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Downtown 'ambassadors'

If you've been avoiding downtown because you doubt your ability to navigate its stores and restaurants — um, it could happen — it's time to rejoice.

The Greater Downtown Colorado Springs Business Improvement District and Gold Hill Division of the Colorado Springs Police Department are partnering to provide highly trained "downtown ambassadors." The orange-clad helpers will patrol the streets in twos, ready to answer your questions about parking, or to point you to the nearest cheeseburger. The teams debut on Friday, Nov. 25. — JAS

Locals get tough on tobacco

Fountain and Manitou Springs are among the first Colorado cities to enact laws meant to protect kids from tobacco products other than cigarettes. Popularity is growing for cigars, electronic cigarettes, edible tobacco, hookah and more.

The new laws, which go into effect Jan. 1, require businesses that sell non-cigarette tobacco to obtain a license, and it's illegal for minors to sell, stock or handle products. The laws ban self-service displays of tobacco products, and businesses caught violating the new law more than four times in a year may have their license suspended or revoked.

El Paso County Public Health says in a release that more than 60 percent of Colorado youth under 18 who attempted to purchase tobacco reported being able to do so, and that nearly 90 percent of adult smokers become addicted to tobacco before turning 18. — PZ

Judge: Gessler overstepped

Apparently, being Colorado's secretary of state doesn't give you the right to ignore voter-approved amendments to the Colorado constitution. Who knew? Not Scott Gessler, whose power was reined in Nov. 17 by a Denver district judge.

Gessler had raised the disclosure threshold for contributions to political issue committees from the voter-approved $200 to $5,000, cutting down on transparency in elections. That was illegal.

According to a release from the watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch, "The Secretary of State's rule would have made it much easier for political groups to avoid disclosing financial interests behind a ballot initiative. Last year, Douglas Bruce tried to hide his involvement in three extreme initiatives that would have limited local governments from handling their own financial future." — JAS

Personhood returns

Despite two previous votes that rejected ballot measures giving full rights of personhood to fertilized embryos, Personhood Colorado is mounting another question for the November 2012 election.

The group submitted proposed wording of a measure to the Secretary of State's Office on Monday, saying it was inspired by the failure of a measure in Mississippi earlier this month. The goal is to outlaw abortion and most forms of birth control by giving embryos rights as humans.

Planned Parenthood responded with a release saying, "No means no," referring to the 2008 and 2010 measures that went down in Colorado by 3-to-1 margins. — PZ

New chief at The Arc

After members voted last week to keep the current board in place, The Arc of the Pikes Peak Region announced Nov. 17 that Wilfred Romero will be its new executive director. Romero, a former leadership trainer at defense contractor Booz|Allen|Hamilton, has worked in health and human services, and for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Head Start.

The Arc, which advocates and provides guardianship for those with developmental disabilities, has been in turmoil since the firing last summer of executive director Teddi Roberts, who admitted to misrepresenting her academic credentials. The firing and other board actions stirred opposition among members, some of whom attempted to oust the board, an effort that failed at a Nov. 14 meeting. The next day, two more Arc employees were terminated. — PZ

Reno nabs Kazmierski

Mike Kazmierski, former head of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., is now leading the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada in Reno. Kazmierski resigned his post here when the board decided to "change some of our strategy and focus," as EDC board member Doug Quimby put it in May.

In a release, the Reno organization noted that Kazmierski "assisted in the attraction and expansion of more than 70 companies that resulted in the creation of more than 10,000 new jobs in the region." Kazmierski started his new job Nov. 16. — PZ

Rosa back in news

So far, Lt. Gen. John Rosa Jr., former superintendent of the Air Force Academy, has kept his job as president of The Citadel military school, despite the unfolding child sex-abuse scandal there. The Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier reported Rosa didn't call police when a former senior counselor was accused of a sexual incident with boys at the college's summer camp years ago. The man was arrested Oct. 28 on charges involving five boys.

Rosa served at the academy from 2003 to 2005, and was hand-picked by Air Force leaders to clean up the academy's sexual assault scandal. — PZ

More food for seniors

Thanks to an increase in federal funding, senior meal programs in El Paso, Teller and Park counties won't run as short as feared.

The meal program in Park County will receive $14,000, while the Housing Authority of Colorado Springs, which had projected a $112,000 deficit for the year, will get $96,000 for its Golden Circle Nutrition Program, which operates in El Paso and Teller counties.The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, which includes the local Area Agency on Aging, also announced that more funding came through for senior transportation, caregiver programs, home safety renovations and in-home care, among other services, through the Federal Older Americans Act. — PZ

Compiled by J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.

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