Monday, January 23, 2017

3 things Colorado Springs firefighters want to fund with excess revenue

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 2:23 PM

Flames like these seen during the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 make adequate fire protective gear essential for firefighters. Local firefighters want 60 sets of new gear with excess revenue from 2016. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Flames like these seen during the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 make adequate fire protective gear essential for firefighters. Local firefighters want 60 sets of new gear with excess revenue from 2016.
Colorado Springs firefighters have written to City Council seeking $1.22 million from the estimated $6 million in excess revenue from 2016.

Mayor John Suthers wants to spend the entire $6 million, and a like figure in excess revenue from 2017 tax collections, on stormwater control.

The letter to Council, from David Noblitt, president of Colorado Springs Professional Firefighter Association, Local 5, says, in part:
Understanding the success or failure of convincing the citizens of our community to allow the city to retain these Tabor dollars depends upon proper justifications. Public safety, I believe, is one of those items that falls within a favorable category to support the retention of those dollars. Committing all the dollars to Storm Water, a sometimes-divisive issue, may negatively impact the retention of funds. Even if successful, it could impact future and hopefully the timely discussion of implementation of the necessity of a separately funded Storm Water enterprise. 
The group wants funding for a new front-line pumper truck, 60 sets of protective fire gear, and an egress/access improvement road for Squad 8 with storage for training pumpers housed at the Fire Department Complex.

City Council is expected to refer a measure to the April 4 city election ballot on Tuesday.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Snowshoe basics to keep you on the trails this winter

Posted By on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 2:22 PM

Few things are better than being the first to tread on virgin snow - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Few things are better than being the first to tread on virgin snow
Winter is here, and with it, snow.  While there hasn't been much snow in Colorado Springs — we didn't get our first measurable snow fall until after the beginning of December — there's been plenty in the high country, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation — you just have to be willing to work a little to get to it.

For the hiker, snowshoeing is the most natural progression for keeping on the trails when the snow hits. And although snowshoeing isn't particularly difficult, as you can imagine, it's a bit different than hiking on dirt in your usual hiking boots.

First, you need a pretty good base of snow for snowshoeing. There isn't really a set amount of snow you need before strapping on some snowshoes, but my rule-of-thumb is that it should be at least a couple of inches over the toe of my boot. You can snowshoe with less snow, but then you run the risk of the bottom of your snowshoes constantly hitting hard dirt, and that can get uncomfortable after a while.

When it comes time to buy a pair of snowshoes, there are a couple of key factors to look at before making your decision. Snowshoes are sized by the length of the snowshoe, and the length you need is based primarily on the weight they'll be supporting. This isn't just your weight, but the weight of your clothing, and any thing else you're carrying. If you're backpacking, you made need bigger snowshoes than if you're day-hiking. Also, there are different types of snowshoes for different types of terrain and activities. For the Pikes Peak region, if you're planning on snowshoeing in steep terrain, I suggest "mountaineering" snowshoes, with "heel-lifters" that help keep your feet horizontal while your snowshoes are at an angle. You'll want to go to your favorite outdoor equipment retailer for advice before you buy. Hiking poles will help make snowshoeing a little easier, and don't forget insulated, waterproof hiking boots.

So, now you're ready for some snowshoeing, but where? The usual snowfall doesn't last long in Colorado Springs, either packed down or melted after a day or so, neither of which makes for suitable snowshoeing. But with the right timing Red Rocks Canyon Open Space, the Seven Bridges Trail, Gold Camp Road up to and past tunnel #3, St Mary's Falls Trail, and Cheyenne Mountain State Park are good locations near Colorado Springs, as is Homestead Ranch Regional Park near Peyton.

Venturing out a little further, Catamount Ranch Open Space, Mueller State Park near Divide, and Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument are good options. Further away, the area around Buena Vista — Mt Princeton, Chalk Creek, St. Elmo and Cottonwood Pass — to the west, and Rocky Mountain National Park to the north offer good snowshoeing conditions well into the spring.

Don't let the winter weather keep you from enjoying yourself.

Happy Trails!

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 20, 2017

UPDATE: Colorado Springs City Council candidate bags race before it starts

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 2:31 PM

Carlson: He's out of the race.
  • Carlson: He's out of the race.
A young professional who had sought to run for Colorado Springs City Council says he has decided to bag the effort.

 Joseph Carlson, 27, chairman of the board of Colorado Transitioning Veterans Association and an Army veteran, dropped out for personal reasons.

Carlson, who studies nonprofit leadership at Colorado Technical University, says he wants to help the homeless and the less fortunate. Although he says he's acquired almost all the needed signatures to qualify to run, he won't turn in the petition and become a candidate.

Rather, he'll be an activist with an eye to seeking an at-large Council seat in 2019, he says.

Candidate filing deadline is Monday. Carlson had not yet turned in signatures when he decided not to run.

This blog has been altered for content.

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New citizen watchdog group to push for answers and action on water contamination

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 11:54 AM

An early meeting of the FVCWC gave opportunity to share experiences with contaminated drinking water. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • An early meeting of the FVCWC gave opportunity to share experiences with contaminated drinking water.

You're not the only one pissed to find out that your water was poisoned for years. You’re not the only one who’s frustrated at weak answers and thin information. You’re not the only one who’s anxious about your family’s health over the long-run. 

That's the message of the newly-formed Fountain Valley Clean Water Committee wants to send residents affected by water contamination in Security, Widefield and Fountain. The committee hopes to unite over their shared concerns and thirst for solutions.

Co-organized by former El Paso County Commissioner candidate, local café owner and community activist Liz Rosenbaum and Venetucci Farm co-manager Susan Gordon, this nascent citizen watchdog group will hold its first meeting on  Jan. 24 at the Fountain Library, located at 230 S. Main Street. The goal, they say, is to bring neighbors together to share information and develop goals and a plan of action.

As we’ve reported over the last half year, nearly 80,000 people discovered their drinking water contains high levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) back in May. Multiple class-action lawsuits were filed in September, but will take years to resolve. Residents of the communities, located to the south of Colorado Springs, are demanding the state pay for blood testing, but to no avail. Water districts turned off their groundwater wells and are now scrambling to get their systems pumping clean water by the time summer rolls around, but water rates are almost sure to rise.

The areas represent the largest affected community in the whole country and, until recently, were one of the few without a community organization actively pursuing remedies.

Visit the event page for more information about the meeting and the group’s page to stay in the loop going forward. Email Liz Rosenbaum at to get involved.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Media to Trump: Game on

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 4:23 PM

This is a graphic reminder of the size of the media industry that has been and will continue to cover Donald Trump. This is just one section of a warehouse north of Denver where The Denver Post and many other newspapers are published, including the Independent. Rolls of paper are brought in by rail car. That's Indy founder and chairman John Weiss in the middle. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • This is a graphic reminder of the size of the media industry that has been and will continue to cover Donald Trump. This is just one section of a warehouse north of Denver where The Denver Post and many other newspapers are published, including the Independent. Rolls of paper are brought in by rail car. That's Indy founder and chairman John Weiss in the middle.

Journalists aren't too keen on being pushed around, so two groups of news media have authored letters to Donald Trump, who becomes the nation's 45th president on Friday.

The first is from Columbia Journalism Review, which states, in part:
In these final days before your inauguration, we thought it might be helpful to clarify how we see the relationship between your administration and the American press corps.

It will come as no surprise to you that we see the relationship as strained. Reports over the last few days that your press secretary is considering pulling news media offices out of the White House are the latest in a pattern of behavior that has persisted throughout the campaign: You’ve banned news organizations from covering you. You’ve taken to Twitter to taunt and threaten individual reporters and encouraged your supporters to do the same. You’ve advocated for looser libel laws and threatened numerous lawsuits of your own, none of which has materialized. You’ve avoided the press when you could and flouted the norms of pool reporting and regular press conferences. You’ve ridiculed a reporter who wrote something you didn’t like because he has a disability.

All of this, of course, is your choice and, in a way, your right. While the Constitution protects the freedom of the press, it doesn’t dictate how the president must honor that; regular press conferences aren’t enshrined in the document.

But while you have every right to decide your ground rules for engaging with the press, we have some, too. It is, after all, our airtime and column inches that you are seeking to influence. We, not you, decide how best to serve our readers, listeners, and viewers. So think of what follows as a backgrounder on what to expect from us over the next four years. 
To finish reading the letter, reference the link above. It's really worth the time.

In addition, the Society of Professional Journalists issued a letter to Trump, which includes this:
Our Founding Fathers knew the importance of a press that is free to
report on the activities of our government and elected officials. “Our
liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited
without being lost,” said Thomas Jefferson in a January 28, 1786, letter.
Yet here we are, almost exactly 231 years after Jefferson wrote those
words, and attempts to stifle the flow of information to citizens of the
United States continue. 
SPJ asks for a meeting with Trump, saying, "We would like to have a conversation regarding how we can work together to ensure that self-government as outlined by the Constitution survives and flourishes, and that a free press remains a cornerstone of our nation and our liberty."

I don't know whether SPJ has been asleep for the last year or what, but can anyone imagine Trump saying, "Okey dokey, let's sit down and discuss this like adults"? Not gonna happen.

In fact, while I appreciate SPJ's earnestness, some lines in the letter are laughable, considering who they're writing to. Like this one, "We urge you to publicly affirm your commitment to transparency..."

Wait. This is the guy who still hasn't released his tax returns and won't. So, all we can say is good luck with that.

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Punk Against Trump: Colorado benefit set for inauguration day

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 2:30 PM

  • egorkeon / Shutterstock

January 20, 2017, a date which will live in infamy…

Yes, Friday will be the 35th anniversary of Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off a live bat in Des Moines, an event of indisputably historic importance!

In other news, Friday also brings with it the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington D.C., as well as an anti-inauguration “Punk Against Trump” benefit show in Denver.

The latter will feature a local bill that includes Three Grams, Screwtape, Allout Helter, The New Narrative and Colorado Springs’ own Cheap Perfume.

The all-ages show gets underway 7 p.m. at Summit Music Hall’s Moon Room, with proceeds from the $10 admission fee going to to potentially endangered organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and Food Not Bombs.

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CSPD bestows honors on its own and citizens

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 1:00 PM

A sampling of the awards bestowed by the Colorado Springs Police Department on officers, civilians and citizens at a Wednesday ceremony. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CSPD
  • Photos Courtesy of CSPD
  • A sampling of the awards bestowed by the Colorado Springs Police Department on officers, civilians and citizens at a Wednesday ceremony.

Wednesday night, the Colorado Springs Police Department honored citizens and their own at a ceremony at the Stargazers Theatre.

Here's an account of those honors, provided by the CSPD:
The Colorado Springs Police Department Honor Guard was formed in 1974. The Honor Guard was established to reflect the honor and integrity of the Colorado Springs Police Department on various solemn or auspicious occasions.

Each year an “Honor Guard Member of the Year” is selected by a vote of the team in order to recognize that individual’s extraordinary dedication and service to the Honor Guard and the Department.

In 2014 members of the Honor Guard voted to change the name of the award to the “Laura Cochran Honor Guard Member of the Year” to honor our fellow officer, teammate and friend who passed away in December of 2013. Laura’s dedication and commitment to the Honor Guard were an inspiration to all who knew her.

The department's drill team was on hand to perform during the ceremony.
  • The department's drill team was on hand to perform during the ceremony.

This year’s recipient is Detective Nancy Gifford. Detective Gifford has been a member of the Honor Guard since December of 2001. This is the third time she has been selected as Member of the Year. The Honor Guard was involved in 50 events in 2016 and Detective Gifford participated in 29 of those events.

Detective Gifford exemplifies the commitment and dedication required of all members of the CSPD Honor Guard and we are privileged to present her with the “Laura Cochran Honor Guard Member of the Year.”
Officer Robert Lichti is being recognized for his untiring efforts following the Planned Parenthood shooting on November 27, 2015.

Within 20 minutes of being notified, Officer Lichti responded to the shooting scene with the police department’s mobile command post, and remained on scene for 20 hours following the call-out.

During his time on scene, he successfully worked with Planned Parenthood personnel in Denver to get a video feed from the cameras inside the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility. Officer Lichti was able to maintain the feed during the entire incident, which provided invaluable information to the staff responsible for decision-making and safety for officers inside the Planned Parenthood building.

For his dedication to duty and ingenuity, Officer Lichti is presented a Department Commendation.
Detective Jerry Schiffelbein is receiving a Department Commendation for his remarkable efforts following the Planned Parenthood shooting on November 27, 2015.

Understanding the incident required an extraordinary amount of investigative resources; detectives and supervisors undertook a variety of critical duties. Detective Schiffelbein, assigned to the Homicide Unit, was assigned as the lead detective on the case and was responsible for interviewing the suspect once he was taken into custody.

In addition to getting the suspect’s confession, Detective Schiffelbein worked countless hours interviewing witnesses and compiling evidence for the anticipated prosecution phase. He also coordinated efforts and resources among local, state, and federal agencies that responded to the shooting, sometimes working full-time with the prosecution team from the District Attorney’s Office.

To keep up with the enormous work volume generated by this case and organize the indescribable complexities of its investigative processes, Detective Schiffelbin worked closely with the District Attorney’s Office – reaching far beyond the normal daily demands of an already rigorous homicide detective’s job.

Detective Schiffelbein’s dedication, teamwork and professionalism contributed immensely to a successful investigation and is worthy of this Department Commendation.
Commander Adrian Vasquez is being recognized for his efforts throughout 2015 to develop and implement a new policy on officer involved shootings.

Working in conjunction with several law enforcement partners, Commander Vasquez painstakingly developed a policy that was subsequently adopted by both the Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

The policy, developed in accordance with a new statutory requirement, provides investigative support to every police agency within the 4th Judicial District.

His efforts included developing training materials used by all the participating agencies to ensure all entities were well informed and on board with how these sensitive and difficult incidents would be investigated, culminating in all the 4th Judicial District agencies signing a Memorandum of Understanding adopting the policy. Throughout the entire process, Commander Vasquez continued to handle the duties of the Violent Crimes Lieutenant.

The new policy was crucial to the successful investigations of four officer-involved shootings that occurred in the final months of 2015, being the Halloween and the Planned Parenthood shootings, which both involved an active gunman and multiple victims, drawing national attention and intense public scrutiny. Due to his leadership, the Colorado Springs Police Department successfully navigated through these events while still finalizing the policy itself.

Throughout, Commander Vasquez displayed the highest level of leadership, organizational ability, and dedication. His efforts led to the development of a policy impacting the entire 4th Judicial District. Commander Vasquez is awarded a Department Commendation for going well beyond his normal duties. 

Civilian of the Year Award
Heather Edwards works in the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Human Resources Section and is receiving this year’s Civilian of the Year Award.

Heather was nominated for her extreme dedication to all Colorado Springs Police Department employees. She believes human resources should provide superior service to ensure officers and other staff are able to fulfill the department’s mission.

She’s always seeking to do the right thing for the long-term interests of the city, the department and its employees.

Besides being humble, Heather is a great communicator, a great organizer, and believes responsiveness is a key to success.

All the department’s sworn and civilian staff knows they well get a quick answer and their concerns will be addressed promptly by Heather.

With Heather’s leadership, the department has implemented a new injury reporting software and a new examination process for police recruits.

She is a great asset to the Colorado Springs Police Department and Heather deserves this recognition for all she does.
Here are the awards given to citizens:
And here's a list of department life-saving awards:
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Cirque du Soleil's OVO impresses

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 11:22 AM

I’m not saying I rate circus acts based on how many times it looked like the performers could’ve died if someone had made a mistake, but if I did, then Cirque du Soleil’s OVO would get a 10/10.

  • Courtesy Cirque du Soleil
  • Case in point.
These performers (or artists, as Cirque rightfully calls them) are on a level that is frankly unimaginable. It’s fitting that the aesthetic of Cirque shows is, by nature, surreal. Because when you see someone hanging by a single strap from a 30-foot ceiling — while holding a grown woman by the ankle as the pair swirls around the stage like a beautiful, high-flying blender — you start to feel like you’re dreaming.

Like most Cirque premises, the concept for OVO is a little opaque, but nevertheless enjoyable. The performers represent insects living in a thriving ecosystem, but it’s disrupted when someone brings a mysterious egg into their midst. I’m still struggling with the metaphor of the egg, but my companion guessed it could represent creativity or new beginnings. Both, or neither, might be accurate, but it’s fun to watch at any rate. Especially considering the plotty bits are acted out by the circus’ clowns (a beetle, a mosquito and a ladybug), who are just hilariously over-the-top.

The most impressive part of the whole thing, though, is how the the acrobatic performers somehow manage to act their parts (as spiders or crickets or whatever else) even while they’re, say, balancing on their chin on a unicycle on a slackwire.

This spider's slackwire routine caused more than a few audience-wide gasps. - COURTESY CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
  • Courtesy Cirque du Soleil
  • This spider's slackwire routine caused more than a few audience-wide gasps.

The costumes, too, deserve a mention, especially the grasshoppers, who had angled "legs" attached to their pants. It made for an excellent effect as they danced. Throughout the show, there was hardly a moment I doubted these people were supposed to be insects, and most of the time I felt I could accurately guess at which ones they were.

The ensemble did an excellent job diffusing the tension after acrobats flung themselves dangerously all over the arena. - COURTESY CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
  • Courtesy Cirque du Soleil
  • The ensemble did an excellent job diffusing the tension after acrobats flung themselves dangerously all over the arena.

Last night’s premiere at the Broadmoor World Arena was frankly flawless, at least as far as I could tell. I gasped, shook my companion by the shoulder and pointed wide-eyed at the stage more times than I care to admit. It really makes you feel like a kid again.

OVO will run daily through Jan. 22, so don’t miss your chance. The tickets might be a touch pricey (starting at $43), but it's certainly a memorable enough performance to warrant the splurge.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Local developers make two picks for Colorado Springs City Council

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:58 PM

It's clear from the most recent round of campaign finance reports that the development community has chosen their darlings in the April city election in Colorado Springs, and they are Lynette Crow-Iverson and Deborah Hendrix.

Hendrix: Making her second try. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES
  • Photos courtesy of the candidates
  • Hendrix: Making her second try.
Crow-Iverson is challenging incumbent Jill Gaebler in the city's central District 5, while Hendrix is taking another run at Helen Collins in southeast District 4. Hendrix also was the one who carried the ball to try to oust Collins in a recall election two years ago but failed.

Those two challengers have raised $11,000 each from businessman Phil Lane and Classic Companies, $2,500 each; Ralph Braden Jr., with Norwood Development Group, $1,000, and Nor'wood Limited, Inc., $5,000. Crow-Iverson also gave her campaign $100.

Crow-Iverson: The choice of developers.
  • Crow-Iverson: The choice of developers.
Those are their donors. Nobody else.

We're going out on a limb here and guessing those will also be the choices of Colorado Springs Forward, a local political activist group that wants to change the governance of Colorado Springs Utilities from the current panel comprised of City Council. CSF wants an appointed board. It's headed up by Amy Lathen, the former El Paso County commissioner who left her elective office early to take the CSF job.

In contrast, Gaebler has raised $10,870 in 78 separate donations, some of them heavy weights by virtue of their past community service. Among them, former Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin, former Council President Scott Hente, former Vice Mayor Richard Skorman, former Councilor Mary Ellen McNally, former NORAD commander Ret. Gen. Gene Renuart, neighborhood advocate Jan Doran and former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.

In District 4, Collins has yet to file a report. Another southeast District 4 candidate who's challenging Collins, Yolanda Avila, an advocate for the disabled — herself being legally blind — has brought in $2,781 from 34 donations.

While six of the Council's nine seats are up for election, developers have yet to give money to candidates in the northwest District 1, north District 2, southwest District 3 and eastern District 6. That might become more clear at a CSF fundraiser slated for next week.

The filing deadline for candidates is Monday.

Check in with the Independent next week for election coverage.

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UPDATE: UCCS will host Milo Yiannopoulos — but only because it must

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:54 PM

Since posting, we heard back from UCCS spokesperson Tom Hutton on a few questions we posed. So, in case you were wondering whether the university will pay for additional security, should it be necessary for the event, the answer is "no."

Per Hutton: "the event sponsors are responsible for any additional security as determined by the UCCS Chief of Police." And about the university's preparations for protestors, Hutton says that "the university is anticipating the possibility of demonstrations. If demonstrations occur, there will be an area that is designated to ensure the safety of all participants."

——- Original post, JAN. 18, 1:57 P.M. ——-

Troll incoming! Today, a press release from the
University of Colorado in Colorado Springs announced that right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos is officially scheduled to speak on campus. Two student groups — chapters of the College Republicans and Turning Point USA — invited the guy and will pick up the tab. To repeat: No university dollars will be spent on the affair.

The university does not endorse this speaker’s views (which, as we previously reported, are pretty repugnant), but because the university’s public, cannot turn him away for it. Yiannopoulos — who has been scorned by some in the so-called alt-right movement he purportedly speaks for because of his identity as a gay jew — will also speak at CU-Boulder on the 25th. Students there organized an event featuring Laverne Cox, a black trans actress, to speak at the exact same time, hoping to draw attention away from the smug, transphobic misogynist.

Yiannopoulos lives to insult. - WIKIPEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikipedia Commons
  • Yiannopoulos lives to insult.

UCCS’s release also highlighted another event going on at the exact same time that was planned months ago. The “university appreciation event,” the release says, will “include comments by [Chancellor Pam] Shockley-Zalabak, music by members of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, who will perform works by composer Leonard Bernstein, and a brief video presentation with campus community members stating support for the university's core values.”

Shockley-Zalabak penned a letter on the matter, found below:

A response to elected officials concern over the rhetoric Milo Yiannopoulos

I absolutely reject this type of rhetoric.

The statements that Mr. Yiannopoulos has made at other campuses are clearly in opposition to the values of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and its commitment to creating an inclusive community that welcomes all.

Moreover, his tactics of personal denigration, as well as racist and misogynist comments, are both personally reprehensible and contrary to the university's values of civil, respectful discussion of difference and difficult topics. We ascribe to The Board of Regents' Guiding Principle that the University of Colorado shall always strive to be "provide an outstanding, respectful, and responsive living, learning, teaching, and working environment."

At the same time, the University of Colorado system adheres to the freedoms embodied in the United States Constitution, which include the freedom of speech contained in the First Amendment. Under well-established constitutional principles, when a student group invites a speaker, the University of Colorado does not censor the speaker because it disagrees with his viewpoints.

In doing so, we draw guidance from, and I quote the words of, the United States Supreme Court, which recently reaffirmed that speech touching on social and political matters are within the bounds of constitutional protection. When speech is on a matter of public concern, even though it it racist or sexist, it "cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt" and we "must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate 'breathing space' to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment."

Mr. Yiannopoulos's attacks on others constitute "vehement, caustic, and unpleasant expressions" that "can stir people to action" and "inflict great pain." We can, and do, condemn his words, but, as a nation, "we have chosen to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate." As a public university, we know of no legal grounds to prevent Mr. Yiannopoulos from coming to our campus based on his comments elsewhere.

UCCS will, however, require the organizations that invited him to campus, the College Republicans and Turning Point USA, to be responsible for all costs, including security. Additionally, the university will handle all ticketing to ensure that fire codes and other legal requirements are met. I will continue to emphasize that while Mr. Yiannopoulos may be speaking at UCCS, he in no way represents us as a campus community or our values.


Pam Shockley-Zalabak


Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists are still planning to protest the event. “We’re planning a direct action as well as a more general nice picket thing for those that are less militant,” says a representative of the group, who would direct anyone who’s interested in participating to keep an eye on the event page for an upcoming planning meeting.

Plans to get the biracial, progressive comedian Trevor Noah to speak on campus concurrently appear to not have materialized.

Find tickets and other time/place details about the Yiannopoulos event here.

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Ultra Petroleum, in bankruptcy, settles pipeline lawsuit

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 12:59 PM

Remember when Ultra Petroleum was making headlines locally? It bought most of the  undeveloped Banning Lewis Ranch on the city's east side with plans to drill for oil and gas?

When tests weren't promising, Ultra Petroleum's subsidiary, Ultra Resources, sold the property to David Jenkins in late 2014 but retained the mineral rights. Jenkins is the biggest developer in the region.

The latest on Ultra is that the Houston company is in bankruptcy and has just reached a settlement with a pipeline company. Here's the news release:
HOUSTON — Ultra Petroleum Corp. ("Ultra") (OTC: UPLMQ) announces that it has reached an agreement to settle Rockies Express Pipeline LLC's ("REX") $303.0 million breach of contract claim. The settlement will be submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval and will be implemented in connection with Ultra's chapter 11 plan of reorganization.

The settlement includes a cash payment of $150.0 million to REX six months after Ultra emerges from chapter 11, but no later than October 30, 2017. Additionally, Ultra has agreed to enter into a new seven-year firm transportation agreement with REX commencing December 1, 2019 for service west-to-east of 200,000 dekatherms per day at a rate of approximately $0.37, or approximately $26.8 million annually.

Mr. Michael Watford, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, said, "Our settlement of REX's claim is another major achievement in our in-court restructuring. This settlement removes the uncertainty around this very significant claim and represents a critical step towards the implementation of the plan of reorganization we filed last month. We appreciate the cooperation of REX and are pleased to be working with them again as business partners."

About Ultra Petroleum

Ultra Petroleum Corp. is an independent energy company engaged in domestic natural gas and oil exploration, development and production. The company trades over-the-counter under the ticker symbol "UPLMQ". Additional information on the company is available at

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

UPDATE: New website blasts El Paso County Sheriff Elder

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 5:47 PM

From the website that was recently mounted in opposition to the sheriff who promised to heal the Sheriff's Office. - DIRTYELDER.COM
  • From the website that was recently mounted in opposition to the sheriff who promised to heal the Sheriff's Office.
This just in from El Paso County in response to the website, including the County Commissioners' statement of confidence in the Sheriff:
The Board of County Commissioners has recently received anonymous letters regarding allegations involving processes and personnel at the Office of the Sheriff and has been made aware of an internet site outlining similar allegations, also made by unidentified individuals. El Paso County has in place robust processes and procedures for investigation where needed and where allegations are made with such specificity and credibility that an investigation is warranted.

All allegations in the anonymous letters recently received have been investigated and/or evaluated with the advice and oversight of the County Attorney’s Office. This is particularly relevant to allegations surrounding policy changes and changes to promotional and disciplinary processes. Since January 2015, the El Paso County Attorney’s Office, and not counsel selected only by the Sheriff, has been providing legal advice and counsel to the Office of the Sheriff. This ensures consistency and transparency with the Board of County Commissioners.

As to allegations made in one letter that a female deputy was “forced to a full physical touching of her entire body captured on jail security video” and subject to multiple “sexually explicit text messages,” the Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that no evidence exists to support these claims, and no member of the Sheriff’s office has made these claims.

The Board of El Paso County Commissioners this morning received legal advice as to the processes and procedures in place at the Sheriff’s Office for conducting investigations and legal advice that had been previously given surrounding changes to promotional and disciplinary processes. The Board of County Commissioners hereby expresses confidence in Sheriff Elder and his staff; that the processes and procedures are sound and if there are sustained improper work actions, there will be an immediate response. 
Simultaneous with the above statement, we received this comment from Sheriff Bill Elder through a spokesperson: "Sheriff Elder has sent a response to the latest anonymous letter to the Board of County Commissioners. He will not be making any comments to the media about anonymous letters contained within the website."

——————ORIGINAL POST 3:37 P.M. MONDAY, JAN. 16, 2017————————-

Sheriff Bill Elder has been in office for two years and apparently someone or some group thinks things are so bad in the department that they have created a website called

The site's professed goal is "to stop the corruption, intimidation and nepotism." Regardless of the veracity of the allegations and implications contained on the website, it's worth noting that someone has mounted such a website and already populated it with a lengthy batch of complaints.

While many links on the site don't have anything to offer yet, some do.

Under "Character Counts," there's this:
Bill Elder promised to follow all policies. He even signed a copy of the policy that states all policies apply to the Sheriff. Since then he has pretty much done what ever he wants. If he doesn’t like a policy he just changes it or gets rid of it.

Bill Elder promoted and/or rehired 6 individuals on his first day on the job. What policy says individuals can be promoted without going through a promotion board? So the same day he promised to follow policy he broke it. I wonder how many contributed to and/or worked on his campaign? We will get to that in an upcoming article.

Bill Elder promised to create an impartial promotion board, evaluation process and create an independent disciplinary board. How’s that working out? More to come…
Sheriff Elder talking with the media some time ago. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Sheriff Elder talking with the media some time ago.

The Indy has made its own observations on some of this behavior. For instance, Elder adopted a Disciplinary Action Board, and a year later he abolished it.

When we asked about this a while back, we got this explanation on Dec. 22 from Lisa Kirkman, an attorney who works for Elder:
With respect to the change in the Disciplinary Action Board, please be advised that the review of the Disciplinary Action Board (DAB) procedure began in September, initiated by EPSO legal advisor, as a result of a decision made in 2015 at the time the Board was enacted. The DAB was a novel procedure and it was decided that it would be reviewed at the one year time frame. At the lieutenant/command staff meeting in September 2016, the legal advisor announced that the matter would be reviewed. The Sheriff made the decision to suspend the Board at a time when no cases were completed and ready to go before the Board. The Sheriff was concerned about the lack of appeal, except for termination and that the Sheriff had no review authority with respect to the Disciplinary Action Board. Also, please be advised that not all investigations per the previous policy were heard by the Disciplinary Action Board.
The website also has this under the heading "Broken Promises":
When Bill Elder was elected sheriff in 2014 he stated things would change. They did; for the worse.

This website is dedicated to the hard working men and women of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office who deserve better than to have to work in a hostile work environment for corrupt leadership. Law Enforcement requires complete and total honesty and transparency. Command staff should be held to a higher standard and the Sheriff to the highest standard. Bill Elder has shown his campaign promises were nothing more than fiction. He has created a hostile work environment that includes intimidation, corruption and nepotism. This website will expose Bill Elder for what he is with documented and verified facts.

This Website is sponsored by concerned citizens with the goal of bringing the corruption at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to an end. It is also to keep employees informed of all the activities being done by Bill Elder and his command staff. This website is not to spread rumors, make personal attacks or get into politics.

We are empowered by you. Everyone knows a little bit about what’s going on at the Sheriff’s Office. Silence is the endorsement of corruption. We need your help to continue our mission. All material will be anonymous and verified. It’s time for employees to take a stand and demand integrity from their leadership!

Articles will show Bill Elder misled our community and evidence he committed multiple crimes to include official misconduct. We will present evidence that suggests Bill Elder could even be guilty of accessory to murder. We will show evidence of corruption by his current command staff and other personnel within the office. We will present the evidence, and you can be the judge.

One of the first promises Bill Elder made to staff and the community is that all policies would also apply to the Sheriff. We will show he has broken this promise and ultimately does what ever he wants. Below is Bill Elder, early in his term, signing the new policy. We will provide more information in an upcoming article.
 Should the El Paso County Commissioners launch some kind of probe? In the past, commissioners have taken a hands-off approach until smacked in the face with visual evidence of things going haywire — just look at the  Sheriff Terry Maketa fiasco.

For now, we don't know if any of the complaints referenced on the Web site, with one exception, has been forwarded to the commissioners. The one exception deals with a record we've been trying to get for some time. It references a potential lawsuit, and has been denied by County Attorney Amy Folsom. In response to the Independent's Colorado Open Records request, she gave these reasons for refusing to release it:
1. Pursuant to 24-72-202(6)(a)(II)(C) this document is not a public record because it is a communication by constituent to an elected official that clearly implies by its nature or content that the constituent expects that it is confidential on a matter not yet public.
2. Pursuant to 24-72—204(1)(b) and (c) inspection of this record would be contrary to federal rule or regulation and rule promulgated by the state supreme court; namely FRE 408 and CRE 408; and
3. Disclosure of the document is prohibited by 24-72-204(3)(a)(II)(A) in that it contains information pertaining to a personnel matter and which would otherwise be contained in a personnel file. 
We've invited the Sheriff's Office to comment on the new website and will update if and when we hear back.

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North Nevada renewal draft plan revealed Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Blue indicates the area of focus for the study. - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • City of Colorado Springs
  • Blue indicates the area of focus for the study.
A long process that dates back six months comes to at least partial fruition this evening with the unveiling of the draft plan for North Nevada Avenue.

Now, Nevada is a hodgepodge of motels, restaurants and some retail stores in the study area, which lies north of the Rock Island Trail.

Here's the city's release about tonight's meeting:
A draft plan to renew the North Nevada Avenue corridor from Garden of the Gods Road/Austin Bluff Parkway to the Rock Island Trail/railroad right-of-way two blocks south of Fillmore Street will be unveiled at an upcoming community open house to be held on:

Tues, Jan. 17 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The Mortgage Solutions Financial Expo Center,
3650 N Nevada Ave. Colorado Springs 80907

Those interested in the project are encouraged to drop by any time between 6 and 7:30 p.m. to view displays, visit with the project team, and submit comments about the draft plan. There will be a brief presentation and question-and-answer session beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Media please note: If you are unavailable to attend the meeting, interview opportunities are available with Project Manager, Nina Vetter on Wednesday between 11-12 p.m. RSVP Krithika Prashant at

Since July 2016, the City of Colorado Springs has been conducting a community involvement process to create a plan that will result in continued investment in the North Nevada Avenue corridor. Community roundtables, an online survey, and a series of four community workshops have generated the involvement of over 825 residents. Results from the process to-date can be found on the website:

The final recommended plan will be considered for approval by the Colorado Springs Planning Commission in February and by City Council in March.
The plan will be available on line after the meeting, a city spokesperson says.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Colorado Springs Forward holds fundraiser for select council candidates

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 10:13 AM

Colorado Springs Forward is wasting no time trying to influence who's elected on April 4 to the six district slots on the nine-member Colorado Springs City Council.

Two days after the Jan. 23 filing deadline, the group is hosting a fundraiser for the candidates it's supporting. The announcement went out on Jan. 9, so I guess CSF isn't interested in waiting to see who files.

It seems clear CSF has already chosen its candidates. One is Lynette Crow-Iverson, a former CSF board member, who's opposing incumbent Jill Gaebler in District 5.

We reported in depth on CSF here. ("Calling the shots," Cover, Nov. 16, 2016.)

For information on how to file to run for Council, go here.

As for the fundraiser, we don't know who got invitations, but it doesn't appear to be a public event. Therefore, if you decide to show up, be aware you might be turned away if you're not in the inner circle.
We've asked Amy Lathen, former El Paso County Commissioner who left her elected job six months early to run CSF, who the chosen candidates are. We'll update if and when we hear back from her.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Colorado Native releases more seasonals

Posted By on Sun, Jan 15, 2017 at 12:36 PM

Colorado Native imperial porter - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Colorado Native imperial porter
AC Golden made a quality sour ale. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • AC Golden made a quality sour ale.
Once again, MillerCoors' experimental arm AC Golden Brewing Company has sent us a few sample bottles of their new wares. This time, we received Colorado Native Peche, a sour golden beer aged in oak wine barrels with peaches, and Colorado Native imperial porter.

Seeing a beer from an AC Golden brand sporting a 9.5 percent ABV came as a bit of a shock, but that's what we got in the imperial porter. For the style, it's pretty light in color, pouring reddish brown with an espresso crema-colored foam. It sips smooth and roasty, with some coffee notes, hiding the alcohol beautifully. It's a blend between fresh-fermented porter and a batch aged six months in AD Laws whiskey barrels, which adds a little complexity, as does mild smokiness from smoked wheat. There's a crispness or thinness that I'm not 100 percent behind, though, coming from the fact that it's brewed as a lager as well as a lot of wheat. Still, this is far and away the best thing we've had from Colorado Native.

We're happy enough with Peche, as well. It has a punchy, sharp tartness that mellows into a mild peach flavor with some oak taste on the backend. With a well-handled 7 percent ABV, it's comparable to quite a few other sours on the market. Really, the most notable thing about this beer is that the folks behind Coors have brewed an competent sour beer, at the worst. Given the choice, I'll drink Paradox or Trinity brews first, but this isn't a bad brew at all.

It's surprising that we're getting well-made, interesting brews from one of the macrobrew companies that remains the Great Enemy of the local-centric craft brewing movement. But I guess it's true that a rising tide lifts all boats.

In any case, we'll continue to review whatever beer shows up in the mail. Cheers!
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