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Noted: Designated Driver scales back 

Designated Driver scales back

Designated Driver of Colorado Springs has tweaked its business model. The free service that drives you and your car home when you've had too much to drink no longer does so from just anywhere in the region; instead, DD now picks up solely at local businesses that sponsor the service.

"We got so busy so fast," says co-owner Nonie Rispin. "We decided that we needed to focus our energies on the places that are helping us keep this service free and available."

Currently, Designated Driver has more than 35 sponsors, mostly bars. (A full list is available via the "Food & Drink" link at noduicosprings.com, or by calling 650-3450.) Rispin wants to see that number grow: "DUIs affect everybody, on so many different levels. This has to be a community effort, not just the places that have liquor licenses to protect."

DD, operating Tuesday through Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., relies on volunteer drivers using their own cars and gas to get people home. Tips are not required but are encouraged. Rispin says many passengers don't, or forget to, tip, but says, "People are still very appreciative. ... The whole community has been incredibly supportive." — AL

State hurting for 2009-10

Colorado's Legislative Council announced Monday there is an estimated $249 million revenue shortfall for the 2008-9 fiscal year, which ends June 30. Besides cuts already made, the state will borrow money from the 2009-10 budget to compensate.

The shortfall is attributed to a sharp drop in sales and income tax revenues. Lawmakers braced themselves for the problem in March, when analysts estimated the state would be about $208 million short. Despite that warning, senators still expressed surprise over the newest numbers: "I shouldn't have been surprised, but I am," said Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, a member of the Joint Budget Committee.

Some analysts predict the shortfall could grow to $838 million over the next three years. Amid the dismal forecasts, Senate Majority Leader John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, released an optimistic statement: "These numbers lead us to ask ourselves: what kind of Colorado do we want to live in? We are facing tough choices and we are making the right decisions to lead Colorado forward." Those choices include whether to make cuts in public school funding and continue eliminating property tax breaks for seniors.

Legislative leaders say the General Assembly will not reconvene for a special session. Instead, Gov. Bill Ritter and his budget staff will meet with the Joint Budget Committee to revamp the 2009-10 budget. — VL

Crandall recovering from crash

It was what John Crandall, owner of Old Town Bike Shop, calls "a moment's lapse."

A man driving a car didn't spot Crandall as he was biking down from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on a May 28 morning ride. Bike and car collided, and the 66-year-old Crandall, known in town for his efforts to promote more sustainable living, suffered a broken femur, wrist and shoulder. Now out of the hospital, Crandall is in a wheelchair for at least another month, but expects to fully recover and eventually get back to the daily bike rides he's enjoyed since 1975.

While the car's driver was ticketed, Crandall refuses to blame him, and notes the driver actually is an acquaintance of Crandall's wife. "I know how devastated the guy who caused this is," Crandall says.

He says he hopes his story will remind cyclists to wear their helmets and ride carefully, and drivers to be more cautious. — JAS

Naked Bike Ride rolls on

Last Saturday, 15 bicyclists took to the streets of Colorado Springs wearing pasties, bras, panties, boxers and other creative costuming for Colorado Springs' version of the Naked Bike Ride. (See Slice of Life photo on p. 3.)

"One guy wore a lion that he had cut in half, the head over his groin and the tail over his rear end," says Tyrone Arcila, owner of Left Side Spin, the Tejon Street bicycle shop where participants gathered.

Colorado Springs police stopped the bicyclists but made no arrests. None of the bicyclists went completely nude because, according to Arcila, getting arrested would have defeated the purpose of the ride.

"It's against the law to be naked," says Arcila. "What point am I making by riding my bike 10 feet and getting arrested?"

Naked Bike Rides are done in more than 70 locations worldwide to protest mass oil consumption, though Arcila says Springs bicyclists didn't really have an agenda.

"We like to ride our bikes," he says. — KV

Killed: coyote-shooting plan

Imagine this: Some guy with a hunting license and a .22 caliber rifle is stalking your urban neighborhood late at night, trying to shoot a coyote he thinks he spots 50 yards away. And he's within his rights.

It could have happened if City Council hadn't shelved a plan to let residents "control" the urban coyote population. Though coyotes are only attacking pets — and attacks haven't increased — some wanted Council to consider the proposal.

Councilor Bernie Herpin defended it. Councilor Tom Gallagher felt torn. Mayor Lionel Rivera thought residents should be able to shoot coyotes on their property, even in urban front yards. Never mind that evidence suggests coyotes don't kill people.

Vice Mayor Larry Small, speaking with the majority, called the proposal unnecessary, raising too many questions. Could you, for instance, gun down a coyote on your animal-loving neighbor's lawn? Councilor Jerry Heimlicher added, "Even a .22 can go through a coyote and ricochet. To me, I'd feel horrible if someone was shooting at a coyote and hit a baby in a window next door." — JAS

Bill requires CO detectors

As of July 1, Colorado law will require carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of all bedroom entrances in multi- and single-family homes. Detectors can be combined with current smoke alarms or security systems.

The decision by Colorado's Legislature to require carbon monoxide detectors came after several tragedies in the past year, including one locally. Kelly Murphy died of carbon monoxide poisoning Dec. 17, 2008, in her rental home in Manitou Springs. — KV

Pools or parks?

Foresight is dying even faster than the grass in the city's parks. Some say it has to, others aren't so sure.

But one thing is for certain: If our parks die, it will cost around $6 million to replace the grass. Keeping the lawns alive this summer would cost only $767,000.

City Councilor Jan Martin says the cost savings would be a good reason to keep watering and cut somewhere else, perhaps even closing the city swimming pools.

"I just think it's irresponsible for us to let parks basically die when we know that there's no way in the near future that we could replace them," Martin says. City staff, who presented the problem at the June 22 informal City Council meeting, say they will explore options and come back with any proposals. — JAS

Compiled by Virginia Leise, Amanda Lundgren, J. Adrian Stanley and Ken Voeller.

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