Economy

Monday, May 14, 2012

Indy will take over Business Journal

Posted By on Mon, May 14, 2012 at 1:47 PM

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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.

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Scenes from the Artists and Entrepreneurs Lunch

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Today, Bert Crenca of AS220 and Lynne McCormack of the city of Providence, R.I., spoke at the Artists & Entrepreneurs: Creating Community and Jobs luncheon hosted by the Independent and the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC. Crenca and McCormack, both heavy hitters in Providence's arts scene, are visiting the Springs to offer support and advice on fostering culture as an economic driver here (read more about that in our recent cover story, "The Rhode to renaissance.")

Around 200 people attended, filling the room. Christina McGrath of COPPeR, Susan Edmondson of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, Steve Wood of Concrete Couch (who hosted Crenca last year), Mike Bristol of Bristol Brewing Co. and the Ivywild Project, Brett Andrus of the Modbo and S.P.Q.R. and Don Goede of Marmalade at Smokebrush attended, as well as local artists including Charles Rockey and Sean O'Meallie. (As far as we could tell, no one from City Council or the mayor's office attended.)

Crenca and McCormack spoke quickly about the history of revitalization in Providence before moving on to the story of AS220 itself. Amazingly, Providence rerouted its railroad, a highway and a river before Crenca started gathering artists and friends downtown.

"You guys haven't made the same mistakes," Crenca said. "Your streets are too wide, but whatever."

Crenca and McCormack

Later, the pair spoke on their relationships with Providence mayors and how they accomplished milestones such as appointing a task force to implement such items as the city's cultural plan and before that, passing tax breaks for artists and galleries in a specified downtown arts district.

The latter didn't work out perfectly at first, says Crenca, but it did draw national attention and galvanize the confidence of the city itself, something just as important, he said. "Don't underestimate the power of that."

Overall, both speakers were impressed with the state of the arts in Colorado Springs (a "roll-up-your-sleeves-kind-of-town" said Crenca). At the beginning of their presentation, Crenca jokingly asked what he was actually doing here.

"Our work here is done today, because you all have the right people in the room. You just need to talk to each other."

A view of the room.

But he also added some advice, speaking on his experiences in Providence. For one, build up a brand. Say it enough and "act as if," he advised. Even if an organization is still getting its sea legs or a city is still building its arts scene, "act as if" it were fully fledged and use that posture to attract others.

Crenca also said that we as people aren't great at recognizing "the next great thing" that will save the city or spark the cultural fire. Even so, it's a risky tactic. Instead, he and the folks at AS220 focus on "creating a compost" to nurture an artistic environment.

That approach was illustrated at the end of their presentation, when Crenca showed a video of AS220's youth programs, in which teens talked about how they came to the organization and what it meant to them. In the final moment, one young man said, "AS220 is a home." The crowd stood in applause.

Afterward, Crenca and McCormack visited the Ivywild Project and Tuesday morning they'll talk with a group include City Chief of Economic Vitality & Innovation Steve Cox at Marmalade.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More on Providence, AS220 and creative placemaking

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 11:12 AM

One of AS220s three buildings.
  • DBVW Heidi Gumula
  • One of AS220's three buildings.

There's always so much more to a story than there's space to print. It's the writer's eternal dilemma.

That's why there are blogs, and this one, to share more on what couldn't fit into this week's cover story on Providence, R.I.'s downtown rebirth with the help of arts organization AS220 in what is commonly referred to as "creative placemaking."

One of the interesting aspects of my interview with Bert Crenca, co-founder and artistic director of AS220, was his devotion to the institution today. Crenca travels extensively, sharing his experiences and the AS220 story. Since we spoke last month he's gone to New Zealand, and after he visits Colorado at the end of the month, he'll hit the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and then move on to South Dakota. But he always heads home and back to work.

“I think what gives me credibility is that I have to come back and face the music," he says, "that I’m involved in the minutiae on a the daily basis with this work, as opposed to me having started this organization and worked here for a period of time and then writing a big book and go on a book tour but sort of begin to distance myself from the minutiae. That’s not my story. I come back and live and die sitting in the administrative office as we speak with four, five people working diligently around me as I speak."

Crenca, in a friendly, self-deprecating manner, goes on to outline what's next for AS220. Growth brings new challenges, and now the nonprofit is focusing on shoring up operational services like branding, communication, practices and policies, and backup systems.

“And also preparing ourselves for things like this," he adds, "the conversation that we’re having. To make ourself more transparent and more serviceable to the field, nationally and internationally."

The role of the city of Providence's art and culture department was similarly compelling, as I learned speaking to Lynne McCormack, its director. Instead of simply fundraising or promoting the arts, McCormack (who will also visit the Springs with Crenca) likens her office to an ombudsman for the arts.

“The arts organizations really look to us to help them solve their problems and get things done," she says. "So we do all kinds of things, we go from large scale policy projects, like economic impact studies and arts indexes and sustainability studies with national organizations down to the major theater company in town having a problem a couple months ago getting their certificate of occupancy for a theater."

McCormack works with three other staff members and an operating budget of less than $500,000, which includes grant money. Their overall budget fluctuates from $700,000 to $1 million, depending on the project and what leveraging they can garner from the community. By comparison, the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR, which is our version of McCormack's office) operates on three staff members and a 2012 operating budget of $220,000, which doesn't count in-kind donations and components such as COPPeR's rent, which is donated by Norwood Development Corp. for a $24,000 value.

For further reading, here's the National Endowment for the Arts' report on creative placemaking:

CreativePlacemaking.pdf

And COPPeR's Cultural Plan.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

To infinity and beyond at the Space Symposium

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 11:10 AM

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.

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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.

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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.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Shopping tips from SpringsBargains.com

Posted By on Mon, Dec 12, 2011 at 9:54 AM

Isaac shares some tips and basics.

Between Gift Guides and deep in the season of shopping, we decided to consult Carrie Isaac of SpringsBargains.com for shopping tips. Isaac was voted Best Local Blogger by Indy readers in both 2010 and 2011.

Her best advice:

Have multiple gift ideas for your recipients. If you're stuck on one item for each person on your list, it's harder to find a great deal as the clock is ticking. Keep several gift ideas in mind so that you'll have more options to choose from if you're looking for a deal.

Always, always search for a coupon code if shopping online. I don't have any favorite sites for coupon codes (other than SpringsBargains.com!); I typically just google the website name and use Google's search tools to find items that have been posted in the past 1-7 days to see if there's a valid coupon code available.

Shop locally instead of paying rush shipping. If you're shopping so close to Christmas that you have to pay for rush shipping, consider seeing if a local store has it — you'll often end up spending less by buying it locally than paying for rush shipping. And, don't be afraid to call a local store to see if they have it in stock!

Remember that everybody loves a gift card! A lot of people think that buying gift cards is a cop-out, but has anyone really ever received a gift card they didn't like? Gift cards are a great last-minute gift, and you can make it more personal by wrapping it in a more personalized way. Also, consider adding a little bonus gift: For instance, if you purchased someone a gift card to a local boutique, buy an inexpensive accessory to give along with the gift card.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Maybe the end is near...

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 11:57 AM

To the recession, that is. With the announcement Tuesday that a California medical equipment company will build a new facility here and hire more than 200 people in the next several years, and now another announcement that ACS, a Xerox company, plans to hire 225 for its call center, we're finally gaining jobs.

Bal Seal Engineering, which employs 39 here already, will build a 137,000-square-foot plant at Voyager Parkway and Republic Drive, and hire 211 employees within five years, the Gazette reported.

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Here's the ACS press release:

ACS, A Xerox Company, is planning to hire 225 people for its call center operations in Colorado Springs. Positions include call center agents and supervisory positions.

ACS is expanding its current workforce in the region to supply customer service and technical support for a Fortune 500 client. Applicants are encouraged to apply on-line athttp://www.acs-inc.com or visit the ACS recruiting office at 2424 Garden of the Gods, Suite D-3, during business hours.

ACS is an award winning leader in the call center outsourcing industry, providing quality service to clients for more than 20 years. With more than 34,000 agents in 150 call centers around the world, ACS employees handle in excess of one million customer interactions every day in 20 different languages.

ACS and Xerox employ approximately 1,600 people in Colorado.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

More North Nevada development coming

Posted By on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 5:43 PM

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  • UCCS

On Friday afternoon, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs announced that with a $4 million gift, it will construct a building for its students in health-related studies, and also for aging adults.

The gift comes from John E. and Margaret L. Lane Foundation and Margot Lane, and will allow for an estimated 56,000-square-foot structure to go up on North Nevada Avenue, between Austin Bluffs Parkway and the Four Diamonds Sports Complex.

Here's the full release, which also mentions how Peak Vista Community Health Centers will be involved:

$4 million gift to spur UCCS academic health sciences building

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The John E. and Margaret L. Lane Foundation and Margot Lane of Colorado Springs will donate $4 million to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and Peak Vista Community Health Centers to build an academic health sciences building on North Nevada Avenue.

The building, which will integrate primary healthcare services for aging adults with UCCS academic programs, will be named the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences in the Lanes’ honor.

Construction of the estimated 56,000-square foot building is scheduled to begin in late summer 2012. It will be located on UCCS property on the east side of North Nevada Avenue and north of the university’s monument sign at the intersection of North Nevada Avenue and Austin Bluffs Parkway. The site is now a parking lot.

“We are deeply appreciative of Margot Lane’s generous support of the university and this community-wide effort to improve healthcare,” UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said. “An academic health sciences building on North Nevada will improve healthcare access and integrate it with university faculty and researchers who seek to improve lives.”

Plans call for Peak Vista Community Health Centers to partner in the efforts by owning a portion of the building and using it to house a Senior Health Center which will also be named in honor of the Lane family. A community mainstay since 1971, Peak Vista now operates 19 health centers throughout the Pikes Peak Region including numerous family health centers, two senior health centers, school-based programs, and specialized health centers for homeless, women’s, pediatrics, after hours care, and developmental disabilities.

“Peak Vista is humbled by the generosity of Margot Lane who has supported several Peak Vista projects over the years. Margot’s passion and excitement to be involved in an innovative service model for seniors in our community is an investment that goes beyond the dollars and challenges us to further define a quality long term solution for our future that is demonstrated through our partnership with UCCS and strategic thinking,” said Pam McManus, president and CEO, Peak Vista Community Health Centers,and BJ Scott, executive director, Peak Vista Community Health Centers Foundation, in a joint statement.

In September, the CU Board of Regents approved the first phase of plans for an academic health sciences building on the east side of North Nevada Avenue and south of the current Four Diamonds Sports Complex. The first phase provides space for UCCS programs such as the CU Aging Center, Gerontology Center, and Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences, as well as the university’s unique doctoral program specializing in the psychological needs of seniors. The site was chosen because of its convenient access to the main UCCS campus as well as its central location for community members and patients and its access to I-25. Future phases will include additional buildings.

“Our family loves this community and it is a privilege to be able to give back to Colorado Springs in this significant way,” Margot Lane said. “The importance of UCCS and Peak Vista in this community is tremendous. It is our hope that this collaboration will be a model for other universities and non-profits around the country.”

About the John E. and Margaret L. Lane Foundation
Founded in 1997 by John E. Lane and Margaret L. Lane to support charities in Arizona and Colorado, the foundation’s motto is “turning success into significance.”

About Peak Vista Community Health Centers
Peak Vista Community Health Centers is a non-profit organization whose mission is “to provide exceptional healthcare for people facing access barriers.” Established in 1971, Peak Vista annually offers primary medical, dental, and behavioral health services to more than 65,000 El Paso and Teller residents most from working families without health insurance. To learn more about Peak Vista, visit www.peakvista.org.

About UCCS
UCCS, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. The university offers 36 bachelor’s degrees, 19 master’s and five doctoral degrees. The campus enrolls more than 9,300 students.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Local apartment rents hit all-time high

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Can you say "hot"?

As noted in my article "Complex Equation" last week, the apartment market is booming these days. And it doesn't look to be slowing down. It was just announced that Colorado Springs apartment rents hit an all-time high in the third quarter of 2011. Average rent is now $778 a month. Ouch.

Read on:

Colorado Springs apartment rents hit all-time high, climb 6.7 percent

The average rent in the Colorado Springs metro area hit a new high during the third quarter of 2011, climbing 6.7 percent, year over year, to $778. According to a new report on apartment rents and vacancies, released today by the Colorado Division of Housing and the Apartment Association of Southern Colorado, the average rent for the region was up from $729 reported during the third quarter of 2010, and was up from 2011’s second-quarter average rent of $759.

The median rent also hit an all-time high of $752 during the third quarter, rising 7.4 percent from 2010’s third-quarter median rent of $700.

The average rent increased in all types of apartments measured, including all types of units from efficiency apartments to three-bedroom apartments.

The average rent also increased in all sub-markets measured during the third quarter except in Northeast Colorado Springs where the average rent dropped from $749 to $741, year over year. The average rent in the Southeast region of Colorado Springs, on the other hand, increased 87 dollars from $605 during last year’s third quarter, to $692 during the same period this year.

“This is some of the most solid rent growth we’ve seen in years, said Ron Throupe, an assistant professor of business at the University of Denver, and the report’s author. “The third quarter showed the largest year-over-year increase in the metro-wide rent in ten years, and it was also the seventh quarter in a row for year-over-year growth.”

Average rents for all market areas were: Northwest, $849; Northeast, $741; Far Northeast, $909, Southeast, $692; Security/Widefield/Fountain, $613; Southwest, $790; Central, $718.

The apartment vacancy rate in the Colorado Springs metro area fell to 6.2 percent during the third quarter of 2011, falling from 2010’s third-quarter vacancy rate of 6.6 percent. The third-quarter rate also fell from this year’s second-quarter rate which was 6.4 percent.

The vacancy rate declined in the Northeast, Southeast, Security/Widefield/Fountain and Southwest areas of Colorado Springs, while the vacancy rate increased in the Northwest, Far Northeast, and Central areas.

“The vacancy rate is at the second-lowest rate recorded in the last ten years, and it’s the lowest third-quarter vacancy rate since 2001,” said Ryan McMaken, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Housing. “A lack of new multifamily construction in recent years is likely to encourage the rate to fall even more, but it looks like the industry is beginning to respond. Given the rent growth, it’s not surprising that El Paso County is among the counties with the most new multifamily building permits issued this year.”

Vacancy rates for all market areas were: Northwest, 5.6 percent; Northeast, 4.6 percent; Far Northeast, 7.1 percent, Southeast, 8.0 percent; Security/Widefield/Fountain, 10.7 percent; Southwest, 5.6 percent; Central, 6.2 percent.

Apartment Realty Advisors is also a major sponsor of this report. The Vacancy and Rent Surveys are a service provided by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Colorado Division of Housing and the Apartment Association of Southern Colorado to renters and the multi-family housing industry on a quarterly basis. The Colorado Springs Area Vacancy and Rent Survey reports averages and, as a result, there are often differences in rental and vacancy rates by size, location, age of building, and apartment type. For more information, please see the Division of Housing’s economics blog at www.divisionofhousing.com.


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Health care: Minorities wanted

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 4:07 PM

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  • joguldi

It's a difficult time to get a job, no matter who you are. But it's especially difficult if you happen to be a minority, or young.

While the national unemployment rate for white Americans was 8.1 percent in July, it was 15.9 percent for black Americans. Hispanics also hold jobs at lower rates than whites.

Young people aren't doing any better. In July, only 59.5 percent of youths (ages 16 to 24) had a job; that's the lowest July rate on record.

So what are young people of color supposed to do in this economy? Well, as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, health care looks to be a good bet for a future career.

A medical career fair specifically geared toward minorities aims to help interested people learn more about careers in medicine. The good news? It's not until November, so there's plenty of time to plan ahead.

Check out the flier for more information: Career_Poster_Final_2011.pdf

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bader to Lamborn: Here are some ideas

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 4:08 PM

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Last Wednesday, a group of protesters showed up outside U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn's Colorado Springs office in the hopes of attracting the Republican to their way of thinking. They had along with them a treatise that offered the 10 Critical Steps to Get Our Economy Back on Track, as imagined by the coalition the Contract for the American Dream.

The protest was civil, and after a while, a number of them were brought into Lamborn's conference room to meet with his district director, Dan Nordberg.

The conversation apparently went about how you'd expect it to go. While both sides could agree that there needs to be something done about job creation, and to make the tax code more equitable — no one, not even Nordberg, could defend a massive corporation such as GE not paying income taxes — the methods to correct these issues were not simply not something that was going to be decided upon at that conference table.

Ideological disagreements aside, Nordberg is just a messenger.

But this meeting did provide the opportunity for Chuck Bader, vice president of Colorado AFL-CIO, to pass along some info on existing legislation that he believes Lamborn ought to read, consider, and then support. Nordberg has since passed the list onto Lamborn's legislative director and told me that he would provide the Indy with a response, if and when there is one.

After the jump are those pieces of legislation.

Continue reading »

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Foreclosures down in July

Posted By on Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 12:59 PM

This missive comes from El Paso County Public Trustee Tom Mowle, who's reporting that foreclosures again fell below previous levels in July. He's now predicting a 31 percent decline in foreclosure starts for 2011.

Maybe the economy, at least, isn't getting any worse. Or, all the people who are in dire straits have already lost their homes, so there aren't any more for the banks to foreclose on. But Mowle has his own theory as explained below, which isn't a bright reflection on the local economy.

Mowle will report to the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday. Here's his release:

As part of my budget update for El Paso County, I am projecting 3303 foreclosure starts for the year, which would be a 31% drop from last year and the lowest total since 2006. That number was based on an average of 260 foreclosure starts per month in the last 6 months of the year — with only 238 starts in July, that estimate already looks like it may be high.

Likewise, in that budget update I projected 34,641 releases for the year, which would be just ahead of last year’s low total. This was based on releases recovering to about 3,000 per month for the last 6 months of the year — and here again, the estimate already looks high as we only released 2312 deeds in July.

The number of projected releases is approximately the 35,000 that we placed in the 2011 budget, so there is little impact on revenues. We anticipated that private-party home sales would remain low this year — and even into next year — due to the large number of homes still in foreclosure or bank-owned.

On the other hand, the number of foreclosure starts is well under the 4500 we placed in the 2011 budget. Since we book most of the foreclosure revenue when the file is closed (sold or withdrawn), there has so far been little impact on revenues here, either. Through the 2nd Quarter, in fact, the office is 5.8% ahead of budgeted revenues for the year. We do expect, however, that revenues will decline in the final 2 quarters.

This persistent drop in foreclosure starts — notable both for the suddenness of the drop from January to February and then the stability of the monthly numbers since then — appears to be a lasting legacy of the “robosigning” investigation from last October. As part of the agreement the banks have reached with regulators, banks are discouraged from double-tracking people in default. Thus banks seem to be working with borrowers before the foreclosure is filed, rather than after, which is delaying the start of those foreclosures. This means that to some extent we are probably seeing a delay in foreclosures rather than a decline, but that delay also allows people to sell or obtain additional income and work out a loan modification and avoid going into foreclosure altogether. It also means, however, that a greater proportion of the foreclosures that have started this year will result in a sale at auction. The percentage of properties sold at the first opportunity has been sharply up in the last couple of months, while the number withdrawn or cured is down.

On the expense side, we are working to bring down costs where they are controllable. We have reduced costs for office supplies, equipment rental, and personnel from what they had been, and this savings will continue into next year. Our 2012 budget for personnel and other expenses is down 18% from this year, compared to an anticipated 11% drop in revenue.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Surviving the recession at Boulder Street Gallery

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 at 2:36 PM

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  • Boulder Street Gallery

How does an art gallery survive the recession? Well, a framing component helps. And so do corporate and government contracts. Those are some of the ways Boulder Street Gallery stays strong in a swooning economy.

Earlier this month, Monica Mendoza of the Colorado Springs Business Journal reported on Boulder Street's strategy for staying out of the jaws of the recession. (A subscription's required to read the entire article.) Interestingly, it didn't have much to do with wealthy, private patrons.

While the article notes that custom framing comprises about 70 percent of their total revenue, Terry and Jennie Henderson also secured a place on the government's General Services Administration Federal Supply Schedule Contractor list, which means they can bid on government contracts and get their gallery art in secure places like Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases and even the headquarters building of the U.S. Northern Command.

Back in the private sector, the Hendersons have a project with the new Mining Exchange, A Wyndham Grand Hotel, a $50,000 job that will put about 250 pieces of art in the hotel lobby and rooms.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Left on the vine

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 1:49 PM

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  • Photo by julesho

Today, the Associated Press is reporting that 78 criminal undocumented immigrants have been arrested in a sweep of Colorado. These weren't your run-of-the-mill immigrants, according to the article. These were convicted criminals hiding out in this country.

ICE officials said the goal was to arrest convicted criminal aliens and track down fugitives who were taking advantage of the U.S. immigration system.

Okey-doke. Sounds good. Yet stories like these always prompt the comments, which are beginning to trickle in, conflating these allegedly dangerous criminals to the workaday undocumented immigrants that our economy needs in order to function.

The two are not the same, whether or not they are here legally. One could be a productive member of our society, if we'd just allow that to occur, and another is not — at the moment — a productive member of any society.

Case in point: Last week in Georgia, the impact of thousands of undocumented immigrants fleeing that state under a strict new law was being felt in a predictable way.

See Jay Bookman's post at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the cautionary tale of what happens when government jumps to an extreme solution:

After enacting House Bill 87, a law designed to drive illegal immigrants out of Georgia, state officials appear shocked to discover that HB 87 is, well, driving a lot of illegal immigrants out of Georgia.

It might be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

Thanks to the resulting labor shortage, Georgia farmers have been forced to leave millions of dollars’ worth of blueberries, onions, melons and other crops unharvested and rotting in the fields. It has also put state officials into something of a panic at the damage they’ve done to Georgia’s largest industry.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No small threat to TABOR

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 2:58 PM

What rough beast will Colorado Republicans worship if TABOR is struck down by the courts?

Twenty years ago Douglas Bruce, a determined California transplant, persuaded a slim majority of Colorado voters to approve a sweeping constitutional amendment that he had cleverly titled the “Taxpayers Bill of Rights.”

Supreme in 2016: Where TABORs headed?
  • TABOR: Supreme in 2016?

Most Republican elected officials secretly despise TABOR and its author, but few publicly oppose it. To do so is political suicide, since the ultra-conservatives who dominate Republican caucuses and primaries see TABOR as holy writ, and its author as a visionary whose personal peccadilloes are of little consequence.

Democrats and many unaffiliated voters dislike it. In jurisdictions without strong Republican majorities, local governments have successfully exempted themselves from TABOR’s most onerous provisions — but state government has remained largely under its sway.

The consequence, according to a suit filed yesterday in federal court by several dozen present and former elected officials, is that the state is no longer governed by the Legislature, but by the automatic and often malign mandates of TABOR.

The lawsuit claims that TABOR’s core, which forbids the Legislature from raising taxes, or even making most revenue-neutral changes in tax laws, blatantly violates the United States Constitution.

Article four, Section four of the Constitution:

“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government …”

Merriam-Webster defines a Republican form of government as “A government in which supreme power is held by the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives governing according to law; also: a nation or other political unit having such a form of government.”

That’s not Colorado, where supreme power is held by unelected promoters of successful initiatives.

This is a serious lawsuit, apparently well-financed, and includes as plaintiffs some very serious people. Among them: present and former Colorado Springs legislators John Morse, Mike Merrifield and Marcy Morrison, former state Sen. Norma Anderson (R-Lakewood) and State Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver).

The suit is a frontal attack aimed not only at TABOR, but at initiated legislative mandates in all the states that permit such measures. If the plaintiffs prevail in their action, you can probably say goodbye not only to TABOR, but to Amendment 23 (which mandates increased funding for K-12 education) and to the Gallagher amendment (which mandates a fixed ratio of property tax collections between commercial and residential properties).

Will the courts overturn TABOR?

It’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. While I’m no lawyer, it has always been obvious that many judges are notably unsympathetic to TABOR and its eccentric author. Given a powerful constitutional reason to junk it, the federal judges who will hear the case might vote to overturn — and if so, it would certainly end up before the Supreme Court.

The case would put the 5-4 conservative majority of the Roberts court in a delicious bind. They’ve labeled their radical, often blatantly partisan agenda as one driven solely by Constitutional originalism. In other words, what did the Founders actually intend?

To rule correctly, one need only study and understand the Constitution.

In this case, the language of the Constitution couldn’t be clearer. Direct democracy would have horrified the authors of the Constitution, who, as the Federalist papers remind us, sought to shield elected officials from the passions of transient majorities. Direct democracy, as we have come to know it in Colorado, would scarcely have met with their approval.

So come about 2016, when we can expect the case to be heard by the Supremes, what will the august conservative majority do?

Will they cling to their principles, toss out TABOR and nullify the achievements of generations of right-wing activists? Or will they conveniently discard their principles, and leave the Dougster’s mischievous monument in place?

We’ll see. But when ideology conflicts with the Constitution, the justices usually leave the hallowed document bleeding on the floor.

Remember Bush v. Gore?

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

More from David Cay Johnston

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 10:16 AM

David Cay Johnston
  • Matt DeTurck
  • David Cay Johnston

This week's cover story is a piece that reporter David Cay Johnston wrote for the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, of which the Indy is a member. One of the other altweeklies publishing the story today is Detroit's Metro Times, which has made available a nice audio complement to the print piece.

Below is an interview that Johnston did with Detroit Public Radio yesterday. The Times ran a different headline, as you'll hear, but the story itself is the same — and timely not only because of the April 18 tax deadline, but also because of President Obama's speech shortly after this interview.

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