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Noted: New charges for LandCo chairman 

Marshall faces new charges

Ray Marshall, former board chairman of LandCo Equity Partners and the developer in the original economic retention deal between the city and the U.S. Olympic Committee, has been arrested and will be charged Monday with two counts of theft and one of racketeering.

According to an arrest warrant, Marshall is accused of having stolen more than $1 million from the $53 million USOC project, including $400,000-plus in El Pomar Foundation grant funds. Marshall allegedly set up duplicate accounts to disguise stolen funds, and would delay his responses when asked for documentation of how money was being spent.

The developments add another chapter to the long, embarrassing saga of the USOC project. After being approved to great fanfare in 2008, the deal went sour and a legal battle erupted. The deal was renegotiated in 2009, with the city committing to $31 million in spending and LandCo stepping out of the project. LandCo concurrently settled a legal fight with the city.

Then, in late 2009, Marshall and LandCo Equity Partners CEO Jim Brodie were handed a 33-count indictment on charges of theft, securities fraud and racketeering relating to other projects.

Whether Marshall had stolen from the USOC project was long a point of discussion among city insiders. Terri Velasquez, the city's longtime top financial officer, has said her termination last summer was in part due to her refusal to assure El Pomar that its funds were spent as directed. The Indy reviewed e-mails related to the deal and found that city officials apparently did indeed believe that LandCo had stolen money.

However, city budget director Lisa Bigelow produced documentation that LandCo paid the city $746,708 in August 2009, a sum that she said covered misused funds. — JAS

Area boosts Santorum

As the Republicans of Precinct 113 went back and forth on the pros and cons of their four possible presidential contenders, one thing became clear: Former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum was their best pick.

The 30-plus west-side Republicans met in a Palmer High School trigonometry classroom for their Tuesday caucus and vetted: Mitt Romney, with his health care reform history, is too compromised; Ron Paul, despite being a Constitution-loving conservative, will roll over for Iran; and Newt Gingrich is just too Newt Gingrich-y. Their only hope would be Santorum.

"I saw him speak," a woman offers, "and I was impressed. He's an impressive man."

Tuesday night, he impressed those paying attention to the Republican primaries, securing a three-state sweep of Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. In Colorado, Santorum won 26,614 votes, to Romney's 23,012. In El Paso County, Santorum tallied 5,168 to Romney's 3,378, with Gingrich and Paul further back. The turnout was weaker than hoped, at 10,955.

While the victories don't count toward delegates who will help decide the Republican presidential nominee, it does signal a second wind for Santorum. — CH

Johnson departs city post

Nancy Johnson, the mayor's deputy chief of staff and director of parks, abruptly resigned Friday, Feb. 3, after being publicly praised by Mayor Steve Bach only weeks before.

A press release noting her departure gave no reason for her exit, but city Chief of Staff Laura Neumann said by e-mail that "it was between Nancy and me." Johnson's official last day is March 2, though Neumann says she will not be in the office for the remainder of her time with the city; she is on administrative leave. Johnson, whose annual salary is $147,657.06, was given three months of severance pay and benefits.

"As with any transition in executive leadership, there are really good people ... talented, high performers that may not agree with the new direction or have the right chemistry with the new regime," Neumann wrote. "Nancy Johnson chose to resign to pursue other opportunities. I asked her to stay; as I believe her expertise and contributions have been invaluable to our City for 3½ years. She chose not to remain part of our team."

Johnson, who could not be reached for comment, has spent three decades in municipal government and was assistant city manager in Norfolk, Va., before coming here. She had recently been promoted to deputy chief of staff and seemed excited at a press conference about her new position.

Meanwhile, Bach stressed that having Johnson in that position would help Neumann adjust to her new job — her first in the public sector. (Neumann sounded excited about this herself in an Indy interview, "Laura Neumann checks in," News, Dec. 15.) — JAS

Drone training area sought

Local movers and shakers are working to convince the Pentagon to locate a drone test range in Colorado. Behind the push are the Front Range Airport Authority, the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, and the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

The 2012 defense spending bill contains funding for six pilot test sites for unmanned aircraft to be established by the Federal Aviation Administration. "Language in the bill orders that potential sites take into consideration geographic and climatic diversity and ground infrastructure and research needs," Doug Quimby of the Chamber and EDC says in a release. "We believe Colorado is a leading contender."

The drone training search coincides with the approval of a Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Carson, which should start arriving in 2013 and will bring a fleet of drones as well as 113 helicopters and 2,700 troops. The unit's environmental assessment is currently under review by federal authorities.

Local activist Bill Sulzman warns: "Colorado's airspace is about to get much more crowded. The release refers to the 'Aerospace Industry.' In Colorado we know that industry is dominated by the military. This initiative will certainly lead to more military domination of our skies and our economy." — PZ

Locals get 'Live it up!' nod

Sara DeRose says she can't discuss the designs that she and her husband, Troy, parlayed into a contract to reinvent the "Live it up!" logo for Colorado Springs.

"Our style is pretty clean and pretty modern," she says, "so obviously anything we design is true to our style, but that's the most we can say about it."

The DeRoses' Fixer Creative Co. was among four finalists presenting logos to the Branding Curator Team organized by Experience Colorado Springs, the local convention and visitors bureau.

According to a CVB release, "In the end, Fixer Creative's presentation, thought process and direction captured the essence of the brand strategy and had all the elements necessary for a successful logo."

Now, the DeRoses will work together with the Curator Team to find the final product. "They are developing with us," Sara says. "They have their vision, and areas of exploration."

They expect their work will be ready for public review in March. — CH

Mayor: You're invited

The mayor is ready to par-tay! On Feb. 17, the "Spirit of the Springs Winter Rally" will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Summit Ballroom of the Antlers Hilton, 4 S. Cascade Ave. It's free.

Now, you may know this isn't the mayor's first declaration of party time. The last time he did this, on Sept. 16, a few hearty locals ended up soaked and cold on the lawn of the Pioneers Museum, next to a bouncy castle and a bunch of goose-pimpled cheerleaders. Mother Nature, apparently, wasn't feeling it.

But the mayor won't be dissuaded. This new celebration (notably, indoors) will feature performances by the Colorado Springs Conservatory, Children's Chorale and Sweet Adelines, an awards ceremony, and science demonstrations from Cool Science, among other activities.

Free parking is available beneath the Antlers with validation. — JAS

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

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