Wednesday, July 10, 2013

UPDATE: Like the Balloon Classic? Better speak up

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 3:10 PM

The city has made amends with the Classic, and per an article in today's Gazette, is going to pony up the extra $6,800 to pay for police and traffic barriers. Buchwald told the Indy via e-mail: "Looking better for all of us."

——- ORIGINAL POST: MONDAY, JUNE 3, 6 P.M. ——-

It's easy to take some things for granted, and after 37 years, it's easy to expect the Colorado Balloon Classic will keep occurring every Labor Day weekend.

But not so fast. The Balloon Classic is a business, and one that needs to make money. It isn't cheap to host the state's largest airshow and roughly 200,000 visitors every year.

And it gets even more difficult when sudden costs come up, as they seem to every five to eight years, says Balloon Classic president Patsy Buchwald. Those costs come courtesy the city of Colorado Springs, which, although it sponsors the event, charges the Balloon Classic thousands annually.

Colorado Balloon Classic
  • Jake Stewart
  • As of 1998, the Colorado Balloon Classic brought in nearly $9.8 million.

This year Buchwald feels pushed to her limit. For one thing, the Colorado Springs Police Department is now mandating closure of Pikes Peak and Union boulevards around Memorial Park during festival hours. Although there have been no incidents in years past, and officers have helped crossing pedestrians with no problems, Buchwald says, she'd be fine with that decision — except that the city's handing the cost of the barricades and other fees to the Balloon Classic.

There are other new related costs, too: One is a $1,000 city communications fee — to alert neighboring residents and businesses of road blockages — even though Buchwald says the city put the onus of communicating with those folks on the Balloon Classic itself.

Money-wise, it breaks down this way: It costs about $32,000 half a million dollars to put on the event (which is free to the public). It costs the city $32,000 in police and fire support, among other fees. The city sponsors $21,000, leaving the Balloon Classic to make up the rest. And in the last two years, additional permits and other fees have increased more than $6,000.

That gives Buchwald and her staff few choices, she says. If the CSPD puts up barricades and sends the Balloon Classic the bill, she says, “This will be our last year, because I don’t know how we would pay for it.”

We asked CSPD for comment, and city senior communications specialist Julie Smith wrote via e-mail:

"The proposed street closures planned for the Labor Day Balloon Classic are to help ensure pedestrian safety of the citizens enjoying this event. There are hundreds of pedestrians trying to cross both Pikes Peak Ave. and Union Blvd during the Balloon Classic's activities. In addition, officers are posted at many intersections to monitor and assist people in safely crossing the streets."

Buchwald wants to keep the business in Colorado Springs — it's home to her as well as to the festival — but the Balloon Classic also organizes airshows outside Colorado, in cities and states that not only cover all the costs of the festival, but pay her organization, too.

"We cannot afford to keep paying the city these dollars, thousands and thousands of dollars to do business here when there are other states that have hired us and paid us to come put on their balloon festivals,” she says.

Colorado Balloon Classic
  • Carolyn Engquist
  • Buchwald plans to have more than 70 balloons at this year's festival.

Buchwald is also concerned that she cannot talk to the people behind these decisions. Both Police Chief Pete Carey and Mayor Steve Bach sent her to economic vitality staffer Donna Nelson, who, although supportive and sympathetic, Buchwald says, really couldn't help.

Given that Mayor Bach has spoken numerous times about making Colorado Springs business-friendly, and bringing in tourism dollars, Buchwald was disappointed that her 37-year-old organization couldn't get any face time. She did, however, meet with eight of the nine City Council members individually for help. They promised their support, but can only do so much under the strong-mayor form of government.

Now Buchwald is turning to citizens to alert them of the new barricades and the Balloon Classic's problems. A community meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, June 6, at the Police Operations Center, 705 S. Nevada Ave. (Open the pdf for a full list of discussion topics and contact information. No RSVP is required.)

2013_Balloon_Classic_s_Community_Meeting_-_Street_closures.pdf

“Colorado Springs doesn’t pay us, and we’re not asking them to," Buchwald says, "but they’re charging us so much, particularly if we have to pay for the barricades, we will not be able to financially stay here. It’s just simply a business decision, dollar-wise.

"We’re a small business, and how can we raise $32,000 to give to the City so we can put on an event for the city that’s recognized worldwide? So it just doesn’t make good business sense.

But if the city wants us — and we’re very grateful, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for what the city does do as far as sponsoring us — but all these surprises are very taxing. And we go through this every five to eight years, we have to go back and make sure we’re wanted here.”

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UPDATE: The end of the 'pit?

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 2:36 PM

UPDATE: Adam Leech has formally declared the end of the 'pit, at least as we know it now.

Youll have to find your turquoise cowboy boots somewhere else now...
  • You'll have to find your turquoise cowboy boots somewhere else now...

After 10 years in the converted gas station on North Nevada Avenue, he's going out with a polyphonic bang this Saturday, July 13. An impressive lineup of bands and some truly ridiculous sales will mark the occasion from noon to 7 p.m. as Leech closes up this locale for good.

—-ORIGINAL POST, THURSDAY, JUNE 20, 5:17 P.M.—-
The ongoing saga of Colorado College and the Leechpit's lease may be reaching its end. What Adam Leech's customers — read, avid supporters — want to know is if the departure from its current building also means the end of the Leechpit. Leech wants to know too.

"We really don't know," he says. "We had a few promising new leads for spots, but they fell through and took some of the wind out of our sails."

Leechpit, Adam Leech, Colorado College

He continues to look for possible new locations for the store downtown and on the west side, but he readily admits that his own criteria don't help ease an already painful process. The current location has the appeal of personal history that's hard to replicate. Twenty years ago, Leech worked there when it was still the record store Toons.

"We really, really love what we do and where we do it," he says. "We're not going to take risks diluting the brand or compromising what we've created. We've definitely created a challenge for ourselves."

Part of that challenge comes from the terms on which Leech leaves. Colorado College has not renewed the Leechpit's lease in spite of numerous student-led protests, letters, and a petition. Leech has been amazed and gratified by those efforts:

"We love the students and we question the long-term success of their administration."

The efforts of Christian Tappe, who collected more than 400 signatures on the petition, and others reveal a gap between the administration and the student body. After more than a year of fruitless communication with the college, Leech is frustrated by that gap. He's also skeptical of the administration's community-oriented image.

"[The college] keeps saying they're trying to reach out to the community ... but everybody knows that they don't care," he says. "It's time to stop saying they do because it's just patronizing and I really think that the community of Colorado Springs deserves better than that."

By the time of this posting, Colorado College had not returned calls from the Independent for comment.

For now, the future of the Leechpit remains definitely uncertain. Plan B could be anything from selling the vintage stock online from a warehouse to moving on to the next project. But Leech would prefer that the Leechpit live on in a new home.

"I wish I could tell everyone we had a plan," he says. "Don't tell my wife that we don't."

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Morse campaign: Forgeries found on recall petition

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 5:32 PM

John Morse
  • John Morse
A campaign defending Colorado Senate President John Morse from a politically motivated recall election claims it has found more than 50 petition signatures were forged.

Christy Le Lait says her campaign has examined about 500 of the 10,137 validated signatures to recall Morse. (Secretary of State Scott Gessler already threw out 6,061 signatures found to be invalid).

If the campaign's claims are true, that means 10 percent of examined petition signatures were forged. Le Lait says the forgeries — confirmed by contacting the supposed "signer" — were found in multiple petitions, meaning more than one gatherer may have engaged in the illegal practice.

In addition, Le Lait says around 200 signers have retracted their signatures, saying they weren't aware the petition was for a recall election.

Despite the revelations, Le Lait says her campaign would need to prove that about 3,000 signatures were forged or have been retracted in order to prevent a recall election. Though volunteers are reviewing the remaining petitions, the work is labor-intensive and it will likely be difficult for the campaign to meet that goal by the Wednesday deadline.

The Morse campaign is also challenging the petition because it says the wording does not meet the state Constitution's requirements.

(The Independent has contacted the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, which spearheaded the recall, about the forgery allegations. We'll update this blog if and when a representative responds.)

A Lot of People for John Morse today revealed that the group behind the petition to recall Senate President John Morse, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, has forged numerous signatures on their petitions, calling into question the legitimacy of their operation and the validity of the rest of their signatures.

Statement from Christy LeLait, Campaign Manager, A Whole Lot of People for John Morse

Rick Alberston — doesn’t live in Colorado, has not been here in over a year.

Mary — who is 91 years old, clealy remembers the circulator coming to her yard and then telling him to leave her property — her name has been added.

Mary Beth — the circulator came to her home 3 times. Her husband signed. She and her son did not, but their names are on the petition.

Alan — Didn’t sign, his name is even spelled wrong.

Karen — “I did not sign this petition. I am a gun owner and I support Sen. Morse. I am appalled by my signature being forged.”

But, to me, the saddest one of all, is the gentleman whose door we knocked on last week. He couldn’t understand why we would think that his wife’s signature was on the petition because she passed away 2 years ago.

As of right now, we have identified 50 forgeries but over multiple packets. Hundreds are implicated now and we are inching our way into the thousands.

Again and again the recall effort has come under fire for using illegal and fraudulent practices to obtain signatures. Now, recall circulators have been caught forging the names of Colorado Springs residents on recall petitions.

Several of these circulators, many of whom were paid workers from out-of-state, were found to have criminal backgrounds. Others have been accused of similar fraudulent activities in other states. Their efforts in Colorado Springs were so bad that over 6,000 of their signatures have already been tossed out as invalid.

This is fraud. This is identity theft. The people and groups responsible for bringing this type of fraud and deception into our neighborhoods should be held accountable.

It’s time to put an end to the deceit. Voters of CS deserve a full investigation before anyone demands an election. Imaginary signatures does not a recall make.

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Over the River clears federal appeal panel

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Over the River has cleared one of its three suits legal hurdles, Over the River Corp. announced today. It's one more step closer to getting back on track with building and construction, though a slow one at that. This means the other two proceedings can begin.

Christo is pleased that today the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) announced that it has upheld the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) approval to use federal lands for Over The River. The significant public benefits of this temporary work of art proposed in 1996 by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude for a portion of the Arkansas River in Colorado have been well documented.

The IBLA decision stated that the BLM District Manager "approved the Project because significant, adverse short-term impacts would be minimized, significant long term impacts would be avoided by PDFs [project design features] and mitigation measures, and expected benefits to the local and regional economies would outweigh any such adverse impacts."

The panel of judges went on to say, "Having thoroughly reviewed the record and considered appellants' claims on appeal, we conclude they have not met their burden to show error in the ROD [Record of Decision] or the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] upon which it was based. ... The decision approving a land use permit is affirmed."

This decision now paves the way for the two remaining legal challenges to move forward. In federal court, the BLM's Record of Decision approving Over The River is being challenged. In state court, the permit that was granted by Colorado State Parks for Over The River is being challenged.

"This is one of three legal hurdles that needed to be overcome, and I am very happy with this decision," Christo said. "I am hopeful that the IBLA decision will enable the state and federal courts to move forward without delay so Over The River can be realized. I remain confident that the state and federal permitting processes were thorough and complete and that both the Record of Decision and the State Parks permit will be upheld."

Additional Over The River legal updates will be provided as new information becomes available. Christo and the OTR team greatly appreciate your continued support and enthusiasm for Over The River.

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PPCC adds solar charging stations

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Its like one of those little airport charging kiosks. Only not in an aiport and much cooler.
  • It's like one of those little airport charging kiosks. Only not in an aiport and much cooler.

In the spirit of every-little-bit-helps, Pikes Peak Community College is in the process of adding solar powered charging stations in the form of innovative picnic tables called Solar Power-Doks.

Here's everything to know about them, via a school press release:

Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC) students will power up their electronic devices celebrating the installation of solar powered picnic table charging stations, called Solar Power-Doks, on July 2, 2 p.m., Centennial Campus Courtyard. The first college campus in Colorado to install these charging stations, PPCC invites the public and media to attend and try them out.

“These solar powered picnic tables provide ports for students to charge their electronic and mobile devices, while also providing a comfortable shady place to do homework and socialize,” said Mark Giles, PPCC Student Government president. “They also are a visible example of the value PPCC students and staff place on campus sustainability.”

Solar Power-Doks solve the ever-growing problem of finding electrical outlets to power mobile devices and laptops in public areas. The Doks have a battery bank for energy storage, two 110 volt outlets, two usb ports and a meter that shows how much power the sun is producing, how much is being consumed and how much battery capacity is available. The table is made from recycled materials and has a 150 mph wind load, a benefit for Colorado’s weather.

Student Government members came up with the idea for this project and worked with Campus Life and the Office of Sustainability to make it a reality. Student Government purchased two tables with its contingency fund, fees collected from students each semester. The additional picnic table is being installed on the Rampart Campus.

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PPIHC fan fest tonight, race on Sunday

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Screen_shot_2013-06-28_at_12.21.48_PM.png

I know as much about the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb as I do about riding motorcycles (which I've, uh, never done). Despite that, I dig a downtown party as much as the next guy, so look for vehicular madness on Tejon Street tonight, with a beer garden, chili cook-off, stunt team and more.

As far as the race itself, here's more from the Colorado Springs Sports Corp., which operates the race:

The “9 Minute Club,” all five competitors who have broken the once elusive 10-minute barrier will be in the race; Rhys Millen (9:46.164 in 2012), Romain Dumas (9:46.181 in 2012), Nobuhiro Tajima (9:51.278 in 2011), Carlin Dunne (9:52.819 in 2012) and Greg Tracy (9:58.262 in 2012).

But based on practice and testing times this week, it may result in the first sub-nine minute mark and new records in almost every division on the fully-paved 12.42 mile course with 156 turns if the mountain and the weather cooperate with race organizers. ...

All eyes in the Motorcycle field will be focused squarely on record-setting Carlin Dunne (Santa Barbara, CA), who set the course mark for bikes last year in winning the Pikes Peak 1205 division with a clocking of 9:52.819 on a Ducati Multistrada. He’s back this year, but this time he will be racing a new Lightning Electric Super Bike, rumored to be the fastest production bike in the world, electric or fuel-based, in the Exhibition Powersports division, with an expectation of a new course record after his blazing testing times on the hill this week and last weekend.

Those who can't attend Sunday can watch the live stream on Red Bull TV, or listen live at 105.5 FM or 1240 AM. Meanwhile, in the spirit of people who can actually operate a motorcycle, here's local Colorado Springs race contestant Jeff Grace going up the mountain last year:

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City Council hears testimony on recreational marijauna

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Cannabis advocate Mark Slaugh speaks to City Council.

Last night, Colorado Springs City Council held a roughly five-hour meeting at City Hall to hear from people on whether or not recreational-marijuana stores should be allowed or banned in the city. Among local jurisdictions, both El Paso County and Woodland Park have already declined to host the facilities.

The meeting started with a pre-set slate of speakers who were each given seven minutes. After that, speakers from the general public were allotted three minutes each. No vote was taken by Council; it's holding a work session on July 8 with action to come July 23.

Below are my tweets about the event, as well as a few from other community members tweeting along.

Continue reading »

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How much is that kitty in the window? Free!

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 9:47 AM

When hes not pestering us, Edmund enjoys napping with his face in the carpet.
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • When he's not pestering us, Edmund enjoys napping with his face in the carpet.

When our little orange cat Edmund misbehaves, my husband jokingly reminds me that "total cat replacement" comes at a small cost.

Which brings up two points. First, my husband plays "tough guy" pretty well considering how often I catch him cooing at that cat like a fool. Second, cats do pack a lot of adorable for a very good price. Especially this weekend. Because this weekend they're free.

As it turns out, people have been pretty distracted by the fact that the state is basically burning down. So much so, that they've forgotten how much they really want to adopt a cat. Thus, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region

Since there'e no more room at the shelter, "total cat replacement" is now free. Free. You hear that, Edmund? Better be good tonight.

ADOPTIONS DOWN DURING BLACK FOREST FIRE; FREE CAT ADOPTIONS THIS WEEKEND TO MAKE SPACE

— 100 kitties (general population, not Black Forest Fire strays) in need of good homes —

June 27, 2013 Colorado Springs, CO — Summer months always mean a deluge of kitties at Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR), but the understandable decrease in adoptions during the Black Forest Fire has resulted in HSPPR housing more felines than usual. So to end Adopt a Shelter Cat Month on a strong note and give busy adopters one more chance to pick out the purr-fect feline friend, HSPPR is having a cat sale June 29 and 30. All cat adoptions will be free, including kittens, at the 610 Abbot Lane location.

Why the influx? Families often move during the summertime and find they can’t take their pets with them. Strays are more likely to be out and about, so they get picked up and brought in. Not to mention the overwhelming litters of kittens coming through our doors on a daily basis. HSPPR usually takes in around 20 cats per day during the summer months, and we currently have 100 cats available for adoption. We need our adopters more than ever to give our cats new families to love and to make space for more felines to become available.

“An adoption sale like this allows us to manage our cat population,” said President and CEO Jan McHugh-Smith. “If your family has been considering adopting a cat, this is a wonderful time because getting cats out of the shelter and into great homes will help us save so many more lives.”

Who: Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region

What: Free Cat Adoptions to Close Adopt a Shelter Cat Month

When: Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30

Where: HSPPR, 610 Abbot Lane

Why: To find as many fantastic homes as possible for our kitties, and to make room for more homeless felines. To see who’s available or to take the Meet Your Match quiz, visit www.hsppr.org/match.

Fine print: Offer only applies to cats at 610 Abbot Lane location. A $15 cat licensing fee may apply. A $50 refundable sterilization deposit required by law for non-sterilized cats. Offer valid Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30 only.

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147 of every 100,000 adults/teens has HIV in El Paso County

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 9:20 AM

That's the truth, and while that may sound alarming, consider that Miami-Dade County, though a much larger city, registers at 1,208 people for every 100,000.

We know this thanks to AIDSVu, a highly detailed interactive map that allows you to view the spread of AIDS across the U.S.

Each state is then broken down by county, each registering a different color based on the number of infections recorded there (naturally, the darker the color, the higher the number). The data, though now three years old, is carefully compiled by local and state health departments, which are then reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which then double-checks it.

AIDSVu receives that data, and then goes on to report other factors that are similarly mapped, like race, median household income, poverty, the number of uninsured people in the area and sex.

Some states have such low rates their data was withheld altogether, according to AIDSVu.
  • AIDSVu
  • Some states have such low rates their data was withheld altogether, according to AIDSVu.

Which brings us back to El Paso County, which shares similar statistics with Saguache, Lincoln and Summit counties. Fremont and Denver counties reported the highest numbers in the state, however the study notes that some rates are inflated due to the presence of correctional facilities.

The map does even more. It allows you to compare your county or state's HIV diagnoses with, say, the percentage of the population living in poverty side by side. Unsurprisingly, the rate of diagnoses goes up with the rate of poverty. Others are murkier, with no direct lines between the disease and other social factors, but it's worth noting that HIV has a long dormancy period, so many patients go years without knowing they are infected, which skews the data.

Persons living with HIV vs. percentage lacking health insurance.
  • AIDSVu
  • Persons living with HIV vs. percentage lacking health insurance.

It also offers a state profile, comparing the prevalence of HIV among races and how the state's stats line up against national averages. From there, you can also view state funding toward HIV care, awareness and prevention, and even find a local clinic for testing.

Zooming back out, it's quite the tool for understanding the spread of HIV country-wide, and observing the unbiased facts on the prevalence of poverty, lack of health insurance and a high school education and rates of disease.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

PERA lowers figure owed by city

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 5:01 PM

MH_North.jpg

The Public Employees Retirement Association says the city owes $201,228,597 to assure that Memorial Health System employees receive retirement benefits they earned while working at the city-owned hospital before it was leased to an outside agency last fall.

Last year, PERA said the bill would be $240 million to $250 million, so this figure could be considered an improvement for the city. But it's not that simple.

For one thing, when University of Colorado Health took over Memorial under a voter-approved, 40-year lease agreement, it paid the city $185 million to cover the PERA backfill for roughly 4,000 departing employees. So despite the smaller bill, the city still didn't extract enough from UCH last year to cover it.

Secondly, the city continues to maintain it owes nothing to PERA. The city contends that the employees left just as they would have if they had resigned, and the city doesn't pay PERA money for future retirement benefits when employees resign.

The payoff is being litigated in a lawsuit, with the $185 million (and other funds paid by UCH to the city) in escrow pending the outcome of that suit. While PERA has filed a motion for summary judgment, the city downplays that, having said in a prepared statement on May 24 that it's "a standard motion that both parties will file in this type of case."

"We remain confident that the City will prevail," the city said in that statement.

In the meantime, PERA modified what it believes it's owed based on the latest actuarial figures, says PERA attorney Adam Franklin.

"Due to the very positive investment returns of Colorado PERA, the funding of the division improved, thus having the impact of lowering the unfunded liability due from the City," he says in an e-mail.

From a news release about PERA's 2012 performance:

The Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) investment returns for 2012 were 12.9 percent, according to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report released by the PERA Board of Trustees today.

“Due to the strength of PERA’s investment return in 2012, $4.6 billion in asset value was added to the trusts, which was $1.8 billion more than our anticipated return,” said Gregory W. Smith, PERA’s Executive Director. “Not only is this good news for the Colorado economy, it shows the importance of the reforms in 2010’s Senate Bill 1 that were recommended by the Board of Trustees and adopted in a bipartisan effort of the Colorado General Assembly in response to the economic downturn.”

Investment returns for the 10-year period were 8.4 percent exceeding the Board-established 8.0 percent assumed rate of investment return. PERA’s annualized investment returns for the 30-year period have been 9.4 percent, also exceeding the investment rate of return assumption established by the Board of Trustees.

The city also is facing a legal action from a dozen or so Memorial employees who had special retirement deals the city stopped honoring when it handed the keys to Memorial to UCH.

That case might be close to being settled. City Council has met several times recently in executive session on matters involving negotiation over Memorial.

It's already paid out nearly $1 million to end a lawsuit alleging the city improperly defeased Memorial's bond debt.

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Free Emily Earle, Grant Sabin and El Toro shows tonight

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Emily Earle
  • Emily Earle
Given that Thursday has been the new Friday for longer than any of us can remember, here are two free shows to help you celebrate.

Colorado Springs native Emily Earle — who talks about competing on The Voice and writing with her uncle (aka Steve Earle) in an Indy interview this issue — will be playing the first of two homecoming shows tonight at the Back East Bar & Grill. (She'll also be at the Mountain of the Sun Music Festival on Saturday.)

Meanwhile, Nosh continues its Patio Concert Series with performances by El Toro de la Muerte as well as Grant Sabin & the Full Moon.

So here's a new El Toro video, as well as a recent Emily Earle video (not from The Voice), to help get you inspired.

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The good Col. Dave to receive 'inspirational' award

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Retired Col. Dave Hughes, the 85-year-old historian of the west side who we've covered once or twice, is to receive whatever the Inspirational Leader Award is from Mayor Steve Bach.

Outside of his role as The Guy Who Was Here Before All of You, Hughes is also a strident commenter on social issues. Here he is writing on our site in 2011 about Christianity at the U.S. Air Force Academy: "I am sick and tired of all you atheists, agnostics, witch, and earth worshippers trying to FORCE the AFA Command to follow YOUR dictates as to what is, or is not, 'religiously acceptable or 'religious biased.' Start your own Atheist Air Academy if you are so worried about what YOUR acceptable cadets believe or do not believe."

He also weighed in the other day with thoughts on the Supreme Court's recent decisions about DOMA and California's Proposition 8:

"I am glad my wife (who was female) and to whom I was married 57 years, (and we had 3 natural born children I sired) before she died at 81 years old (I am 85 now) did not live to witness today's Abomination of the meaning and long legal, cultural, and religious tradition of 'Marriage' between one man and one woman," he wrote on an Associated Press story hosted on gazette.com. "As long as I live I will have a bad taste in my mouth from how my 'marriage' has been sullied.

"I could have tolerated (barely) the idea and lawfulness of the fad of 'civil unions.' But when those who wanted to expropriate the entire meaning and state of 'marriage' for their own selfish reasons, I bailed."

So, here's to Col. Dave, the purported medical-meth lover (not true) who put a QR code on his wife's gravestone (true). If you want to attend, hit the Old Colorado City History Center at 10 a.m., Monday, July 1.

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Speaking with forked tongue?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 10:33 AM

State Sen. Kent Lambert apparently can't decide whether he supports an after-action report of the Black Forest Fire or not, or maybe he simply doesn't remember what he says one day to the next.

Sen. Kent Lambert, Black Forest Fire
  • Lambert's website
  • Lambert: Don't take what he says to heart.

In an interview on June 14 following the evening news briefing, Lambert said he had heard there were communications problems during the fire. When we asked him to elaborate, he said:

I’m not going to say exactly yet. Because I’m hearing this anecdotally. But I’m going to be asking some questions next week when the budget committee meets. I’d like to at least put down that we need to do an after-action report on this ... I think we need to look at it comprehensively, the whole thing.

Listen to the recording I made of the interview here:

We reported his comments as part of our coverage in the following week's paper.

On Monday, we asked Lambert if he had, in fact, followed up on asking the state to sanction an after-action report, and the following e-mail exchange ensued:

Lambert: "Right now, I only discussed about the solvency of our emergency fund balances through the end of the fiscal year, and so far we are OK. In the new fiscal year, another $42M should kick in. The county and the state will be doing damage surveys first. We will see what they come up with first."

Indy: "If you've changed your mind, we need to set the record straight that you WILL NOT seek an after action review and either misspoke last week or spoke too soon, or however you can help us to characterize your earlier statements."

Lambert: "There need to be some after action reports — probably from the county level, and maybe in conjunction with the state.... I never considered a formal study of fire operations as a budget-initiated action."

Indy: "Do you support or not support an after action review of a fire that was completely state funded? It sounds like you are in favor of having the county assess the response, is that right?"

Lambert: "You are right. You are really not getting it."

Indy: "I'd welcome the chance to discuss it later today if you're available."

No word since then from Lambert.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

130 civil-unioned so far in El Paso County

Posted By on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Sarah and Erika Musick at their civil union ceremony May 1.
  • Brienne Boortz
  • Sarah and Erika Musick at their civil union ceremony May 1.

Even as the defeat of the federal Defense of Marriage Act sends tremors across the nation, Colorado Springs same-sex couples are still celebrating a slightly older victory.

While Colorado still forbids gay and lesbian couples from tying the knot, on May 1 the state offered them an olive branch, making civil unions legal. And according to the El Paso County clerk and recorder, plenty of lovebirds have been taking advantage of the new law.

In May alone, 100 same-sex couples took the plunge. Another 30 have civil-unioned so far in June.

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Countdown to the 2013 Indy Music Awards

Posted By on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 5:34 PM

2013 Indy Music Awards
Last year, thousands of you voted for your favorite local musicians and then went to hear the winners play live at the Indy Music Awards Festival.

Now it’s time to do it again.

Ballots for the 3rd Annual Indy Music Awards will appear in next week’s issue and online at csindy.com. The 30 categories cover a broad spectrum of musical genres, including blues, folk, hip-hop, indie rock, Americana, jazz and soul.

This year’s voting period will run from July 3—19, with winners to be announced and profiled in our August 28th Local Music Issue.

You’ll then be able to hear the artists you’ve chosen performing live at the 2013 Indy Music Awards Festival. This year’s free event will take place September 5th at indoor and outdoor stages along Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs.

Meanwhile, here are three clips from last year’s festival, featuring the ReMINDers, 99 Bottles, and Claymore Disco.

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