County Gov

Monday, April 4, 2016

Tyler Stevens bags El Paso County commission bid

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 4:26 PM

Tyler Stevens is throwing in the towel. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Tyler Stevens is throwing in the towel.
Former Green Mountain Falls mayor Tyler Stevens has scrapped his bid for the District 3 seat on the El Paso County Commission.

Stevens failed to gather the 2,958 signatures needed by the deadline, which was today, to secure a spot on the June 28 primary election ballot.

That means Karen Cullen, who petitioned on, and Stan VanderWerf, who prevailed at the March 26 county assembly, will face off at the primary to fill the seat being vacated by Sallie Clark who is barred by term limits from seeking anoather term. Stevens has endorsed VanderWerf.

Here's Stevens' announcement:
Tyler Stevens suspends his candidacy for El Paso County Commissioner District 3.

The Elect Tyler Stevens Campaign team and supporters put forth a tremendous effort to get Tyler elected. Unfortunately, our petition gathering folks failed to deliver adequate valid signatures by today’s deadline. Without sufficient valid signatures, it is not possible to get on the Republican Primary ballot.

“It is with great disappointment that I suspend my campaign. I had tremendous support from the region, and my campaign team was positioned for success, therefore I am deeply saddened to have had this opportunity taken away from the voters. It was an honor to be a candidate for this important office. I look forward to our region’s future and continuing to serve our community. I thank my family, friends and supporters who went forward with me on this journey.” Stevens said.
VanderWerf gets Stevens' vote. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • VanderWerf gets Stevens' vote.
Said Jake Zambrano, a consultant brought on to help organize the signature effort: "Tyler and his team are talented people, he's a fantastic candidate, and they ran a great race. Very rarely do you see so much energy for a candidate when talking to voters in the community, unfortunately we came up short."

Tyler is honored to support Stan VanderWerf in the primary election for El Paso County Commissioner District 3 and invites his supporters to join in supporting him. "Stan is an experienced and capable leader, who will make a great County Commissioner." Stevens stated.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cullen makes primary ballot

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 10:21 AM

Cullen is on the ballot. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Cullen is on the ballot.
Karen Cullen is guaranteed a spot on the June 28 primary election ballot, Cullen told the Independent Wednesday morning.

Cullen is seeking the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners seat now held by Sallie Clark, who is prevented by term limits from seeking a fourth term.(Clark won her third term after she advocated for tricky ballot language submitted to voters some years back that sought to allow her and other county officials to seek a third, four-year term by asking voters whether the officials should be "limited" to three four-year terms. After voters realized the ruse, they campaigned to roll back that measure and did so. Commissioners now are limited to two four-year terms.)

As reported in today's Independent, Cullen is a businesswoman and volunteer. She says the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office verified 3,251 signatures on her petitions; 2,958 were needed.

From today's story: "It was great neighborhood outreach," Cullen says. "We knocked on 18,000 doors. It was an exciting process." The last commissioner election in that district drew about 14,800 votes, so Cullen feels she's got noteworthy support and notes Clark, County Treasurer Mark Lowderman and County Assessor Steve Schleiker have endorsed her. Her first campaign finance report is due in June.

Other candidates seeking the District 3 seat sought by Cullen include Jarred Rego, Tyler Stevens, Rodney Gehrett,  Javier Mazzetti, and Stan Vanderwerf. Of those five, all but Stevens are seeking a primary ballot spot through this Saturday's Republican County Assembly. Stevens, like Cullen, is petitioning onto the ballot.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

UPDATE: El Paso County: expanding again?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 4:54 PM

The county's health department building has sat idle for several years. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • The county's health department building has sat idle for several years.
UPDATE: Here's an explanation of this project from the county's communications chief Dave Rose:

This RFP represents the first step in the Sheriff's Office and CSPD working together to explore the possibility of a regional call center and combined evidence storage facility. It is seeking proposals from outside architectural/engineering experts to help the County and the City determine the suitability of the South Union property and whether or not either of the existing buildings on the site could be repurposed for these purposes.

By way of background: The Sheriff's Office, CSPD, and many other law enforcement agencies are seeing greatly increased volumes of calls in their call centers, driven at least partially by cell phone technology. In the past hundreds of motorists would drive around a traffic accident at a busy intersection and only a few would bother to stop at the next phone booth to call for help; today everyone calls and its not uncommon for local 9-1-1 centers to bog down with dozens or even hundreds of reports on the same emergency creating huge "peaks" in call volumes. To the extent that a high call volume event will usually hit one call and dispatch center (either the Sheriff's Office or CSPD) much harder than the other a combined regional center could be a highly efficient in spreading peak call volume out over more dispatchers.

Similarly, new crime analysis and testing technology has prompted new laws requiring law enforcement agencies to keep certain types of evidence for decades greatly increasing the amount of evidence storage capacity needed. In terms of evidence storage, there is no difference between a crime investigated by the Sheriff's Office and one investigated by CSPD; both are prosecuted by District Attorney's Office and go to trial at the county courthouse. I believe the Police Chief is pretty much "on the record" with everyone in indicating that evidence storage is rapidly becoming a critical need for CSPD and the Sheriff's Office also sees a need for expanded storage in the not too distant future.

With that background - the RFP represents a sincere effort on behalf of the Sheriff and the Police Chief to explore the possibility of using an existing publicly owned property, with arguably a very good location (near CSPD, EPSO, Coroner, DA and Courts) for to meet these needs.

I haven't heard much about possible financing options. Those discussion will be more relevant after a firm selected in response to this RFP completes its assessment and reports its findings. 
———ORIGINAL POST MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2016, 4:54 P.M.———————

Remember the old El Paso County Health Department building at 301-305 S. Union Blvd.?

It's been vacant for some time after the county moved the health department and other operations from there and elsewhere to the Citizens Service Center, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road, some years back in a massive $62 million  "Strategic Moves" initiative, started in 2011. That initiative saw the county expand its real estate holdings by buying a vacant high-tech building and moving most county functions from the downtown area to the northwest side of town.

Well, now the county apparently needs more room yet.

In a bid announcement, it outlines plans for the old health department building on Union:
The El Paso County Public Services Department is seeking proposals from qualified experienced architectural/engineering (A/E) firms interested in providing design/real property development services for El Paso County property located at 301/305 South Union Boulevard, Colorado Springs, CO 80910. El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs are interested in developing this property. The property is envisioned to become a regional 911 communication operations center and evidence holding facility for the El Paso County Sheriff, the District Attorney, and the City of Colorado Springs Police Department. Options range from upgrading the existing facilities to complete removal of the existing facilities and new construction. El Paso County will receive proposals from firms interested in presenting their concepts for the widest range of functionality and overall best use of the property. The services that may be included but are not limited to providing building analysis, finish design, and cost estimating. The County reserves the right to award contract to the highest ranked firm if such is deemed to be in the best interest of the County. 
We've asked the county to provide more information, such as how much this project will cost and where the money will come from, and we'll update when we hear something. It came as a bit of shock to find the bid solicitation, considering the city has boasted about its own communications center, as stated on the city's website:

Welcome to the homepage of the Colorado Springs Police and Fire Department's combined communications center. The Colorado Springs Public Safety Communications Center is a state of the art facility that is responsible for answering 911 calls as well as non-emergency calls for police, fire, and medical services with-in the City of Colorado Springs. In addition, we also answer all 911 cell phone calls in El Paso County.

The Center has the added responsibility of monitoring and dispatching police and fire field units to calls for service.

In 2014 the Communications Center was reaccredited by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch. This process is voluntary and must show compliance with the Academy’s “20 Points of Excellence.” The center retained its status as an Accredited Center of Excellence for another three years. The Communications Center has held this impressive title since January of 1998.
The city's communications center apparently doesn't handle 911 calls for the CSPD, and the renovated building or new building, whichever is decided upon, also would provide evidence storage. Both the city and county have mentioned a shortage of evidence space, and the city in 2006 had quite a little scandal about the destruction of evidence that shouldn't have been trashed.

Deadline for bids is March 31.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Get your fracking facts right

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 12:54 PM

  • FILE
No drilling for oil and gas has been done in El Paso County since 2014, and only one site was fracked, according to the Board of El Paso County Commissioners.

The county sent a press release Wednesday in hopes of clarifying those points for residents, as well as one other: NextEra Energy is the company behind the controversial wind farm near Calhan. NexGen Oil and Gas is one of the companies that has drilled in the county. They are separate companies with similar names.

BoCC Report Confirms: No Oil and Gas Drilling Activity in El Paso County Since 2014

Total of Seven Test Wells Were Drilled 2011 – 2014 None Since and Fracking Was Used On Only One

El Paso County, CO., February 17, 2016 – During its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday February 16, 2016 the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) received a report indicating that it has been nearly two years since the last exploratory drilling for oil and gas was done in El Paso County.

Senior Assistant County Attorney Diana May, who is the El Paso County local government designee through the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission permitting process, reported that a total of seven test wells were drilled in the County from 2011 - 2014 and the “fracking” process was used at only one of those sites. May reported that there has been no exploration activity in the County since 2014.

The report also provided information correcting inaccurate statements made by citizens during the Citizen Comment period at recent meetings of the Board Health and the Board of County Commissioners. The inaccurate statements referred to ongoing exploration activity, including fracking and stated that this exploration activity was either sponsored or directed by the operators of the NextEra Windfarm. “The last test well in El Paso County was drilled in April of 2014,” Diana May told Commissioners. “It was a vertical well. It did not involve fracking. It was done by NexGen Oil and Gas from the Denver area. That company name may have sounded similar to Windfarm operator NextEra Energy but it’s not the same the company and there has been no drilling activity and no fracking in El Paso County for nearly two years.”

Windfarm operator NextEra Energy is a publicly traded company based in Florida. NexGen Oil and Gas is a limited liability company (LLC) based in Greenwood Village, Colorado.

Meetings of the Board of County Commissioners can be viewed through live streaming at by clicking on the link in the left side column marked, Live Meetings at Centennial Hall. Commissioners meetings are replayed the following evening on Comcast channel 17, the Pikes Peak Library District Channel.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Democrat enters Commissioner District 2 race

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 12:07 PM

Michael Seraphin
  • Michael Seraphin
A Democrat has entered the race for El Paso County Commissioner in District 2.

Michael Seraphin is running for the seat that's currently held by the term-limited Amy Lathen. Seraphin, the former Colorado Division of Wildlife Public Information Officer, says he is not a traditional Democrat, and holds some conservative views, particularly on guns. Still, he'll face an uphill battle. No Democrat has won a race for a Commissioner seat in El Paso County since 1970.

Seraphin is the fourth candidate to announce for the seat. The other candidates, all Republicans, are Tim Geitner, Sherrie Gibson and Mark Waller.
Michael Seraphin Announces Run for County Commission

FALCON, Colo. - Former Colorado Division of Wildlife Public Information Officer Michael Seraphin announced today that he is a candidate for the El Paso County Commission in District 2.

"I hope voters make history for the first time in nearly 50-years by electing a county commissioner who doesn't have an "R" behind their name," said Seraphin. "It's time for a change from one-party politics."

Seraphin has never run for office before.

He said the reason he entered the 2016 race is because it is time to elect someone who will make hard decisions to fix local problems, instead of grandstanding about national politics in an effort to boost their own ambitions," he said.

District 2 is the fastest growing area in the county. Infrastructure, school funding, public safety, and water use planning are not getting the attention they deserve.

"Every day I hear people complain about how government has let them down," he said.

Seraphin believes residents in Falcon, Peyton, Calhan, and the rest of District 2 want someone who will listen to their needs; make decisions that will protect their property rights and values; and not cave-in to pressure from big-money politics.

Seraphin describes himself as a fiscal conservative who is socially responsible and strives for more efficient government. "I'm sort of a cross between a Democrat, Independent, and conservative all rolled into one. I own guns and believe in gun rights, but on the other hand, I am an environmentalist who understands the dangers of fracking and wants to protect our clean air and clean water. I don't see those issues as mutually exclusive along party lines."

Smaller government is not just about taxes, he added. It's about less regulation, too. "One of the first things I will do is cut red tape by repealing dozens of unnecessary, outdated regulations."

"I am not a lawyer or a professional politician. I don't have any desire to be a State Senator, a Congressman, Attorney General, or run for national office. I am just an ordinary citizen who thinks it's time we focus on the local issues we have right here in El Paso County."

Seraphin is a resident of Falcon who has lived in Colorado for the better part of 35 years. He was a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife from 1998 until his retirement in 2013.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Snow in your vent pipe could kill you

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 10:28 AM

click image Traditional vent pipes are on the roof. - NATHANIEL HOMIER
  • Nathaniel Homier
  • Traditional vent pipes are on the roof.
If you are a normal human being who is not in the heating or construction business, you probably haven't spent a lot of time thinking about "vent pipes."

But you probably should, because they can kill you. Traditional vent pipes — which allow furnaces and other household appliances to, uh, vent — are located on the roof. But more efficient furnaces and appliances tend to vent out of a wall, low to the ground. While this apparently saves on the energy bill, those vents are vulnerable to being stuffed full of leaves, birds' nests or snow.

When a furnace vent becomes clogged, it might just turn off your furnace. Which is a bummer. But it also might pump carbon monoxide into your house and kill you and your family. 

So it's a good idea to check the vents. Also, get a carbon monoxide detector. They cost as little as $20. Here's the official warning from the county:

Citizens Reminded to Make Sure High Efficiency Furnace Vent Pipes Are Clear of Snow

Drifts Can Block Side Wall Ventilation Pipes Critical for Safe Operations of Modern Gas Appliances

El Paso County, CO., February 3, 2015 – El Paso County joins with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department in reminding area residents with modern high efficiency furnaces in their homes and businesses to make sure the outside vent pipes for those appliances are not blocked by snow and ice.

High efficiency furnaces are not installed using the old style metal vent pipes that extend through the roof. Instead, they use shorter PVC (plastic) pipes typically vented through a side wall near the ground. While these installations offer great efficiency, the side vent pipes can be covered by snow drifts or clogged by snow and ice, leaves, animal nests or other debris. Obstructed vent pipes can result in the furnace shutting itself down, or in the worst scenario, deadly carbon monoxide could be released into to your home or business.

Side wall vent kits that provide added protection against vent obstructions are readily available through local HVAC contractors and online suppliers. But even with a vent kit in place it’s a good idea to check to make sure that snow has not drifted up against the outside wall where the vent pipes come out.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Deadly force investigataors take oath

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 8:47 AM

Officers take an oath that will allow them to cross jurisdictional lines when investigating use of deadly force by officers in the region. - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office
  • Officers take an oath that will allow them to cross jurisdictional lines when investigating use of deadly force by officers in the region.

Nearly 50 members of the Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office were sworn Thursday by El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder and Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger to give them jurisdiction in both counties to investigate cases involving officers' use of deadly force.

The Deadly Force Investigations Team will investigate matters where, when acting in an official capacity, a law enforcement officer:

a. Discharges his/her weapon and the discharge causes either bodily injury, serious bodily injury or death to another person or
b. Uses other deadly force that causes the death of another person.

Matters that occur when off duty may be investigated by the DFIT, by request and agreement by the DFIT Team, the Sheriff's Office says in a release.

Members of the Colorado Springs Police Department, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office will make up the DFIT Team.

The multi-agency team is made necessary by a bill passed in 2015, as we've previously reported.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jarred Rego jumps into local race

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 3:52 PM

Rego: Joining a crowded race.
  • Rego: Joining a crowded race.
Jarred Rego, an aide to Congressman Doug Lamborn who says he has a "servant's heart," is running for the El Paso County commission seat held by Sallie Clark, who is barred by term limits from seeking another term.

He joins a crowded field of Republicans vying for the seat, including a sheriff's commander Rodney Gehrett who is suing the county. Other candidates include Karen Cullen, Alex Johnson, Javier Mazzetti, Tyler Stevens and Stan Vanderwerf.

Rego's news release provides this statement from him:
Our community is at a crossroads. The decisions that the voters make in the next election will shape our community and affect the lives of each El Paso County resident. The time has come for new leaders who possess the diverse experience, clear-eyed vision, and courage necessary protect our rights and empower citizens to take our community to exciting next frontiers of prosperity. Showing New Leadership For Great Futures means leading in three priority areas:

- Expand Economic Opportunity
- Rededicate County Government to Customer Service
- Prioritize Public Safety

We will work together and make progress in these three important areas, leaving our community in a much better place for our children and grandchildren, and that's what motivates me. These future generations deserve elected officials who will devote every ounce of brainpower and vigor they have to improving our beautiful home. I'm the results-oriented reformer with the passion, enthusiasm, and servant's heart necessary to achieve these goals and make real and lasting progress possible.

My deep local roots, coupled with my extensive leadership and communications experience, place me in a unique position to provide the visionary leadership we need in District 3 on the Board of El Paso County Commissioners.

Rego is Lamborn's district director and communications director and previously served as a PR man for former Springs Mayor Steve Bach. He also was a nightly radio talk show host on AM 740 KVOR and has been active in politics at the precinct level. He's a member of the Pioneers Museum board and the Urban Peak Colorado Springs board. Jarred and his wife Micah own a home in the Bonnyville neighborhood of downtown Colorado Springs where they are raising their two young children.

Rego also saw fit to include in his news release that his family attends church at the Calvary Worship Center on the westside.

Already, Rego is brandishing his endorsements. Among them: Lamborn, Bach and his wife Suzi, State Rep. Dan Nordberg, KVOR radio host Richard Randall and Nick Ragain, president of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Peggy Littleton joins crowded U.S. Senate race

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 12:04 PM

Peggy Littleton will run for U.S. Senate. - FILE PHOTO
  • Peggy Littleton will run for U.S. Senate.
Peggy Littleton has joined a crowded field seeking to be the Republican Party's nominee for U.S. Senate.

If chosen, she would run against incumbent U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat. Other contenders for the Republican nomination include state Sen. Tim Neville, state Rep. Jon Keyser, and businessmen Robert Blaha and Jerry Natividad, among many others. Littleton's fellow El Paso County Commissioner and frequent ally, Darryl Glenn, is also in the race.

Littleton has served as an El Paso County Commissioner since January 2011. Before that, she spent seven years on the Colorado State Board of Education. In her county role, Littleton was the first commissioner to call for the resignation of Sheriff Terry Maketa, and was active in fire/flood recovery efforts. She has also distinguished herself as a fierce gun-rights proponent. (I wrote about her ties to groups allied with Cliven Bundy — whose family members are currently participating in the Oregon standoff — here.) 

Littleton has a long reputation as a deeply conservative Republican. She homeschooled her kids, campaigned for a delegate spot in 2004 as a "Blond Babe for Bush," funded abstinence-only education when she was on the Board of Education, and was a leader in building a new gun range in the county. You can read my short biography of her from 2014 here.

Littleton is portraying herself as an outsider, both because of her conservative beliefs and because she is a woman.

"If you want another Washington good ol’ boy, I’m not your gal,” Littleton stated in a press release announcing her candidacy. “But if you believe, like I do, that America is a great nation and our best days are ahead, I ask for your prayers and your vote. We need safety, security and hope for the future.”

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Commander suing county runs for commission post

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 3:21 PM

Rodney Gehrett is seeking a seat on the board that would decide whether to settle his lawsuit against the county. - GEHRETT CAMPAIGN WEBSITE
  • Gehrett Campaign Website
  • Rodney Gehrett is seeking a seat on the board that would decide whether to settle his lawsuit against the county.
Sheriff's Commander Rodney Gehrett says he'll abstain from activities involving his lawsuit against the county should he be elected as a county commissioner in November.

Here's an emailed statement from him:
Regarding my federal lawsuit against El Paso County and former Sheriff Maketa, if there is no resolution prior to the start of my term, then I would certainly remove myself from any involvement in decisions about how the county should proceed. I stand by my decision to file the initial complaint along with Commander Rob King and Bureau Chief Mitch Lincoln. I believe the citizens of EI Paso County have a right to know the facts that were discovered as a result of our allegations and formal complaint.
He also notes that, contrary to our earlier post, he WILL NOT be taking a pay cut if elected. Why? Because the Colorado General Assembly last session passed a bill that bumps up pay for commissioners substantially: from $87,300 to $113,490, which figures out to be whopping 30 percent pay hike. The same pay increase will be seen by county treasurers, clerks and assessors in the state's biggest counties, which include El Paso, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer, Pueblo and Weld.
The same bill bumps the sheriff's pay from $111,000 to $144,430. All those changes pertain to those elected to those offices after Jan. 1, 2016, which includes the three people who are elected to the three seats up for grabs on the El Paso County Commission this year.

———-ORIGINAL POST WEDNESDAY, JAN. 6, 2016, 3:21 P.M.———————

Sheriff's Commander Rodney Gehrett
, one of five sheriff's employees who sued the county in federal court last March, has announced he's running for the District 3 seat on the Board of County Commissioners.

The seat is now held by Sallie Clark, who leaves office a year from now after serving three terms.

Gehrett joins five other candidates who have filed for the Republican nomination. They are: Alex Johnson, Javier Mazzetti, Susan Payne, Tyler Stevens and Stan Vanderwerf. No Democrats have filed for the office.

Gehrett sued the county citing persecution by former Sheriff Terry Maketa, as we previously reported, amid a strange episode over a supposedly missing internal affairs file regarding current Sheriff Bill Elder, who worked at the Sheriff's Office years ago. The lawsuit characterizes Maketa's and then-Undersheriff Paula Presley's so-called investigation as reckless, illegal and merely an attempt to cook up "dirty tricks" to undermine Elder's sheriff candidacy. Elder took office on Dec. 31, 2014.

Commanders Gehrett, Mitch Lincoln and Robert King were placed on administrative leave in May 2014 after filing a complaint against Maketa. Those three and Lt. Cheryl Peck and Sgt. Robert Stone filed the lawsuit in March 2015. All are currently employed at the Sheriff's Office.

The lawsuit, which is ongoing, doesn't state a specific dollar figure, but rather seeks "compensatory damages including physical and mental pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, impairment of the quality of life, any economic losses."
Read the entire initial complaint here: ComplaintGehrett.pdf
The most recent filing in the case was Dec. 21 when the plaintiffs, including Gehrett, filed a response to the county's motion to dismiss.
Here's that filing:  ResponseToMotionToDismiss.pdf
County commissioners meet in executive sessions to discuss litigation, strategy and whether to settle lawsuits sor pursue them. We've asked Gehrett if he intends to sit out such sessions involving his case, if elected, and will update if and when we hear back from him.

If elected, Gehrett would take a pay cut. He currently knocks down $103,552 a year as a sheriff's commander, but commissioners are paid a measley $87,300. We've also asked Gehrett about this, and will circle back if we hear from him.

Here's his news release, issued this afternoon:
Rodney Gehrett (R-Colorado Springs) has officially announced his candidacy for the El Paso County Commissioner seat that will be vacated by Commissioner Sally Clark in January of 2017, due to term limits.

“With three of the five county commissioners leaving office due to term limits in January of 2017, the 2016 election cycle is a critical time for El Paso County,” Rodney said. “More than ever, El Paso County needs experienced leaders to answer the call of public service and lead this community into the future. I have been a public servant for more than three decades, and I am not done yet. I have the experience, demonstrated leadership, and courage necessary to address challenges head on, ensuring the highest quality of life for all who call this great community home.”

As a County Commissioner, Rodney plans to focus his efforts to improve public safety services, repair and maintain infrastructure, and diversify and strengthen the local economy. He believes improvements in these three areas will have the most significant impact on the quality of life for all El Paso County citizens. “People prefer to live, work, and play in communities that are safe, with well maintained infrastructure and good paying jobs that allow them to provide for their families,” said Rodney. “Those same issues are equally important to local businesses owners.”

He has already picked up several key endorsements from local leaders. Among his supporters is Sheriff Bill Elder, who recently completed the first year of his four year term as Sheriff. “Rodney’s contributions to our collective success as an agency have been immeasurable during this past year,” said Elder. “I will hate to lose him as a member of my Command Staff, but his style of leadership is desperately needed in this community. He has my full support!”

Rodney is a 20 year veteran of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, where he currently serves as the Support Operations Division Commander. During his career, he has held numerous key positions such as Training Director, Standards and Technologies Manager, Public Information Officer, and Administrative Services Division Commander. His extensive experience managing people, resources, and budgets within the El Paso County government framework makes him uniquely qualified to serve as a commissioner.

In addition to his service with the Sheriff’s Office, Rodney has an extensive military background. He recently completed his 30th year of military service. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He serves as a Major with the US Army Reserve and is currently a Psychological Operations Officer, assigned to NORAD and USNORTHCOM at Peterson Air Force Base.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

State of the Region gets Fox-y

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 3:28 PM

A large crowd came to hear Lathen's speech. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • A large crowd came to hear Lathen's speech.
Amy Lathen said the state of the region is improving. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Amy Lathen said the state of the region is improving.

El Paso County Board of County Commissioners Chair Amy Lathen themed this year's State of the Region address around the now 30-year-old Michael J. Fox film, Back to the Future.

Past leaders, she said, beginning with the Colorado Springs' founders, were always looking toward the future, whether by building the Broadmoor Hotel or the World Arena. Lathen said we must also look toward the future, now that the economy is showing signs of recovery, City for Champions is beginning to take shape, and the county has addressed many of the most urgent flood-control projects following the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires.

Lathen called for a federal courthouse to be located in El Paso County, given the area's large case load. She also called on citizens to be kind to one another in the wake of two recent mass shootings.  Lathen addressed other future-oriented projects by naming a number of award recipients who are contributing to major change in the area. Among them:

• Jackie Gonzalez was named "Ambassador of the Year." Gonzalez works for U.S. Bank and is an Ambassador for the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

Jay Cimino was named "Person of Influence." Cimino is the President and CEO of the Phil Long family of car dealerships and Founder & Chairman of the Board of Mt. Carmel Health, Wellness and Community Center

Rebecca Jacobs, the county's employment and family support director, was named County Employee of the Year. Jacobs was recognized for her collaborative efforts in the community, including getting help for flood and fire victims and supporting the Feed the Children campaign.

Larry Yonker was given the "Making a Difference" award. Yonker is the President and CEO of the Springs Rescue Mission, which begins construction next year on a major expansion that will allow it to serve more homeless and addicted individuals.

Gary Henry was given the "Economic Project of the Year" award. Henry is the executive director of Colorado PTAC, which helps Colorado companies procure government contracts.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

El Paso County puts conditions on accepting refugees

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 2:53 PM

El Paso County's Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution Tuesday saying the commissioners, all Republicans, oppose relocation of refugees to the county through the United States Refugee Resettlement Program, "unless each one is fully vetted and certified by the federal government not to pose a threat to the community."

Glenn: Cracking down on refugees. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Glenn: Cracking down on refugees.
The resolution also says the county won't spend a dime on the program "unless the refugees are certified by the federal government ... to not be a threat to the citizens of El Paso County."

From a news release:
The Resolution, approved during the Tuesday November 24 BoCC meeting, further states, “The Board is concerned about the considerable financial burdens created by the refugees on our local schools, law enforcement, and community services, as an additional unfunded mandate imposed upon the community during uncertain economic times in which the County budget and other governmental entities and agencies are already experiencing financial stressors.”

Through the Resolution Commissioners indicate that they understand, “the desire for persons to seek freedom and to share in all that is good and positive in the American way of life. (But) the risk to our local citizens in times of global terrorism and economic insecurity cannot be overlooked, and it is necessary for the Board to protect the health, safety, security, and welfare of the citizens of the County by declaring its opposition to the relocation of refugees from the United States Resettlement Program into El Paso County until and unless the refugee is determined by existing immigration procedures to not be a threat by the federal government.”

The item came before the Board as an added agenda item at the request of Commissioner Darryl Glenn. Commissioner Glenn noted that the resettlement efforts would have financial implications and the County will be making budget decisions for 2016 at its next meeting on December 3. Commissioner Glenn said, “Real-world events are not only dictating that we deal with this as a budget item, but also that we work to provide some level of security for the citizens who have expressed a concern with regard to, what is it that is possible for our local governments are able to do.”
Regarding those "uncertain economic times," in the county's latest 2016 budget report, the sales tax forecast for next year predicts the county will bring in $91 million, which is 32 percent more than the pre-recession year of 2007. Property tax revenue during the same period is estimated to go up 30 percent — from $37.4 million in 2007 to a predicted $48.6 million in 2016. 

On another note, it's not surprising to hear the "just say NO to refugees" resolution was Glenn's idea. In the last month, his campaign for U.S. Senate (a race in which he has virtually no chance of becoming the Republican nominee) has issued several releases stating his positions on issues. Keystone Pipeline? He's for it. Any kind of amnesty for undocumented workers? He's definitely against it.

Here's a news release from Glenn's campaign on his position regarding refugees: 
Radical Islamic Terrorists have declared war on the United States of America. President Obama, Governor Hickenlooper and Senator Bennet have grossly underestimated the magnitude of the threat that we're facing.

The blanket acceptance of the relocation of refugees to the United States without certification from the directors of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Intelligence should not be tolerated. I stand with more than half of the nation's governors opposing the acceptance of Syrian refugees without a clear certification that their placement would not jeopardize the security of the citizens they've taken an oath to protect. Unfortunately, Colorado's governor is NOT one of them.

While I certainly appreciate the plight of innocent refugees and of those fleeing from terror in their homelands, I simply cannot agree to accept the unknown into our homes at the expense of the safety and security of those we love.

So what should we do if our President, Governor and Senior Senator refuse to show leadership?

As your next Senator from Colorado, I'm asking you to join me in calling for all of our elected officials to seek the immediate suspension of all federal, state and local government funding in support of the Refugee Resettlement Program within the State of Colorado until we receive certification from the directors of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Intelligence that these refugees pose no threat to the security of our citizens.

We must take this moment in time to step up and lead when our President, Governor and Senior Senator have failed!

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Deputy arrested for use of force

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 4:06 PM

Criminal Justice Center - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Criminal Justice Center
An El Paso County jail deputy has been charged with crimes associated with a use of force incident in the jail. The charges consist of two misdemeanors. Here's the news release from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office:

On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, a use of force incident occurred in the Intake and Release area of the Criminal Justice Center. Information regarding this incident was reported and then given to the District Attorney’s Office for review. A criminal investigation was initiated due to the actions taken by Deputy Francisco Vasquez, in his official capacity as a Deputy Sheriff.

On the afternoon of November 19, 2015, Deputy Vasquez was officially charged by the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office with 3rd Degree Assault (M1) and Official Oppression (M2). Deputy Vasquez has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office since December 12, 2012, and is assigned to the Intake and Release Section.

Deputy Vasquez is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation. Facts concerning this investigation will not be released at this time, as it is an ongoing personnel matter. According to Sheriff Elder, “The arrest of a deputy has a significant impact on our Office, its members, and our community. It will be handled in the same manner and with the same integrity as every other investigation.”

Deputy Vasquez is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Shooting at windmills

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 3:11 PM

Don Quixote after an unsuccessful attempt at slaying a windmill. - PD-US
  • PD-US
  • Don Quixote after an unsuccessful attempt at slaying a windmill.
If you've ever read Don Quixote, then you likely remember the passage where the absurd protagonist jousts with windmills, imagining them to be "thirty or forty hulking giants."

The scene gave birth to the idiom, "tilting at windmills," which means to attack imagined enemies. But to some of the folks in Calhan, windmills are a real enemy — giants that they complain block their view across the plains, create noise, and may affect their property values or even their health.

Which might explain why a self-style Quixote recently shot down one of the turbines with a "single high powered rifle." 

NextEra Energy, which erected the wind farm recently despite the vocal protests of some landowners, says the windmills have little impact on locals and provide green energy for Denver. 

The shooter did $20,000 to $250,000 in damage to Turbine #35, near the intersection of North Yoder Road and Heaston Road, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office reports.

Anyone with knowledge of the shooting is encouraged to call Sheriff Deputy Scott Brettell, at the Rural Enforcement Unit, at 719-352-5033 or 719-390-5555. NextEra is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of suspects in the case.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

UPDATE: Brewer drops out of county commission race following husband's arrest

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 10:32 AM

There are lots of reasons people drop out of political races, but according to multiple reports, Marsha Brewer had an unusual motivation for bowing out of the 2016 race for El Paso County Commissioner District 3.

Brewer's husband, Jimmie Brewer, has apparently been arrested by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office on suspicion of sexual assault on a child under 15 by one in a position of trust, sexual assault on a child under 18 by one in a position of trust, and incest. According to KRDO, he has since been released on $5,000 bond.

According to the Gazette, the apparent victim, a girl, told detectives that she had frequent sexual contact with Brewer starting in 2012 when she was 8 years old.

It's a shocking revelation considering the Brewers are longtime players in the local Republican party. And according to KRDO, Marsha Brewer is accused of knowing about the abuse and not reporting it.

"According to Jimmie Brewer's arrest warrant," KRDO reports, "the child said she told Marsha Brewer about the abuse but said Marsha Brewer didn't report it. Marsha Brewer sent a text message to the child in September apologizing for Jimmie Brewer's actions. "

——- ORIGINAL POST, TODAY, 10:32 A.M. ——-
Three current county commissioners will be term limited next year.
  • Three current county commissioners will be term limited next year.

The 2016 race for three El Paso County Commissioner seats is already getting a little tighter.

Marsha Brewer, a candidate for County Commissioner in District 3 has announced she will pull out of the race due to a change in her personal circumstances.

Three Board of County Commissioner seats will be up for grabs next year because Amy Lathen (District 2), Sallie Clark (District 3) and Dennis Hisey (District 4) are term-limited.

Sherrie Gibson, Tim Geitner and Mark Waller have announced for District 2. Alex Johnson, Susan Payne, Rodney Gehrett and Tyler Stevens are running for District 3. Longinos Gonzalez, Joan Lucia-Treese, Elizabeth Rosenbaum and Scott Turner have announced for District 4. All are Republicans except Rosenbaum, a Democrat.

Waller, former Republican leader of the state House, unsuccessfully ran for attorney general in 2014. Stevens was mayor of Green Mountain Falls from 2002-2012 and still is mayor pro-tem. Gonzalez ran for City Council in April.

Marsha Brewer, Candidate
El Paso County Commissioner District 4
Exits the Race

Colorado Springs – Today Marsha Brewer, a Candidate for County Commissioner announced that she would not seek the Republican Party nomination for El Paso County Commissioner District 4.

“To be an effective Candidate requires a great deal of time and attention. Due to a change in my personal circumstances, I will not be able to devote the time and attention I believe is necessary to be an effective Candidate and Commissioner. I wish the other Candidates and the citizens of Commissioner District 4 the very best,” stated Brewer “there are some excellent Candidates in this race and I look forward to supporting the Party’s nominee in June.”

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