Thursday, March 14, 2013

UPDATE: The rating game: Is it legal?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Here's a recording of Sean Paige's robo call:

Also, Keith King's campaign manager, Daniel Cole, sent us this assurance via e-mail regarding property taxes for King's home:

"Keith and Sandi pay those property taxes jointly."

—————————-ORIGINAL POST THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 2:32 P.M.—————————————-

The right wing is out in force trying to influence the City Council election, but it's unclear whether all efforts are in line with restrictions placed on certain nonprofit organizations.

Sean Paige, AFP, April 2 city election Keith King
  • Paige: Making robo calls with candidate 'ratings.'

Americans for Prosperity, a Koch family-backed enterprise used to advance the tea party, has what's called 501(c)4 status under the Internal Revenue Service, meaning it doesn't pay taxes.

(According to, "As of August 13th, Americans for Prosperity spent an estimated $45 million on ads to influence the 2012 presidential election, their total budget for 2012 will top $100 million." The website also notes AFP's 501(c)4 arm is "generally referred to as a 'dark money' group because it does not have to disclose its donors, despite spending millions to influence political campaigns.")

But the designation also means such organizations are barred from certain political activities. Here's an explanation of that from an IRS publication:

Political Campaign Activities:
Reg. 1.501(c)(4)-1(a)(2)(ii) provides that the promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Thus, an organization exempt under IRC 501(c)(4) may engage in political campaign activities if those activities are not the organization's primary activity."

AFP's purpose, as described on an IRS filing, is to "educate U.S. citizens about the impact of sound economic policy on the nation's economy and social structure, and mobilize citizens to be involved in fiscal and regulatory economic matters."

That same purpose is stated on the same filing for state chapters, of which Colorado has one. There's no mention of promoting specific candidates in a City Council race. But that's exactly what's happening in Colorado Springs.

AFP Colorado, which some people describe as extreme right-wing, employs Sean Paige, former Gazette editorial writer and former Springs City Councilman. (He was appointed to an empty seat and was then defeated at the 2011 election.)

Paige is making robo calls that talk up Keith King, a former state senator and staunch Republican running in the southwest District 3. He's also making calls in other districts as well. "We've done this on a citywide basis," he says.

It starts off: "Hi. It's Sean Paige with American For Prosperity calling to tell you about a fantastic new tool you can use to know where City Council candidates stand on the issues."

Paige then tells listeners to go to to see rankings assigned to all the candidates in all six Council districts based on their answers to AFP's survey. He then tells people that King scored highest in District 3.

And it's no surprise that all the candidates who scored highest are vehemently against raising taxes, anytime, for any purpose — which has long been the position of AFP. (The only exception was Deborah Hendrix in District 4, who waffled by saying she would only support more taxes if they were needed to avoid harming citizens and the city.)

Some top scorers, including King, said they even oppose letting voters decide, meaning they said they opposed referring a tax measure to the ballot.

(And, you know, local property taxes are so outrageously high. According to the El Paso County Assessor's Office, King's wife — King, the candidate, isn't listed as an owner of the property he considers his home address — pays the city of Colorado Springs $132 a year in taxes on her $388,000 Broadmoor Bluffs house. That wouldn't even buy one set of tires for a police cruiser.)

But AFP isn't really endorsing candidates at all, Paige argues in an interview. "We are not endorsing candidates. This is voter education. We're very careful. We don't endorse candidates. We are able under the tax code to educate voters, and that's what we do. We're very scrupulous about abiding by our tax status. If some people rate more poorly ... I guess that can't be helped. It's in no way an endorsement."

As you can imagine, the AFP's infatuation with King leaves Jim Bensberg, the former El Paso County commissioner who's also running in District 3, a little riled up.

"I think this message would register with most folks as a clear endorsement of a political candidate," Bensberg says.

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A view from the Summit

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Consider this a Part 2 blog as a follow-up to my posting a couple days ago on the Broadmoor's Sommelier Boot Camp.

As a conclusion to the weekend, campers attended a spectacular Bersano Vini six-course dinner at the Summit. (Which, as we mentioned before, was $95 per person for those not attending the camp; I was comped as media.)

I'm not going to do a lengthy play-by-play, but would rather let the photos and menu descriptions do most of the talking.

But I will say that the meal was the most impressive I've yet had at the Summit, and that chef Mark Musial deserves a huge round of applause, with secondary credit going to chefs David Patterson and Bertrand Bouquin for their collaborative input.

On the way out the door at night's end, I briefly spoke with a woman who said the dinner was the best meal of her life. Period.

At our table of eight ten, we exchanged excited looks and superlative statements particularly throughout the first three courses, which landed like an implausible series of home runs in a playoff game. As impressive as one course would be, the next would either match or top it, leaving me wondering how any culinary team could be so on, so consistently, at that caliber.

It was almost a dangerous stage to set, because it left us wondering when the magic might dissipate, when the elaborate card tower might fall. The best anyone could come up with was how the wine pairing for Course 4 was the least strong of the batch — which isn't even to say it was entirely a dud.

All the wines were top-notch, and that particular Barbaresco Mantico (a Nebbiolo varietal aged in oak for at least two years, bearing high tannins and alcohol and cherry-currant notes) may have been just a bit too powerful for the swordfish pairing.

Seeing as this is how the Broadmoor culinary staff handle Italian wines, I'm even more excited to watch the Charles Court turn into a new Italian concept (designed by the same architect as Summit) in May 2014.

Now, into the action, first with this look at the menu for full descriptions:

Please click on the following photos to do the food shots, in particular, justice:

Summit Broadmoor Bersano wine Italy
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Our favorite course of the evening, an Ahi Escabeche which paired impeccably with the Gavi del Comune del Gavi (a white, high-acid Cortese varietal not aged in any wood, ideal for sushi and fish pairings).

Summit Broadmoor Bersano wine Italy
  • Matthew Schniper
  • An absolute powerhouse course: bison carpaccio highlighted with a clever anchovy aioli.

Summit Broadmoor Bersano wine Italy

Summit Broadmoor Bersano wine Italy
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Spirited wine rep Erika Abate from Bersano Vini leads a brief Q&A session between courses.

Summit Broadmoor Bersano wine Italy
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Wait, was this dish actually my favorite? So hard to decide ... sweet potato and chestnut ravioli under a sage brown butter.

Summit Broadmoor Bersano wine Italy
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A gorgeous dining room in motion. Good wine, good food, good people.

Summit Broadmoor Bersano wine Italy

Summit Broadmoor Bersano wine Italy
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Hulk potatoes (OK, parsley potatoes, really) and Tuscan kale make a bed for pieces of short rib and hanger steak.

Summit Broadmoor Bersano wine Italy

Summit Broadmoor Bersano wine Italy
  • Matthew Schnipers
  • Inside this round mound lurked quite a flavor explosion: big coffee notes mixed with whiskey chocolate ganache mousse.

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Video: Mike Clark & Sugar Sounds' Chapel Session

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Mike Clark & Sugar Sounds Chapel Session

In this week’s Reverb, we interview Fuel/Friends blogger Heather Browne and Changing Colors musician Conor Bourgal about their Chapel Sessions, the intimate recording project they began two years ago this month.

One of the earliest sessions featured recent Grammy darlings the Lumineers. The Denver-based group has now returned the favor by including two bonus tracks — which come directly from the band’s Chapel Session — on the European pressing of its debut album. The latest Chapel Session, meanwhile, features Colorado Springs’ own Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds.

You can read the Reverb interview here. And also, for the more audio-visually inclined, here are four videos from the Sugar Sounds session.

“Losing My Cool”

"Take a Chance"

"What Lovers Do"

"Upside Down"

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Firefighters stay mum regarding April 2 election

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 9:52 AM

April 2 city election firefighters Local 5

Candidates for six Springs City Council district seats in the April 2 election who hoped for formal backing from some of the most honored among us — firefighters — would have been disappointed yesterday.

The Colorado Springs Professional Fire Fighters Local 5 announced it wouldn't officially support anyone, due to "the condensed nature of this election cycle."

In 2011, firefighters endorsed Richard Skorman for mayor instead of Steve Bach. Bach, who soundly bested Skorman, recently proposed firefighters, along with cops, get a healthy raise to put them on par with their counterparts in other cities. He's also revisiting the city's participation in the emergency ambulance contract that serves all of El Paso County, a process that could lead to firefighters picking up that duty.

Here's the firefighters' statement:

Your Colorado Springs Professional Fire fighters have made the decision to not endorse any of the potential seat holders for City Council for the 2013 City Council election. Due to the condensed nature of this election cycle, we feel the time and resources of our members would be more responsibly spent by continuing to work with and further educate all candidates, as well as citizens, rather than endorse any individual.

The Colorado Springs Professional Fire fighters value any opportunity to educate policy makers about matters of public safety, and believe it is critical to safeguarding our community. We rely on our elected officials to have a thorough understanding of issues related to fire and EMS, and to facilitate the conversation publicly. We are confident, as the political history of our organization would demonstrate, that we can forge relationships and work collaboratively with whomever should be successful in their bid for public office. Local 5 will continue to work with the current and soon to be elected Council Members in striving to provide the best service to the citizens of Colorado Springs while ensuring the safety of its’ firefighters.

Colorado Springs Professional Fire Fighters, Local 5, is a union-based organization that represents the majority of active line personnel on the Colorado Springs Fire Department. With an emphasis on firefighter safety and the fair treatment of its members, Local 5 works with fire department administration, city elected officials, and other public safety entities to effectively provide the citizens of Colorado Springs with professional fire, rescue and emergency medical care services. Founded in 1918, Local 5 is a charter member of The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the IAFF represents more than 300,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who provide emergency medical response to 80 percent of
the population in the United States and Canada. For more information, please visit

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