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News briefs from the Front Range

Bruce seeks higher calling
El Paso County Commissioner Douglas Bruce has announced his candidacy to replace state Rep. Bill Cadman, representing District 15 in the state House. Cadman is vying to replace Sen. Ron May, who last week announced he is retiring a year early. All are Republicans from El Paso County.

Bruce, author of Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights, is long known for his public displays of abhorrence of government, and his decision is sure to delight Democrats who would be happy to watch the GOP squirm over Bruce's likely legislative antics.

He indicated he believes he has backing from a majority of the vacancy committee that will make the choice, but he will likely face at least one Republican challenger, local businessman Steve Hasbrouck. Former District 11 school board candidate Reginald Perry also is exploring a run.

If Bruce is selected, county commission candidate Amy Lathen would likely be appointed to complete Bruce's term.

Vacancies will start being filled in early November. CD

No news on parade charges
In August, a hung jury ended the trial of seven St. Patrick's Day parade marchers accused of intentionally blocking the parade route. The city decided to retry only two defendants, Elizabeth Fineron and Eric Verlo.

A final pre-trial conference was scheduled for Oct. 17, but the conference stalled when new lawyers for Verlo and Fineron requested more time to review the case. A new pre-trial conference is set for Nov. 29. JAS

Three finalists for city manager
Both in-house candidates are finalists to become Colorado Springs city manager. Interim City Manager Mike Anderson, who just finished the proposed 2008 city budget, is competing against Assistant City Manager Greg Nyhoff and one outside candidate, Penelope Culbreth-Graft, a city administrator in Huntington Beach, Calif.

City Council will consider input from three community panels that will interview the candidates at 8 a.m. Friday at City Hall. The public will be allowed to watch.

Council expects to make its hire in mid-November. JAS

NAACP hands out honors

Pastor Jesse Brown Jr. of Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church received the President's Award for Exemplary Service to highlight the Colorado Springs Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Gala on Oct. 20.

Other Freedom Fund awards, given before a record crowd of nearly 650, went to Linda Dailey LeMieux, state Rep. Mike Merrifield, Memorial Hospital administrator Joy Powell, District 11 deputy superintendent Mary Thurman, Colorado College vice president Michael Edmonds and UCCS vice chancellor Robert Wonnett, Rev. Bruce Kinchens and Rev. Orian Flournoy, Sherley Hancock , O. Fred Bland and Bob Richards.

Youth leadership honors went to David Mast, Air Academy; Danielle Nelson, Palmer; Luke Northam, Classical Academy; and Jamar Harrison, Sand Creek. Outstanding youth award recipients were Alma Robinson, Harrison, and Talisha Bell, Manitou Springs. RR

Transit meetings scheduled
The 2008 proposed city budget doesn't include enough funding to keep all the city's bus routes, and transit officials are holding public meetings to discuss potential cuts and fare hikes. Routes in danger of being axed include E1, E2, E4, 30, 31, 33, 40, 41, 42, 43, and 55. Saturday and Sunday hours could also be reduced.

A public comment period is in place through Nov. 1. The public may comment by e-mail at servicecuts@springsgov.com, by fax at 385-5419, by phone at 385-5422, or by attending one of the following meetings:

Pikes Peak Community College, Centennial Campus, 5675 S. Academy Blvd., Atrium, 10 a.m., Oct. 30.

Colorado Springs City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave., Council Chambers, 4 p.m., Oct. 30.

Falcon Division Police Division Substation, 7850 Goddard St., Conference Room off Main Lobby, 10 a.m., Nov. 1.

East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd., 4 p.m., Nov. 1. JAS

Cloer to depart Lamborn camp
After just 10 months working in U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn's local office, Mark Cloer has resigned, effective Oct. 31.

He is the second high-profile staffer to depart in recent months; director of communications Chris Harvin left in August. Last December, Cloer resigned from the Legislature shortly after re-election to a fourth term, citing an unspecified health issue involving his younger son. The boy, he said, is doing well now.

Cloer and his wife Tanya have purchased a home in Sugar City, east of Pueblo, and he didn't want to commute, he says.

"The opportunity to buy a house in Colorado Springs was beyond our reach," says Cloer, who earns $50,000 a year working for Lamborn.

Through their new company, Peerless Communique, the Cloers plan to focus mostly on working with candidates and on health-related issues at the state level in Colorado and elsewhere, Cloer says. CD

Colorado delegation: Put cyber security force in Springs
Colorado Springs already has U.S. Northern Command and its homeland security mission at Peterson Air Force Base. So why not place the newly established Air Force Cyber Command here, too?

Besides, Colorado Springs is a nice, affordable place, isn't prone to hurricanes, has colleges already teaching military personnel and there is apparently room at Schriever Air Force Base.

That's the p lea from all seven of Colorado's congressional representatives and two senators in hopes of attracting the new command meant to thwart infiltration and attacks of financial, government and military computer networks.

In a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne encouraging a visit to the Springs, the delegation states that placing the command at Schriever would strengthen Cyber Command's partnership with NorthCom, aiding homeland security. MdY

Internal audit clearing Grace priest challenged
Soon after Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish released results Tuesday of an "independent" audit seeming to clear the Rev. Donald Armstrong of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, members of the congregation he formerly oversaw started asking questions.

"The secessionist congregation's long-awaited explanation disappoints," declared lay leaders who worship in a separate building because they are loyal to Colorado's Episcopal Diocese in Denver.

Robert D. Johnson, a Colorado Springs certified public accountant hired by the secessionist group, conducted the Grace internal audit. His findings were the opposite of a diocesan court, which unanimously found Armstrong guilty on six counts, including the theft of nearly $400,000. Johnson found that governing wardens approved scholarships to Armstrong's children.

Johnson concluded a $2.5 million encumbrance on the church property "was authorized" and that a loan from a vestry member's bank "is the consolidation of prior loans" that were "previously approved."

Armstrong, who remains a "person of interest" in a continuing financial crimes investigation by Colorado Springs police, led a split of the Grace congregation, joining the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

In a counter press release, Grace Episcopalians challenged the audit. They noted the CANA congregation, in El Paso County District Court filings, admitted that in 2005 the church "sought no approval and received no permission when it encumbered church property."

"Which way is it?" Grace Episcopalians asked in their release. MdY

Compiled by Cara DeGette, Ralph Routon, J. Adrian Stanley and Michael de Yoanna.

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