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Diversity fest has everyone on board now 

'Everybody Welcome' is truly welcomed this weekend
Remember last year, when some City Council members were hesitant to welcome the "Everybody Welcome" diversity festival? It was the "everybody" part that chilled Margaret Radford, Darryl Glenn and Tom Gallagher. "Everybody," they noted, could include gays and anti-war demonstrators.

Council eventually made the diversity festival a city-sponsored event, meaning it received free facility rentals, police service and barricades. This year, there were no more shenanigans as Council promptly approved permanent sponsorship. In fact, the city has done a great deal of back-stepping to warm those once-cold feet, even featuring festival youths and adults in bright-colored dress on its postcards.

Leaders of the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum, which puts on the free event, say the festival has been well-received and will be even bigger this year. The party begins at 6 p.m., Friday at the City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St. Participants are encouraged to wear zoot suits and hats and come prepared to dance to live music for this celebration of the late Fannie Mae Duncan's Cotton Club. Duncan, a trailblazing African-American, owned and operated the club for decades in Colorado Springs, and her doors were open to people of all races. The Cotton Club fell victim to urban renewal in 1975.

The main festival will run from noon to 5 p.m., Saturday at downtown's Acacia Park. JAS

McCain slips on water issue
Sen. John McCain's recent comment that the 86-year-old agreement dividing Colorado River water should be renegotiated has triggered chatter that the Arizona Republican could have blown his chances in Colorado for the presidential election.

Bob Ewegen wrote about the remark last week in the Denver Post, presenting a memo to McCain with the subject: "Forget about winning our nine electoral votes next November. We don't vote for water rustlers in this state; we tar and feather them!"

On Aug. 15, a Pueblo Chieftain story quoted a telephone interview with McCain in which he said, "I don't think there's any doubt the major, major issue is water and can be as important as oil. So the compact that is in effect, obviously, needs to be renegotiated over time amongst the interested parties."

The Colorado River compact allocates a large chunk of the river's water to California, Nevada and Arizona, then divides the leftovers between Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming. "Renegotiating" the compact is viewed by some as code for sending more water to McCain's home state of Arizona, as well as to California and Nevada.

Opposition to McCain's remark has united Colorado politicians, prompting Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer to speak against it and U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar to tell the Chieftain that renegotiation would happen over his "dead body." AL

Bidlack, Lamborn might debate
The general election buildup had barely begun, and Hal Bidlack already thought he had succeeded where Republican challengers had failed. Bidlack, the Democratic candidate for Colorado's 5th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, put out a news release Monday saying he and Republican incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn had agreed to a debate on Oct. 1 in Colorado College's Armstrong Hall.

The event would be co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak Region and the Colorado Springs World Affairs Council; they reportedly had informed Bidlack the plans were set. However, Lamborn campaign spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said Wednesday that Lamborn has been out of town, hasn't reviewed the proposal and has made no commitment.

"We thought that was a little premature," Mortensen said of Bidlack's release.

Lamborn repeatedly refused to debate GOP primary opponents Jeff Crank and Bentley Rayburn. On Aug. 13, a day after the primary, Lamborn issued a news release suggesting he had "repeatedly called on [Bidlack] to debate." Bidlack fired back, saying he had called Lamborn last April asking about possible debates after the primary.

The Armstrong Hall debate is one of seven that Bidlack would like to have with Lamborn, who has not committed to any. RR

Blair returns to S-CAP
A familiar face is returning to Colorado Springs for a second stint as executive director of the Southern Colorado AIDS Project. Richard Blair, the local organization's first executive director from 1992 to 1996, has been named to lead S-CAP again.

Blair replaces Linda Boedecker, who resigned April 4 after three years in the job. Staff member Bill Scharton had been interim executive director since then but did not pursue the permanent job. Blair served the past five years as development director for the Seniors Foundation of Lincoln, Neb., part of that city's Agency on Aging. RR

Assistant city manager chosen
City Manager Penny Culbreth-Graft selected a new assistant city manager to fill Greg Nyhoff's seat last week.

Nancy Johnson, an assistant city manager in Norfolk, Va., was the choice of Culbreth-Graft and two local interview panels. Chosen from 75 applicants, Johnson has worked in public management positions for decades in Virginia and California. She starts here Sept. 29 and will earn $150,000 a year.

Nyhoff left earlier in the year to become city manager of Modesto, Calif. Steve Cox, who has been filling the position on an interim basis, will return to his job as deputy chief for the fire department. JAS

Compiled by Anthony Lane, Ralph Routon and J. Adrian Stanley.

  • Also: No congressional debate yet, S-CAP brings back Blair, new assistant city manager.

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