion Chief, to Deputy Chief of Operations. Throughout his career he was assigned to the Operations Division, Medical Division and Training Division. Whether it was manning a fire hose or guiding the department - from the Red Tag Explosion in 1986, to the Blizzard of ’97, to Castle West in 2007, to the Waldo Canyon Fire - Chief Rich Brown has served during some of the community’s worst disasters.
“Fire Chief Rich Brown is truly a legend in our region for his bravery, courage and leadership as a firefighter for the City. During my term he has also served as an instrumental member of our City Executive Team. Chief Brown set a very high standard for himself and his department, earning a prestigious national honor. He was an innovator, creating numerous community service programs, including neighborhood free health clinics in our fire stations. Chief Brown has my deepest respect and appreciation for his long, distinguished service to the citizens of Colorado Springs. He will continue to provide us with important consulting help for several months. We will be naming an Interim Fire Chief by the Chief’s April 30 retirement date and will subsequently conduct a national search for his successor, “ said Mayor Steve Bach.
“I am honored to have served in every capacity that I have and did my best every day. I’m very pleased that the CSFD is now Internationally Accredited. I believe we are on the right track exploring the options that are out there with respect to ambulance contracts and that will only serve the community better. We have a great department that looks to serve our citizens in the best possible way,” said Chief Brown
Rich Brown holds a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership from Regis University. Brown will remain with the City as a consultant until the end of the year - receiving his full salary and benefits.
Remember when Mayor Steve Bach was feeling his power and sent a letter to City Council urging a study of selling or leasing the city's electric utility?
Well, 11 months and a lot of brain damage later, the Colorado Springs Utilities Board today killed a study that could have cost ratepayers $500,000, an action we predicted in a blog post yesterday.
The unanimous vote came after a fairly lengthy presentation by Utilities Policy Advisory Committee member Terri Carver, who outlined what the study would cover; including a call to hire a consultant to act as project manager to help hire yet another consultant that would place a value on Utilities' power generation, distribution and transmission assets.
Nothing doing, said Board member Don Knight, one of six newly elected Council members who were attending their first meeting as part of the Utilities Board.
"It was very obvious in my district citizens didn't want to sell Utilities," said Knight, who defeated incumbent and frequent Utilities critic Tim Leigh in the April 2 election.
To which Carver responded, "This was expected, and we are fine" with it, a comment that drew laughter throughout the room.
Board member Jan Martin said the previous board started the study process with UPAC last year when the board "felt a lot of pressure" from Bach to explore a sale. We wrote about this here.
"There was a feeling a study could put the thing to bed," Board member Merv Bennett said.
Utilities CEO Jerry Forte, when asked about budgeting for the study, noted that $500,000 had been earmarked this year. But due to an expected $17 million drop in revenue, in part due to lower water sales due to the drought and associated watering restrictions, Forte said being able to scratch the study's cost would be "very, very helpful for us to maintain financial stability."
Chairman Keith King then said if there's no intention by the board to entertain the idea of a sale, "there's no point to the study."
A separate study of decommissioning the coal-burning Drake Power Plant downtown continues, however.
Today, the City Council, with six new members, met for the first time as the Colorado Springs Utilities Board of Directors.
Chairman Keith King laid down the ground rules, among them that members would refer to one another as "Chairman King," or "Board Member [Val] Snider." That, he said, is part of his effort for the board to "relay a professional image."
Fair enough. King's suggestion for a greater level of decorum might also be read as a desire for members to choose their words wisely.
But 23 minutes into the meeting, after a resolution honoring the city's wastewater workers was read, new member Helen Collins asked that the handful of workers who represented that division by attending today's meeting stand and introduce themselves.
And then she said, "A lot of times it's the little people that count in our city."
Alrighty, then. Welcome to the fishbowl, Ms. Collins. We would have hung out for recess and asked her about the comment, but she's told us twice she doesn't give interviews, because, "I want to be quoted accurately."
The quote is accurate. We recorded it and can't help but be reminded that, a similar phrase was uttered by the Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley, who was quoted by her housekeeper during her tax evasion trial as saying, "Only the little people pay taxes." Helmsley was convicted, went to prison, and died in 2007.
Mayor Steve Bach will ask City Council next week for permission to spend nearly $12 million from the city's reserve fund on fire and flood mitigation, emergency preparedness, vehicles replacement, raises for personnel and other needs.
At a news conference today, his Chief of Staff Laura Neumann outlines the spending package as follows:
— $10 million for flood safety improvements, including $8.8 million for rebuilding and restoring Camp Creek and Douglas Creek in the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area, $100,000 for training of personnel in emergency response and management, $100,000 for the city's part in a study of the fire, and $1 million for forest management and fuels reduction.
— $300,000 for replacement of 12 motorcycles for the Police Department.
— $1.42 million for raises for sworn personnel and some civilian workers.
— $155,000 for a "legislative management system" to better streamline the agenda and meeting process for City Council.
For details, here's Neumann's presentation:
Council would take up the request on April 23. The city has $46.3 million in reserve, Neumann said, which is 19.2 percent of the 2013 budget. After drawing down the nearly $12 million, the reserve fund will contain the equivalent of 13.6 percent of this year's budget.
Update, 11:19 a.m., April 19: Fort Carson has issued a correction to its press release, saying that the Colorado Springs Fire Department was not involved with the base on this training.
I don't know why it's called a Bambi Bucket, but it could come in mighty handy when we get our next forest fire, as long as the Pentagon agrees to allow the buckets to be used in the firefight.
To be prepared, the Army and Colorado Springs Fire Department are working together to understand how the buckets work and how to best deploy them in tandem with city resources.
Here's a news release from Fort Carson:
- Fort Carson
- A Bambi Bucket could prove invaluable during a fire.
The 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, and Colorado Springs Fire Department will conduct Bambi Bucket training at noon Thursday near Butts Army Airfield.
A Bambi Bucket is a specialized water carrier designed for aerial firefighting. The bucket, which can hold approximately 2,000 gallons of water, is suspended on a cable carried by a helicopter. When the helicopter is in position over a fire, the crew releases a valve on the bottom of the bucket, dropping the water and helping extinguish the fire.
This is the first training exercise that 2-4 GSAB and CSFD have conducted together for Bambi Bucket training missions.
The 4th Infantry Division, CSFD and 4th CAB are working together on the Bambi Bucket mission in preparation to better serve firefighting needs in the Pikes Peak area.
Just bear in mind that, as Carson spokesperson Meghan Williams notes in a statement:
Fort Carson and the 4th Infantry Division can only deploy military resources (to include Bambi Buckets) to support firefighting when requested by the National Interagency Fire Center and approved by the Secretary of Defense. At that point, Fort Carson and the 4th Inf. Div.’s support would be coordinated through U.S. Northern Command. NIFC can only request DoD support after all other local, state and federal resources have been exhausted.
The two oldest Colorado Springs City Council members were elected by their colleagues today to leadership positions.
Former state legislator Keith King, 65
64, elected April 2 to represent the southwest District 3, will serve as president, and Merv Bennett, just a few months younger than King who's mid-way through his first four-year at-large term, will serve as president pro tem. Considering Mayor Steve Bach is 70, that means the city's designated leaders are all white men of retirement age.
But the votes for King and Bennett, at a special meeting at 1 p.m. today, were deeply split.
King was chosen as president by a vote of 6-3. Voting for him were Joel Miller, Helen Collins, Bennett, Jill Gaebler, Andy Pico and King, so King took most of the newcomers' votes.
Don Knight, elected April 2 to represent northwest District 1, was nominated by Jan Martin, and got her vote, his own and that of incumbent at-large member Val Snider.
For president pro tem, the vote was closer, 5-4. Bennett faced off with Martin, who served as pro tem the past two years and has the most experience of any councilor, with six years.
Electing Bennett were himself, Collins, King, Miller and Pico. Martin got backing from herself, Knight, Gaebler and Snider.
So the new leadership consists of someone with no experience on Council (King), and someone with very little (Bennett). But that didn't bother Pico. "Keith King has a tremendous amount of legislative experience, and I think it transfers pretty well," he said.
After the vote, Martin noted within two years, she had served with 12 different Council members. "With the one- to two-year learning curve, we will all have to be patient for awhile."
King is seen as the establishment candidate with backing from the moneyed class of Colorado Springs concentrated in the Broadmoor area. These are the very people who elected Mayor Bach two years ago.
Despite that, King and Bennett vowed the Council wouldn't be a rubber stamp for Bach, who is the city's first mayor under the council-mayor form of government adopted in 2010, which vests operational control in the mayor and budget authority in the Council.
Political observers say the first Council president under the new form of government, Scott Hente, never fully exercised the authority given to him under the city's charter and Council rules and procedures. This led to a weak body that was never able to counter the mayor's moves.
But King says that will change. "We will be a strong Council, and have an independent voice in this community," he said after the vote. "We will be sure the voices of our residents will be heard. We will be sure we work together as a team. There will be times we will agree, and times we disagree. We will not make issues of how we disagree or personalize it."
Bennett said he agreed with King but added, "We will be working in cooperation with the mayor. We will stand strong in what we think is best for the community."
A start at that promise might come tomorrow when the newly constituted City Council, with six new members, holds its first Colorado Springs Utilities Board meeting. Word among the well-informed and closely connected was that the board would reject a proposed consultant contract that's supposed to examine selling or leasing Utilities assets, an idea hatched by Bach through his publicly stated desire to investigate Utilities' value and whether it made sense to sell it.
A good number of ratepayers, though, opposed the idea, and voters in the April 2 election chose several new councilors who expressed strong opposition to selling Utilities, among them King, Pico and Miller.
Earlier in the day, at the swearing-in ceremony for the new members — Knight, Miller, King, Collins, Gaebler and Pico — Bach gave a three-minute speech in which he "pledged" to "work together" and closed his remarks by citing a quotation from James Freeman Clarke: "A politician thinks of the next election," Bach said. "A statesman thinks of the next generation."
The decision about who will serve as president of the Colorado Springs City Council is just over 24 hours away, and it's anybody's guess who will prevail.
The front-runners are said to be President Pro Tem Jan Martin, who's in the midst of her second four-year term and is the only member with more than two years' experience on Council, and Keith King, who served 12 years in the state Legislature but is new to municipal government.
King says he wants Merv Bennett, elected at-large in 2011, to serve as president pro tem. Martin hasn't revealed her choice for No. 2, but Val Snider, also elected at-large in 2011, might be a good bet.
But what if each one gets four votes and a wildcard councilor votes for him- or herself? Then what?
Turning to the Rules and Procedures of City Council, we find the answer, which is reproduced in full below. The short version is that if more than two people seek to be president, and the first vote results in no majority (5), the person with the least number of votes must drop out. Another vote is then taken. The same procedure applies to the selection of the president pro tem.
There's no provision for a Council member to abstain, so when the newly sworn Council convenes tomorrow (Tuesday) at 1 p.m. at City Hall, a president will, indeed, be elected. (The newbies — Don Knight, Joel Miller, King, Helen Collins, Jill Gaebler and Andy Pico — will be sworn in at 10 a.m. Tuesday, also at City Hall.)
The president job is important, and here's why.
1. ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING-ELECTION OF OFFICERS
A. Newly elected members of Council shall take office at 10:00 a.m. on the third Tuesday of April following the election. The Council shall hold its first meeting on or after the third Tuesday of April. At that first meeting a President of the Council (President) shall be elected from a majority vote of the entire Council (five  members). In the event there are more than two (2) candidates for the office of President of the Council and no individual receives a majority vote, the candidate receiving the least number of votes shall withdraw until one (1) candidate receives a majority vote. (1982; 2000; 2011) (Charter § 3-20) The President of the Council will serve for two (2) years and may be removed from office by a vote of at least five (5) members. (2011)
B. The Council shall elect a member to serve as President Pro Tem in the absence of the President of the Council. The President Pro Tem shall be elected at the first meeting of the Council by majority vote of the entire Council (five members). In the event there are more than two (2) candidates for the office of President Pro Tem and no individual receives a majority vote, the candidate receiving the least number of votes shall withdraw until one (1) candidate receives a majority vote. The President Pro Tem will serve for two (2) years and may be removed from office by a vote of at least five (5) members. (2011)