County to LandCo: Pay up
El Paso County wants its $38,000 in use tax on the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters project, and the county has written demand letters saying so to LandCo Equity Partners, GE Johnson Construction and the city. The county notes that while the city waived certain fees associated with remodeling the building at 27 S. Tejon St., the county did not and intends to collect its 1 percent tax on 40 percent of the $9.5 million building permit value.
"Negotiations are ongoing at this point" with LandCo and GE Johnson, says Assistant County Attorney Amy Mullaney. — PZ
Piñon Canyon battle resumes
All in all, it's been a bad year for the Army's plans to expand Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. Colorado lawmakers ruled out the use of state-controlled land for the expansion, the Pentagon backed off plans to post a new brigade at Fort Carson, and a federal judge threw out an environmental study about the impact of training more soldiers at the site.
But the Army isn't backing off: It filed an appeal Nov. 9 challenging the federal court's decision. That will likely prolong litigation surrounding the expansion and serve as an irritant to area ranchers and farmers who've long opposed the plans. — AL
Police, fire are favorites
The annual budget mark-up is City Council's big chance to amend the city manager's proposed budget — and pick favorites. This week, Councilors made no bones about which departments they were sweet on.
Police and fire, both scheduled for major cuts, were given some reprieve. After Council restored millions to those departments, averting layoffs of sworn officers, both Fire Chief Steve Cox and Police Chief Richard Myers told city leaders they had more money than they knew what to do with. To use all of it, the chiefs explained, they would need to hire additional staff, something they were not prepared to do.
Council scolded and argued with the chiefs before finally consenting to modest trims.
Other departments were less fortunate. Councilor Darryl Glenn made the only inquiry about transit cuts, and nobody made any attempt to spare transit from eliminating night and weekend service. Using about $200,000, Council bought three months of operations for community centers, Starsmore Discovery Center and Rock Ledge Ranch, all of which will seek private-public partnerships to stay open. Parks maintenance and watering will be crippled in 2010, and pools closed.
Budget cuts will result in about 125 layoffs, 10 days of furloughs for non-sworn employees and less streetlight funding. — JAS
Pastor Ted's open house
Weeks after talking with the Indy about his prospects for creating a new ministry ("The Resurrection of Pastor Ted," cover story, Oct. 1), Ted Haggard is opening up his home to the public for weekly prayer gatherings.
"I thought it would be just a little prayer meeting at the Haggard house," says the New Life Church founder, exiled in 2006. But he figures widespread media attention could turn the initial Nov. 12 gathering (7 p.m. at 1865 Old Ranch Road) into more of an outdoor revival. "Our maximum would be in the barn, in the cold, in the dark, with 200 people," says Haggard. "But I don't anticipate that."
Any donations will be divided between Triangle Cross, a Christian ranch serving adults with disabilities (including Haggard's son Jonathan), and New Life.
Has he told his former church about this?
"No," says Haggard, laughing. "It'll probably boost their budget, I'm guessing, by about 15 or 20 dollars." He says he's not worried that unsympathetic people will show up: "This is a home meeting, so people will behave the way Mom taught us to behave in someone else's home." — BF
El Pomar steps up for USOC
When it didn't look like the city would make its fundraising goal in time to satisfy terms of its retention contract with the U.S. Olympic Committee, El Pomar Foundation did what it has done many times before. It swooped in to save the agreement and rescue the city, donating the full $3 million, which was needed by Nov. 18.
"That brings us to $5 million we've invested in the process," El Pomar chairman Bill Hybl notes. Hybl says he plans to work with a public relations specialist, a businessman and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to raise the additional $3 million required by September 2011. — JAS
Election landscape shifts
Though there were no statewide issues or races on Colorado ballots this November, the month is shaping up to be decisive.
• Sen. Josh Penry is dropping out of the Republican governor race, leaving former congressman Scott McInnis the likely candidate to face Gov. Bill Ritter, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
• State Sen. Dave Schultheis won't seek a second term in his northern Colorado Springs district. That's invited GOP leapfrogging, with state Rep. Kent Lambert the frontrunner. (Thomas McDowell, who planned an insurgent primary bid against Schultheis, says he's still in against Lambert.)
In the U.S. Senate race, Andrew Romanoff swung through Colorado Springs for a Nov. 5 fundraiser, attended by about 30 party stalwarts. The former Colorado House Speaker will challenge Sen. Michael Bennet for the Democratic nomination in 2010. Despite Bennet's big fundraising lead, Romanoff says he intends to compete by talking to constituents and reaching out to Colorado donors. — AL
Their lips are sealed
Wanna know which states are ready to roll in a disaster and which ones aren't? And where Colorado fits?
Too bad. Access denied.
The National Guard Bureau has refused to release a report showing gaps in states' capabilities that Northern Command officials say is crucial to planning effective responses in the case of a catastrophe. The bureau withheld the report because "the release of this information would cause an operational security risk to those states represented in the records."
In an April 2008 report, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, dinged NorthCom for not being familiar with state emergency response plans and having no process for obtaining the information, which "increases the risk that it will not be prepared to respond to an incident."
And in September this year, the GAO criticized the Pentagon for failing to include local and state agencies in planning, conducting and assessing exercises: "Without such a process," the GAO writes, "NorthCom increases the risk that its exercises will not provide benefits for all participants, impact the seamless exercise of all levels of government, and potentially affect NorthCom's ability to provide civil support capabilities." — PZ
Meters that matter
Nearly two years after its introduction, the Colorado Springs "Miracle Meter" program launches next week, giving residents the chance to donate spare change to the homeless without feeling they just helped buy some Colt 45.
Bob Holmes, director of Homeward Pikes Peak, says contributions to 104 meters set to be installed at Colorado Springs' businesses will be used to support the Housing First program, which aims to provide housing and support to some of the city's chronically homeless residents.
The meters, decorated by local artists and students, will be on display Nov. 13 and 16 at City Hall before an official launch celebration for the program Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. Meters will be placed inside local businesses, with all the money going to Housing First. Nearly 70 businesses have agreed to participate, Holmes says. He says the project could raise $26,000 in a year if only $1 is deposited in each meter per day.
Holmes took control of the Housing First program in June with the goal of rapidly expanding the number of clients; it's since gone from 20 clients to 27, Holmes says, and the hope is to have close to 40 by next July. The meters will help pay for case management aimed at helping clients cope with substance abuse and mental health issues. — AL
Compiled by Bill Forman, Anthony Lane, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.
Compiled by Bill Forman, Anthony Lane, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck. For more news briefs, visit csindy.com.