Drake gets $500,000 review
Delaying the use of new emissions-control technology for a while, Colorado Springs City Council, sitting as the Colorado Springs Utilities Board, last week authorized a $500,000 study about retiring the Martin Drake Power Plant. Utilities will conduct an economic development study of how shutting Drake might enhance business and residential development, job creation and retention.
Neumann Systems Group, headed by physicist David Neumann, wants to install sulfur dioxide-control technology on Drake, thought to be the final step toward securing contracts with other plants. The city would get a handsome cut of those deals, perhaps creating many local jobs.
A decision could come in 30 to 60 days to apply the technology at Ray D. Nixon Power Plant instead, though it would cost tens of millions more. Removing the 87-year-old Drake would reduce air pollution but cost a small fortune. "It's not going to be cheap, no matter what we do," Councilor Bernie Herpin says. — PZ
New county attorney named
Amy Folsom Mullaney, an assistant county attorney for about four years, is apparently ready to take her chances as county attorney. Two of her three predecessors were fired and the third, Bill Louis, leaves now having resigned after getting crosswise with commissioners.
The contract, on commisioners' Thursday agenda, calls for her to be paid $129,389 a year, just under Louis' $132,116, plus a car allowance. If fired without cause, she would receive six months' pay and six months in health benefits. The contract has a unique clause: "The Employee will not disparage, criticize, or demean County, its reputation, employees, Board, Commissioners, services, manner of conducting business, or any other aspect of County, by any communication or conduct whatsoever."
She becomes the second female county attorney. Beth Whittier served from about 1985 to 1995 but was canned amid a pension fund investigation; she had suggested the county appeal a ruling that shielded pension fund records from disclosure. Mike Lucas was fired in 2004 after opining that commissioners must document mileage rather than collect flat monthly checks, and after hiring his sister.
Louis gave notice after advising commissioners that their pending deal to acquire a building on Arrowswest Drive might cause a "black eye." Commissioners let the Arrowswest deal die, and Louis resigned, though he has insisted that the two events are not related.
Folsom Mullaney worked for District Attorney John Newsome before he lost his re-election bid to Dan May in 2008. — PZ
Peña talks Obama strategy
The enthusiasm is growing, says Federico Peña, but it's not where it needs to be.
The former Denver mayor, one of three dozen co-chairs of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, visited Colorado Springs last week and said, "Now that the Republican primary is over with, the voters are paying more attention." But thus far, Peña says, Democrats haven't done a great job emphasizing the successes of Obama's first term.
"That's our fault," he says. "The Democratic Party is the worst of the two parties at communicating our message and accomplishments." He lists the highlights: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, health care reform, American Jobs Act, the first stimulus bill, expansion of the Pell grants program and so on.
Despite what he considers an impressive four years, he says, even Colorado, where Obama won handily last time around, is very much in play.
"It's going to be close in this state," Peña says. "I think that we're going to win, but it's going to be close." — CH
Carson deals with missteps
Fort Carson has had some issues with environmental compliance, and recently came under investigation for a 10,000-gallon sewage spill into Fountain Creek. Post officials blame it on a heavy rainstorm earlier this month, and say the spill went into a ditch a mile from Fountain Creek. Soil there, they say, has been removed from the ditch and landfilled.
Notices of 16 violations of the Colorado Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act in 2010, 2011 and 2012 are pending. In 2007, Carson was fined $2,475 for violations of the Colorado Hazardous Waste Act in 2005 and 2006.
Carson officials say the hazardous waste violations stem from a "long-standing difference of opinion" between the Army and the state, and didn't cause adverse effects. As for the air quality problems, Carson blamed its "rapid and sustained construction" for the "administrative oversight" violations, and vowed to improve its paperwork obligations for environmental accountability. — PZ
Memorial, USOC hook up
The U.S. Olympic Committee has chosen city-owned Memorial Health System as the local care provider for Team USA athletes living at the Colorado Springs training center. Memorial will provide up to $400,000 per year of in-kind general and specialized medical care for elite athletes, plus support for USOC-hosted events.
Memorial interim CEO Mike Scialdone notes, "This is not gonna be a significant financial burden on the organization."
Up to 500 athletes reside at the Springs training center, but only the top level will have access to the services, according to criteria agreeing parties will define. — AN
Compiled by Chet Hardin, Achille Ngoma and Pam Zubeck.