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Noted: Council delays drill vote 

Drilling vote postponed

Drilling for oil and gas won't happen as quickly as first thought, with the Colorado Springs City Council on Monday delaying a second vote on its oil and gas ordinance.

The vote, which was to occur Tuesday, was postponed until January to allow the Council to hold a work session. "The topic is largely location of drilling sites," Council liaison Aimee Cox says via e-mail. "The current ordinance would allow drilling in any zone. The question is should drilling be permitted in residential zones by right."

Drilling critics saw the postponement as a small victory. They've been encouraged recently by having collected nearly 2,000 signatures on an anti-fracking petition, and also by Councilor Tim Leigh's announcement that he'll oppose the ordinance when it comes up for a second vote. Leigh had voted for it Nov. 27, part of a 6-3 majority.

The city has been wrestling with oil and gas rules for a year, due to Ultra Resources' purchase of 18,000 acres on the east side. The Houston company plans to drill once rules are put into place.

Citing the potential for thousands of jobs from the business, Councilor Angela Dougan said Monday's decision to postpone "saddens" her. — PZ

Plan tackles immigration

Sunday brought a small step toward immigration reform when U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and former Sen. Hank Brown presented the new Colorado Compact. The Compact, in the works for more than a year, is the result of more than 400 meetings statewide among leaders from agricultural, political, business and religious sectors to try and reform immigration on a federal level.

It outlines six main points for initiating change, from emphasizing the importance of keeping families together, to effective law enforcement, to strengthening the economy. Based on similar initiatives by states like Utah, the Compact has already been signed by nearly 100 organizations and individuals.

Among prominent Colorado Springs signatories are Colorado College president Jill Tiefenthaler; Bishop Michael J. Sheridan; William J. Hybl, CEO of the El Pomar Foundation; and Steve Bartolin, president of the Broadmoor.

Another is Will Stoller-Lee, director of Fuller Theological Seminary and a member of the six-month-old Evangelical Immigration Table, a national group devoted to reform. "There is a rich tradition in the Bible that emphasizes hospitality, both in terms of how we welcome the stranger and immigrant, and also how we engage in discussion with those who start from a different point of view," he says in an EIT release. "Our churches and our community desperately need this refreshing approach."

For more information, or to sign it yourself, visit coloradocompact.com. — CW

Early start for Glenn

With the November election still in the news, Darryl Glenn on Sunday jumped into the next one: The Republican announced he'll seek a second term in 2014 on the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners.

A graduate of Doherty High and the Air Force Academy, Glenn is a lawyer and personal fitness trainer who retired as a lieutenant colonel after 21 years of military service. He served on the Colorado Springs City Council from June 2003 to January 2011.

In a release, Glenn said he favors local policies based on "our core principles of personal responsibility, individual freedom, property rights, market economics and responsible limitations on government intervention."

Glenn represents District 1, the northern portion of the county. The other commissioner seat up for election in 2014 is held by first-termer Peggy Littleton, who represents District 5, covering the city's core. — PZ

Mail ballots likely in April

City Council was to vote Tuesday, after press time, on whether to approve an all-mail voting plan proposed for the April 2 city election by City Clerk Sarah Johnson. At that election, voters will choose six of nine City Councilors and adopt or reject any ballot measures, although none have been proposed so far.

Johnson's memo to Council estimated the election's cost at $450,000. It also outlined a somewhat complicated process for people who are considered inactive to vote. (You're inactive if you haven't voted in several elections.) To avoid all the hoops, you can simply make sure you register to vote by the March 4 deadline.

There will be five places to drop your ballot sponsored by the city and five sponsored by El Paso County, including all four clerk and recorder locations, according to Johnson's memo. — PZ

Bear Creek trails closed

Off-road motorcyclists, it's official: Local favorite Captain Jack's and other trails in the Bear Creek Watershed were closed Monday to motorized vehicles. The U.S. Forest Service created this "temporary prohibition" on judicial order, after the Center for Biological Diversity sued the USFS and National Forest Supervisor Jerri Marr for violation of the Endangered Species Act. The watershed was recently revealed to be the only home for the greenback cutthroat trout, Colorado's state fish.

Driving on the trail now can earn you a misdemeanor, including a fine of up to $5,000 for individuals, $10,000 for organizations, or jail time of up to six months.

For a complete list of restricted areas, visit tinyurl.com/bearcreekclosures. — CW

Holy lawsuits, Mikey

A new chapter in a bizarre court saga puts Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, on the defensive in a new lawsuit.

The suit, filed in New Mexico, claims that Weinstein made defamatory comments about Colorado Springs resident Gordon Klingenschmitt. Klingenschmitt is a former Navy chaplain who runs a one-man operation, The Pray in Jesus Name Project, a nonprofit advocacy effort. (He is also the author of the book, The Demons of Barack Obama, which argues that no fewer than 50 demons control the current president.) According to Klingenschmitt's complaint, the suit originates from comments made by Weinstein back in 2009, in which he allegedly blamed acts of vandalism directed at him on a prayer delivered by Klingenschmitt.

Weinstein indeed has attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to sue Klingenschmitt over a prayer in which he called on God to make Weinstein and his wife's "days be few," and to "replace them with Godly people."

Klingenschmitt now is seeking a monetary settlement to be determined by the court. — CH

United Way chief to retire

J.D. Dallager, Pikes Peak United Way president and CEO, will step down June 30 after six years with the organization.

"I am grateful to have worked with so many people and organizations who care deeply about this community and who willingly share their time and resources to address critical needs and effect positive change," Dallager said in a statement.

Dallager helped transform the agency into "a leading partner, innovator and collaborator" among nonprofits, the news release said. He initiated United Way's school readiness effort, called "Success By 6," which funneled money to programs that aimed to boost kids' preparation for school. But Success By 6 also diverted money away from nonprofits that couldn't show a connection to that goal, sowing discord among some.

Dallager is paid $120,000 annually. A United Way board committee that will conduct a national search for Dallager's successor during the next six months. — PZ

Locals await Supremes' ruling

The battle over California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, and 1990's federal Defense of Marriage Act, which narrowly defines marriage as the straight variety, have hit the Supreme Court. And how the high court rules could have an impact in Colorado.

"If the Supreme Court says that DOMA is not constitutional, I would think that it has direct consequences on our law here," says Charles Irwin, executive director of Colorado Springs Pride, an LGBT organization. That state law, of course, is the 2006 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

But Irwin says it is the broader and bigger picture that is exciting for him.

"When the Supreme Court looks at this," he says, "they are looking to see if it is discriminatory against the LGBT community. We always say it's two steps forward, one step back. Hopefully this is two steps forward and no steps back." — CH

Bensberg eyes city seat

Jim Bensberg, Springs native and El Paso County commissioner from 2003 to 2011, will run for the District 3 City Council seat, representing the southwest portion of the city. The district is currently served by Lisa Czelatdko, who hasn't yet filed her candidacy in the April 2 election.

As commissioner, Bensberg helped set up a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in the Springs and pushed to televise meetings.

"I will bring the same work ethic and commitment to City Council that worked so well for me on the Board of County Commissioners," Bensberg said in a statement. "My constituents have always known me for my accessibility, accountability and my desire to streamline government so that taxpayers are assured the best representation possible."

Voters will elect six members in April to the nine-member Council. — PZ

Compiled by Chet Hardin, Celine Wright and Pam Zubeck.

  • Also: Plan tackles immigration, early start for Glenn, Bensberg eyes city seat and more.

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