Ute Pass to stay open, immigration enforcement ends, female cops sue, and more 


Spice retailer fined

A Colorado Springs store and its owner were slapped with a record $1 million civil penalty last week for selling the illegal synthetic cannabinoid commonly called Spice. It's the third and biggest judgment in the last seven months involving Spice in Colorado.

The Colorado Attorney General's Office sued Popo Wee Market and Jin Ju Kim a year ago for keeping Spice on shelves despite the illegal product having been seized earlier. The Attorney General's Office noted the judge who imposed the fine pointed out the store owner "had actual knowledge" of Spice's illegality and danger.

The Independent first reported on Spice years ago ("Incense nonsense," cover story, July 22, 2010). The Colorado Legislature banned the substance in 2011. — PZ

SunShare's bright example

SunShare held a news conference last week to announce that its Pikes Peak Solar Garden is almost done. The 2-megawatt community solar project is one of five that SunShare and NRG Renew are building together in Colorado.

Customers for the local garden include the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Security Sanitation District, Pikes Peak Library District, and residential customers.

SunShare, which has previously built two gardens here, is owned by David Amster-Olszewski, a 2009 Colorado College grad. He founded SunShare locally, but when City Council made gardens less lucrative for developers, he moved his headquarters to Denver. The newest garden is at 4471 Clearview Loop, in southeast Colorado Springs. — PZ

Female cops file suit

The city isn't commenting on a lawsuit filed April 30 in U.S. District Court in which 12 female Colorado Springs police officers allege discrimination based on gender and age.

At issue is a fitness test adopted in late 2013 that wasn't adjusted for female ability or age, which resulted in them flunking the test. After they failed, the suit alleges, a punitive policy was adopted requiring they be pulled from their normal, uniformed duties.

The Police Department "knew that the group failing the test would be disproportionately women over forty before it enacted the policies disciplining and potentially terminating the employment of police officers who failed," the lawsuit states.

The suit seeks to abolish the test and win damages for lost overtime and extra duty pay, and for humiliation and emotional distress. — PZ

Ute Pass to remain open

Those who live west of Manitou Springs should be able to drive home more easily this summer.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has announced that it will no longer be preemptively closing U.S. Highway 24 when flash flooding is feared. Instead, it will station crews at Cave of the Winds Road, in Cascade and in the Green Mountain Falls area. Crews will monitor the situation and only close the highway if debris and water are flowing onto the road. A sweep will be done if such a closure occurs. — JAS

Immigrant detentions ended

The El Paso County Criminal Justice Center is ending its participation in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's 287(g) Program, which allowed law enforcement agencies to detain people in the country illegally, even if the detainees had no local or federal charges pending.

The program began in 1996 and allowed local agencies to partner with the federal government on immigration enforcement. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office signed on to the program in 2007, and was one of about 70 participating law enforcement agencies nationwide, including the Colorado State Patrol. Now, however, there are just 34 programs nationwide, and the county's program was the last remaining one in Colorado.

A press release from the Sheriff's Office noted, "Since its inception in 1996, the Program has attracted a wide range of criticism. Among the concerns, critics say it lacked proper Federal oversight, exhausted local resources and ultimately, resulted in the profiling of undocumented immigrants." — JAS

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