Street bids received
Colorado Springs' voter-approved, five-year, $250 million street repair program has drawn interest from about a dozen firms, according to a pre-bid signup sheet. Bids were due March 9, but the city declined to say how many bids were received.
"The RFP proposals are still in the final evaluation stage, so we won't be able to release this until after final negotiations are complete" around April 1, city spokesperson Julie Smith says via email.
Although some City Council members advocated for a five-year warranty period and bidders were asked to bid based on both a five-year and two-year warranty, the Mayor's Office chose to require only a two-year warranty, said to be the industry standard.
Accordingly, the bid specifications stated, "The evaluation [of bids] will only be on the two-year warranty costs. The five-year warranty has been removed as a part of this addendum." — PZ
Bruce going to prison
Douglas Bruce, author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, was sentenced to two years in prison last Friday after Denver District Judge Sheila A. Rappaport found Bruce in violation of probation for a 2012 conviction on tax evasion, according to The Denver Post.
Bruce, 66, was taken into custody at the hearing in Denver and will be credited with 104 days he served in 2012. He showed no remorse at the hearing and proclaimed his innocence. Rappaport also sentenced Bruce to three years of mandatory parole.
A Department of Corrections spokeswoman says Bruce will go through "a classification process" at the DOC's entry center in Denver before being assigned to a prison. The state operates 20 prisons and also incarcerates offenders in four private prisons. The closest options to Colorado Springs are in Cañon City and Denver.
Among the violated conditions of Bruce's initial probation was a requirement to report all financial dealings. He failed to inform the probation office when he transferred his late mother's condominium to Colorado Springs City Councilor Helen Collins, who in turn sold it to a third-party buyer within a few days in December 2014.
The transaction triggered an ethics complaint against Collins, which was slated for City Council action March 15, following a protracted process that Collins repeatedly has called illegal and unfair. — PZ
Land swap draws crowd
More than 140 people packed a meeting room at Broadmoor Community Church on Monday night to hear pros and cons of the city's proposed land trade with The Broadmoor. Most oppose the deal, judging from crowd reaction, largely because the city wants to give away 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space, which the resort wants for a picnic area and horse stable, though the resort would give the public access to most of the parcel.
Long-time open space advocate Kent Obee outlined his own figures, based on County Assessor's Office information. "If you take the assessor values, it's a lousy deal for the city," he said, noting the 190 acres The Broadmoor would get is worth $2.4 million, compared to $1.2 million for 370 acres the city would receive. That property includes Manitou Incline and Barr Trail property, as well as 207 acres in the Mount Muscoco vicinity.
The city will unveil its appraised values at a March 30 public meeting to be held at Gold Camp Elementary, Parks Director Karen Palus said.
A common theme from opponents was, "What's the rush?" and open space advocate and former Vice Mayor Richard Skorman drew cheers and applause when he proposed a ballot measure for the Strawberry Fields transfer.
Skorman is hosting daily walking tours of Strawberry Fields at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. through March 22. — PZ
Dems pick candidates
Local Democrats, hoping to win more seats in the state Legislature and finally get a liberal voice on the Board of County Commissioners, chose candidates at their county assembly Saturday.
Only one candidate is an incumbent; Rep. Pete Lee will run for a fourth term in House District 18.
Most legislative candidates will be facing Republican incumbents. In House District 17, Tony Exum will challenge Rep. Kit Roupe for the seat he lost to her in 2014. Mark Anthony Barrionuevo will go up against Rep. Dan Nordberg in House District 14. Shari Zabel will challenge Rep. Janak Joshi (and his notable Republican challenger Larry Liston) in House District 16. Tom Reynolds will fight to wrest House District 19 from Rep. Paul Lundeen. Julia Endicott will seek to win House District 20, currently held by Rep. Terri Carver.
Voters in the June primary election will need to decide whether they want Kevin Schmidt or Richard Flores to challenge Sen. Owen Hill in Senate District 10.
Meanwhile, Sarah Drapkin is seeking one of two state seats without an incumbent. Senate District 12 is currently held by term-limited Republican Senate President Bill Cadman, with Klingenschmitt seeking that seat as well as former GOP Rep. Bob Gardner. Sharon Huff, meanwhile, will seek the House District 15 seat that Klingenschmitt is vacating. Republicans Dave Williams and Joshua Hosler are also seeking the seat.
On the county level, the Dems will run Michael Seraphin for commissioner in District 2, Electra Johnson in District 3 and Liz Rosenbaum in District 4. Due to term limits, no incumbent is running for any of the available seats. — JAS
Incline will close again
The Manitou Incline is a huge draw for fitness-enthusiasts who love ascending more than 2,500 "steps" up the old railway. Unfortunately, the steep trail again will be closed to hikers for several months, likely at the end of summer and through fall.
The lower portion of the Incline will undergo drainage and stabilization work, from Tie 1 to Tie 1525. The work is largely being funded through a $722,000 federal hazard mitigation grant awarded late last year by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a partial match of $255,000 from the Colorado Springs Trails, Open Space and Parks fund. The closure should come as no surprise to frequent users, since the repairs have long been in the works and are part of a phase-in plan to restore and maintain the trail. The plan for repairs was set in motion after the trail was legally opened — following decades of heavy use by trespassers.
It took an act of Congress, plus years of negotiations, for the three property owners (Colorado Springs Utilities, the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway and the U.S. Forest Service) and the cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs to arrange for the Incline to be officially open to the public in early 2013. But the trail closed again for several months in late 2014 for major repairs to the middle portion of the trail. The planned closures this year are the second phase of those repairs. A third phase is planned for the upper portion of the trail, and is expected to cost between $1.5 and $2 million.— JAS
No methadone in Monument
The town of Monument's leaders and Colonial Management Group, which operates methadone clinics across the nation, have reached a settlement that bars the company from putting a methadone clinic in the town, the Gazette reports.
Monument taxpayers will foot the bill to bar the clinic. Though no dollar amount has been released, CMG had reportedly claimed more than $800,000 in lost profits for not being able to open the clinic.
A group of concerned citizens that called themselves No Methadone in Monument vehemently opposed the clinic, saying it would bring drug users to the town and endanger children. The proposed clinic was located near a park. The town's Board of Trustees passed a moratorium to prevent the clinic from being built, which instigated CMG's now-settled lawsuit.
Methadone is used to help ease the withdrawal symptoms of heroin and other narcotics, and prevent relapse. — JAS
WWP chiefs canned
Following reports of lavish spending on staff, Wounded Warrior Project fired CEO Steve Nardizzi and Chief Operating Officer Al Giordano, NPR reported last week. ("Wounded Warrior Project comes under scrutiny for spending on staff," Feb. 3.)
An independent review of WWP's finances showed it used 40 percent for overhead, NPR reported. One such event was a team-building exercise conducted at The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs, which cost $970,000, NPR reported, quoting the WWP board as saying "such events will be curtailed in the future."
CBS News broke the story, quickly followed by a New York Times report. WWP operates an office in downtown Colorado Springs. — PZ
Silver Key adds meal site
Silver Key's Golden Circle Nutrition program opened a site at 1655 S. Murray Blvd., Silver Key says in a release. The dining hall seats 75 people, and reservation are required. Call 884-2304 by 2 p.m. the day before dining. Donations of $2.25 per meal are suggested for those older than 60; those younger than 60 pay $6.50. Learn more at silverkey.org/nutrition. — PZ