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Noted: Manitou names Myers interim police chief 

Former Springs chief returns to law enforcement

Former Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers has been named Manitou Springs' interim police chief to serve through March 31, with a new chief expected to take over April 1. Myers previously told the Indy he was not interested in Manitou's permanent position. He reiterates that in an e-mail, but adds that he's happy to fulfill the temporary position to help Manitou as it searches for a new chief.

Manitou Mayor Marc Snyder says after he learned of Myers' exit from Colorado Springs last fall, he hoped Myers would consider the Manitou position, vacated by retiring Chief MaryJo Smith.

"I thought, 'This doesn't have to be difficult. Here's a wonderful guy,'" Snyder says, adding that he still holds out hope that Myers will "come to love the place" and apply for the permanent job. In the meantime, to lead the search Manitou has hired KRW Associates, which includes former Springs Police Chief and City Manager Lorne Kramer. — JAS

Free-speech plan nixed

Colorado Springs City Council refused to have a conversation behind closed doors on Monday about free-speech zones, halting the idea for the forseeable future.

City Attorney Chris Melcher had planned to explain the concept, and the zones' possible legal ramifications, to Council in executive session. But after Councilors voted to keep the discussion public, Melcher withdrew his request, saying he was not comfortable having the discussion with an audience.

The idea of free-speech zones, and thus limiting downtown protests to designated areas, was first reported in the Indy on Dec. 29, and later picked up by other media. Since then, public outrage has mounted. Aside from Councilor Tim Leigh, who has publicly supported the zones, Council has not embraced the idea. Councilor Bernie Herpin called the zones "a bad thing" and noted that protests downtown don't represent "that big of a problem, anyway."

Given the resistance, Council President Scott Hente says, "With regard to free speech [zones], I would be surprised to see it go any farther."

The separate but similar issue of a panhandling overlay zone, also reported first by the Indy, may resurface. A proposed ordinance would make all panhandling illegal in a limited area of downtown. — JAS

Contractor begins snow job

Landscape Assist/Sod Tech, a private company, will plow about 11 square miles of city roads for the rest of the winter. The contract is a part of a test project to determine if privatizing plowing services can save the city money.

The test area is bordered by Old Ranch Road to the south, North Gate Boulevard to the north, Colorado Highway 83 to the east and Howells Road to the west. The city will pay up to $250,000 for services from Jan. 5 to April 30, depending upon how much plowing is needed. The city also will hire an independent third party to ensure comparable levels of service are being achieved on the privately plowed roads as compared to publicly plowed roads.

Any complaints about plowing should be reported to the city Streets Division at 385-5934. — JAS

Chamber, EDC reveal plans

It's really happening. On Feb. 1, the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. will become one, and developer Doug Quimby has been crowned king of the new organization, called the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC. He already had been chair of the EDC board.

A news release Tuesday listed the new group's officers: chairman, Quimby, principal owner and CEO of La Plata Communities; vice-chair, Mike Jorgensen, Red Noland Cadillac; treasurer, Chris Blees, BiggsKofford, PC; secretary, Dan Malinaric, Atmel Corp. Quimby will serve as interim CEO until a permanent CEO is named. There was no indication about the status of current Chamber president/CEO Dave Csintyan. — PZ

Occupy appeal withdrawn

The Occupy Colorado Springs movement withdrew an appeal to City Council of the decision not to extend OCS' permit to set up structures and protest in Acacia Park after dark. Occupy protesters at City Council's meeting Tuesday said leaders who originally pursued a permit and filed the appeal were no longer part of the movement.

Raven Martinez, an Occupy protester who did show, said her OCS faction never felt a permit was necessary, saying, "We believe the Constitution is the only permit we need." Martinez said she and fellow protesters have shifted their efforts to protests at foreclosed homes, Wal-Marts, power plants and other targets. She says occupying Acacia Park again may be a future goal, but isn't a priority.

Former OCS leader Kristie Wheeler sent an e-mail to followers, saying: "I had a vision of people coming together to fight for our future, this country's future. Making change within our own community. ... I have not and will not let go of these visions. Unfortunately I feel at this time OCS has lost focus of the goal and why Occupy Wall Street began. ... Some OCS members have made it impossible for this to happen. They have made a joke of OCS, and no good can come of being a part of it (for me)." — JAS

Manitou picks finance head

Finance Director Mike Leslie had been with Manitou Springs city government for 20-plus years until he suddenly left about a month ahead of his scheduled Dec. 31 retirement.

While reasons for Leslie's early departure aren't clear, Manitou Mayor Marc Snyder says that Leslie was frustrated with a new budget process implemented by city administrator Jack Benson. Leslie has been out of touch, leaving staff to dig through his office and piece together financial information. Snyder credits deputy finance director Rebecca Davis with pulling together many of those pieces, earning her a promotion to finance director following a search.

Finalists included former Colorado Springs finance director Terri Velasquez, who Snyder says was very impressive. "We have no problem taking the Colorado Springs' dispossessed," he says with a laugh. Snyder says hiring Davis was fueled by a need for continuity.

The mayor adds he was sad to see Leslie pass up the retirement party planned for him. Snyder praises Leslie's long service and willingness to juggle multiple jobs. — JAS

Group pushes green agenda

Colorado Conservation Voters and Colorado Environmental Coalition have joined to urge the Legislature to pass what they are calling "innovative, green, job-creating measures." Two legislative priorities that they have identified would incentivize use of electric vehicles and recycling of electronic waste.

The Promoting Electric Vehicles Act would remove regulatory barriers to the promotion of charging facilities for electric vehicles, helping make them more attractive to customers. The second bill, which Senate President Brandon Shaffer has already said will be a priority for Democrats (see "Will work for ..." p. 10), would ban the dumping of large electronics, such as computer monitors, in landfills, while creating incentives to attract companies capable of recycling these materials.

Elise Jones of Colorado Environmental Coalition stated in a release that the bills could mean "paving the way for electric vehicles and adding up to 2,500 jobs in the electronics recycling industry." — CH

Hick cuts through

Gov. John Hickenlooper pledged during his campaign to cut government bureaucracy. Monday, he announced recommendations based on a statewide conversation with business professionals, community groups and officials in local government, according to a statement.

"Red tape and unnecessary regulations are roadblocks to economic development," Hickenlooper said. "We need a government that is responsive to our concerns and priorities and spends our tax dollars wisely. That means government needs to know when to regulate and when to get out of the way."

The governor's office shared examples of cuts, including repeal of three rules out of 31 that the Department of Transportation found outdated, plus identifying 114 rules in the Division of Real Estate that are "ripe for repeal." — CH

Clark confirms third run

County Commissioner Sallie Clark announced plans to run for a third four-year term in a Monday event at Pikes Peak Center. About 100 people, including high-ranking Republicans and many county staff, showed up.

State Rep. Bob Gardner, District Attorney Dan May, Sheriff Terry Maketa and former Commissioner Jim Bensberg praised Clark's service, leading up to her taking the stand to illustrate her accomplishments and announce her candidacy. Clark noted her service on various boards and committees, her fight to bring state dollars to county and local coffers, and her efforts to establish well-liked ideas like the prescription discount program and the planned new shooting range at Fort Carson. She also highlighted her belief in lower taxes and fewer burdensome regulations, saying, "It's our job to make sense of government when it doesn't make sense."

Clark's run for a third term was made possible by a controversial 2010 ballot measure extending term limits for elected county officials. The term-limits uproar has earned Clark a Republican primary opponent, Karen Magistrelli. It's also one impetus for a fledgling recall effort that would seek to oust Clark in May 2013, assuming she is re-elected. — JAS

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

  • Also: Free-speech plan nixed; Chamber, EDC reveal plans; Occupy appeal withdrawn and more.

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