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Judge chosen in Collins case, ex-treasurer goofs, local rent report, and more 

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Judge chosen in ethics case

City Councilor Helen Collins is seeking to have retired Judge Robert Hyatt disqualified from hearing charges of ethics violations against her, citing his involvement as the presiding judge over a grand jury that indicted her friend and political ally, Douglas Bruce, for tax evasion.

The ethics charges stem from a property transaction in which Collins received a condominium from Bruce and then sold it to a third party, even as the city was trying to place a lien on the property, though it's unclear whether Collins knew of the lien at that time. Hyatt, with the Judicial Arbiter Group Inc. of Denver, has been contracted at $360 per hour, with a not-to-exceed amount of $10,000, according to the Council's outside counsel, Suzanne Dugan of New York.

"His duty is clearly to find for his paying 'client' and against me," Collins says in an affidavit in support of her motion.

Collins, elected to Council in 2013, survived a recall effort earlier this year. Her term continues to 2017. — PZ

Ex-treasurer Balink goofs

El Paso County taxpayers will pay $110,000 to Darin Zaruba due to a mistake made by former County Treasurer Bob Balink a year ago, county commissioners decided last week. Balink allowed mobile home owners whose tax liens had been purchased by Zaruba to redeem them after the deadline imposed by statute.

Zaruba originally sought to be reimbursed for lost revenue from six mobile homes, but it turned out to be four, county officials say, with a total value of $94,870. The additional portion of the settlement amount is to cover attorney fees. Zaruba says in his lawsuit that Balink told him he "didn't know what the exact process was" in allowing late redemptions by owners.

Balink, who left office in January after not seeking reelection, didn't respond to an email seeking comment. — PZ

Rents here not too high

Apartment List, which bills itself as the world's fastest-growing online rental marketplace, has released its August Colorado Rental Price Monitor, showing which cities have the highest and fastest-growing rents based on "several hundred thousand monthly listings on our site."

It found that Colorado's one-bedroom rentals go for an average of $50 less than the national average price of $1,050, but its two-bedroom prices are $200 higher than the national average of $1,100.

Boulder had the highest rent statewide, with an average two-bedroom going for $2,030. Denver was No. 6 among the most expensive cities, with a two-bedroom going for an average of $1,555 a month. Westminster topped the Colorado cities with the fastest-growing rent, with year-to-year growth at 13.7 percent.

Interestingly, Colorado Springs, where an average two-bedroom went for $910, didn't make the Top 10 for highest-rent cities in Colorado or Colorado cities with the fastest-growing rent.

Rent on a two-bedroom in the Springs grew just 3 percent year-to-year. — JAS

$89K and counting

Advocates for Mayor John Suthers' .62 of a percent sales tax hike to fix roads are off and running, with 15 donations totaling $89,000, campaign finance reports show.

Springs Citizens Building the Future reported no spending in its first report, filed Sept. 1. Most donations came from contractors, developers and organizations whose members might benefit from the $50 million annually for five years the tax hike would generate, including Associated General Contractors of Colorado of Denver and Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association of Centennial.

Meantime, anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce has started the "vote no" effort with a website, raisetaxesagain.com. — PZ

Station gets LEED rating

The city's newest fire station, No. 21 at 7320 Dublin Blvd., has been assigned a platinum certification under the Leading in Energy Efficiency Design rating system. It's the first building in the city to achieve the designation, the city says in a release.

The station opened in August 2013 and incorporates several energy efficiency features designed to save 60 percent in energy and utility costs over its lifespan, the release says. For example, solar photovoltaic panels on the roof generate most power the station uses. The building also features a graywater system. — PZ

Chopper crashes

On Sept. 2, for the second time in five years, an Army helicopter crashed in Pike National Forest during training maneuvers, sending two of the four soldiers on board the UH-60 Black Hawk from the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade to Memorial Hospital.

An investigation team from the Army's Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama, is conducting an investigation.

In June 2010, an Apache helicopter crashed in the forest, injuring two. — PZ

'Pop-up' a store downtown

Starting a business can be intimidating. But imagine if you could just "try out" a new business. That's essentially what the Colorado Springs Downtown Development Authority is offering in its 2015 Holiday Pop-Up Shop Program.

Instead of empty storefronts during the holiday shopping season, property owners work with the DDA to offer entry-rate, short-term lease options for potential downtown retailers. Rents are a third of the normal cost and there's also a $50 fee and a $250 refundable deposit.

If you're interested, apply before 5 p.m. on Sept. 18. More information and applications are available at bit.ly/1N81Tn4. — JAS

Senior Open returns here

Adding to its long list of distinguished golf tournaments, The Broadmoor will host the 2018 U.S. Senior Open Championship, the U.S. Golf Association announced on Tuesday. It's the eighth time the resort has landed a USGA championship.

The June 28-July 1 event will coincide with The Broadmoor's 100th anniversary.

The resort hosted the U.S. Senior Open in 2008 and the U.S. Women's Open in 2011. — PZ

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