Springs gets less trashy
Colorado Springs will launch its new public recycling program on Earth Day, April 22. A city contractor arranged a deal in which Greener Corners, a recycling and environmental organization, will place 150 trash and recycling bins in the city's downtown and in large city parks. Greener Corners will sell advertising on the bins to offset costs, and plans to have 400 city bins by its third year. The group expects to pay the city up to $100,000 in 2011 and up to $500,000 by 2015 for the privilege of running the program.
A recent study of 300 pounds of area trash by Recycling Coalition of Colorado Springs volunteers found 158 pounds, or 54 percent, could have been diverted from landfills, including 108 pounds (37 percent) that could have been recycled.
The contractor, California-based Active Network, was paid $50,000 by the city two years ago to help create corporate sponsorships and partnerships. — JAS
Poisoning Colorado's wells?
In their efforts to release 110 years' worth of natural gas trapped in American shale and other underground formations, energy companies have pioneered thousands of products used in the hydrofracking process. These products contain known and possible carcinogens: lead, walnut hulls, a little bit of everything.
Turns out that in Colorado alone, between 2005 and 2009, 1.5 million gallons of carcinogens, and 375,000 gallons of chemicals regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, were pumped into the bedrock.
Energy companies previously refused to release the ingredients of their hydrofracking products. But thanks to a report prepared for U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, and others in Congress, it is known that 14 companies have pumped 780 million total gallons of these products into American soil.
The report was a result of an investigation initiated by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last year under Democratic leadership. It found companies using chemicals that "could pose a severe risk to human health or the environment." — CH
Bruce not off city's hook
Colorado Springs anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce has his hands full these days, prepping to fight the four-count indictment that a grand jury brought against him with tax-related allegations. But Bruce may have problems closer to home as well.
A complaint initially filed with the city by Colorado Ethics Watch alleged Bruce and his "Reform Team" (four other at-large City Council candidates) were filing campaign finance forms in an illegal manner. They reported all campaign expenses and contributions through a political committee led by Bruce; Ethics Watch says the candidates should have filed their reports separately, through candidate committees.
The city forwarded the complaint to the secretary of state, who sent it to an administrative law judge. But on March 18, the judge dismissed the case, saying the city, not the state, had jurisdiction. City Clerk Kathryn Young gave Bruce and the others a few days to correct their forms. Bruce's allies did submit separate expense forms — but none actually included contributions or expenditures.
"The issue of Bruce being the candidate who runs the [political committee] is still there," says Luis Toro, director of Ethics Watch. "The fact that the election is over and they lost has no meaning; the law is the law, and you don't get a get-out-of-jail-free card because you lost."
City Code states that improper campaign finance disclosure violates city ordinance. "At this point, we are pending additional investigation into it," says city spokesperson Sue Skiffington-Blumberg. — JAS
D.C. trip costs county
On March 5, four of the five El Paso County commissioners hopped a plane for Washington, D.C., to attend the National Association of Counties legislative conference. The four-day tab to taxpayers, we learned this week, was $8,734. It would have been $2,740 more, except that most of Commissioner Dennis Hisey's expenses were picked up by Colorado Counties Inc., for which he serves as an officer.
Also on the trip were Chairwoman Amy Lathen and commissioners Sallie Clark and Peggy Littleton, with Darryl Glenn staying home. About 80 percent of Clark's expense was funded with Department of Human Services money, the county notes in its expense chart, but, of course, tax money is tax money. The biggest part of the tab was six nights lodging, which came to $1,456 each, or $242 per night.
Afterward, commissioners hailed the meetings as educational in areas such as human services and law enforcement. — PZ
K2 faces state ban
At press time, the state Senate was debating banning several chemicals used to make a drug known as "K2" or "Spice."
Said to mimic the effects of marijuana, K2 was sold over-the-counter in head shops and gas stations until the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency placed a national ban on it March 1. The DEA ban lasts a year, giving time to study the drug's effects.
In an Independent story last year ("Incense nonsense," July 22), experts said K2 can be dangerous and possibly deadly. The story was picked up by other local media after the Air Force Academy announced in January it was investigating 25 cadets for using the drug. — JAS
Happy kids in Manitou
In case it's been a while since you've been jealous of a 10-year-old: The fifth-graders in Manitou Springs School District 14, as well as students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, will be doing their homework starting this fall on iPads provided by the district. The kids will be able to work on projects together on their awesome iPads, and even take them home at night to complete their studies. District 14 aims to put an iPad into the hands of every student between fifth and 12th grades by the 2012-13 school year. — CH
Compiled by Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.
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