Power program gets boost
This week, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would give Colorado Springs-based Neumann Systems Group a nearly $7.2 million grant to further study carbon-capture technology for power plants.
David Neumann has been working with Colorado Springs Utilities since 2008 on removing sulfur dioxide from the emissions of Martin Drake Power Plant, so this grant validates the former Air Force Academy professor's invention, says Utilities chief energy services officer Bruce McCormick.
The city will capitalize in testing the device by getting sulfur dioxide scrubbers cheaper, and stands to gain from sales of units to other users. Details are being negotiated, McCormick says. According to Utilities, it has invested $22 million in Neumann's testing and development.
McCormick wouldn't say how much the city hopes to make. He says the city plans to fit Drake with the Neumann technology by the end of 2013. Ray D. Nixon Power Plant south of the city will follow. — PZ
City ponders new measures
City Council will consider at least five questions for the November ballot on Tuesday. City Attorney Pat Kelly drafted five questions under consideration, including one requiring her position to report to City Council instead of Mayor Steve Bach. Leaked to media, the draft questions caused a bit of a stir, particularly from Bach.
The Council, however, has sole power to refer questions to the ballot. And the questions Kelly drafted have been kicking around for a long time. One concerns the governance of Memorial Health System. Others are intended to "clean up" the strong mayor form of governance — creating separate attorneys for the mayor and Council to avoid conflicts, removing a required mayoral signature from contracts for city enterprises that the mayor has no authority over, and ensuring the city has only one strategic plan.
Bach has supported cleaning up the strong-mayor language, but he said recently that he wants a charter review committee to examine and make recommendations before anything goes to voters.
"I think if the mayor makes a good case for having a charter review committee, that it's very likely we'll wait," Council President Pro-Tem Jan Martin says. — JAS
Snyder to run again
Candidates are beginning to turn in petition packets to run for Manitou Springs City Council. In November, voters will determine three at-large seats and the Ward 2 seat on Council, as well as mayor.
Manitou Mayor Marc Snyder confirms he will run for a second two-year term. Coreen Toll, recently appointed to the Ward 2 seat after the resignation of Ingrid Richter, plans to run for her current seat. (If elected, Toll would complete the last two years of Richter's four-year term.) Former Manitou Councilor Nancy Barnes has turned in paperwork to seek an at-large Council seat.
No other candidates have announced, though Snyder says he believes Randy Hodges and Ron Marko will run for at-large seats. Unless more candidates enter the race, Snyder notes, "I'm not sure we have to have an election." — JAS
Firefighters' charity limited
Since 1954, the International Association of Fire Fighters — a union with a local chapter for the Colorado Springs Fire Department — has conducted a "Fill the Boot " fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
In Colorado Springs, the fundraiser has taken place over Labor Day weekend by on- and off-duty firefighters. But that will change this year. Interim Fire Chief Rich Brown says he'll only allow firefighters one or two hours of work time daily to collect for the charity. Brown says firefighters see the fundraiser as competitive and, indeed, the local chapter was often No. 1 in collections for the state. Brown applauds the enthusiasm for "a tremendous cause," but says firefighters had begun to delay required training to focus on fundraising.
"I just wanted to make sure our priorities were straight," he says. "Our priority is response. And our second priority is training for response." Brown adds that the public might think it inappropriate to have on-duty city employees working charitably, and supporting one cause with on-duty time, while not allowing the same for any other cause.
Brown's decision has been unpopular with firefighters. "This wasn't a mayor issue; this wasn't a Steve Cox issue; this was my issue," he says. — JAS
Lamborn allows protests
It has been the month of reluctant responses to controversy for U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn.
During debt-ceiling negotiations, he said being linked to President Obama was like touching a "tar baby." Lamborn later apologized in a letter to the president.
Now, his office has issued a release this week assuring the public that a new sign in front of his Colorado Springs office doesn't curb the right to protest. The "Private Property No Soliciting No Protesting No Loitering" sign apparently was put up by the landlord where Lamborn rents an office in the wake of a MoveOn.org protest.
Lamborn's spokeswoman, Catherine Mortensen, says the sign was installed by the complex's management company "at the request of other tenants in the building."
"The property management company today, at the request of the Congressman's office, removed the word 'protesting' from the sign," she says in the release. "The Congressman wants to make clear that the public is free to gather and protest. The management company only requests that protesters give the building's tenants and their customer's unimpeded access to the building and parking spaces." — CH
GOP chair going to Moscow
El Paso County Republican Party Chairman Eli Bremer is headed to Moscow — for the World Championships of modern pentathlon. The 33-year-old pentathlete came in third in the 99th USA Pentathlon National Championships last weekend at the Olympic Training Center, meaning that he is one step closer to qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. — CH
Dems not welcome?
Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, along with El Paso County Democrats and MoveOn.org, converged on U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn's office last week. According to Christy Le Lait, executive director of the county Democrats, the NAACP called for a meeting with Lamborn in response to his "tar baby" comment. Friday, from 10 to 11:15 a.m. at New Jerusalem Missionary Church in Fountain, a meeting is planned. The first half-hour will be closed, says Le Lait, with the final 45 minutes open to the public. "But one of the contingencies of this meeting," Le Lait adds, "is that we not be there."
Who's "we"? Kathleen Ricker, chair of the county Democrats; Chuck Bader, vice-president of the Colorado AFL-CIO and second vice-chair for the local Democrats; and, of course, Le Lait, who says, "We are on the do-not-invite list."
Rosemary Harris Lytle of the NAACP did not return calls for comment. — CH
Voucher program loses ruling
The fight over Douglas County's controversial school voucher program took a dramatic turn Aug. 12, the Friday before many children were heading back to school.
The county's Choice Scholarship Program had been established to provide vouchers — essentially the tax money that would be spent on a child in a public school, less administrative costs — which could then be used at any private school on the county's list of "partners." The program was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union on the grounds that it would funnel money from the public coffers into the hands of religious schools.
In a case being watched by districts in this region, Denver District Judge Michael Martinez sided with the ACLU, stopping the program, and leaving in limbo the $300,000 that the district had collected from parents toward tuitions. If the district chooses not to appeal Martinez's injunction, it will stand as law. — CH
Compiled by Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.