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Suthers among power players, Karaki on paid leave, and more 

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Suthers joins 'Build' effort

Business leaders and elected officials have formed a new group, Building a Better Colorado, that aims to revisit everything from term limits to the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, the Denver Post reports.

Those talks — to include constitutional revenue limits, how political parties conduct primaries, how districts are drawn, whether to make it more difficult to amend the state's constitution and revising campaign finance disclosure rules — could spawn ballot measures for November 2016, the Post reports.

Group members include prominent Democrats: Gov. John Hickenlooper; former governors Bill Ritter and Roy Romer; former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar; Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; and former Denver mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Peña.

Republicans include former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown; former state lawmakers Gigi Dennis and Norma Anderson; and John Suthers, the former attorney general who's now Colorado Springs' mayor.

"I'm glad to be part of an effort to look at several structural issues in the Colorado Constitution," Suthers says in an email. "Fact finding and public opinion will dictate what goes to the ballot. I personally doubt it will include much involving TABOR. I strongly support citizens voting on taxes and caps on revenue increases."

The organization was created by Dan Ritchie, a Republican who formerly served as University of Denver chancellor. — PZ

Bruce may face jail time

Colorado Springs anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce is due in court in Denver on Monday, Aug. 31, for a hearing on whether probation should be revoked in his 2011 tax evasion case.

Bruce's probation terms required he report all financial transactions, but he allegedly failed to do so for several, among them the transfer last December of his late mother's condominium to City Councilor Helen Collins, who in turn sold it to a third party. The deal triggered an ethics complaint against Collins, which is pending. — PZ

County official on leave

Imad Karaki, whose rise within county government took him from temporary hourly employee to chief of support services, has been placed on paid leave pending "resolution of confidential personnel matters," County Attorney Amy Folsom tells the Independent.

In an Aug. 10 email, Folsom said county personnel procedures allow "employees at risk of loss of a job interest [to be] entitled to due process, which, at the employee's election may be a two- or three- part process," all confidential.

Last Friday, county spokesman Dave Rose said in an email that 16-year employee Karaki is on "administrative leave." Karaki oversees information technology, risk management, justice services, employee benefits and medical services. He engineered creation of the incident command centers for the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires.

More recently, Karaki managed the equipping of a mobile advanced communications vehicle for the county's Office of Emergency Management, according to County News, published by the National Association of Counties. That office is overseen by Jim Reid, a longtime county official who ran unsuccessfully for sheriff last year. Reid and Karaki both supported Commissioner Amy Lathen's failed mayoral run earlier this year.

Karaki is paid $140,910 annually. His former boss, Jeff Greene, was chosen as Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers' chief of staff in June. — PZ

Synchro moving here

USA Synchronized Swimming announced last week it's moving its headquarters from Indianapolis to Colorado Springs. The sport's national governing body noted in a news release that it's coming to town to be in the same city as the headquarters of the U.S. Olympic Committee and 20 other NGBs, as well as the Olympic Training Center.

"With preparations being made to break ground on the U.S. Olympic Museum next spring, this announcement adds to the momentum the community is gaining as the premier location for Olympic and amateur sports," Regional Business Alliance president and CEO Dirk Draper said in a release.

A USA Synchro spokesperson, responding to an email from the Indy, said the move will take place by the end of 2015; as of now, it's uncertain how many jobs will be coming or where the office in Colorado Springs will be located. The Colorado Springs Sports Corp., the Regional Business Alliance and the El Pomar Foundation assisted USA Synchro with the relocation decision, and El Pomar gave $20,000 toward relocation costs, an RBA spokesperson says. — PZ

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