Monday, January 9, 2017

Will voters be allowed to decide on parks funding?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 8:31 AM

  • Bob Falcone
It's no secret to city parks users that our city parks are in need of repairs, maintenance and development. After taking huge budget cuts during the last recession, the parks department was forced to stop watering grass and picking up trash, and forced to suspend trail and park maintenance and improvements. Park use continued to increase all the while, tied to our ever-growing population. The Springs continually ranks high on list of desirable places to live, and locals rank our parks, trails and open spaces as one of the biggest attractions. And though the last couple of years have seen funding for city parks slowly increase — at least the sprinklers are on and the trash is picked up — they have not yet risen to pre-2008 levels. The cost of the back-log of repairs and projects for city parks is in the tens of millions of dollars.

You've heard it before, we're loving our parks to death.

For almost a year, the parks department, along with a collection of citizens and groups with a history of supporting or working with the parks department, have been exploring methods of providing additional funding for the department. (Disclosure: The author is a part of this group).

After much debate, discussion and research, the group proposed a special sales tax of .1 or .2 percent of a cent. The proposal includes a ten-year expiration provision, and for oversight of the additional revenue by a citizens oversight committee and independent audits. This additional revenue, would raise $8 to $16 million per year for the parks department, costing the average person $13 to $26 per year, depending on which level of tax was implemented.

The proposal includes language stating that the money would be placed in a dedicated fund to be used only for covering the cost of protecting lands that conserve water, protecting and maintaining natural areas, wildlife habitat and forests, repairing and improving regional and neighborhood parks, and recreation opportunities such as trails, sports programs and facilities.

A poll conducted in late November and early December shows that the majority of taxpayers, from 18- to age 55-years-old and older, including those who identify themselves as Democrats, Republicans and independents, and across all but one city council districts, support paying a little extra for city parks.

However, to implement a tax for parks requires a vote of the people, and that requires the question be placed on the ballot. The quickest way for the question to make the April election would be to have it placed on the ballot by city council. Therein lies the rub.

City Council and Mayor Suthers, while recognizing the need for increased funding for parks, have been hesitant to consider referring this issue to the voters. But placing this question on the ballot doesn't necessarily indicate whether they support the proposal or not, but it follows TABOR's intent of letting the taxpayers choose for themselves. City council should allow voters to decide, and hopefully they will. The mayor can ask council to put it on the ballot, but he can't do it himself.

Colorado Springs is a city that relies heavily on tourism, but also is in need of job growth. Amenities, such as clean, well maintained city parks help to attract businesses that weigh "quality of life" when deciding where to locate offices. Providing increased funding will also allow the Parks Department to perform more work to mitigate the risk of fire and flood potential, making the Springs a safer place to live.

Ultimately, it should be up to the voters to decide whether they are willing to pay a little more to help the parks department accomplish it's mission. Hopefully, city council and the mayor will feel the same way.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website ( E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob:
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Friday, January 6, 2017

UPDATE: Excitment over Coachella reminds the world of Anschutz’s ties to anti-LGBTQ organizations

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 3:52 PM

After a Washington Post article exposed donations from Phil Anschutz to anti-LGBTQ hate groups six months ago, news outlets, individuals and organizations called on Anschutz to cease any and all donations to anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

As we reported earlier, he has apparently done so, and expressed support for the rights of "all people" in the process. That prompted this response from One Colorado, a prominent statewide LGBTQ organization, and ProgressNow Colorado:

DENVER — Six months after calling on Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz to stop funding groups who oppose basic rights and equality for all Americans, including LGBTQ Americans, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, and One Colorado, the state's leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans, expressed relief that Anschutz has stopped donating to these organizations.

“Last summer, an article in the Washington Post exposed nearly $200,000 in contributions from the Anschutz Foundation to anti-LGBT hate groups, including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the so-called Family Research Council,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Ian Silverii. “We called on Phil Anschutz to immediately stop funding these groups, for whom anti-LGBT discrimination is plainly central to their mission — and it's our understanding that he has done so.”

"It is heartening to see Phil Anschutz give his unequivocal support of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, and we appreciate that the Anschutz Foundation has stopped funding anti-LGBTQ hate groups after the Washington Post revealed the funding in their July article," said One Colorado Executive Director, Daniel Ramos. "We are grateful that Phil Anschutz looked at the facts and did the right thing after our organization and others asked him to cease funding these groups."

“We are relieved that Anschutz has ceased funding to grantees when made aware of their anti-LGBT activities, and we'll continue to be vigilant to ensure he keeps this promise,” said Silverii. "We're proud that our organization played a role in helping convince Phil Anschutz to stop funding hate."

Love is love, right? - GPOINTSTUDIO / SHUTTERSTOCK
  • gpointstudio / ShutterStock
  • Love is love, right?

Ah, Coachella. Whatever your personal feelings about writhing around outdoors with thousands of drunk people while watching “the greats” on a stage too far away to see, there’s no denying it’s one of the most anticipated music festivals of the year.

The hype for this summer’s event only got louder when the lineup was released — including queen Beyoncé headlining — with notable appearances by Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar.

But amid all the excitement, some financial details about the festival’s owner, real estate mogul Philip Anschutz, began to resurface. We reported in depth on Anschutz last summer, and took a look at the organizations to which he gives his money. Among these, anti-LGBTQ organizations the Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation and the Family Research Council stood out, as originally uncovered by the Washington Post.

People were appropriately outraged at the time, but the fervor has since died down. Now, thanks to reminders by Esquire, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post (who even mentioned our blog in their story) and plenty more, fans are starting to question the man in charge of Coachella.

Meanwhile, Anschutz apparently told the Rolling Stone that the uproar was "fake news," and that he had ended all contributions to the groups in question.

"Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage," he told the Rolling Stone. "I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation."

Whatever his assertions, it's safe to say that proud feminist Beyoncé isn't down with prejudice toward the LGBTQ community, and we imagine many of the performers on the lineup aren't either. So we’re left to wonder what the public backlash is going to accomplish.

Will Queen Bey back out? Will there be a massive boycott? Or will Anschutz' response calm the public? Considering three-day passes start at $399, the controversy could lead some to choose a different use for their money.

Whatever ends up happening, this immediate outcry is encouraging. It wasn’t always that someone’s ties to anti-LGBTQ organizations caused public disavowal. Nowadays it's almost a career-ender.

After gospel singer Kim Burrell’s anti-LGBTQ rant went viral, she got kicked off Ellen and faced tons of backlash from others involved in the film Hidden Figures, the soundtrack of which she contributed to.

Plus, looking back on this summer, plenty of high-profile musicians refused to tour in North Carolina in light of its controversial bathroom legislation, which restricts the rights of transgender individuals to use public restrooms. The state faced some economic downturn as a result.

Then, of course, many of us still remember the Chick-fil-A fiasco, or the boycott on Barilla pasta, both due to anti-LGBTQ sentiments expressed by the companies’ owners.

We may not know what the future holds for Coachella yet, but it’s nice that people are starting to speak up.

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CDOT accelerates I-25 project north of Monument

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 11:17 AM

  • Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock
The four-lane stretch from Monument to Castle Rock could be readied for construction within 2.5 years and be finished in another 2.5 years, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced Friday, offering one important caveat:

"If funding is identified for construction."

Still the word that CDOT was speeding up the environmental and planning processes for the highway was greeted with enthusiasm for improvement of the only remaining four-lane stretch between Colorado Springs and Denver — a cause that only recently became the top priority for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments planning agency.

State Rep. Terri Carver, R-HD20 in Colorado Springs, issued a statement saying:
I had advocated to CDOT that the full environmental review for the I-25 widening project start immediately. We should not waste time and money to first do the PEL study, then still have to do the required environmental study before we can widen I-25. Today’s CDOT announcement is an important step to getting this vital road construction project done as soon as possible!

I will continue to fight for this I-25 widening project as a priority for CDOT and for state transportation funding.

Here's CDOT's news release:
DENVER – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced plans to accelerate the environmental and planning process for improvements on I-25 from C470 to Colorado Springs, with attention to the gap area from Monument to Castle Rock. By accelerating the environmental planning for I-25, CDOT will have a project ready for construction by summer of 2019, with a project fully constructed between Castle Rock to Monument in five years, if funding is identified for construction.

“As congestion continues to build along I-25, CDOT has decided that this project can't wait,” said Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “We're going to do our part and get ready for construction in two years. Now we need others to help us come up with the $300 to $400 million we need to build it.”

CDOT is able to accelerate the funding of the environmental planning thanks to the financing of the C-470 Express Lanes project. CDOT plans to use funds that otherwise were allocated to serve as a “backstop” for loans that will be financing the project. As the details of the loans have been finalized in the last two weeks, it became clear that fewer of those funds would be necessary, allowing CDOT to redirect $15 million of those funds to I-25 environmental and preconstruction work. Those funds, along with the $6 million that is already programmed for the current Programmatic & Environmental Linkages (PEL) study, will allow the department to prepare for a construction project, should construction funds become available.

“Douglas County obviously shares CDOT’s prioritization of this project and has demonstrated our support as a funding partner, committing $250,000 to the early study and associated process,” said Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge. “As history shows, CDOT and Douglas County, and many others have successfully partnered to improve many of the seven state highways running through Douglas County during the past decade, with a few projects underway right now. With that in mind, we are committed to doing what is required to organize this coalition of like-minded leaders, working with CDOT, the City of Colorado Springs and the FHWA, on a construction-funding solution so that we can meet our 2019 ground-breaking commitment.”

“We urge the state of Colorado to make the widening of the I-25 corridor between Monument and Castle Rock a vital and immediate priority. As the area experiences record growth, we simply can’t afford to wait the previously proposed 10 years, dragging out the impacts of congestion restricting commerce and travel between Colorado Springs and Denver,” noted John Suthers, Mayor of Colorado Springs. “This is an improvement that will have immediate positive impact on safety and the economy and we commend CDOT and our neighboring governments for their support in working to streamline the process and get that section of the interstate construction-ready as quickly as possible.”

CDOT does not plan to only provide the newly available funds to the planning project, but is also committed, in participation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to streamlining and accelerating the environmental and pre-construction processes, including running a NEPA process on the “gap” (the 2-lane section between Castle Rock and Monument) concurrently with the Planning and Environmental Linkage Study that looks at the complete corridor, from C-470 to Colorado Springs.

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UPDATE: Will Colorado Springs' mayor be tapped for federal judgeship?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 10:59 AM

Will Mayor Suthers be waving goodbye to his mayor's job? - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Will Mayor Suthers be waving goodbye to his mayor's job?

Mayor John Suthers, appearing on the Richard Randall show on KVOR radio, apparently gave a stronger response to the idea of being tapped for a federal judge position than he gave us. He tweeted: "Richard, I am not going after a federal judgeship. Have people called me & asked if I was interested? Yes. But I said, 'No, I'm not.'"
Glenn Sugameli, of Washington, D.C., who's headed the Judging the Environment judicial nominations project since 2001, set us straight on openings on the federal bench. He noted the openings referred to in the 10th Circuit are on district court benches, not the appeals court:
... they are all on the district courts within the Circuit- including Judge Blackburn's seat in Colorado- there are no vacancies on the U.S, Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit itself (unlike the four on the 9th circuit indicated by CCA for Circuit Court of Appeals).

More importantly, Senators Bennet and Gardner jointly recommended and strongly pushed for action on a nominee. There is every reason why they should continue to do so given the caseload and need to move quickly to fill this seat that they both cited, and the continuing need for both home-state senators to approve any hearing (scroll down).
See these press releases:

Sens. Bennet, Gardner Urge Judiciary Committee to Consider Regina Rodriguez Nomination: President Nominated Rodriguez in April Following Bennet, Gardner Recommendations
(Republican - Colorado) 07/12/16
Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner today urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to work swiftly to consider the nomination of Regina Rodriguez to fill the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The Colorado senators wrote to Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy urging them to schedule a hearing and a vote on confirmation as soon as possible.... "Given the court's caseload, it's crucial that the Judiciary Committee move quickly and thoroughly to consider this nomination," Bennet said. "Regina Rodriguez is eminently qualified to serve on the District Court. We're confident that her impressive background in both the public and private sectors will serve her well on the federal bench." "Regina Rodriguez has a long record of service to Colorado," said Gardner. "She is immensely qualified to serve on the federal bench, and I'm certain that her broad experience will allow her to better serve Coloradans in a new capacity as a judge on the U.S. District Court for Colorado."

—————————-ORIGINAL POST 10:59 A.M. FRI., JAN. 6, 2017————————-

News over the past two months has focused on who Donald Trump is choosing to fill various cabinet and other posts.

Now, we hear that our own Mayor John Suthers might be in line for a presidential appointment, and he's not denying that he might be interested.

After he takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, Trump will nominate people to fill 114 judgeships across the land, as reported by CBS News.

Word is that Suthers is currently being vetted by the Republican Attorneys General Association, though RAGA has yet to confirm this to the Independent. When we hear back, we'll update.

A place on a federal bench would be a natural culmination of Suthers' career. He's served as district attorney, U.S. Attorney, Colorado Department of Corrections chief and Colorado Attorney General. He was elected mayor in mid-2015.

Trump is looking for people who "will reflect conservative opinions on a wide array of issues, from gun control and abortion access to regulatory reform," according to CBS News, and Suthers seems to fit that bill perfectly.

He's adamantly opposed to recreational marijuana, for example, and his Catholic background translates to opposition to abortion.

When we posed the question of a federal court appointment to the mayor's office, we got this response from city spokeswoman Kim Melchor:
Mayor Suthers has had several inquiries about his interest in various positions. This is not uncommon after a Presidential election. But as he has indicated in the past, there are very few positions he would seriously consider at this point in his career. The press would undoubtedly become aware if he was being considered for a position he was interested in. 
According to this website, there are six vacancies with the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, Denver.

So what if Suthers is chosen and answers the call? The City Charter says Council President — currently Merv Bennett, former CEO of the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region — steps into the mayor's shoes.

The Charter says:
If a vacancy occurs in the office of Mayor, duties and responsibilities of that position shall transfer according to section 4-20 of this Charter, and Council shall call an election within ninety (90) days, unless a general municipal election will occur in one hundred eighty (180) days and nominations for the office of Mayor can be timely filed in accord with municipal election law, for the purpose of electing a qualified person to the unexpired term of the office of Mayor. If a general municipal election will occur within one hundred eighty (180) days, the provisions of section 4-20 of this Charter shall apply until a successor of the Mayor last elected pursuant to the provisions of section 2-10 of this Charter is elected and qualified, in accordance with this Charter. (1909; 1961; 1975;
1987; 2010)
And here's section 4-20 from the Charter:
(a)Whenever the Mayor is unable, from any cause, to perform the duties of the office for more than a temporary or short-term absence, the President of the Council shall be the acting Mayor and shall hold such office until a successor of the Mayor last elected pursuant to the provisions of section 2-10 of this Charter is elected and qualified, in accordance with this Charter, at which time the President of the Council may return to his or her seat on Council. (2010)

(b)If the President of Council refuses or is unable to discharge the duties of the Office of Mayor, the Council shall elect one of its members acting Mayor, who shall hold such office until a successor of the Mayor last elected pursuant to the provisions of section 2-10 of this Charter is elected and qualified, in accordance with this Charter. (2010)

(c)Whenever the President of Council becomes the acting Mayor, Council shall elect a new President of Council to serve during the absence as provided in this Charter. (2010) 

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Monument woman goes to court over Drake emissions

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 2:27 PM

Drake Power Plant - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Drake Power Plant
A "squeaky wheel" complainer about emissions from Colorado Springs Utilities' downtown Drake Power Plant is due in court Friday to defend herself against allegations she mishandled a confidential court document.

Leslie Weise, a Monument resident who's an attorney, though not licensed in Colorado, is being taken to task for releasing information from a document erroneously sent to her as part of a Court of Appeals case.

Weise contends the report she was inadvertently given proves the Drake plant is poisoning the air. Colorado Springs Utilities argues the report is based on modeling, not actual data, and that scrubbers have been added to Drake, and one unit decommissioned, to improve air quality.

We asked Springs Utilities about all this and received this statement via email:
This hearing tomorrow is being held because the Court of Appeals has determined that Ms. Weise may have violated its court order when she publicly discussed documents sealed by the District Court after she inadvertently received the information. The attorney representing Colorado Springs Utilities will be requesting an evidentiary hearing on this matter.

We want to clarify information regarding the impact of the Martin Drake Power Plant on air quality. This plant meets all Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) air regulatory requirements. Official air quality reports are public information and available through CDPHE.

Here's the news release issued by the Weise camp:
Denver, CO – On Friday January 6th, at 10am, El Paso County resident Leslie Weise has been ordered to appear in the Colorado Court of Appeals to determine if her efforts to seek truth and transparency regarding a damning air quality report that Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) has prevented the public from seeing will be met with sanctions and fines from the Court. Weise was inadvertently given access to the secret report after she filed a petition in District Court for release of the report under the Colorado Open Records Act. CSU has requested the Court of Appeals to punish her for speaking about it.

Who: Three-judge panel at Colorado Court of Appeals will consider if concerned parent Leslie Weise should receive sanctions and/or fines for whistleblowing Colorado Springs Utilities’ Air Quality Violations; many Weise supporters plan to be in attendance wearing red.

What: Colorado Court of Appeals to consider if Weise should be punished for whistleblowing Colorado Springs Utilities’ Air Quality Violations.

When: Friday, January 6th, at 10am

Where: Colorado Court of Appeals, 1st floor of the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center at 2 East Fourteenth Ave, Denver 80203

Why: More than 1,400 Coloradans have signed a petition and over 45 business and community leaders have signed a group letter asking Colorado Springs Utilities to release the air quality report showing non-compliance of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and drop their threat of sanctions, fines and imprisonment against Leslie Weise. Dozens of community members protested outside the Utility Board meeting last month and 15 residents spoke during the public comment period of the meeting, calling for transparency and dropping charges against Weise. A separate letter was sent by the City of Manitou Springs Mayor and City Council expressing their concerns over the air quality impacts to their community located just west of the Martin Drake Plant.

Nevertheless, CSU and the Utility Board appeared unmoved and are proceeding with their legal force to silence and punish Ms. Weise. CSU’s CEO Jerry Forte continues to claim that SO2 emissions from the coal fired Martin Drake Power Plant have been in regulatory compliance despite all of the multiple professionally-completed air models revealing dangerously high spikes in SO2 along the foothills of the Pikes Peak region. The EPA designated the region “unclassifiable” for the SO2 standard for safe levels of air quality. Nearly 300,000 people and 120,000 children live within a five mile radius of the Martin Drake Plant.

The combination of CSU withholding the air quality report whose non-compliance results were made known through Weise’s Court filings and the media and CSU filing for sanctions and fines against Weise has many citizens questioning the management and operations of their municipally-owned “schoolyard bully” Utility and its governing Board. Many supporters of Weise’s efforts plan to attend the court proceedings Friday, in what they consider to be a David vs. Goliath fight, with the City of Colorado Springs trying to silence a brave, single mother concerned for the public and the safety of her son attending elementary school near the Martin Drake Plant.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) has been found by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to cause severe health impacts in concentrations as low as 75 parts per billion. Exposure to SO2 for as little as five minutes can cause respiratory distress, increased asthma symptoms, and aggravate heart disease; impacts are felt most acutely by children, the elderly, and asthmatics.

While the air quality report (created by AECOM under contract from CSU) applies only to SO2 concentrations, many local residents are concerned about other by-products of burning coal, some of which can cause cancer, birth defects and respiratory ailments, and are pushing for Colorado Springs Utilities to transition to clean renewable power sources, which are now at cost-parity or in some cases cheaper than fossil fuel energy. Residents and local leaders are demanding transparency via the release of air quality reports from Colorado Springs Utilities and dropping legal action against Leslie Weise for bringing air quality violations to the light of day.

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Save Cheyenne appeals ruling in Colorado Springs land swap case

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 2:21 PM

If you've been keeping up with the Save Cheyenne court battle over the city's swap of Strawberry Fields to The Broadmoor, listen up.

The nine-page appeal sets out 20 possible bases for appeal. We'll copy the first three here:
(A) In granting the Defendants’ motions to dismiss Save
Cheyenne’s first claim for relief, did the District Court err in declining to
apply the common law doctrine regarding the dedication of parks, as
delineated in McIntyre v. Bd. of Comm’rs, 61 P. 237 (Colo. App. 1900), and Friends of Denver Parks, Inc. v. City and County of Denver, 327 P.3d 311 (Colo. App. 2013), which holds that the municipality to which land has been dedicated as a park holds it as trustee, solely for the benefit of its citizens, and mandates that it may not impose upon it any burden or servitude inconsistent with park purposes, nor may it alienate the ground, or relieve itself of the authority and duty to regulate the park’s use?
(B) Did the District Court err in holding that the City does not hold
Strawberry Fields as a trustee, solely for the use and benefit of its citizens as a park, based upon a misperception that the Save Cheyenne’s argument is based upon a “public trust doctrine,” existing in Pennsylvania and some other states, but not Colorado, as opposed to the application of the terms of a common law dedication articulated in McIntyre and Friends of Denver Parks?
(C) Did the District Court err in concluding that, because the
Colorado Springs City Council in 1885 had dedicated the lands including Strawberry Fields as a park, and stated that Council may always “direct any act or thing to be done concerning said parks, which they may deem best for the improvement of said parks,” it had thereby abrogated all the terms of a common law dedication, including the restrictions on conveyance, use, and the requirement that the City retain regulatory authority over the park?
To read the entire appeal, here you go: SaveCheyenneAppeal.pdf
As we reported in our newspaper this week, and on our blog on Dec. 31, the city closed on the deal on Dec. 19, the same day The Broadmoor filed its conservation easement with Palmer Land Trust.

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UPDATE: Colorado Springs, El Paso County face another lawsuit over stormwater

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 12:21 PM

This image of the Mountain Valley Preserve, outlined in black, comes from a Sept. 17, 2015, city Planning Commission agenda. The property ultimately was annexed by the city in early 2016. - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • City of Colorado Springs
  • This image of the Mountain Valley Preserve, outlined in black, comes from a Sept. 17, 2015, city Planning Commission agenda. The property ultimately was annexed by the city in early 2016.

Late yesterday, we received this explanation via email from Richard Mulledy, the city's stormwater division manager:
The City anticipates that construction of a full spectrum detention pond in accordance with the Professional Engineer's design plans will be in place in February. This permanent detention on the Mountain Valley Preserve subdivision will appropriately manage the runoff from the new development and accommodate for significant flood events.

Throughout construction of the subdivision temporary stormwater controls have been in place. The City of Colorado Springs will continue to work with Mountain Valley Preserve throughout construction and will inspect all drainage aspects of the project as they are completed.

————ORIGINAL POST 12:21 P.M. THURSDAY, JAN. 5, 2017—————
"Our subdivision is not to be used for the city's stormwater sewer."

Thus ends a four-page claim filed by dozens of homeowners in Toy Ranches Estates subdivision against the city of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Tim McConnell, an engineer with Drexel, Barrell & Co., the city director of public works Travis Easton, Mayor John Suthers, the county's planning director Craig Dossey, FEMA, and Newport Center, LLC, the developer of the subdivision that's allegedly causing flood damage to Toy Ranches, or threatens to.

Newport Center's registered agent is long-time developer Leroy Landhuis, and the development in question is called Mountain Valley Preserve. The 44.71-acre subdivision has 41 single-family residential lots, landscape tracts, detention areas and public roads, and is located east of Marksheffel Road and south of Dublin Boulevard, according to city records. See the City Council action here:

Legislation_Details__With_Text___11_.pdf file:///Users/pamzubeck/Downloads/Legislation%20Details%20(With%20Text)%20(9).pdf" target="_blank">
Council annexed the property and approved zoning about a year ago.

(Landhuis tangled with Colorado Springs Utilities last year over value of land required for the Southern Delivery System. He sought $39 million in damages, and won $378,000.)

Toy Ranches, a square-mile subdivision in the county, is located adjacent to Mountain Valley Preserve.

The city, already facing a federal lawsuit alleging violations of the Clean Water Act due to neglect of its stormwater system, doesn't need more evidence that it's dropping the ball in controlling flood waters.

But the Toy Ranches letter, dated Dec. 11 and titled "Notice to Cease and Desist," alleges the Landhuis development's detention ponds don't work and threaten life and property in Toy Ranches from flooding.

The letter accuses the city of "flawed interpretation of its own drainage criteria manuals," and claims the outfalls from the Mountain Valley Preserve detention ponds are faulty, leading to "significant erosion" to neighboring properties.

Worse, if the erosion affects natural gas and petroleum product pipelines in the vicinity, the letter says, "There could be a major catastrophic failure which could result in not only extensive property damage but also human physical harm or even loss of life."

Toy Ranches residents also allege a constitutional violation, because the flooding could constitute "an uncompensated taking" of their properties.

We've asked both the city and county for a comment on this, as well as the developer, and are awaiting word. We'll update if an when we hear back.

We also reached out to the resident who mailed the letter and will update if and when we hear from him.

Meantime, we asked City Councilor Andy Pico, who represents that area, for his thoughts, and he says via email, "First I've heard of it." A few hours later, he reported he'd consult an engineer on some of the technical aspects of the allegations.

Read the entire letter here:

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Out Loud Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus travels new ground in 2017

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 10:24 AM


A community chorus made up of auditioned volunteers, Out Loud Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus, a gay men’s chorus, sits at a unique intersection of the LGBTQ, arts and faith communities of Colorado Springs. The story of how Out Loud came to be and where they’re headed challenges stereotypes of all kinds. As for many of us, 2017 will be a year of new adventures for the group.

Last year, the chorus voted to leave the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Arts Association, and the group's artistic director, James Knapp, left in August to focus his efforts on the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus. But Out Loud hasn’t missed a beat, as Joshua Brown will soon take over as the artistic director position and the chorus pursues recognition as its own nonprofit, focusing on the Pikes Peak region.

This year, the focus will be on generating name recognition for Out Loud, now 10-years-old. With 35 members, the chorus puts on two concerts a year, with the next performance, featuring Out Loud trademarks of choreography, memorized music and a bit of showmanship for the audience, coming the first week of May.

“We’re not the new kids on the block anymore,” Out Loud founding member Guy McPherson, who was one of the Indy’s 2016 Inclusion Award Winners, says. “I’m surprised how many people don’t know we exist in this town.”

Out Loud formed in 2006, after members of First Congregational Church were talking after service one Sunday. McPherson recalls the conversation: “We can all sing. Let’s sing together.”

And they weren’t alone.


“People peeked their head in after church,” McPherson says of one the first chorus gatherings. “They were like, ‘Will you sing for the church?’ And we were like, ‘Oh, crap...’”

Without a director, they put together a concert for parishioners that ended with a standing ovation.

“The church just went crazy,” McPherson says.

Gaining momentum, the group staged their first concert for the whole community, “A Night on Broadway.” Making programs by hand and without a way to issue tickets, a crowd of around 200 people was expected to fill the pews. Come performance day, around 900 people — the largest event attended at the church — crowded in.

“There’s something about our crowd,” McPherson says. “We knew we were doing the right things. It was a little overwhelming with the response.”

The chorus still utilizes First Congregational for all its rehearsals and many concerts, support which has been critical to the group’s success.

“The joke is we’re one of the few if not the only gay chorus to start in a church,” McPherson says. “People here do care, and they care for us like we’re family.”


But Colorado Springs and the gay community have an odd relationship, McPherson says.

After a Gazette article ran in 2006, the day before the group's inaugural performance, many members of the chorus were nervous about being associated with a gay choir in the paper. One of the members quoted was disowned by his family, while others feared the same. Even the word "gay" was intentionally left out from the group’s name, due in part to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and not wanting to exclude members enlisted in the military.

“If I meet someone from Denver and I tell them I’m from Colorado Springs, the first thing people say is ‘I’m sorry for you,’” he said. “We’ve had a hard time curing that.”

McPherson, who has lived in Colorado Springs since 1979, notes the ability of Out Loud to serve as more than a choir now, bringing gay men together and creating a brotherhood that takes care of each other.

“Being a part of this choir is being a part of that gay identity for Colorado Springs,” he said. “It’s a great bonding experience.”

“When I meet someone gay, my first words are ‘Do you sing?’ and ‘Do you want to join Out Loud?’”


More about Out Loud:
Out Loud is holding auditions on Jan. 9 and Jan. 16, visit, or email for more information. Voices of all experience levels are welcome and encouraged to audition.

Out Loud rehearses most weeks on Monday evening, from 6:45-9:45 PM at First Congregational Church (20 E. Saint Vrain Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80903). All are welcome to attend to share in the Out Loud experience. Email to confirm rehearsal times.

Jonathan Toman serves as the Peak Radar manager for the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region. connects you to over 4,000 local events, 450 creative groups, & 350 artists — all in one beautiful website for the Pikes Peak region. Jonathan can be reached at

Click here for this month’s events, updated monthly. Click here to see this month’s art walk information. To sign up for the Peak Radar weekly e-blast, click here.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

CoCo Crafted to open in Mountain Fold space, and more downtown development to come in 2017

Posted By on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 11:08 AM

  • courtesy of Colorado Springs Business Journal
  • COCO Crafted founder Mundi Ross.

2016 was a year littered with losses, as you may well remember. But amidst all the geopolitical absurdities and tragedies was a local loss that left the Springs’ small but mighty scene of artists, queers and progressives without what had become a downtown hub of creative activity.

After three years in business, Mountain Fold Books closed in November with an estate sale to off-load all its unique furnishings and bid adieu to loyal customers. But its emptied Costilla Street location will remain that way no longer, as the artisan promoting Colorado Collective prepares to move in.

Founder Mundi Ross announced the new venture via a Facebook video. “You’re looking at the future of COCO Crafted,” she says, gesturing at blank walls behind her. Ross explains the storefront will become a craft studio for the “makers” featured in Colorado Collective’s high gloss quarterly magazine to make and sell whatever it is they make. Facilities will include woodworking and jewelry making tools, Ross says, and a small kitchenette. Also expect skill-shares and other events for and about the city’s growing community of creative entrepreneurs.

“Now, I know for many the Mountain Fold space brought hope. It was a sanctuary; it was safe haven for many,” Ross noted. “I can’t be another Mountain Fold, but I’m really excited about what I’m about to bring to this space.”

COCO Crafted will join other buzzy businesses in that downtown nook termed the "New South End," with the likes of Loyal Coffee, Iron Bird Brewing and Fox & Jane Salon that bring that Springs closer to resembling bigger, hipper and pricier cities that attract and retain more young people.

That kind of development is precious to the Downtown Partnership, which touted 2016 as a record-setting year for street-level business growth.

The New South End is sticking with the arts. - GRIFFIN SWARTZEL
  • Griffin Swartzel
  • The New South End is sticking with the arts.

“We are seeing tremendous growth in our urban core,” says Sarah Humbargar, Director of Business Development & Economic Vitality for the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs, in a press release.

23 new retailers, restaurants and other businesses opened up in 2016 and so far, 12 new ones are poised to do so in 2017. There’s a retail vacancy of less than four percent downtown, according Humbargar, who also emphasized new apartment and condo construction that’ll add much needed (though questionably affordable) housing inventory.

The Partnership's release also highlighted some notable newcomers to the downtown culinary scene, including Chef Brother Luck, who’ll open a new restaurant in the spring, and Oskar Blues brewery which will soon move into the Old Chicago building on Tejon Street.

So, if you spent 2016 wishing you had more opportunities to spend money, 2017 is about to provide.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

TheatreWorks founder Murray Ross remembered

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 5:10 PM

Our local theater community suffered a hard blow this afternoon when it was announced that Murray Ross (74), artistic director and founder of TheatreWorks, had passed away following a “short illness,” according to a release from UCCS chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak.

click image Ross (right) accepted his Eve Tilley Lifetime Achievement Award at last October's Pikes Peak Arts Council awards. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL / FILE PHOTO
  • Griffin Swartzell / File Photo
  • Ross (right) accepted his Eve Tilley Lifetime Achievement Award at last October's Pikes Peak Arts Council awards.

Following the news, friends, family and members of the community took to Facebook to share their experiences with Ross and express their condolences to his family. In between recurring words like “remarkable” and “visionary,” and stories recalling some of the 100-plus productions with which he was involved, it’s clear to see the effect that Ross has had on this community since starting TheatreWorks in 1975.

Drew Martorella, Executive Director of UCCS Presents and longtime friend of Ross', posted on TheatreWorks Facebook Page, "I have known and worked with Murray for over twenty years. And while I was the Executive Director of TheatreWorks we were essential to each other. We were best friends. I already miss him terribly. Once more, to quote Murray, 'In play we are free, and we are human, and in the theatre we are free and human together. We wish you joy.' I share his wish for joy for you all."

Here is what UCCS has to say about Ross and his accomplishments. Out of respect to his family’s wishes, the language is unchanged.

Murray joined UCCS in 1975 and is considered the founder of Theatreworks, the professional theater based at the university, as well as the academic theater program at the university. He produced classic and contemporary plays in classrooms, buses, warehouses, basements and the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater. Among his credits are directing, adapting and creating more than 100 works for the stage including the original scripts "Monkey Business," "The Last Night of Don Juan," "The Lady of Camellias," "Dar-al-Harb" and "I Am Nikola Tesla." He also wrote stage adaptations of classics such as "Huckleberry Finn" and "A Christmas Carol." His most recent adaption of "A Christmas Carol" was successfully staged this December. His first love and greatest passion was always Shakespeare, and his 1984 production of “The Comedy of Errors” in a circus tent started a tradition of outdoor summer productions that continues to anchor the Theatreworks season today. In 1988, noted scholar Stephen Booth wrote in Shakespeare Quarterly that Murray’s summer production was “The Best Othello I Ever Saw.”

Theatreworks received a Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1994, a Henary Award for Oustanding Regional Theatre in 2013 as well as numerous local accolades. The program celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015, the same year UCCS marked the 50th anniversary of its founding. Murray directed four plays in 2016, and during his recent days in the hospital Murray was making active preparations for his next production.

In addition to his work with Theatreworks, Murray was a respected teacher and scholar. He taught theater as well as English literature. Murray and his wife, Betty, were fixtures of the Colorado Springs arts community. They were ardent supporters of the arts and the development of the under construction $70 million UCCS Ent Center for the Arts which contains a space named in their honor.

Murray worked with thousands of students, artists, actors and staff and left an impression on each. He was funny, smart, a bit of an anarchist and a great lover of life. Adventures, storytelling and spirited debate filled his life.

Murray earned a bachelor's degree from Williams College, a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and also pursued doctoral studies at UC Berkeley, where he began directing. He served in the National Guard from 1963-1969, and taught and directed at the University of Rochester before joining UCCS.

Survivors include his wife, Betty, his sisters Susanna, Christina and Kit, and his sons Felix, James, Orion and Matthew.

Please join me in offering condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Murray Ross. Notes may be sent to the family in care of the Office of the Chancellor, 401 Main Hall. At the request of the family, donations can be made to the Murray Ross Artists Endowment Fund with the CU Foundation.

There will be a campus memorial service Thursday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater in University Hall. Those who wish to make a donation in his honor may contribute to the Murray Ross Artists Endowment Fund with the CU Foundation.

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Colorado Springs city election gets under way

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 5:09 PM

Crow-Iverson: business experience on Council missing. - COURTESY CROW-IVERSON CAMPAIGN
  • Courtesy Crow-Iverson campaign
  • Crow-Iverson: business experience on Council missing.
Those wishing to run for Colorado Springs City Council can pick up a petition starting today. Click on this for more information.

Deadline for filing is Jan. 23.

Already, a race is shaping up in the central District 5 between incumbent Jill Gaebler and Lynette Crow-Iverson, who recently resigned from Colorado Springs Forward, a politically active group that's sure to spend freely on the April 4 city election.

Another race is in the making as well between challenger Yolanda Avila and incumbent Helen Collins.

Here's Crow-Iverson's announcement:
Lynette Crow-Iverson a community leader who led the effort to pass Referendum 2C (the “Pothole Fix”) in 2015 is an entrepreneur and innovator. Iverson as a single mother raising 2 girls on her own built a successful franchise business in the medical field which continues to expand today. Conspire! provides industry compliance for a safe and drug free workplace.

“Noting the lack of many business experienced Members currently serving on City Council many of my colleagues have encouraged me to run. In a competitive environment and the need to lift our community in so many ways the feeling in the community and in the District is one of disappointment at the lack of leadership,” noted Iverson “I believe my experience and my innate leadership skills will be a good addition on Council and to support Mayor Suther’s vision for our City going forward.”

A community activist Lynette Crow-Iverson currently serves as a Trustee for the Colorado Springs Health Foundation, Vice Chair for the Pikes Peak Work Force Board, serves for Chancellor Shockley-Zalabak’s Regional Connect board, is a Member of the Regional Leadership Forum and past Chairwoman for Colorado Springs Forward.

“As a businessman and a colleague of Lynette’s I was thrilled to hear that she was running for City Council. I have served with Lynette on the Colorado Springs Health Foundation and I know firsthand her business acumen and creativity,” stated Jon Medved “Lynette Crow-Iverson is a first class leader and exactly what our City Council needs.” Jon Medved is a Co-Chair on the Friends for: Lynette Crow-Iverson Committee.

City Council District 5 includes much Colorado Spring’s Old North End, the Patty Jewett neighborhood and runs as far east as Powers Blvd.

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Leadership title changes for board of county commissioners

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 11:04 AM

You can call her President Clark now. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • You can call her President Clark now.
We're not sure what this all means, but the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners no longer has a chair and vice chair.

Instead, the BOCC recently adopted new titles: president and president pro tempore.


Here's the explanation provided by BOCC Chair, uh, President, Sallie Clark:
The Board of Commissioners has been considering a title change of leadership for several years now and the transition to a new incoming board was an appropriate time to implement. The term chair and vice chair applies to many other boards and commissions on which the commissioners participate and the the term President and President Pro Tempore is a recognizable structure for the Board of County Commissioners leadership.
Clark recently served as the president of the National Association of Counties. She didn't say this was the impetus for the idea, but just sayin'.

Examples of boards on which commissioners serve that use the titles chair and vice chair are the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department board, Pikes Peak Workforce Center board, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments board.

This has been the case for decades, but apparently isn't working anymore.

All that said, other counties' commissions haven't seen fit to change their leadership titles, including in Boulder, Adams and Pueblo counties, to name a few.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

A look ahead at 2017

Posted By on Sun, Jan 1, 2017 at 9:28 AM

Sunrise over High Chaparral Open Space - BPB FALCONE
  • Bpb Falcone
  • Sunrise over High Chaparral Open Space

2016 was a pretty good year for Colorado Springs and El Paso County Parks systems, both seeing an increase in tax funding, or at least no decreases. Both were still benefiting from voter-approved referendums that allowed the city and county to keep excess tax revenue to complete specific park and trails improvements. El Paso County commissioners approved a revamped set of rules and regulations for the county parks, allowing security officers to write tickets for a variety of violations, most notably out of control dogs. The Manitou Incline received another million dollar-plus upgrade, bringing more needed improvements to the perennially popular attraction. The county completed Phase 1 of the new Falcon Regional Park, and Colorado Springs started work on Venizia Park at the north end of the city, too.

Sustainable funding for parks departments has been a subject of discussion in some circles over the last year. Parks departments have historically been among the first to face budget cuts during economic downturns — understandably so, when up against infrastructure and public safety priorities — and are among last to get funding reinstated. While money decreases, parks use does not, and a growing population adds to the wear and tear on the parks and trails. The city and county departments find themselves working through a seemingly endless list of repairs and maintenance, leaving little in the way of budget or manpower to satisfy an almost insatiable desire by residents and visitors to use their facilities.

There were controversies in 2016, too. The most notable was the land swap between the city and the Broadmoor, a battle that continues.

Manitou Springs attempted to reduce traffic and noise due to the use of the Incline, Barr Trail and the Ute Pass Trail by raising parking on Ruxton Avenue to $20 per hour, far higher than any other city in all of Colorado, and fees were increased at the Barr Trail parking lot. Although there was an angry backlash, it's not clear if the higher fees did anything to fix the complaints of Ruxton Ave residents. A new parking plan, announced at the reopening of the Incline, will make it all but mandatory for incline users to take the free shuttle offered by the city, and will make the Barr Trail parking lot available (presumably) only to users of the trail and enable them to park for multiple days.

Now a part of the county parks system, work in Jones Park is being contracted by the U.S. Forest Service. The project there is not without its critics, with many users citing dissatisfaction with the quality of trail construction. And a plan to build a new trail to Mt. Kineo ran into trouble when the contractor found the rocky terrain too difficult to deal with — that part of the Jones Park/Bear Creek project is on hold.

So what does 2017 hold for our local parks systems?  The county parks department has seen a modest increase in its budget and will be able to add staff to maintain the parks. Efforts to repair flood damage and erosion continues on the New Santa Fe Trail, and work on the section of the Ute Pass Trail through Cascade and Chipita Park will continue. 2017 will also bring the purchase of land on "Elephant Rock" in Palmer Lake and add it to the parks system. Colorado Springs will complete Venizia Park on the north side, bringing the long-awaited project to an area short on parks.

A group representing various city parks stakeholders is exploring the feasibility of asking city council to present voters with a referendum for the April election to increase funding for parks by way of a sales tax increase.. While a short-term solution, Colorado Springs City Councilor Bill Murray has floated on his podcast the idea of creating a combined, independent, county-wide parks special district that would be funded by its own property tax, much like school and library districts. While it sounds easy on the surface, it would be a complicated affair that could take years to implement.  We may hear more about combining the departments in the coming months, but don't expect it to happen overnight, if it happens at all.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website ( E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob:
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Saturday, December 31, 2016

City closes deal with The Broadmoor for Strawberry Fields

Posted By on Sat, Dec 31, 2016 at 3:20 PM

Richard Skorman gave tours of Strawberry Fields last spring and summer. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Richard Skorman gave tours of Strawberry Fields last spring and summer.
Without issuing a notice to the public, the city apparently quietly closed the deal on Strawberry Fields with The Broadmoor in recent days.

More on that is below from an email sent by Parks Director Karen Palus to various parks officials and others on Friday.

Richard Skorman, former vice mayor and president of nonprofit Save Cheyenne, which is opposing the land swap, says the closing doesn't stop the group's efforts to undo the May 2016 City Council vote. Save Cheyenne had filed a lawsuit objecting to the trade of 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space, which was purchased by the city in 1885 after voters voted in favor of acquisition. District Judge Michael McHenry recently ruled against the group, however.

But Save Cheyenne will file its appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals next week, Skorman says.

"If we are successful on appeal, we're going to ask the court to reverse this deal," he tells the Independent in an interview on Saturday. "We want to make sure there's no major construction [in the meantime]. The good part is The Broadmoor will have to go through the planning process before they start moving dirt."

Pending further advancement of the trade, Skorman says Save Cheyenne might ask the district court to stay progress pending the appeal.

Palus' letter:

I wanted to let you know that the land exchange with the Broadmoor has been closed. All necessary documents, including the conservation easement held by the Palmer Land Trust, have been executed and recorded.

Through this exchange, the City gained 371 acres of property and 115 acres of new public trail easements that include an expanded North Cheyenne Cañon Park, secured property for the Manitou Incline, expanded Bear Creek Park, and secured easements for the Chamberlain Trail, Barr Trail, South Cañon Trail, and trails to Hully Gully.

The land exchange from the City to The Broadmoor includes 180+ acres of the area called Strawberry Hill, as well as .55 acres adjacent to the Cog railway. A conservation easement has been placed with the Palmer Land Trust upon the 180+ acres of Strawberry Hill that was transferred to The Broadmoor; the public will continue to have access to all but 8.5 acres of the Strawberry Hill property to ensure conservation and recreation values are protected and public access is provided to the property in perpetuity. The conservation easement defines only an 8.5 acre private building envelope within the 180+ acre parcel to develop a picnicking area, horse stables and trail. In addition, the City received a public access easement over the entire parcel except the building envelope.

Public park master plan processes for the Strawberry Hill property and North Cheyenne Cañon Park will begin in 2017.

I want to personally thank you all for your engagement, thoughtful dialogue and creative approaches to the success of this project!

I hope each of you have a very Happy New Year!

Have a great day!


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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Update: Tim Mitros leaves his city job

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2016 at 2:48 PM

This flooding on Pope's Valley Drive is an example of the headaches that marked Tim Mitros' years with the city. - COURTESY DEAN LUCE
  • Courtesy Dean Luce
  • This flooding on Pope's Valley Drive is an example of the headaches that marked Tim Mitros' years with the city.
According to the city's severance agreement with Tim Mitros, he's required to provide the city a letter "announcing his retirement effective Jan. 13, 2017."

He'll get six months of his annual salary of $117,051.43 in severance pay and other benefits if he abides by the agreement:
If Employee signs and does not revoke this
Agreement, and executes the Supplemental Release attached hereto as Exhibit A on or after
the Separation Date and does not revoke it, the City agrees: (i) to pay Employee an amount
equal to 6 months of Employee’s current base salary, to be paid within 5 working days following
the date the Supplemental Release becomes binding and non-revocable; (ii) to pay the
employer’s share of the cost of premiums to continue Employee’s current medical and dental
coverage through July 31, 2017, so long as Employee timely pays Employee’s share of the
contributions to the City; and (iii) to allow Employee to continue, if currently enrolled, in the
vision plan through July 31, 2017, so long as Employee timely pays the cost of the premium. All
payments shall be subject to legally-required withholdings. Further, the parties agree that no
PERA contributions will be made on these payments as they do not constitute salary for PERA
If he violates the agreement, he has to pay the city $30,000. Here's the non-disparagement section:
Mutual Non-disparagement. Employee shall not make negative or disparaging
comments relating to the City, its elected officials, employees or representatives, its services, or
Employee’s employment with the City. In addition, Employee will not disclose to any person or
entity the circumstances surrounding Employee’s departure from the City’s employment. The
City shall not make negative comments relating to Employee’s employment with the City or the
circumstances surrounding Employee’s departure from the City’s employment. All parties
acknowledge the City is subject to the CORA. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if either party is
subject to a valid subpoena or court order, or is otherwise required by law, to provide truthful
testimony in a proceeding, such testimony will not be a violation of Section 7 of this Agreement.

Here's the entire agreement:
——————-ORIGINAL POST 4:03 P.M., TUESDAY, DEC. 27, 2016———————-

Tim Mitros, longtime city employee who worked on stormwater issues for many years, ends his service with the city today, he tells the Independent.

"Yes, I'm retiring from the city," he says — though it appears that he is being forced out.

Mitros came into the spotlight in recent years when the city got into a jam on failure to deal with its sizable stormwater drainage system.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a second report in August 2015 — the first came in early 2013 — blasting the city's failure to deal with drainage. Suthers has since struck a deal with Pueblo County in which the city agrees to spend $460 million in the next 20 years, much drawn from the city's general fund. Colorado Springs Utilities also will contribute.

But after that 2015 EPA report, Mayor John Suthers reassigned Mitros to the Office of Emergency Management as its engineering program manager. Many thought that Mitros, who was the city's development review and stormwater manager, was scapegoated for a funding problem for stormwater over which he had no control.

Mitros has been hailed by citizens as a hard-working, deeply caring city employee who worked long hours helping citizens understand the city's stormwater needs and finding ways to ease the impacts of the city's substandard system.

Mitros, 57, served for 25 years. He says he's prohibited from discussing his departure agreement or saying "anything that will disparage the city."

"I've enjoyed working for the city, and basically I've enjoyed serving the city of Colorado Springs," he says. "That's my joy."

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