Friday, February 1, 2013

UPDATE: Rocky Mountain Kyngz and the Amendment 64 anthem

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 1:05 PM

The other day we got an e-mail letting us know the video was ready. Strap on your YouTube glasses, and fire it up. (The action gets going around 1:35.)

——— ORIGINAL POST: Nov. 30, 2012, 1:02 P.M. ———


The Rocky Mountain Kyngz really require no explanation. Like the picture of a dollar bill on their Facebook page shows, it's all about the "Richest Dollar Pursuit." (I mean, they attended Stack Your Money University.)

Anyway, the Kyngz just seem to be a fun-loving bunch working to go hard and celebrate a certain lifestyle. To that end they've released their latest joint, titled "Amendment 64." (Look for the video soon.)

Some of our favorite parts:

• "I'm from that smoky state, you can see us from the coast / Rocky Mountain Kyngz, yeah we smoke the fuckin' most / Legalized weed, man, thanks to your votes / What up Colorado, roll another one to make a toast"

• Them Colorado chicks smoke the most, bakin' them goodies, blowin' clouds like a ghost / RMK, yeah we on the way, smokin' good all day, from that dispensary"

• "Been legal, red-card holder / I could smoke from the Springs up to Boulder / Without one weight on this kid's shoulders, now everyone statewide can — thank you voters / The police-man can't trip no more / Feds stay out this unless you want civil war"

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

UPDATE: Notes from the Bee Vradenburg anniversary

Posted By on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 2:04 PM

The Foundation has posted a video of Cameron's talk here, and has a full transcript available here.

——- ORIGINAL POST, FRIDAY, 11:52 A.M. ——-

Last night, the Bee Vradenburg Foundation celebrated its 10 year anniversary at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center with a free public reception and talk by noted arts administrator and program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ben Cameron.

Bee Vradenburg
  • Bee Vradenburg

Cameron's speech was spectacular, but first, it's worth noting how much I learned about Bee Vradenburg herself last night. By way of remarks from her son, George Vradenburg, and a documentary video made by Craig Richardson and Klayton Kendall from their Colorado Culture Cast days (watch it here), it's clear that Bee was "a bit of a life force," to quote George.

The woman who wished only to be called "Bee," even by her children, arrived in the Springs in 1946 and while she felt "like a pioneer woman" at first, she soon came to love the town and began right away to invest in its cultural development. This started with her 40-year tenure with the Colorado Springs Symphony (later the Colorado Springs Philharmonic) and grew from there. One picture showed the groundbreaking of the Pikes Peak Center, an effort Bee was behind, in which she, wearing a flowing dress, tossed a ceremonial shovel-load of dirt.

The documentary included a 1990 interview with Bee, segments of which you can find here, and shows how her comportment and personality so suited her cultural mission. She smiles, laughs and speaks in a clear, animated manner. Basically, Bee looked like a blast to hang out with.

Bee died in 2000, and the Foundation started two years later. Since then, it has awarded $2 million in grants to organizations throughout El Paso County. In honor of the anniversary, the Foundation announced last night that it will award the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region's Peak Arts Fund $10,000.

Following that, and a performance by Martile Rowland and Judeth Shay Burns, Cameron spoke.

(The Indy had an interview set up with Cameron, however, it was scheduled for the day Hurricane Sandy hit landfall, and Cameron, who lives in New Jersey, was forced to cancel.)

Cameron touched on the importance of the arts for its economic impacts, but mostly talked about the way the arts are on the verge of a great reformation.

Ben Cameron
  • Ben Cameron

Even though arts participation has skyrocketed, ticket sales and audiences nationwide have tanked. On top of that, technology has enabled us access to anything we want — be it in music, art, entertainment in general — very cheaply. This same on-demand capability has given us an audience-centric cultural landscape that doesn't necessarily jibe well with traditional arts avenues. (Those of us in the newspaper business are well-versed in this shift.)

But instead of fearing this changing world, and resisting adaptation, Cameron encourages arts organizations to look to new ways of performing and engaging audiences. As he put it, "It will require us to put the audience at the center of everything we do."

This kind of attitude has the galvanizing effects needed for cities to pull together, socially and financially.

Cameron cited one example of a particularly innovative organization, the Trey McIntyre Project, a dance company based in Boise, Idaho. McIntyre, a noted choreographer, started the organization there six years ago to the great surprise of his peers and patrons, who expected him to start a company in a more metropolitan setting.

Over time though, McIntyre united the city through the Project's cultural product. But they didn't go about it in the usual way. For example, in the company's first performance, they aired a pre-show video in which each dancer stated what he or she liked best about Boise. Today, the Project meets with civic leaders, business owners and healthcare workers to "[foster] a sense of community ownership," (read more about that here.)

"They aligned themselves not with an arts agenda, but with a civic agenda," Cameron said.

Just like Bee, he added. And it was Bee, who in the 1990 interview said her friends always joked that she loved the Symphony more than anything else. Bee disagreed. "It's the city I love best."

Similar to the multifaceted ways arts can help communities, it also has a plural reach in education. Far from an academic frivolity, Cameron quoted Mike Huckabee (yes, that Huckabee) who said that a reading- and math-only education program is like building a database without a server. It's well-documented that pursuits like music can rebuild pathways in the brain, but it can also teach behavior. Cameron quoted a Marine who told him, "I didn't learn discipline from the Marines. I learned discipline from the French horn."

Cameron also spoke on the importance and the power of the arts for social change and progress. He explained that "the arts offer us an antidote to the intractable." We live in a world, he says, in which "we are drowning in information, but starving for wisdom," and the arts are a way to answer deeper, more complicated questions, and gain empathy by seeing a corner of the world through another.

Much of this is covered in a 2010 TEDTalk Cameron gave, posted here:

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

UPDATE: Move for a public market downtown taking shape

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 7:38 PM

In next week's Indy, we'll have an update for you on the proposed Downtown Public Market (a tentative name, as none has been finalized yet).

And on that same day our paper hits racks (hence this early heads-up), you'll have a chance to hear directly from one of the project's key organizers, Mike Callicrate from Ranch Foods Direct.

Callicrate will be the guest speaker at the Better Energy and Environment Roundtable (BEER) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Sonterra Grill.

The event is organized by SunShare, and the first 25 folks to arrive will be treated to a free beer.

——- ORIGINAL POST, THURSDAY, NOV. 15, 5:05 P.M. ——-

Back in June, we told you here about a proposal for a downtown public market in the spirit of Seattle's Pike Place Market.

Work on that project remains underway, and those interested in supporting the effort — be it by providing comment or attending brainstorming sessions — can now connect with the organizing parties on the Colorado Springs Public Market website.

Take a stroll through it to see such renderings as these:

Colorado Springs Public Market

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Friday, December 7, 2012

UPDATE: Motorcycle group leader not giving up on Captain Jack's

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 4:47 PM

It's the end of an era for local off-road motorcyclists.

The U.S. Forest Service will close Captain Jack's trail and other trails in the Bear Creek watershed to motorized vehicles on Monday. The closure comes on judicial order after an environmental group sued. Connecting trails owned by Colorado Springs Utilities will also close.

From the Forest Service:


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Dec. 7, 2012 — The U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Pike National Forest — Pikes Peak Ranger District is temporarily prohibiting motorized vehicles on USFS trails within the Bear Creek Watershed in El Paso County. The Order will go into effect on Monday, December 10 and remain closed until the conditions of the Settlement Agreement are met.

The following National Forest System Trails (NFST) are restricted:
• NFST 665 in its entirety
• NFST 667 from its junction with High Drive to its junction with NFST 701
• NFST 668 in its entirety
• NFST 701 in its entirety
• NFST 720 from its junction with NFST 701 to its junction with NFST 668

The Order is issued according to the terms of a Stipulated Settlement Agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the USFS entered in U.S. District Court. The CBD filed a lawsuit on September 17, 2012 citing violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) related to authorization of existing Off Road Vehicle (OHV) trails within the Bear Creek Watershed.

The public may continue to enjoy access to the area through the non-motorized trails which remain open. In addition, miles of motorized trails are available for recreational use throughout the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC).

For further information call the Pikes Peak Ranger District office at 719-636-1602, or access the PSICC webpage at Navigate to “Alerts and Warnings” to read Order 12-21 and view a map of the closure area:

Violators of this prohibition are punishable as a class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations or by imprisonment of not more than (6) months or both.

From Utilities:

Motorized vehicle access to Jones Park trails closed after USFS legal settlement

Dec. 7, 2012 — In response to U.S. Forest Service trail closures resulting from a recent legal settlement between the U.S. Forest Service and the Center for Biological Diversity, Colorado Springs Utilities is closing motorized access to connecting trails on land owned by the City of Colorado Springs and managed by Colorado Springs Utilities. Specifically, motorized access to all trails that occur in the Bear Creek watershed in an area known as Jones Park, including trails 622, 622A, 667, 668, 701, 720 and 720A. See map for trail locations, will be prohibited.

“Because of the location of Jones Park trails, the action taken by the U.S. Forest Service effectively closes motorized access to Jones Park as well,” said Kirsta Scherff-Norris, Wildlife Biologist for Colorado Springs Utilities. “We believe the responsible course of action is to temporarily suspend motorized access to ensure that we do not inadvertently encourage continued use.”

The temporary closure begins Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. The area will remain closed until an assessment of the watershed is completed and any associated land management changes are determined. The process is being led by the U.S. Forest Service and in collaboration with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, and Colorado Springs Utilities. The assessment is scheduled for completion in early 2013.

The public is invited to participate in the assessment process to determine the best long-term sustainable management of the watershed.

For details about USFS actions and planned public involvement, please contact Oscar Martinez, Ecosystem Staff Officer, at 719-553-1400.

——- ORIGINAL POST, Nov. 28, 7:42 A.M. ——-

The greenback cutthroat trout

In today's paper, we report that trails in the Bear Creek watershed, including the popular Captain Jack’s trail, will soon close to motorcycles and off-road vehicles.

The move is a result of a legal settlement between the U.S. Forest Service, which owns much of the area’s land, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The latter believes that closure is necessary to protect Bear Creek as a habitat for the threatened greenback cutthroat trout.

Of all those affected by the ban, Ned Suesse, trail coordinator for the Colorado Motorcycle Trail Riders Association, is among those who fought hardest to keep the Bear Creek trails open. Reached by e-mail, he sent the following reply:

I'm out of the country and mostly offline, but I have kept up with the general state of things. The settlement is not yet final, but in my opinion, it continues a long line of faulty reasoning. However, I am somewhat optimistic that it will open the door to a proper study of the watershed that can conclude with a responsible decision.

The facts show that the large majority of sedimentation from a trail owes to the existence of the trail, not its use. So, if the trail is unsustainable for motorized use, it is most likely also unsustainable for non-motorized use- anyone who has been in the watershed during a rainstorm can see how that works. So, closing the trail to motorized use does not represent a solution to sedimentation in the stream, and this settlement does not represent a solution for the trout.

The Center's press release on the settlement is below:

Agreement Will Protect Colorado's Rare Greenback Cutthroat Trout

Motorcycles to Be Prohibited Along Only Creek Inhabited by State Fish

DENVER— The Center for Biological Diversity and the Pike and San Isabel National Forest signed a settlement agreement today that will help protect the only creek in the world inhabited by rare greenback cutthroat trout, Colorado’s state fish. The agreement prohibits motorcycles and off-road vehicles from trails along Bear Creek, just outside of Colorado Springs, and resolves a lawsuit filed by the Center in September.

“We’re so glad the Forest Service agreed to do the right thing and protect the only place in the world where greenback cutthroat trout still live in the wild,” said Tim Ream, a Center attorney. “This endangered fish has been hanging on by a thread for decades. The last thing it needs is motorcycles tearing through its only home and filling the creek with sediment.”

Greenback cutthroat trout have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1978. A DNA study earlier this year determined that Bear Creek hosted the last pure and wild population of the fish. For years, though, off-road vehicles have been severely eroding Bear Creek Canyon’s steep slopes. The runoff harms water quality and is filling in deep pools that the fish use to hide from predators and survive winters and droughts.

Under the terms of the agreement filed in federal court today in Denver, the Forest Service is required to prohibit off-road vehicles on nearly all of the five trails that run through the Bear Creek watershed. Before any part of those closed trails can be reopened, the Forest Service will have to consult, as required by the Endangered Species Act, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that trail use would not harm the threatened fish.

“I am so happy that greenback cutthroat trout are finally getting the respect they deserve,” said Jack Hunter, a longtime Colorado Springs resident and advocate for greenback. “This was a known problem for the trout for years, but thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity, Bear Creek is finally getting real protection.”

The Forest Service also plans to complete a comprehensive assessment of the watershed that could result in additional changes to protect the fragile stream. While the settlement agreement does not include the Colorado Springs Utility, closure of the Forest Service trails in Bear Creek effectively closes all access by motorcycles to the Utility’s Jones Park land. Access by hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders is not affected by the agreement.

“This is a tremendous victory for the greenback cutthroat trout and the state of Colorado,” said Ream. “With today’s agreement, the state’s fish has a shot at survival.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

UPDATE: Panhandling ban won't take effect for weeks, at least

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 4:39 PM

The ACLU's efforts to temporarily block the city's panhandling ban have been postponed because the city won't enforce the ordinance starting Dec. 2, when the law was originally scheduled to go into effect.

Instead, the city attorney's office says that the ordinance won't go into effect until Dec. 19, and no tickets will be handed out during an "educational period" that lasts from Dec. 19 to Jan. 19. With the decreased urgency, a federal judge agreed to wait for a hearing that might block the solicitation ban.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 13. At that point a judge may decide to block the solicitation ban until the lawsuit is resolved.

ACLU of Colorado's challenge to new Colorado Springs’ “no solicitation zone” progresses
City proposes to delay enforcement date

DENVER — At a hearing today, the Federal District Court in Denver scheduled an evidentiary hearing for the ACLU of Colorado's First Amendment lawsuit challenging the recently adopted “no solicitation zone” ordinance covering 12 city blocks of downtown Colorado Springs, including Acacia Park. That hearing will take place on December 13, 2012 at 9:00 a.m., and Judge Marsha Krieger will hear evidence and arguments presented by Colorado Springs City Attorney Chris Melcher, ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein, and ACLU staff attorneys Rebecca T. Wallace and Sara Rich.

While the ordinance was originally slated to go into effect, December 2, 2012 for the holiday shopping season, the city changed that date to December 19, 2012.

“We are pleased that Colorado Springs has taken steps to postpone the effective date of the ordinance,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “That provides the court more time to consider our evidence, review the caselaw, and issue a ruling before First Amendment activity is banned in the Downtown No-Solicitation Zone.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four organizations and four individuals, including:
* Greenpeace and Pike’s Peak Justice and Peace Commission (PPJPC), two nonprofit advocacy organizations that want to carry out outreach and fundraising activities downtown
* Star Bar Players, a nonprofit theater group that solicits pedestrians to buy tickets
* The Denver Voice, which seeks to protect its right to dispatch newspaper hawkers to the downtown area
* James Binder, a street musician who plays the flute on the downtown sidewalks
* Ronald Marshall, a disabled Colorado Springs resident who parks his wheelchair on a sidewalk corner while asking politely for spare change
* Laurel Elizabeth Clements Mosley and Roger Butts, who assert their right to receive the communications that the new ordinance will silence

Links to the ACLU’s complaint, legal brief, and other documents can be found at

The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.



As promised, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado has filed suit against the city of Colorado Springs in response to the recently approved No Solicitation Ordinance.

The ordinance is aimed at passive panhandlers, for instance a man sitting with a sign asking for spare change, since there's technically already a law in place against aggressive panhandling. But it will effectively ban all solicitors — including Salvation Army bell ringers and Greenpeace fundraisers — from public property in the downtown area. (Private business owners, as always, will be welcome to allow such folks on their property.)

Mark Silverstein, ACLU legal director, says the ban is an unconstitutional overreach.

"It suppresses a wide variety of expression that is protected by the First Amendment," he said. "...When the right of free expression is under attack the ACLU is usually there."

The ACLU is seeking a legal injunction in federal district court that would prevent the law from going into effect until the resolution of the lawsuit. If the injunction fails, the ban could be in force in early December.

City Attorney Chris Melcher has long expected the suit because he sent Silverstein a draft of the ordinance over the summer. At the time, Silverstein critiqued the ordinance as being "flawed" and "violating the First Amendment." The city subsequently expanded the breadth of the law.

Silverstein says the ACLU's main argument is that the new law doesn't meet the legal requirement of being "content neutral." He notes that under the new law, it will be legal to hold a sign saying "reelect the mayor" but not "give to the fight against breast cancer." The ban forbids asking for money or gifts of any kind.

Melcher has said he believes the ban will hold up to legal scrutiny because it is modeled after a similar law in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that survived a challenge in the courts.

But Silverstein disagrees with that logic, noting that his research shows that Fort Lauderdale's law was never challenged on the basis that it wasn't "content neutral." Rather, challengers said that law didn't meet the legal requirement to be "narrowly tailored."

"I don't think that really serves as useful precedence for him in this case," Silverstein said.

A court hearing on the case is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, but the date could change. At the hearing, the judge could issue an initial injunction. A longer injunction — which will last until the suit was resolved — likely won't be considered until after the judge has a chance to hear more evidence in the case.

November 28, 2012

COLO. SPRINGS — Today ACLU of Colorado lawyers announced they filed a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court that seeks an immediate injunction against a sweeping “no solicitation zone” covering 12 city blocks of downtown Colorado Springs, including Acacia Park. The city council adopted the challenged ordinance yesterday, with enforcement to begin on December 2, 2012.

“City officials report that some panhandlers have been intimidating and harassing pedestrians,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “In an effort to purge these menacing panhandlers from downtown, the City has unjustifiably transformed our clients’ peaceful, non-threatening and constitutionally-protected communications into crimes. Instead of focusing narrowly on intrusive, menacing or coercive behaviors that invade the rights of others, Colorado Springs has banned any and all forms of ‘solicitation’ in a 12 city block swath of downtown. The First Amendment does not allow such a overbroad suppression of expression.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four organizations and four individuals, including:

Greenpeace and Pike’s Peak Justice and Peace Commission (PPJPC), two nonprofit advocacy organizations that want to carry out outreach and fundraising activities downtown
Star Bar Players, a nonprofit theater group that solicits pedestrians to buy tickets
The Denver Voice, which seeks to protect its right to dispatch newspaper hawkers to the downtown area
James Binder, a street musician who invites tips when he plays the flute on the downtown sidewalks
Ronald Marshall, a disabled Colorado Springs resident who parks his wheelchair on a sidewalk corner while asking politely for spare change
Laurel Elizabeth Clements Mosley and Roger Butts, who assert their right to receive the communications that the new ordinance will silence
“Our troupe uses a signboard and actor outreach outside our theater to sell tickets, which is illegal under the new no-solicitation ordinance,” said Beth Mosely, Star Bar Players Artistic Director. “As a struggling nonprofit that can’t afford traditional advertising, our financial survival depends on the ability to solicit pedestrians. Besides, street performers of all kinds contribute to a vibrant city culture and I want to be able to continue to enjoy and pay those downtown artists.”

The ACLU filed the suit in federal district court in Denver; it also filed a request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, along with a request for an expedited hearing. The legal documents can be found here. In addition to Silverstein, the plaintiffs are represented by ACLU staff attorneys Rebecca T. Wallace and Sara Rich.

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Councilor Tim Leigh will seek re-election

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Tim Leigh
  • Tim Leigh
At-large City Councilor Tim Leigh will seek re-election, but as a District 1 Councilor.

Leigh has been a strong supporter of Mayor Steve Bach and a strong opponent of Neumann Technologies, maker of pollution-control technology that Colorado Springs Utilities has contracted to use. An avid cyclist, he's led a campaign to encourage cars to share the road.

But Leigh, who has held an at-large seat since April 2011, has often been dismissive of members of the public who address City Council, often screaming "Point of order!" repeatedly when a member of the public speaks for longer than three minutes. He has also managed to miss both e-town hall budget meetings during his term. (The meetings are often the best-attended Council meetings of the year, and are intended to give the public a chance to give input on how their money is spent.) Leigh has said openly that public comments don't factor into his decision-making.

And of course, most know Leigh for his aggressive and irreverent mass e-mails and public comments, which have frequently been cited in local media.

Here's the entirety of today's announcement:

Tim Leigh For Colorado Springs Council District 1- 2013

Colorado Springs, November 30 ————Tim Leigh is pleased to announce his intention to seek reelection in the coming, April, 2013 municipal election. Mr. Leigh will be a candidate for Colorado Springs Council District 1. A more complete public statement will be made after the new year holiday.

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Scott Gessler coming to Springs to talk elections

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Secretary of State Scott Gessler
  • provided
  • Secretary of State Scott Gessler

Secretary of State Scott Gessler has announced that he is taking his show on the road.

On Thursday, Gessler will be visiting the office of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder (1675 West Garden of the Gods Road) from 2 to 3 p.m. to discuss what should be done in the future to strengthen the "integrity" of state elections.

In his press release, Gessler states: "By many measures, the November election was a success. But there is always room for improvement. We want to hear from Coloradans about their experiences and how we can make our elections even better going forward.”

Perhaps this will be another opportunity for the Republican to rehash his favorite subject.

Full press release after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Denver billionaire buys the Gazette, plans to boost content

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 1:05 PM


Multiple media outlets are reporting that, as we've been hearing, Denver's Philip Anschutz, via his Clarity Media Group, has bought the Gazette from Freedom Communications. The move adds the 140-year-old daily to his portfolio of Colorado Springs-based assets that includes the Broadmoor.

The Denver Business Journal, which has led the coverage of this transaction, has a good story on it.

Clarity Media says it plans to increase the number of pages, beef up the newspaper’s editorial staff and coverage — especially of military issues and topics — and expand the Gazette’s website and online services.

Having new, Denver-based owners interested in investing in the newspaper will make for “a better paper, and a more responsive organization to the readers, advertisers and the community,” said Dan Steever, the Gazette’s president and publisher.

In the meantime, there are unconfirmed reports of departures from the newsroom; we'll update this post if we hear more.

Anyway, along with the news that Steever, a friend and business partner of now ex-owner Aaron Kushner, will stick around came word that Joe Hight, a 30-year veteran of another Anschutz property, the Oklahoman, will become our daily's editor, likely supplanting "content director" Carmen Boles. In June, Boles drew heat over her handling of a dispute with former employee Barrett Tryon, who had linked a story on his Facebook page about a possible re-sale of the Gazette after its parent company was bought by Kushner and his investors.

In a press release, Kushner says: “The Gazette is one of our premier properties and an incredibly important institution. We were impressed with Clarity and how they share our belief in the value of the Gazette and investing in its health and growth."

See the full release after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Maps tell the tale in Amendment 64 and 1A

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 4:31 PM

The colorful visuals are now in: The El Paso County Sheriff's Office tax increase measure passed in all but two precincts on Nov. 6, and the western part of the county was the most enthusiastic about it. Here's the map, provided by Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams.

Green precincts embraced the measure, while the red precincts objected to it.


Or you can open the map here: Q1Alrg.pdf

As for Amendment 64, the legalization of marijuana, it too benefited from a motivated west side. Here's the map of those results. Yellow means those precincts defeated the measure. Blue precincts passed it.


Open the map here: Amend64detail.pdf

Learn more about how locals voted in our Nov. 28 story, "Electoral outliers."

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Rep. Pete Lee named to judiciary committee

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Rep. Pete Lee

Rep. Pete Lee, from Colorado Springs House District 18, will serve as vice-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in the 2013 session of the Colorado Legislature.

Lee won his re-election bid against Republican Jennifer George earlier this month.

This seems like an obvious choice, considering Lee's biggest success, to date, in the Legislature was the passage of his bill establishing a system for restorative justice.

From the press release:

Speaker-designate Mark Ferrandino appointed Rep. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) today as vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Lee will be the deputy to Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills Village) on the committee, which reviews proposed legislation regarding Colorado’s courts and judges, the state constitution and statutes, the correctional system and prison facilities, juvenile justice and homeland security. The committee has legislative oversight responsibility for the departments of Corrections, Law and Public Safety, the Judicial Department and the Governor's Office of Homeland Security.

“I am passionate about the law and justice, and I look forward to addressing issues of criminal and civil justice and administration of the courts,” Rep. Lee said.

Rep. Lee is beginning his second term in the state House of Representatives. He has an extensive legal background, having worked in the legal department at the Holly Sugar Corporation, a NYSE-listed company headquartered in Colorado Springs, and for the law firm of Hill Corrigan Morgan and Krall before setting up his own law practice.

Rep. Lee graduated from the University of Akron Law School and has a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University. He also studied business at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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You should check out stories on huge houses, more people and more help for students

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Got a minute? You should check out:

• That a national analyst thinks the Colorado Springs area will grow by some 15,000 households, or 6.2 percent, in the next five years. (KXRM)

• How any homes those newbies buy may cost more, but be worth more, than in recent years, possibly signifying a continued resurgence in the economy. (Gazette)

• How, of the houses already built, Colorado Springs is third in the nation for its percentage of homes (19.52 percent) that have at least nine rooms, trailing only Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C. (Denver Business Journal)

• The live, online speech-therapy provider Harrison School District Two is partnering with to address a shortage of pathologists. (THE Journal)

And feel free to comment on anything we've missed ...

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Five rules for consuming cannabis in Colorado

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM

iComply, a marijuana advocacy business founded by the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council's Mark Slaugh, issued an e-mail today about five things people seeking to enjoy the state's new laws should know.

"In this new experiment, Colorado will be on the world stage as the first state in the U.S. to say that 'prohibition is more dangerous than cannabis, we need to try something new,'" reads the release. "Washington is united in this effort and has seen police departments, prosecutors, and local governments adapt to new ways of dealing with cannabis in American communities. Here in Colorado, Denver, Boulder, and other cities have dropped marijuana charges on pending cases. Employers, Sports Leagues, Governments, and Organizations are re-writing policies in this new world. We are challenged with the need to balance safety, sensibility, and change against the reality of the future. Our company is dedicated to taking on these challenges by working with community stakeholders, organizations and businesses to discuss, analyze, and adapt to the end of cannabis prohibition in Colorado."


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Tell your Waldo story

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 12:46 PM

There are at least 26,000 stories to tell about the Waldo Canyon Fire, maybe more, and Johnny Wilson wants people to tell them.

Waldo Canyon fire, Springs Utilities, Johnny Wilson
  • Johnny Wilson
  • Mike Myers, with Springs Utilities' wildland firefighting team, helped quell the blaze.

Wilson, 51, who retired from the Navy in 2005 and has lived in Colorado Springs ever since, has been collecting stories since the fire hit the Mountain Shadows area in June, and might wind up with a book. At the least, he's shooting for a compilation of at least 120 stories to form into a gallery showing.

Here's his own story from June 26.

I live in Peregrine. I was on the east side doing a photography job, and then I got the reverse 911 call of the mandatory evacuation of Peregrine. I went to my studio, on Garden of the Gods Road, about 4:30 to get my camera equipment. Then I was going up Centennial because I had my three dogs in my house. The traffic was so bad. Then the police knocked on my door and said, 'You need to go.' It was about 5:30, and Mountain Shadows was already burning. I spent three hours in the traffic. I put my dogs in the studio and then went and stayed in a friend's basement.

Having been a Navy photographer for 24 years, documenting the story of men and women of the military, Wilson began collecting stories three years ago on his own of military members who had served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

He had a gallery display at East Library and Information Center, 5550 Union Blvd., recently of 21 people who suffer from lupus.

"When the fire started, I turned my focus to the fire," he says.

So far, he's finished 25 stories, which include a hand-written account from the subject. Their accounts then drive the photos, he says. Forty more people are in the process of writing about their experiences, and he's expecting to hear from Denver firefighters, who helped fight the fire, as well as El Paso County sheriff's employees, Springs firefighters and those with Colorado Springs Utilities.

While his goal is to mount a gallery showing, he's been asked repeatedly about compiling the stories into a book. "I'm trying to secure some funding through private people and a grant, but I'm still running my own business," he says, referring to his photography studio at 750 Garden of the Gods Road.

He also might compile the stories on a CD, he says.

Some of Wilson's portraits along with the stories that go with them are displayed at the Colorado Springs Together office at 6840 Centennial Blvd.

If you're interested in sharing your story and having your portrait done to go with it, which costs you nothing, contact Wilson at 719-210-6780 or

He's most interested in these folks and the tales they can tell:

Police Officers
Sheriff Deputies
First Responders
News Reporters
Business Owners
Wildlife Officers
Utility Workers

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Book news: Awards, writing conferences and even a video game

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 7:48 AM

Lots of book news in my inbox recently.

Author Marie Lu.
  • Author Marie Lu.

• According to Publisher's Weekly, author Marie Lu, to whom we introduced to you here in March, will launch a Facebook game in December called Cities of Legend. It's based on her debut novel, Legend. The second book in her trilogy, Prodigy, will release in January.

• The Colorado Center for the Book is now accepting entries for the Colorado Book Awards. Per the release:

The Colorado Book Awards recognize the best books by Colorado authors, editors, publishers, illustrators and photographers published in 2012. Look for information on our Finalist Event in the spring. Winners will be recognized at the annual Colorado Book Awards held in Aspen in June 2013.

Eligible books include any work published by a Colorado author, illustrator, editor, publisher or photographer, and include hardcover, paperback and e-published books. All entry forms should be submitted online, but payment and copies can be provided online or through surface mail. Past categories have included: anthology, biography, children's literature, creative nonfiction, fiction, genre fiction, history, juvenile literature, nonfiction, pictorial, poetry, and young adult. It is acceptable to submit your own work.

For more information on how to submit, or to recommend a book published in 2012, please visit or contact Christine Goff at or 303.894.7951 x21.

Left Coast Crime, the annual mystery/crime/thriller writing conference sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, will be held in Colorado Springs in 2013. The Cheyenne Mountain Resort will host the four-day event from March 21-24. Keynote speakers include New York Times bestselling authors Craig Johnson and Laura Lippman. Learn more here.

• Registration is now open for the 21st annual Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Keynotes for this year's April 19-21 event at the Marriott include Libba Bray, Barry Eisler, David Liss and Amber Benson. Learn more about both the conference and the hosting organization, Pikes Peak Writers, here.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Meet Xiphactinus, one giant, ancient fish

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 4:30 PM

It swam through the shallow waters of the ancient Western Interior Sea — which cleaved through North America — during the late Cretaceous period, noshing on smaller fish and seabirds. It had big teeth, in the realm of 3½ inches long, and a body in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 feet long.

Xiphactinus (zih-FACK-tih-nuss) was big and hungry, often gobbling down fish up to six feet long. It's not uncommon for Xiphactinus fossils to contain fossilized prey in the process of digestion. According to National Geographic, a 13-foot Xiphactinus could open its jaws wide enough to swallow a six-foot fish whole.

That's big, but not as big as the 18½-foot-plus Xiphactinus now on display at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park. This fossil, RMDRC says, is the largest Xiphactinus ever discovered, having been excavated in Kansas by Mike Triebold, the owner of RMDRC. It took three professionals three years to reconstruct after the bones were carefully removed from a chalk bed in Kansas and shipped back to Colorado.

Xiphactinus on display.
  • Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
  • Xiphactinus on display.

RMDRC is open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays.

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