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Noted: Voter registration available until Monday 

You can still register for mayoral runoff

City Clerk Kathryn Young was very clear throughout the pre-April 5 election cycle that if you hadn't registered to vote by March 7, that was it. You were cut off until November. But that, like so many other details, has turned out to be wrong.

Liz Olson, manager of the El Paso County election office, explains that the May 17 mayoral runoff is not just a part of the April election; it's its own election, with its own registration cut-off. This means you can register to vote or update your inactive voter status until 11:59 p.m., Monday, April 18, online at govotecolorado.com.

You can also go to car.elpasoco.com/election, download a form, fill it out, and mail it to El Paso County Clerk & Recorder, PO Box 2007, Colorado Springs, CO 80901. (It must be postmarked April 18 or earlier.) Or you can update or register in person at clerk offices at Centennial Hall (200 S. Cascade Ave.), off Powers Boulevard (5650 Industrial Place), or at Union Town Center (8830 N. Union Blvd.). All are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the Union office also open from 8 to 1 Saturday.

Inactive and unregistered voters who update their status by April 18 will receive a mail ballot. Inactive voters updating their status after April 18 must do so in person at any county clerk office, then pick up a ballot from the city clerk's office. — JAS

Peak-usage pilot OKed

Some Colorado Springs Utilities customers will be asked to curtail power usage from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. daily as part of a pilot project to test how much power can be saved by shifting loads away from peak times. "Wait til 8" is the catchphrase for the project, approved Tuesday by City Council with hopes of enabling Utilities to postpone or eliminate the need for more powerful transformers or another power plant. The idea: charge more for electricity during peak times, less during off-peak times.

"The customers that are going to benefit from this are those that can shift their use from on-peak to off-peak hours," Utilities spokesman Gabriel Romero says. "So if you have a family, and everything goes on from 5:30 to 7:30, obviously this is not good for you."

The study targets an area bounded by Woodmen Road to the north, Montebello Drive to the south, Austin Bluffs Parkway to the east and Union Boulevard to the west, where Utilities hopes 150 customers will join the 12-month study. Peak-time billing is the wave of the future, Romero says, noting that Boulder has such a program. — PZ

Douglas Bruce indicted

A state grand jury has returned an indictment against Colorado Springs anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce, accusing him of tax evasion. According to the indictment, Bruce funneled money into his nonprofit, Active Citizens Together, to avoid paying income taxes. He is accused of filing a false tax return in 2005, and not filing in 2006 and 2007. He's also accused of attempting to influence a public servant (the head of Colorado's revenue agency) "by means of deceit."

Bruce faces two Class 5 felonies, one Class 4 felony and one misdemeanor. If convicted, Bruce could face up to six years in prison or up to $500,000 in fines. The state will prosecute him in Denver District Court.

Bruce, author of the city and state Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, recently lost his bid for election as an at-large member of the Colorado Springs City Council. — JAS

Transit study complete

After a year in the making, the Future of Regional Transit Study has laid out ambitious, but cautious, goals for growing public transportation. The study suggests that Colorado Springs' city bus service, Mountain Metropolitan Transit, should be managed by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority.

The study suggests asking voters for more PPRTA money to fund transit services. It would bring services back up to 2008 levels, when ridership peaked at 3.8 million one-way trips, before city budget cuts reduced bus hours. (In 2010, buses provided just 2.6 million one-way trips.) If that first phase goes smoothly, voters might be asked for more transit funding. The new mayor and City Council will decide how to move forward on the plan. — JAS

TLC to Academy Boulevard

It took several years of talk, and nearly a year of work, but the Academy Boulevard Corridor Great Streets study is complete.

The study aims to catalyze revitalization of a six-mile stretch of Academy Boulevard from Maizeland Road southward to Drennan Road. Once a shopping magnet, the area is now mostly home to vacant and boarded-up stores. The study suggests a variety of remedies, including beefing up transit, aesthetic improvements (buried power lines and improved streetscapes), and mixed residential and commercial use. Recommendations likely will be implemented slowly, and in stages. — JAS

Beer bill fizzles out

Laura Long, Bristol Brewing Co.'s "beerocrat," says she was in Denver lobbying for the couple weeks before the state House vote on whether to sell full-strength beer in supermarkets and convenience stores. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, was opposed by liquor store owners and microbrewers, who argued that it would hurt their business and consumer choice.

Similar bills previously had died quickly. Liston's made it to the House floor, but only 18 members were willing to vote for it, far short of the 33 needed for passage.

"It was a pretty significant defeat," says Bristol co-owner Mike Bristol. "I think that people are starting to understand the ramifications of it. ... If you stand outside a grocery store, and someone says, 'Hey, would you like to buy your beer here?,' sure, you are going to say yes. But if you sit down and discuss what that means, and what choice of beer they are going to have, and where the money will be going, then people get it." — CH

Claritin by prescription?

As anyone who's had a stuffy nose knows, pseudoephedrine is a great drug. Found in popular cold and allergy medicines like Sudafed and Claritin-D, it's an effective decongestant and a powerful stimulant.

And as anyone who's seen Breaking Bad knows, it comes in handy when making methamphetamine. That quality has some state lawmakers concerned.

SB11-196 would classify the drug, along with ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine, as Schedule III controlled substances, like anabolic steroids and lysergic acid. It was scheduled for review this week in a Senate committee. If the bill passes, you'll have to go your doctor, shell out the co-pay and get a prescription. — CH

Death-row survivor visits

Shabaka WaQlimi was supposed to die Oct. 17, 1983. Convicted of rape and murder, WaQlimi spent 13 years sitting on death row in Florida. Only 15 hours before he was to be electrocuted, the governor signed an unexpected stay of execution. Three years later, found to have been innocent all that time, he was a free man.

This Saturday, WaQlimi will speak at the NAACP quarterly state conference meeting at Academy Best Western Hotel, 8110 N. Academy Blvd. His presentation is scheduled for noon, and is free to the public; the full conference, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., costs $40 to attend. — CH

Memorial gets boost

Not that it means anything, but City Council voted Tuesday 5-2 to recommend placing a measure on the November ballot asking voters to convert Memorial Health System to a nonprofit agency.

The nay votes came from two outgoing Council members, Tom Gallagher and Sean Paige, while Vice Mayor Larry Small was absent. The vote was symbolic, given that six new members will take office next week. A vote by the new Council will be necessary to place the measure on the ballot in November. — PZ

Utilities sells more water

Looking for water sources besides underground supplies, Donala Water and Sanitation District came begging to City Council this week to buy water from Utilities, and the answer was "yes." The deal calls for the city to supply the district, which serves 2,600 taps, until the end of 2013, with the option for another two years afterward.

Donala, located east of the Air Force Academy and north of Colorado Springs, wants to wean itself from groundwater, which is dwindling as more wells are drilled into aquifers. The district has started buying water rights, but needs to bridge a gap by buying city water while preserving its groundwater supply. Donala will pay a premium, as required by city rules, along with system usage fees of $354,807 the first year and $480,970 per year thereafter. The district also will reimburse Utilities for a pump station upgrade. — PZ

Drummond helps greening

Eric Drummond, former mayor of Manitou Springs and an attorney with Sherman and Howard, has been appointed to the advisory board of the Governor's Energy Office Renewable Energy Redevelopment Team. The team hopes to bring more green business to the state by providing free technical assistance to green projects.

Drummond has extensive expertise, co-chairing Sherman and Howard's alternative energy and "CleanTech" practice, which represents start-ups in such green industries as electric cars and hydrogen technology. — JAS

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

  • Also: Peak-usage pilot OKed, Bruce indicted, beer bill fizzles out and more.

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