Local News

Thursday, April 16, 2015

'Democracy Now!' host Amy Goodman to speak at Colorado College

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 1:35 PM

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As a slogan, “democracy now!” may be more ideal than reality, with less than 40% of voters casting ballots in last week’s mayoral race.

But with a runoff election on the horizon, next week is an especially opportune time for Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman to be paying a visit to Colorado Springs

For the past two decades, Goodman’s radio show has made her the best-known left-leaning broadcaster in a medium that consistently swings to the right. The much-celebrated progressive news show is currently heard on more than 1,250 stations, including here on KRCC Monday through Thursday evenings at 7 p.m.

Goodman, who in February received Harvard’s I.F. Stone Lifetime Achievement Award, will be speaking at Colorado College next Thursday, April 23rd. The 7 p.m. talk will be free and open to the public.


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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

GE Johnson wins honor

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 5:28 PM

An early rendering of the museum. GE Johnson is the contractor.
  • An early rendering of the museum. GE Johnson is the contractor.
Local contractor GE Johnson Construction Company gets a blue ribbon as one of Denver's Top Workplaces of 2015, as named by the Denver Post.

The company works in multiple states and is based in Colorado Springs. Its highest profile local job at the moment is the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, a topic we wrote about this week.

Here's more from the release about the company's honor:
The newspaper’s rankings designate the Top 100 work places in Colorado, broken out into large companies, midsize companies and small companies. GE Johnson was ranked #17 among midsize companies, and is the highest ranked construction firm in the Top 100.

The Denver Post invited 1,400 organizations across the state to participate in employee surveys to determine the Top 100 rankings. Anonymous surveys were distributed to employees, and evaluated in several categories, including company direction, execution, connection, pay and benefits, and overall employee satisfaction. This is the first year GE Johnson employees completed the Top 100 survey, so the ranking comes as a tremendous accomplishment.

As part of the survey process, employees were given the chance to provide testimonials of their experience with their company. One GE Johnson employee complimented the company’s leadership, saying “There is a family-like atmosphere. The executives are approachable and the owner is connected to the pulse of the company.” Another took the opportunity to speak about career development in the company, saying, “There is freedom to do as much as you want to do. The job is rewarding and the atmosphere is general happiness and excitement.”

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by the Denver Post as one of the best workplaces in the state of Colorado,” said Jim Johnson, President and CEO of GE Johnson, “My father founded the company with the idea that we should always act more like a family than a corporation. Now, nearly 50 years later, I’m proud that our employees feel valued because they truly are. The culture we have all helped build at GE Johnson is rare in our industry and in business in general; it’s a privilege to come to work with these folks every day.”

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

UPDATE: Arrest warrant issued for Bruce in Ohio

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 11:25 AM

UPDATE:

Douglas Bruce left us a voice mail message this afternoon explaining that the warrants were issued based on his failure to appear for a hearing last fall on a code enforcement violation and, contrary to the ABC affiliate's report, had nothing to do with back taxes.

"They [Cleveland officials] can't snap their fingers and make me fly to Cleveland," he says. "They're idiots, and frankly, their behavior is criminal. They can't arrest me because there's chipped paint."

We'll update if any additional information is made available. 

———————————ORIGINAL POST 11:25 A.M. TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2015———————————————-

The ABC affiliate in Cleveland is reporting that a so-called "housing court" in Cleveland has issued a warrant for the arrest of Douglas Bruce for failing to pay $21,000 in property taxes on three homes he owns there.

Bruce: In trouble again, reportedly, over his property ownership. - KIN SCOTT
  • Kin Scott
  • Bruce: In trouble again, reportedly, over his property ownership.
The station reports on its website that one home is in the ward represented by Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli. "It's not right that an out-of-town owner would buy property in our city and then refuse to pay property taxes," Brancatelli told the station. "How would he like it if we did that in his city? Taxpayers are left to pay to have his condemned properties boarded-up, and have the lawns cut."

Bruce called the warrant "preposterous."

"It’s got to be a joke by some buffoon,"  he says. "You don’t arrest people for not paying property taxes, right? I have filed an appeal of the assessed value of the properties. How does a housing court arrest people on tax issues? Are they the tax collector? It’s beyond odd. It’s preposterous."

It's only the latest problem for Bruce, who's under review for compliance with his terms of probation after his 2012 conviction on tax evasion charges, which he is appealing. The probation office in Denver alleges Bruce has failed to report various financial dealings within the required amount of time, including the transfer of his late mom's condo to City Councilor Helen Collins, which has resulted in an ethics complaint filed against Collins by the City Attorney's Office. Read more about that here.

We agree with Bruce that it sounds fishy that a judge would issue an arrest warrant for non-payment of taxes, so we asked El Paso County Treasurer Mark Lowderman what the law is in Colorado.

"In Colorado properties with unpaid taxes go through the Treasurer’s annual Tax Sale," he says via email. "It occurs each October and investors pay the delinquent taxes, and then have a lien on the property. The investor can pay subsequent years unpaid taxes, and after 3 years, they can apply for title. Not many folks are in it to get the property though. They participate for the interest on their money, which is presently 10%."

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Good news, bad news in No Man's Land

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 11:12 AM

The roads and sidewalks in No Man's Land just can't. - BRADLEY FLORA
  • Bradley Flora
  • The roads and sidewalks in No Man's Land just can't.

Back in December, I wrote a story about the western section of Colorado and Manitou Avenues, popularly known as "No Man's Land" or "The Avenue."

Overlapped by confusing jurisdictions — county, state, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs — the area has long been generally neglected. I should know. I drive through it every day.

But No Man's Land (or at least some of it, keep reading) is set for transformation, starting with a huge road project that will begin later this year. That's great. But trust me, it doesn't solve the more immediate problem. No Man's Land is basically one big pothole. Seriously, I don't know how the cops catch drunk drivers on this stretch, because every driver looks like a drunk when they're swerving every which way trying to protect their tires and their alignment. I stopped driving in the right lane of the eastbound side of the road month ago — because the lane is nearly nonexistent in places. 

Anyway, enough with my bitching. I come bearing some good news. The county is going to temporarily fix the road starting at 11:30 a.m. today. You see, No Man's Land may have its issues, but it is a major route for tourists. And the county doesn't want all of our tourists going home with horror stories about our roads.

So — and I never thought I'd say this — thank god for tourists.

On the not-so-positive side, Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder is furious that Manitou will apparently be left out of much of the larger Westside Avenue transformation. Originally, the project was supposed to transform No Man's Land starting at the U.S. 24 bridge on the west side. Now, Snyder says that most of the Manitou stretch will be left out of the project. 

"Basically they just moved the goal posts and said, 'You know Manitou, too bad for you,'" Snyder says. "... It's just a real blow for us."

Snyder says Manitou was supposed to get $2 to $3 million for its share of the project, including street, sidewalk and streetscape improvements. It will be much less now. 

Snyder says he also wasn't invited to the kickoff for today's roadwork.
County Begins Maintenance Work Tuesday on West Colorado Avenue
Construction Work on Major Gateway Project Will Begin This Fall With Relocation of Utilities Lines


El Paso County, CO – April 12, 2015 – El Paso County Public Services will begin minor repair work on Tuesday April 13, 2015 to improve the road surface on Colorado Avenue from 31st Street to the U.S. 24 overpass in Manitou Springs. This is a critical corridor for summer tourism.

The maintenance and ownership of this 1.3 mile segment of Colorado Avenue was recently turned over from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to El Paso County. This is the first phase of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between El Paso County, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and CDOT that will result in major improvements along this stretch of roadway. But with the start date on the larger project still months away the County will be performing some badly needed maintenance to improve driving conditions on the road surface over the next several weeks.

Major improvements which are expected to begin with the relocation of utility lines this Fall will result in improved safety for cars, trucks and busses and provide badly needed accommodations for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Now known as the “Gateway Project” the “Westside Avenue Action Plan” has taken shape over the past three years and a final public meeting is expected this summer to discuss detailed improvement plans for the area.

A video presentation at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R08PH1ke2hc reviews the area and its huge importance to residents, businesses and visitors.

El Paso County Public Services reminds motorists to pay special attention to flaggers, reduced speed limits and construction zone traffic signs in “cone zones” during the heavy construction months ahead.

El Paso County Public Services is responsible for the maintenance of more than 2,000 miles of public roadway ranging from major thoroughfares in urban areas to gravel country roads and neighborhood cul-de-sacs. 

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County property assessed values up 6.3 percent

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 10:10 AM

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On March 25, I wrote about the healthy growth that El Paso County is seeing in property values and the improving economy in general.

At the time, El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker didn't yet have the total 2015 assessed values of properties, but he was able to provide them today.

As you can see, there's a 6.3 percent increase in values countywide (although it's worth keeping in mind that these numbers will change quite a bit during the Appeals and County Board of Equalization periods). 

· 2014 End of Year Assessed Value = $6,439,985,430.00

· 2015 Assessed Value = $6,873,091,140.00

· 2014-2015 Value ($) Difference = +$433,105,710.00

· 2014-2015 Percentage (%) Difference: = +6.3%
Wondering how much the value of your own home has increased? Keep an eye on your mail. Valuation notices go out May 1. 
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Friday, April 10, 2015

UPDATE: Bruce/Collins alliance affirmed in lawsuit

Posted By on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 at 11:00 AM

UPDATE: 

We just obtained the allegations of which conditions of probation Douglas Bruce violated:

— The defendant shall report any law enforcement contacts to your probation officer immediately. The defendant failed to do so in relation to an El Paso County case on June 2, 2014, which wasn't reported until Oct. 31, 2014.

— The defendant shall comply with any other requirements of the probation office to meeting conditions imposed by the court. Bruce allegedly failed to fill out a financial disclosure form mailed to him on Feb. 19, 2014.

— The defendant shall disclose any current debts or financial obligations and report newly acquired debt or financial obligations within 14 days. He allegedly failed to disclose that he had an obligation to pay his brother from funds from the sale of their mother's home. On Feb. 26, 2015, he reported that he had paid his brother $29,366.93, his brother's share. The withdrawal was made from his bank account on Dec. 8, 2014, which was three days after City Councilor Helen Collins sold his mom's condo to a third party on Dec. 5 after having had it deeded to her by Bruce on Dec. 4. He also failed to notify his probation officer within 14 days of contracting a debt or financial obligation. On Dec. 5, 2014, a judgment was entered that he owed the city $7,947.52.

— The defendant will disclose any current financial contracts or arrangements within 14 days. Bruce allegedly failed to report the Dec. 4 transaction with Collins.

— The defendant will disclose any current access or control of assets, funds or financial information. Bruce allegedly failed to report he had control of funds belonging to Collins. He reported on Feb. 26, 2015, that a Dec. 8, 2014, deposit of $112,519.57 into his bank account was from the sale of his mom's home. The deposit was a check written to Collins by Empire Title, so "therefore the funds in the defendant's account belong to Helen P. Collins and not the defendant as he reported."

— The defendant will furnish federal and state tax returns and any tax court judgments for the past three years and thereafter on a yearly basis. Bruce allegedly failed to provide a copy of his federal and Colorado 2012 and 2013 income tax returns.

The complaint recommends Bruce's term of probation be revoked and that he be granted another term of probation.

Bruce was given a July 13 hearing date on the revocation of probation summons.

————————————ORIGINAL POST 11 A.M. FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2015——————————————————-

Problems are piling up for anti-tax activist and tax evader Douglas Bruce and his close friend City Councilor Helen Collins.

Evidence suggests the two are more than just political allies. According to a lawsuit filed in 4th Judicial District Court, Bruce and Collins have been working on land transactions together across the country, including in North Dakota, South Carolina, Illinois and Oklahoma, besides Collins' 2013 acquisition of two apartment buildings in Kansas City for which tenants say Bruce has been in charge.

One of Helen Collins' buildings in Kansas City is boarded up. - PHOTOS COURTESY KANSAS CITY CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICE
  • Photos courtesy Kansas City code enforcement office
  • One of Helen Collins' buildings in Kansas City is boarded up.
In fact, Bruce and Collins, who survived a recall vote on Tuesday, describe themselves in the lawsuit as "partners." More on that later.

Those dealings might be the reason Bruce was summoned to 2nd Judicial District Court today for a hearing to consider revoking his probation in a 2012 tax evasion case for which he served 104 days of a 180-day sentence. We'll circle back with details later today, but the revocation might be connected to the question of whether all the financial transactions involved in the land deals were reported to the probation office, most recently the transfer of his mother's condo to Collins for $10 and her quick subsequent sale of the property for $140,000 to a third party.

The condo deal gave rise to an ethics complaint filed by the City Attorney's Office, alleging Collins enabled Bruce to dodge paying the city's fees of $7,600 incurred defending the city against Bruce's failed lawsuit, in which the city prevailed last fall.

More recently, Collins came under scrutiny for owning a couple of apartment buildings in Kansas City.

Earlier this week, we talked with a code enforcement officer in Kansas City, who said the property was posted on Monday with a notice that it could not be occupied. Anyone who continued to occupy the buildings would be arrested, a tenant tells the Independent.

Trash is strewn around the buildings.
  • Trash is strewn around the buildings.
"That means it was shut down because of no water," said officer Terrell Mills. "She’s [Collins] been sent notices. She has 30 days to comply, and if not, she’ll receive citations and fines."

Meantime, tenant Heather Dugger was scrambling to gather up her family's belongings and get out on Monday. She said she, her husband and three young children, ages 11, 7 and 3, lived without water for about a month before the notice was posted. 

"The water got shut off about a month ago," Dugger says. "Somehow, the water was still on [at the other building] so we were going next door and filling buckets of water."

She says she paid rent to a property manager who worked for Bruce. "He’s the one who hired the property manager," she says, adding that Bruce was supposed to be paying for trash removal and water service and that she paid rent of $450 a month by money order made out to Douglas Bruce. She quit paying rent about three months ago, she says, because the property manager "quit coming by."
More trash and a sofa on the grounds of Collins' property.
  • More trash and a sofa on the grounds of Collins' property.
Dugger then cut the interview short, because she was trying to load a U-Haul trailer. "There's a lot of cuss words [for Bruce]," she says. "All the rent we paid and the water got shut off, and it’s just crazy, knowing they’re taking money away from people."

Bruce and Collins are tightly aligned in real estate ventures, as outlined in a lawsuit filed in November by them against a Tulsa, Okla.-based national online real estate brokerage and auction company, Williams & Williams Co.

The lawsuit alleges the company charged Bruce and Collins unreasonable title insurance fees on several deals in at least four states: Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Carolina and Illinois.

Williams & Williams is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed based on jurisdictional and contractual issues, but this statement in the lawsuit sheds light on the Bruce-Collins relationship:
Plaintiffs [Bruce and Collins] were partners in this venture. Collins furnished her name and credit card; Bruce furnished the $2,500 deposit and did the bidding. Title was to be in the name of Collins. Bruce also made the demands for refund and has the business records of the entire experience. Both parties shared the distress that defendant chose to lie to them, to steal the deposit, and to force them to sue defendant.
Plastic covers a window in one building.
  • Plastic covers a window in one building.
Bruce and Collins both signed the pleading and gave the same Post Office box number, the same phone number (that of Bruce) and the same email address (belonging to Bruce).

Bruce didn't return a phone call from the Indy seeking comment yesterday. Collins didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment today.

The City Attorney's Office has said issues surrounding Collins' ownership of the Kansas City buildings have no bearing on the ethics complaint here and that the office received information about the code enforcement matters from a neighborhood activist.

"The CAO receives communications from citizens across the country on a variety of topics that may or may not pertain to legal matters relevant to the work of this Office," the city said in a statement on March 21. "We have determined that this letter does not pertain to legal matters within the CAO’s responsibility."
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ray Marshall to be charged, again

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 1:48 PM

Criminal charges against developer Ray Marshall stemming from the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters project will be reinstated after the District Attorney's Office won a reversal of the 2012 decision by District Judge Barney Iuppa to dismiss those charges.

MIKE FLEMING
  • Mike Fleming
The Court of Appeals decision, dated April 10, 2014, but only released by the DA's Office this week, says Iuppa erred when dismissing the charges and that they should be reinstated.

Marshall, who declared bankruptcy recently, was indicted in late 2009 on a series of fraud charges stemming from his development activities. In February 2012, he was charged again with crimes alleging he took money from the deal with the city, El Pomar Foundation and the Olympic Committee to build a USOC headquarters here.

As we previously reported, according to an arrest warrant, Marshall allegedly stole more than $1 million from the USOC project, including $400,000-plus in El Pomar grant funds. Marshall allegedly set up duplicate accounts to disguise stolen funds, and delayed responses when asked how money was being spent.

Although prosecutors proposed joining the two criminal cases back in 2012, Marshall objected and Iuppa denied the prosecution's motion. Then, after he was acquitted in the first case, Marshall asked Iuppa to dismiss the second case because the two cases should have been joined in the first place but weren't.

From the Court of Appeals decision:
This appeal asks this question: Does defendant’s successful objection to the prosecution’s motion to join the two cases bar defendant’s subsequent motion to dismiss the second case because it was not joined with the first? We conclude, under the circumstances of this case, that the answer to this question is “yes.” As a result, we reverse the trial court’s judgment dismissing this case, and we remand it to the trial court to reinstate the charges. 

Here's the ruling:
MarshallOpinion.pdf
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Today: Young professionals host under-60 picnic at City Hall

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 10:08 AM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock

Tuesday's election results may have you convinced that the only people doing anything in this city are retired, or as close to it as to make no difference. 

Angela Seals, director of community partnerships with the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, would like to remind local government that all those young professionals they endlessly crow about attracting are already here, and they want to be heard.

"With that rallying cry, we are going to meet on the lawn of City Hall and eat our sack lunches," reads a Facebook event touting today's 12:15 p.m. lunch. "This is nonpartisan and nothing against the good folks elected yesterday. It's just a demonstration that we have quite a population of apparently-invisible but very-inspiring, non-retired (!) citizens."
Let's trust them to help lead us forward:

1. Vote for candidates under 60 - when they are qualified and have good ideas - and for older candidates with fresh insights.

2. City Council and the new mayor, whomever that will be, should create the Young Professionals Advisory Council.

All anyone talks about is attracting and retaining "young" people and we're kind of right here and kind of working against a lot of drag, amiright? In fact, some of the best leadership in town is by our young entrepreneurs, makers and creatives anyway. Come sit in the sun with your sack lunch for a half hour and let your youthful face shine.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In case you missed it: Bus service changes

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 2:15 PM

J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley

On Sunday, the city began implementing changes to its bus service routes. It looks like the changes are largely positive for bus riders, with extra service being added. Read on for the specifics:
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— Mountain Metropolitan Transit (MMT) will implement final service changes, including some exciting and much needed enhancements to the system, beginning on Sunday, April 5.

· Route 5, MMT’s busiest route averaging 900 riders per day, will now run every 15 minutes—the fastest service available. Route 5 runs between the downtown bus terminal at 127. E. Kiowa and the Citadel Mall.

· Saturday service will be added to Routes 4, 6, and 8

· Route 25, which currently runs along Academy Blvd. from Pikes Peak Community College Centennial campus to Voyager Parkway, will be split into two routes, Route 25 and Route 27, in an effort to improve on-time performance.

· There are numerous additional service changes. For more information, please visit our final service change web page at mmtransit.com.

“We’re very anxious to get this service out on the streets,” comments Craig Blewitt, director, Mountain Metropolitan Transit. “The changes are going to go a long way toward improving our service and providing faster, more efficient options for our current riders as well as attracting new riders.”

Mountain Metropolitan Transit provides local fixed-route bus service and Metro Mobility ADA paratransit service for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. All buses are wheelchair-lift equipped. Mountain Metropolitan Transit also provides other services such as Metro Rides’ ridesharing, vanpool, and bicycling programs. For added convenience, there are bike racks on all buses for riders who want to utilize the bike-n-bus program. For additional information regarding Mountain Metropolitan Transit please visit www.mmtransit.com, or call (719) 385-RIDE (7433).

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Suthers, Makepeace advance to runoff; Bennett, Strand, Murray on Council

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 9:53 PM

The latest batch of ballots counted, released at 9:38 p.m., puts us just shy of 75,000 total. With only one issue still in doubt, we're turning in for the night. To recap:

For mayor, it will be John Suthers and Mary Lou Makepeace advancing to a May 19 runoff election.

Council at-large: Merv Bennett, Tom Strand and Bill Murray.

Council District 2: Larry Bagley.

Council District 4: Helen Collins will keep her seat.

Issue 1: The mayor will be relieved of sign-off authority on Colorado Springs Utilities contracts and agreements.

Issue 2: It's still a mystery whether Council will get to hire its own administrator and assume a few other responsibilities related to staffing. Check out these numbers:


Come back to the IndyBlog tomorrow for more on tonight's events.

——- PREVIOUS POST, 8:59 P.M. ——-

The City Clerk's Office just released info reflecting more than 2,000 additional counted ballots, but the only noteworthy change comes in the ballot question regarding Council being able to hire its own staff. Now only 82 votes separate the "no" votes from the "yes" votes.

Screen_shot_2015-04-07_at_9.49.15_PM.png


——- PREVIOUS POST, 8:37 P.M. ——-

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According to both Suthers and city communications professional Julie Smith, there were 11,000 votes not yet counted in the city clerk's first round of results.

 At this point, though, both Suthers and Makepeace are talking about a runoff election.

Pam Zubeck, who's at Suthers' party at the Mining Exchange Hotel, reports that Suthers spoke to about 150 wildly enthusiastic supporters, saying, “We celebrate tonight, but tomorrow morning we go to work. We need to make sure everyone who voted for us tonight votes for us on May 19.”

J. Adrian Stanley, at Makepeace's gathering at Nosh, says the mood was more subdued, but that Makepeace said the runoff would be "all about getting out the vote." Makepeace noted that in the last mayoral election, 8,000 more ballots were cast in the runoff than in the general municipal election.

——- ORIGINAL POST, 8:08 P.M. ——-

Screen_shot_2015-04-07_at_7.51.24_PM.png
Former Attorney General John Suthers is well out in front in Colorado Springs' 2015 mayoral race, but the numbers suggest he won't be able to escape a runoff against former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.

The first round of unofficial numbers from the City Clerk's Office, time-stamped 7:38 p.m., show Suthers having received 33,214 votes, or 47.41 percent. Makepeace stands in second place, with 16,112 votes, or 23 percent.

Under the strong-mayor initiative of a few years ago, a mayor can't be elected without at least 50 percent of the vote. A runoff election pitting Suthers against Makepeace would be scheduled for May 19.

Meanwhile, former City Councilor Joel Miller has gotten 15.51 percent of the vote, and El Paso County Commission Chair Amy Lathen 11.21 percent. Two long-shot candidates, Tony Carpenter and Lawrence Martinez, have together taken less than 3 percent.

These numbers reflect 70,673 votes counted. Votes filed earlier Tuesday are still being tallied, but what's counted so far represents the vast majority of the take from about three weeks of mail-ballot and drop-off voting.

In the race for City Council at-large, two of the most well-funded candidates seem to be cruising toward victory. With three seats up for grabs, the early results find Merv Bennett and Tom Strand out in front, with Bill Murray edging Jariah Walker for third: 


Makepeace with supporters at Nosh. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Makepeace with supporters at Nosh.


Meanwhile, in District 2, sitting Councilor Larry Bagley is easily defeating Kanda Calef with 70.61 percent of the vote. And in District 4, Councilor Helen Collins appears safe from a fairly bizarre recall effort, with 55.38 percent of southeast-side voters wanting her to say on Council.

As for the two issues on the ballot, 52.64 percent of voters are willing to amend the city charter in order to grant City Council final sign-off authority on contracts and agreements made by Colorado Springs Utilities. (Council serves as the Utilities Board.) But it's a toss-up as to whether voters will allow Council to hire its own administrator and to be able to direct and supervise that administrator, the city auditor, and their employees and assistants. Right now, 50.16 percent of voters are saying no. That's a difference of 208 votes, out of nearly 67,000 cast on that issue.


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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Klingenschmitt manages to anger his own party

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 2:54 PM

Rep. Klingenschmitt
  • Rep. Klingenschmitt
They say that no press is bad press, but Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, may beg to differ.

When Klingenschmitt, who likes to call himself "Dr. Chaps," is not legislating, he's preaching on his online ministry, Pray in Jesus Name. The show's deeply offensive content about LGBT people and women (among other people and topics) has long been noted — like that one time he called a 6-year-old transgender child a demon — but apparently, didn't prevent Klingenschmitt from being welcomed into the Republican fold at the State House. (It did, however, get his ministry added to the Southern Poverty Law Center's anti-LGBT hate list in 2014.)

Anyway, Klingenschmitt recently crossed a line even most State House Republicans couldn't ignore when he claimed that an attack on a pregnant woman, in which her nearly full-term baby was ripped from her womb, was a "curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open.”

This didn't sit well with the woman in question, Michelle Wilkins, who lost her baby. She returned Klingenschmitt's $1,000 donation to her family. Apparently, it also didn't sit well with House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, who removed Klingenschmitt from the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee as punishment. Others were also upset. Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, drafted a letter stating that he believed Klingenschmitt's interpretation of the Bible was in error. Even Klingenschmitt has apologized for his statement and taken a six-week sabbatical from Pray in Jesus Name in order to focus on his work in the legislature.

Klingenschmitt has a few defenders who say he shouldn't be punished for speaking his mind on his own time — something Klingenschmitt also maintains. But others say the legislator hasn't been punished enough and that he should resign his seat. Not surprisingly, progressive group ProgressNow Colorado is in the latter camp.

ProgressNow Colorado Calls For Gordon Klingenschmitt’s Resignation

DENVER: After nearly a week since video surfaced of Colorado Springs Representative Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt’s outrageous remarks on the horrific assault on a pregnant woman in Longmont, ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on Republican leadership to call on Dr. Chaps to resign.

“Enough is enough,” said said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Republican leaders in the House and Senate have had almost a week to hold Klingenschmitt accountable, and there he is, still representing Colorado’s 15th House District despite his offensive behavior.”

On Monday, House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso removed Klingenschmitt from one of his two committee assignments, saying it was one of the “few tools” he had for discipline [Denver Post, 3/30/15], prompting fellow Republican Justin Everett to call the move a gesture to “save face” on the House floor today.

State Sen. Owen Hill, another Republican from El Paso County, took the additional step on Monday to send an email calling for Klingenschmitt’s resignation.

Yet silent on the whole matter is Senate President Bill Cadman, a fellow Colorado Springs Republican, who represents Klingenschmitt’s district in the state Senate.

“There is more the legislative leadership could do if they just had the courage to do it,” added Runyon-Harms. “Every day that Klingenschmitt is in office is an insult to the people of Colorado.”

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Play Pac-Man on Colorado Springs streets

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 12:13 PM

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Because Google has transformed its Map site into an instantly localized game of Pac-Man, you can play the game on Colorado Springs streets.

"To play the game, simply go to Google Maps in a browser on your computer, or on the updated iOS and Android Google Maps apps, and find a location near you with a good amount of streets," writes CNET.

"From there, click the Pac-Man button in the bottom left corner, and Google will transform those streets into a playable version of Pac-Man. The controls are pretty simple: just tap on the up, down, left and right arrows to move Pac-Man around while you collect dots and cherries, all while avoiding being killed by ghosts."

For me, I like the triangle between East Uintah Street and Palmer Park Boulevard.

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Women get their own USA Pro Challenge

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 12:09 PM

Unfortunately, the USA Pro Challenge won't run through the Springs this year. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Unfortunately, the USA Pro Challenge won't run through the Springs this year.
In many sports, women just aren't treated as well as men. 

Despite incredible talent, they may not attract the same crowds, sponsorships, prizes, glory or salaries. Bike racing is no exception. So it was exciting to hear that the organizers of the USA Pro Challenge, America's answer to the Tour de France, are unveiling a women's race this year. The best part: the female champions will get the same prize money as the men. The press release below says the the Pro Challenge, which is held annually in Colorado (but is not coming through the Springs this year), hopes to encourage other race organizers to include women and offer equal pay.

Bravo!

WOMEN’S USA PRO CHALLENGE CONFIRMED

Inaugural Event to Kick-Off in Breckenridge, Fort Collins and Golden from August 21-23, 2015


DENVER (March 31, 2015) – The USA Pro Challenge announced today the confirmation of an elite women’s race, the “Women’s USA Pro Challenge,” to take place over the course of three days, in conjunction with the men’s professional race. The women, for the first time, will race on parts of the men’s race course in Colorado this August and race daily for the same prize money as the men.

The three-day invitation-only event is sanctioned by USA Cycling and will kick off in Breckenridge on August 21st and conclude in Golden on August 23rd, prior to the start of the last day of racing for the USA Pro Challenge. It is the first time since 1988 that some of the best men and women in the world will be sharing courses at a major, international stage race in Colorado.

“We are very excited to support women’s cycling in the U.S. and bring more of an awareness to these incredible athletes on a large stage in Colorado with world-class crowds,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “The women bring an entirely new dynamic to our race and we are confident the fierce skills of these riders will impress and inspire all of our passionate fans.”

The announcement was made in Breckenridge and honored guest, American professional and Boulder resident Mara Abbott was on hand to spread the news. In 2010 Abbott, who races for the Wiggle-Honda Pro Cycling team, became the first American ever to win the Giro Donne, one of the Grand Tours of women's bicycle racing.

“I am beyond thrilled to have a chance to compete at the Women’s USA Pro Challenge this year,” said Mara Abbott, professional cyclist. “I think to be able to race on your home turf is special for any racer and especially for me because Colorado holds the majority of my heart. When the men finished up Flagstaff, only two blocks from the house where I grew up, I avoided the race entirely because I was jealous and sad. To get a chance to compete in the Colorado mountains is a dream come true.”

The women competing in the Women’s USA Pro Challenge will include top national riders and Olympians. The women will race for the same prize money as the men and it will help lead the way for future equal winnings in races.

Former COO of USA Cycling and now USA Cycling board member, Sean Petty, will serve as the Race Director for the Women’s USA Pro Challenge.

“There is a long legacy that some of the best female cyclists in the world are from the United States and many from right here in Colorado,” said Sean Petty, Women’s USA Pro Challenge Race Director. “Now, those riders get to showcase their incredible talent and exciting racing in front of the huge crowds the USA Pro Challenge attracts. It’s a great opportunity for our women to have a ‘home game.’”

Connie Carpenter-Phinney made history when she won the first women’s Olympic road race in 1984. She has been a proponent of a women’s USA Pro Challenge from the very beginning when she helped form the USA Pro Challenge in the inaugural year.

"This is great news for women's cycling that the USA Pro Challenge has added a women's division in 2015, which has been highly anticipated by the racers and the fans,” said Carpenter-Phinney. “I know Colorado will embrace the women's race and 2015 will mark the start of a new era in women's racing!"

The complete race details are still being finalized, however the start of the race will begin in Breckenridge with an individual time trial to coincide with the men’s time trial in Breckenridge. The other two stage routes are in Fort Collins and Golden with details to be confirmed in the near future.

About the USA Pro Challenge

Referred to as “America’s Race,” the USA Pro Challenge will take place August 17-23, 2015. For seven consecutive days, the world’s top athletes race through the majestic Colorado Rockies, reaching higher altitudes than they’ve ever had to endure. One of the largest cycling events in U.S. history and the largest spectator event in the history of the state, the USA Pro Challenge is back for 2015. Featuring a challenging course, the fifth annual race will spotlight the best of the best in professional cycling and some of America’s most beautiful scenery.


More information can be found online at www.prochallenge.com and on Twitter at @USAProChallenge. 

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Monday, March 30, 2015

City meeting on floods to be held this Wednesday

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 11:23 AM

Flooding since the Waldo Canyon Fire has hit Manitou Springs hard. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Flooding since the Waldo Canyon Fire has hit Manitou Springs hard.

Since the Waldo Canyon Fire devastated the hillsides adjacent to Colorado Springs and greatly increased the chances of flash flooding, the city has been striving to keep the public informed of the dangers.

Thus, it is hosting a series of community meetings as we head into the spring/summer flood season. The meetings are hosted in neighborhoods that are threatened by major watersheds. On Wednesday, the meeting will be held near the Camp Creek watershed, one of the largest to be affected by the fire. Residents in nearby neighborhoods like Pleasant Valley are welcome to attend, but so is anyone else with flood concerns who wants to learn more.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The City of Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management will host a resident preparedness meeting on the recovery of the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar, and preparedness for natural disaster on Wednesday, April 1 for residents along the Camp Creek area and for the general public.

Camp Creek Flash Flood Preparedness Meeting

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Glen Eyrie Castle

3820 N. 30th Street


Speakers will address key issues relating to flash flood risk in neighborhoods along Camp Creek.

Topics:

· Analysis of recovery and mitigation efforts on the Waldo Canyon Burn scar

· Weather forecasting and potential flood impact areas

· Mitigation efforts-what can you do?

· Stay Informed-Notification methods for flash flood warnings

· City Disaster Preparedness including planning and responses

The meeting location is wheelchair accessible. Reasonable accommodations for the deaf and hard of hearing through closed captioning or sign language interpreter will be provided upon request. Please notify Vickie O’Brien at oem@springsgov.com or 719-385-5957. The deadline to make the request was Friday, March 27. However, every effort will be made to fulfill requests made after March 27, but they cannot be guaranteed.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

County recognizes 'Friends of the NRA Day'

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 9:12 AM

Commissioners Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Peggy Littleton love their guns. - EL PASO COUNTY
  • El Paso County
  • Commissioners Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Peggy Littleton love their guns.
It's that time of the year again.

Flowers are blooming, snow is giving way to rain, and our El Paso County commissioners are pledging their support for a fundraising arm of the foundation side of one of the most powerful and divisive advocacy organizations in the nation. On Tuesday, the commissioners formally recognized "Friends of the NRA Day," as they do every year.

Friends of the NRA is a fundraising arm for the NRA Foundation, which promotes the shooting sports. While the Friends of the NRA supports local programs and services, it's kissing cousins with the National Rifle Association, a group that used to be known for its focus on helping hunters and marksmen, but is now a political powerhouse.

Both federally and at a state level, the NRA fights against laws aimed at keeping guns in check. That includes laws that most Americans like, such as those mandating background checks. In fact, when Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, helped pass background check legislation and other gun control bills in Colorado in 2013, the NRA went after him. The Morse recall effort was successful.

Not that any of this should raise eyebrows. I mean, it is spring after all.
El Paso County Recognizes “Friends of NRA Day”

Local Group Celebrates More than Two Decades of Service to the Community



El Paso County, CO, March 25, 2015 – By unanimous Proclamation, the Board of El Paso County Commissioners during its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday recognized March 26th as “Friends of NRA Day and expressed its appreciation for decades of support for local programs and services by Friends of NRA.

Each year, Friends of NRA raises hundreds of thousands of dollars to support a variety of programs and services, including firearms safety and training, youth hunter education conservation training, law enforcement training and firearms competition and the national youth shooting sports cooperative.

“In 2014, the Colorado Friends of NRA raised $768,074 state wide and distributed $384,037 across 80 grants with $279,730 directed at 57 grants focused on youth programs,” said Commissioner Amy Lathen in presenting the Proclamation. “Six grants totaling $16,326 were given to groups in El Paso County.”

“We believe in the fundamental liberties people have, not just in El Paso County but across the country,” she said.

Friends of NRA are a valued partner with El Paso County, Fort Carson, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and others in the establishment and ongoing development of the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex. The complex, which is open to the public on 400 acres of Fort Carson property, is the largest public range in Colorado.

“Thank you for your all of your support especially for 4-H and the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex,” said Commissioner Clark.

The County Proclamation recognizes March 26, 2015, as “Friends of NRA Day” in El Paso County Colorado and urges citizens who enjoy the shooting sports and cherish the freedom of responsible gun ownership to show their appreciation for Friends of NRA and the important contributions they make to our community. “Our sole purpose is to raise funds for the shooting sports and education,” said Peggy Gray, Colorado Friends of NRA chair.

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the Colorado Springs Friends of NRA Committee. Commissioner Peggy Littleton encouraged El Paso County citizens to attend the group’s annual dinner, noting that funds raised through the event support grants distributed every year. The gala is Thursday, March 26, at Swan House Manor, 5515 Palmer Park Blvd., Colorado Springs. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the evening includes games, auctions and dinner. For tickets, contact Peggy Gray at (719) 243-4586.

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