Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bill proposed to reduce penalty for drug possession

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Rep. Mark Barker
  • Rep. Mark Barker

As Lynn Bartels at the Denver Post is reporting, Senate Bill 12-163 would, "reduce the crime of drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor" for addicts.

During the news conference to unveil the bill, Bartels writes, co-sponsor Sen. Shawn Mitchell, a Republican from Broomfield, said that his younger brother has been dealing an addiction to methamphetamine for years.

For those of you who see the drug war as a colossal, expensive, and dehumanizing failure, and want to see this bill make it into law, there's good news. As Mitchell's co-sponsorship of the bill, along with Denver Democrat Sen. Pat Steadman, should indicate, this bill appears to have broad bipartisan support.

In the House, Springs Republican Rep. Mark Barker is a co-sponsor.

According to the bill language:

The bill reduces the penalty for possession of 4 grams or less of certain drugs from a class 6 felony to a class 1 misdemeanor and reduces the penalty for possession of more than 4 grams of those certain drugs from a class 4 felony to a class 6 felony. The bill appropriates the savings from the reduction in the criminal penalties to substance abuse treatment programs. The department of human services will develop a trauma-informed substance abuse treatment and best practices training program. The bill requires a post-enactment review after two years that addresses the impact of the bill on jails and the amount of funding for jail-based treatment.

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Sale of Ivywild to Bristol/Blue Star complete

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 4:39 PM

District 11 just announced the completion of the sale of the former Ivywild elementary school to Mike Bristol, Joseph Coleman and Jim Fennell.

You may recall our coverage for the envisioned Ivywild project, dating back to July, 2010, which we updated this past February.

The gist is that Bristol Brewing Company will gain a much-needed increase in brewing capacity as well as new office space in Ivywild and an expanded tasting room, complete with food offerings. An offshoot of the Blue Star, the Old School Bakery, will also find a home there, likely integrating coffee service.

"I'm just excited," says Bristol. "We've had so much support from the neighborhood and community and we're excited to get this built for them and us."

Several other community tie-ins have been planned, including the construction of a greenhouse and community gardens via Pikes Peak Urban Gardens that will grow products for elements of the new Ivywild. A gymnasium will allow space for such activities as yoga classes and KRCC community events; and an arts component (gallery space, etc.) is also in serious discussion.

"We're really excited about what's gonna happen," says Coleman. "If we achieve what we're hoping to achieve, it should be very, very cool."

You can read the full D-11 press release here:

Ivywild investors Mike Bristol (left), Jim Fennell (middle) and Joseph Coleman, as photographed back in the former elementary school in mid 2010. Yes, this project has been a while in the making.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Ivywild investors Mike Bristol (left), Jim Fennell (middle) and Joseph Coleman, as photographed back in the former elementary school in mid 2010. Yes, this project has been a while in the making.

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No retention bonuses for Memorial brass

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 1:30 PM


Memorial Health System executives won't be enticed to stick around with retention bonuses, Memorial's Board of Trustees decided today.

That should make Councilor Tim Leigh happy. When the prospect arose some weeks ago, he said, "Good riddance." Other Councilors expressed concern about losing the top tier of managers from Memorial at such a critical time.

Trustees took up the issue after realizing they could lose top leaders who won't play a role in the new lease with the University of Colorado Health System, which is currently negotiating a lease to run Memorial for at least the next 40 years. The lease is expected to be submitted to voters for approval in August.

After a closed session this morning, Trustee Chair James Moore issued this statement:

Following conversations with the executive team, the Memorial Health System Board of Trustees has decided not to pursue an executive retention plan at this time.

  • Moore

A retention plan was originally considered to address the risk of leadership instability Memorial faces during the anticipated transition to University of Colorado Health.

The Board, after consulting with executives and hearing from staff, believes that stability is achievable without a retention incentive.

The Board recognizes that the executive team is committed to helping Memorial through this time and thanks these leaders for their support and dedication.

Keeping Memorial strong and healthy through this transition remains a top priority for this Board and executive team, and it is a goal we share with City Council and Mayor Steve Bach.

Those who would have been included in such a plan are CEO Larry McEvoy, Strategic Officer Carm Moceri and CFO Mike Scialdone.

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Stormwater makes a reappearance

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Remember the Stormwater Enterprise?

Let me refresh your memory. Needed, but unfunded, city drainage projects led City Council to create the Stormwater Enterprise in 2005. The Enterprise charged everyone a fee so the projects could get done. Then the fee was characterized by Douglas Bruce as a "tax," which made a lot of people mad. Bruce created Issue 300, which passed and was supposed to get rid of the fee, but didn't because of a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo. But then, City Council got rid of it anyway because members said it was the voters' will. Now, we have a lot of drainage problems that aren't getting fixed, and Colorado Springs Utilities is mad because maintaining stormwater systems is a requirement of its agreement with Pueblo that will allow it to build a $800 million water project named the Southern Delivery System.

Whew! OK! And now, (drum roll, please) we get to the point.

The Stormwater issue is back.

Really, this was inevitable. Drainage problems aren't going away. In fact, neglecting them too long will get the city in trouble with the feds, piss off Utilities, and probably lead to a few streets caving in.

According to City Attorney Chris Melcher, who spoke on the issue at today's Mayor's Counsel meeting, the city has a few options. City Council could simply write a law making Stormwater, or at least parts of Stormwater, the responsibility of Utilities. Alternately, Council could ask for a tax increase, or simply ignore the problem.

One thing's for sure, the city general fund can't pay for what needs to be done — about $15 million a year in work.

Both Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin and Councilor Brandy Williams responded by saying the city should cooperate with the Fountain Creek Watershed board, which is working on a regional solution to Stormwater. When that process wraps up, voters will likely be asked to approve a tax to cover project costs.

But others weren't so sure. Bach noted nervously that $500 million in capital improvements were needed. Councilor Merv Bennett also noted, "I like a regional solution, but it's our problem right now."

Both Councilor Bernie Herpin and Council President Scott Hente were quick to point out how unpopular the Stormwater fee had been, despite a lengthy public process that proceeded its installation. Hente also argued that Council had previously thought of turning Stormwater over to Utilities, but decided not to because citizens didn't like the idea of having to pay for improvements through their Utilities bills.

Bach said he believed the city and the Utilities must share the responsibility. Once the city hires a new public works director, Bach said, he or she should work closely with Utilities to come up with a solution. He said he would brief Council on the issue again in 90 days, and staff was also planning a May presentation to Council on Stormwater needs.

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UPDATE: Two city communications staff dismissed

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 9:34 AM

A little more information has trickled in from the city communications office.

Like departments city-wide, the Communication department was tasked with a thorough review of all processes and services with a focus on efficiency and optimization. During this review two positions were identified for elimination. We notified the two individuals in those positions on March 16. No severance packages have been executed. The City is in the process of moving forward with these reductions and wish to recognize and thank the two impacted individuals for their years of dedicated service.

Bill Beagle annual salary - $60,094.67

John Leavitt annual salary - $70,467.71

——- POST, MONDAY, 11:40 A.M. ——-

We just got this message from Cindy Aubrey, head of city communications. It doesn't answer all our questions, so we'll be back with more information as soon as it's available.

Dear Members of the Media,

I wanted to let you know of some reductions we have made in our Communications Department effective March 16, 2012. As part of the organization-wide efforts to pursue efficiencies wherever possible, we eliminated two positions. Bill Beagle and John Leavitt are unfortunately no longer a part of our department. I want to stress that these were budgetary, not performance, decisions. We wish John and Bill the best in their future endeavors. If you have any pending requests with either Bill or John, please let me know and I will make sure they are completed.


Cindy Aubrey
Chief Communications Officer

——-ORIGINAL POST, MONDAY, MARCH 19, 10:37 A.M. ——-
John Leavitt
  • John Leavitt

The Colorado Springs city government, which hasn't exactly been getting backslaps from the media for its transparency, has apparently decided that it has too many communications staff.

John Leavitt, the main point of contact on city government questions, was apparently let go on Friday. His LinkedIn account notes that his employment with the city ended this month, and he posted a note Sunday on Facebook saying he was available for interviews with any interested employers.

The Indy has also confirmed that Bill Beagle, who ran the city's SpringsTV service, was let go on Friday.

Both Leavitt and Beagle worked for the city for seven years.

Word on the street is that the two were let go due to "budget cuts" — an odd scenario given that the mayor has added to administrative staff, and to the communications department, as of late.

City communications head Cindy Aubrey said she'd be in touch later today with details. We'll update this post when we know more.

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