Randolph re-elected as W-Park mayor
In Woodland Park's mail-ballot election that drew what City Clerk Cindy Morse believes was a record turnout of more than 2,000 voters, residents overwhelmingly defeated a proposal that would have imposed a 1-percent sales tax to build a rec center and pool. Voters also re-elected Steve Randolph as mayor over another write-in candidate, Jon DeVaux.
The rec center proposal, which lost 1,695 to 423, had divided the mountain community for months. Recently, however, it lost steam after its champion, local businessman Neil Levy, withdrew his support.
Randolph sought a second term as a write-in candidate after initially saying he wasn't interested in presiding over a town for which an additional sales tax could cause a financial crisis. Randolph defeated DeVaux 712 to 462.
Voters also returned incumbent City Council members Eric Smith and Terry Harrison to office and elected a newcomer, David Turley. — PZ
Memorial hiring consultants
The citizen panel charged with recommending whether to keep or sell city-owned Memorial Health System is starting to hire consultants without competitive bidding. First to be hired was Lisa Bachman PR Group of Colorado Springs to help the panel solicit public feedback, in part via a series of town hall meetings.
Bachman was chosen over another local firm in an informal selection process that involved three commission members and Memorial staff, commission member Dave Munger says. He favored Bachman, he says, because he's seen the firm in action and wasn't familiar with the competitor.
Bachman PR Group, comprised of Bachman and Barry Grossman, was formed in 2009. Bachman previously worked for Vladimir Jones and Praco; Grossman for Praco and CH2M Hill.
Munger defends the no-bid selection, saying the commission faces a time crunch in launching public meetings within 60 to 90 days. Memorial spokeswoman Cari Davis says Memorial can hire consultants for contracts valued at up to $100,000 without publicly advertising a contract or seeking competitive proposals.
More consultants are sure to be hired.
"You decide who you want," Chairman Steve Hyde told commissioners at a meeting Tuesday, noting that Memorial will fund the expense. It's unclear what, if any, spending limits have been imposed on the City Council-appointed panel, which includes Indy business development vice president Jay Patel. — PZ
Rumor has it that City Councilors Sean Paige and Tom Gallagher may try to switch seats in the 2011 City Council election.
The switch would give the popular, but term-limited, Gallagher a chance to return to Council representing the southwestern District 3. He has served in an at-large position the past seven years. Paige could run for an at-large spot, which may be easier for the appointed Councilor, well-known for his conservative, even libertarian, views. He was chosen last fall to replace Jerry Heimlicher in District 3.
Paige dismisses the rumor, saying, "In politics there's always a lot of talk. I wouldn't take it too seriously ... at this point I haven't even decided if I'm going to run."
Gallagher says there may be some truth to the rumors, but he's not sure he'll stay in politics if he can't find a real-world job soon.
"I've got to figure out how to pay my bills; I mean, this Council, this job is a huge impediment to getting gainful employment," says Gallagher. "I'm looking, [and] if anybody knows anything I'm willing to pursue it. ...
"It's, like, real hard to raise a family on $6,000 a year."
Gallagher does say he's committed to serving the final year of his term on City Council — which suggests he won't seek another office, though he would not say that outright. It's previously been rumored that Gallagher would run for county commissioner or the state Legislature. — JAS
USOC helps youth programs
The U.S. Olympic Committee and its national governing bodies have announced they will give $250,000 over two years to city youth and recreation programs.
"In times like this, it's important for us to make sure we are investing in our future and not just spending," USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said Monday.
Mayor Lionel Rivera was quick to emphasize that the gift had much to do with the reinforced link between the Olympic movement and the city, calling it a "renewal of the partnership we've had."
The new money will not reduce the city's 2010 funding of community centers and programs, though it could offset some 2011 needs. Programs to be helped include basketball, boxing, learn-to-swim, Paralympic sports, summer camps, in-line hockey and judo.
The community centers still need to raise at least $1 million by 2011 if they're to stay alive. — JAS
More cash for indigent care
Last week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved a new fee charged to hospitals, which will be redistributed to hospitals based on how much indigent care they provide. And city-owned Memorial Health System, the region's largest indigent care provider, stands to gain more than $5.3 million as a result.
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy/Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute says the fee will bring a "massive expansion of health insurance for people with low incomes." The fee will allow the state, which already has adopted enabling legislation, to extend Medicaid eligibility, starting May 1, to more than 100,000 additional lawful residents and citizens.
By contrast, Centura Penrose-St. Francis in Colorado Springs could pay $3.7 million more in fees than it will receive, but it still supports the program because it will expand health coverage.
The provider fee will yield about $600 million statewide, which will be leveraged against federal dollars to secure $1.2 billion to expand health care access. — PZ
Reverend releases book
Anyone around these parts with a hankering for peace and tolerance knows the Rev. Jim White: longtime pastor of First Congregational Church, former acting director of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, Divine Award winner, community builder, and respecter (if that's a word) of differences.
Now we get to know Jim White the fly-fisherman and storyteller. His new book, Round Boys Great Adventures (Whitefish Press), gathers tales of traveling and fly fishing and sleeping in mosquito-filled campers with friends who snore and, every once in a while, how they pick up their fly rods and shuffle into the great rivers and lakes of Colorado, Montana and other places.
Why such a passion for fly fishing for this man of the cloth? "I'm a slow reader," he says. "Jesus told us, 'I will make you fishers,' and I stopped right there."
Not that a life of fly fishing doesn't come with some anxiety.
"My great fear," he says, "is that when I die my wife will sell my fly rods for what I told her I paid for them."
White signs his new book this Saturday at 10 a.m. at Angler's Covey, 295 S. 21st St., and at 3 p.m. at Poor Richard's Book Store, 320 N. Tejon St. — RT
No county camping, either
El Paso County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday outlawing camping on county lands. The county law, effective June 1, brings county laws in line with Colorado Springs' recently passed no-camping ordinance, as well as Manitou Springs' no-camping law.
The county had been under pressure to pass a no-camping law to prevent the homeless from simply camping on pockets of county land close to city limits.
"I think it was important to get them to do that, because there was this kind of no-man's land over on the west side that was presenting a loophole," Councilor Sean Paige says.
The Sheriff's Office plans to issue warnings to campers until the law takes effect. After June 1, any remaining campers could be arrested and/or fined. — JAS
Religion in public schools?
Expounding on one of the themes in its recent and ironic ad campaign — Church Equals State — Citizens Project is hosting a one-day seminar Saturday, April 17, on religious freedom in public schools.
Teachers can earn eight hours of in-service training for attending the full-day event, starting at 9 a.m. at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, focusing on topics such as how to teach religion without endorsing it. (Graduate credit might also be available. Check citizensproject.org/events or call 520-9899 for details.)
The cost is $25 for teachers, and for $5 the general public can attend the morning or 1 p.m. sessions. Deb Courtney, whose experience examining the sex education curriculum presented to her son at Coronado High School became the basis for this week's cover story ("Sex, lies and duct tape," p. 19), is among the panelists expected to speak on religion in public schools. — AL
Compiled by J. Adrian Stanley, Rich Tosches and Pam Zubeck.