Recall pending, Indy editor stepping down, Fort Carson traffic, and more 


Traffic backup at Carson

Fort Carson created a lot of traffic turmoil when it switched report times for soldiers, beginning Jan. 5, from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Army personnel who commute to the post — nearly 20,000 soldiers — found themselves locked in traffic jams, they told local media, as they flooded to Carson at the same time that thousands of civilians also report for work. Some said the change doubled their commute times.

In a news release, the post explained the change by saying it would "enable delayed reporting in cases of inclement weather without sacrificing the ability for Soldiers and units to conduct physical readiness training." Readiness training was switched from morning to afternoon when the weather generally is warmer. The change also is expected to reduce cold-weather-related injuries and exercise-induced asthma symptoms, the post said.

The release predicted "slight delays" at the post's gates due to the change.

By the end of last week, Carson reacted to media reports by changing soldier report time to 7:30 a.m. The adjustment was done "to help minimize traffic" near the post and in Colorado Springs and Fountain, a news release said.

The post promised to assess the new schedule and work with "our partners from the surrounding communities" to reduce impacts to traffic. — PZ

Recall effort pending

Deborah Hendrix, leader of an effort to recall City Councilor Helen Collins, turned in about 3,000 signatures last Thursday, hoping that at least 1,485 of them belong to registered voters in District 4, the southeast part of the city.

Hendrix, who sought the seat along with Collins in 2013, and others contend the councilor isn't in touch with her constituents, among other complaints.

The recall effort was aided by Colorado Springs Government Watch, headed by DeDe Laugesen, wife of the Gazette's editorial page editor, Wayne Laugesen; the group paid petition circulators.

Observers speculate that Collins was targeted because she opposes using city money for City for Champions, a project that includes a downtown stadium. Joel Miller, who resigned his Council seat in late November to run for mayor, also had been targeted by the Government Watch group. Miller opposes using public money for the project without a vote of the people.

City Clerk Sarah Johnson says she expects to rule by today (Wednesday, Jan. 14) whether the petitions are valid. If they are, candidates can file to run for the District 4 Council seat. The April 7 ballot would contain a question of whether Collins should be recalled as well as candidates running to replace her. — PZ

Hey, big spenders

Nonprofit legal watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch says the oil and gas industry spent $11.79 million on the 2014 election for Colorado state offices and issues.

Notably, the spending, documented in its Money Spill report, does not include "dark money" donations. A previous report by Ethics Watch found that oil and gas spent $800,000 on Colorado state elections (not including U.S. Senate or congressional elections) cumulatively over the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.

The vast majority of the 2014 money was used to fight anti-fracking initiatives that never made it to the ballot. If one excludes the donations made to issue committees, the oil and gas industry still spent more than $914,000 on the 2014 Colorado elections. — JAS

Indy editor plans exit

Kirk Woundy has decided to step down as the Independent's editor-in-chief.

Woundy has occupied the position since September 2012, and plans to continue until a new editor is found. He served as managing editor from 2006 to 2012, and has been part of the staff since 2005.

"I can't thank Kirk enough for the years of extraordinary leadership and dedication to excellence he has provided," says chief operating officer Carrie Simison.

Simison said a search for Woundy's replacement would begin in February.

"This is without question one of the hardest decisions I've ever made," says Woundy, who is starting a personal history business focused on documenting life stories. "But I plan to remain a member of the Indy family, and am excited to see what the future holds both for me and for the paper." — RM

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