No demotion for sergeant
El Paso County Sheriff's Sgt. Corey Sevene has survived another Internal Affairs investigation without losing rank, thanks to Sheriff Terry Maketa.
Sometime early this year, Sgt. Sevene and two others were investigated by IA over "a matter that happened among Sheriff's Office employees and another individual from an outside agency who were eating at a restaurant," according to a letter written by sheriff's attorney Charles Greenlee.
In the letter, Greenlee denies public access to the IA file.
"The potential embarrassment to the accuser and to others involved would be substantial," Greenlee adds, saying the individuals' privacy interests outweigh the public's interest in knowing how law officers conduct themselves.
Then-Bureau Chief Larry Kastner, whom Maketa recently promoted to undersheriff, agreed in a Feb. 2 e-mail to Maketa with a chain-of-command finding that Sgt. Sevene be demoted to senior deputy.
No dice, Maketa decided.
"Sheriff Maketa told me," Greenlee writes, "that the e-mail from Chief Kastner to him was a recommendation only, as part of the deliberative process, and that he had the final authority to decide upon the appropriate disciplinary action, which he did according to progressive-discipline principles."
In the end, Maketa gave Sgt. Sevene a four-day unpaid suspension.
Sgt. Sevene has faced at least eight IA investigations since being hired in 1997 — half of which weren't sustained or were determined to have been unfounded. In late August of last year, he was jailed on a domestic violence charge after an altercation with his wife, Lt. Lari Sevene, during an argument.
Sgt. Sevene was represented by former District Attorney John Newsome, Maketa's friend and political ally. Current DA Dan May's office dismissed the charge in January, citing Sgt. Sevene's 13 counseling sessions. A divorce was filed Dec. 31. — PZ
Cyberpunks pity our city
Colorado Springs received further recognition this past week — international recognition, no less — for its innovative slash-and-burn approach to bus service, police and fire protection, street lights and trash collection, community centers, parks, museums and similarly superfluous amenities.
And we owe it all to William Gibson, the Vancouver-based, American-Canadian turncoat whose Neuromancer novel launched the cyberpunk literary movement. On Saturday, the author forwarded a message via Twitter that linked to a Denver Post story chronicling our fair city's malaise. It said:
Don't like Big Govt taxing you? Move to Colorado Springs, seems awesome there: http://bit.ly/ajnGEk
Since Gibson has 21,767 followers, the post quickly went viral, at one point being re-tweeted several times a minute. And since active Twitter users have their own followings — which typically range from the hundreds to the thousands — even more people are learning just how ahead of the curve Colorado Springs continues to be. Gibson followed up with another post describing us as a "snapshot of the USA as newly third world." — BF
Reform catalyzes local GOP
As Democrats passed a historic health care reform bill and President Barack Obama signed off on the legislation, the mood among some Colorado Republicans was notably dark.
State Sen. Dave Schultheis of Colorado Springs advocated in a Twitter post that opponents of the bill should wear black armbands to protest what he called an "unconstitutional health insurance debacle."
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, the former local district attorney, joined the attorneys general of 12 other states to sue the federal government, arguing the bill is unconstitutional. And with some reluctance, Republican senatorial frontrunner Jane Norton joined rival Ken Buck in urging repeal of the measure after November's election. — AL
Governors to share CC stage
How do Colorado's past three governors — Bill Owens (1999-2007), Roy Romer (1987-1999) and Richard Lamm (1975-87) — look back on their years in office? What advice might they offer to current Gov. Bill Ritter in his remaining months, as well as his successor starting next year?
Those and other questions will be on the table on Wednesday, March 31, for a "Governing Colorado: Former Governors Speak" panel. Facilitated by a fourth former governor, Colorado College president Dick Celeste (Ohio, 1983-1991), it will start at 7:30 p.m. in CC's Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave.
Contacted in advance by the Indy via e-mail, Lamm says his biggest surprise as governor was "how many public appearances it entailed. I was 39 when elected and had not run anything larger than a small law firm. I had little idea of what was involved and I wasn't smart enough to know how little I knew."
Admission is free but tickets must be picked up in advance at CC's Worner Center desk, 902 N. Cascade Ave. For more information, call 389-6607. — RR
Flaunt's gone — for now
Described as "a party with a conscience," Flaunt — an experimental audio/video/fashion/art production from FutureSelf, the Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and TheatreWorks — will not be enjoying its customary place under the Colorado Avenue bridge this year.
"We aren't going to do it this year as a group," says interim GOCA director Caitlin Green. "We all really enjoyed partnering together, and I think our three organizations put a lot into it together. [However] none of us as individuals have the time to go into it right now ... we definitely didn't make quite enough [money] out of it for what we were looking for."
As for the fate of the show or another venture, Green is optimistic: "I think we'd be interested in partnering together for future plans — we were a good team and enjoyed the process of working together." — BC
Romanoff, Bennet visit
In spite of a soggy snowstorm that turned some local roads into ice rinks, Democratic U.S. senatorial candidates Michael Bennet and Andrew Romanoff both spoke at an El Paso County Democratic Party fundraiser March 19 at Cheyenne Mountain Resort.
Christy Le Lait, the party's executive director, says more than 100 people showed up for the St. Patrick's Day-themed dinner, which raised more than $20,000. A fierce primary battle for the Democratic nomination should make El Paso County a frequent stopover point for Romanoff and Bennet in the run-up to the Aug. 10 primary election.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper, however, hasn't seen much of El Paso County. The Denver mayor's closest campaign appearance was in Pueblo earlier this month. Hickenlooper did tell a Pueblo Chieftain reporter that he plans, if elected, to oppose the Army's expansion plans at Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado unless local residents warm up to the idea. — AL
Sales tax collection up
There's been plenty of doom and gloom to go around at Colorado Springs City Hall lately. The 2009 city budget expenditures exceeded revenues by $4.5 million — leaving City Council with yet another financial headache on top of its expectation of tens of millions in shortfalls over the next few years.
But there is some good news. The city's February sales and use tax report shows that the city has collected 11.38 percent more taxes through two months this year than in the first two months of last year. The city's net sales and use tax revenue so far is more than $8.3 million, compared to $6.8 million in February 2009. — JAS
Klaver gets CD5 nod
Jerell Klaver of Manitou Springs got the nod from his fellow Libertarians at the party's state convention March 20 to run for the congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican.
About 60 delegates attended the convention at an Aurora hotel, selecting candidates for a variety of federal, state and local offices. (Three seats — U.S. Senate, 1st Congressional District and governor — are actually contested, meaning the nominee will be decided in the August primary election.)
With no Democrat having yet announced plans to run against Lamborn, Klaver says he hopes he will attract Dems and supporters of the tea party movement as he stakes out a position of limited government. — AL
State budget looks better
"State workers taking furloughs"; "Budgets for higher education and public schools must be cut." Thus went some of the alarming headlines from Denver in recent months, but now state budget officials have come up with a surprising prediction: With recent cuts and revenue increases factored in, the state could end up with close to $150 million extra this budget year.
Don't get too excited, however. As the Denver Post reports, Gov. Bill Ritter is reluctant to ease any cuts that have been made, including a $260 million slice out of K-12 education. When federal stimulus money is gone, come the 2011-12 fiscal year, it appears the budget once again could be stretched to the breaking point. — AL
Compiled by Bryce Crawford, Bill Forman, Anthony Lane, Ralph Routon, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.