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Noted: DHS site up for sale 

County sells DHS building

The building where food stamps and welfare benefits were handed out for years will become a hotel under a deal approved Tuesday by El Paso County commissioners. The Jarosz Family Partnership agreed to pay $2.4 million and bring a building permit to the closing table with plans to reopen the building at 105 N. Spruce St. as a 90- to 100-room hotel next year.

The building housed the Department of Human Services until the agency moved to the Citizens Service Center on Garden of the Gods Road last year.

Proceeds from the sale will retire a county debt stemming from DHS facilities. Commissioners noted the deal returns the building to the tax rolls and creates jobs.

The Jarosz Family Partnership, which owns the nearby Clarion Hotel at 314 W. Bijou St., told the county it will invest $4 million to renovate the building. — PZ

City hires HR director

Michael Sullivan, with decades of private-sector experience in human resources, has been hired by Mayor Steve Bach to lead the city's human resources department. Sullivan replaces Ann Crossey, who retired at the end of 2011. He will be paid $135,000 a year.

City Chief of Staff Laura Neumann stated in a press release Wednesday that Sullivan was chosen "after an exhaustive, two-month recruitment and interview process, with over 140 applicants nationwide."

Sullivan previously worked for 11 years at defense contractor Northrop Grumman, most recently as director of International Relations and International Security, though he's previously held various managerial HR positions there. Before working at Northrop, Sullivan worked in human resources at Raytheon for 22 years. — JAS

Caucuses coming Tuesday

Republicans across the state will gather Tuesday night for what state Senate candidate Owen Hill calls "neighborhood politics at its finest ... neighbors getting together to decide who they want to represent them."

El Paso County Republicans will elect captains for their precincts, recently reorganized and in many cases consolidated by the county clerk and recorder. Caucus-goers will pick delegates to the GOP's March 24 county assembly, which will decide who makes the June 26 primary ballot without having to petition.

To complicate matters, caucuses in Colorado will also include straw polls for the Republican presidential race. Already, GOP candidates Ron Paul and Rick Santorum have made stops in the Springs this week.

Hill anticipates that the presidential race will dominate conversation: "Our expectation is that half the time, someone is going to get elected to be a delegate largely by who they are supporting on the presidential campaign." Hill thinks that'll mean significant post-caucus lobbying, and that "the next five weeks are going to be pretty crazy, lots of phone calls, lots of personal connections."

Local Republicans are bracing for a number of hard-fought primaries, including Hill's against state Rep. Larry Liston in Senate District 10. At least three state House seats could have contested primary races, topped by the redrawn HD 19 pitting House Majority Leader Amy Stephens against Rep. Marsha Looper.

"This is going to be mayhem," says Hill. "Picture an Allstate commercial." — CH

Mayor feeling more secure

When Mayor Steve Bach entered office in June, one of his first moves was eliminating the annoying sign-in requirement at the City Administration Building, 30 S. Nevada Ave. It was a small gesture, meant to signal that city offices would welcome visitors.

Which is why it's interesting that Bach's office now features a security system that cost the city $1,489.50.

City spokesman John Leavitt explains the system is basic: Those who know the security code can type it into a pad and walk into the office; others buzz the mayor's secretary, who can see the visitor through the glass and decide whether to allow entry. Colorado State Safe and Lock, chosen by competitive bid, installed the system, paid for with CAB maintenance money. — JAS

Urban Renewal adds to board

The Urban Renewal Authority has taken a beating lately. First came the revelation that University Village Shopping Center hasn't produced as much dough as planned, meaning a likely default on some bonds. Then there was the spat between Steve Bach and an Authority board member, after the mayor accused the board of trying to milk $1.25 million out of the Ivywild school project (see p. 12), despite total construction costs of only around $3 million. The board member denied the claim.

But those ticked off at the board soon can act on their anger: Bach will appoint, and City Council will confirm, four additions to the nine-member board.

Applications (tinyurl.com/cs-urban-renewal), letters and résumés from interested citizens should be mailed to City Council, Attn. Marti Devine Sletta, P.O. Box 1575, Colorado Springs, CO 80901; or e-mailed to mdevine@springsgov.com no later than Feb. 10. — JAS

New law on disclosures

Monday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a change in the state's campaign finance disclosure requirements — the first bill that Hickenlooper has OK'd in 2012.

The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Colorado Springs Rep. Bob Gardner, was necessary due to this year's primary election shifting to June. Before the change, biweekly disclosures for candidates, political parties and committees were to be due on the first Monday of July — one month after they would be useful for primary voters. Now, disclosures will be due on the first Monday of May.

After the primary date moved, Secretary of State Scott Gessler had wanted to end disclosure requirements. Colorado Ethics Watch filed a suit, since withdrawn, challenging Gessler. Luis Toro of Ethics Watch called the Legislature's quick action "a victory for Coloradans from across the political spectrum who believe in the people's right to know about money in elections." — CH

Politics on Saturday?

If you're looking for something to do Saturday morning, show up for a town hall meeting with a state House representative. Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, you're covered.

Republican Rep. Janak Joshi will be discussing state regulations hampering small businesses at Stargazers Theatre and Event Center, 10 S. Parkside Drive, starting at 9.

If that ain't your thing, at 10 a.m. you can head to Cheyenne Mountain Library, 1785 S. Eighth St., where Democratic state Rep. Pete Lee will talk about bills he plans to introduce during this legislative session and strategies to grow the economy. — CH

Compiled by Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.

  • Also: City hires HR director, caucuses coming Tuesday, new law on disclosures

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