Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Confederate-flag burning scheduled for Fourth of July

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 3:41 PM

Coming on the heels of terrorism in South Carolina —and the surprising number of Southern politicians calling for the Confederate battle flag and others to be removed from state premises — is a tide of related flag burnings. (Black churches are also being burned.)

Chicago Rising, a flag-burning group in Illinois, wrote, "But this is not just about Charleston. ... This is about an end to the celebration of systemic racism that has been held up as an icon of our national history. ... This is for those that would take up that symbol and bring about destruction on the lives and properties of blacks and [other] minorities. 

"To these bigots we have a simple message. You are right, we are taking your country. And you are never getting it back."

Locally, a Confederate-flag burning is scheduled for Manitou Springs' Soda Springs Park at 1 p.m. this Independence Day, with a barbecue to follow.

I spoke with organizer and 32-year-old Manitou resident Patricia Cameron about the event. Cameron works in healthcare, is active in local politics, and is the main voice behind the Twitter account ThisIsSoCo.

The following has been edited for content and clarity.

Independent: So, what's planned for that day right now?

The plan is a peaceful protest. It looks like some fellow activists, friends, those involved in politics in Denver and the surrounding areas are going to come down. And it's simply us getting together and reiterating the fact that black lives in fact matter. And we're calling for unity, and the struggle here is the Confederate flag not being one of unity — obviously, if this is one nation, there's not going to be multiple flags, especially one that has a racist quote-unquote heritage — so we want to unite under one flag. And we're actually going to light the [other] flag on fire.

Is this in response to a local frustration, or is this more a furthering of the larger movement?

I think what you hit upon is a variety of things that youth in Colorado Springs feel, more so than other metropolitan areas, Boulder or Denver for instance. 

And we'll start with, one, is our virtual disconnect from national news and national issues, to the point where it's almost assumed that we do not care. And if you look at the last election, and you look at the voter drive and the desire to get the youth out, this is one way of showing the youth different ways of involving themselves and having civic duty, and it gets them fired up for politics.

Secondly, I think it's important to show people how to properly observe your right to protest. And the reason why we picked a day that's incredibly visible and has symbolism for the country is, of course, one nation, July 4; and then secondly, because it looks as if protest spaces have been dictated by outsiders: when you can protest, how you can protest. We don't advocate for violence at all  — we're all about peaceful protest and engaging dialogue. But the point is protest is a right and not a privilege, and when you start dictating how you do so it becomes a privilege. And I don't believe in the Bill of Privileges, it's the Bill of Rights.

And then thirdly, I wouldn't say it's a reaction necessarily to recent events. The Confederate flag has long been offensive to minorities, especially Blacks. So, you can say that seeing a killer advertise the Confederate flag in his pictures can add flame to that fire, so to speak, almost literally, but this is honestly something I've grown up with — and that's been more like a distrust when I see that. I almost immediately, and most people I've spoken to, associate it with somebody who is a bigot.

And where did you grow up?

I'm a military child, but I would definitely put it in [Washington,] D.C. if I had to pick a place.

Have you heard from any critics of the flag burning?

Oh, of course. Yeah, I had my life threatened. I've been called the N-word on my public Instagram. I've been accosted for burning the flag and told that I am just as racist as those I believe who fly it, because I don't know my history about the Confederate flag; even when presented with the documents when the Confederacy seceded from the Union, and actually knowing my history, I'm still confronted with the fact that I'm ignoring the heritage part of the Confederate flag. But that is not what I'm ignoring.

That's not the part that bothers me, and if you're proud to be a Southerner, I understand that. But the Confederacy made it clear that the reason they entered into war was to maintain an economy based on slavery. So, heritage aside, you can imagine when a Black American sees that, what heritage do I think of? So, while respecting your heritage, respect mine, and historically that flag has meant danger to me.

What kind of limitations to protest have you encountered?

I've spent a lot of time protesting outside of Colorado Springs. We're treated differently here, and the response is different here, and then with the NAACP thing going on, it's a different community. For instance, in other metropolitan areas, the protest spaces aren't designated by those in opposition to the protest. For instance, in Denver, the protesters are escorted [by police], which I think is an amazing juxtaposition of law enforcement agencies and people having issues with trusting them, and then them escorting. I love that combination there.

I fear in Colorado Springs, especially with the response, instead of responding to what we're protesting, it's been, "Well, why are you doing this on this day? And why are you doing it here? And what if my children see this?" And, "You're just inciting violence by having a protest." And there's all of these different requirements for what people think is appropriate for protesting. And almost my biggest priority is to demonstrate that the right to protest is the right to protest appropriately at any time and in any place.

Do you think these issues are getting appropriate attention in Colorado Springs media?

No, I don't. I've been saying something similar since I've been here — I've been here off and on since 1995 — and it is a complaint that is not singularly from myself; it's echoed from a lot of the youth, and I'm not talking liberals or just progressives.

It seems as if Colorado Springs is geared towards almost the older crowd. And even when we had the Rock the Vote, it was for youth but [only young] business people. So, it seems as if there's a group of people in Colorado Springs that contribute to the economy, that pay taxes and drive up and down these streets — they have vested interest in this city, but they don't have a connection to the outside of Colorado Springs, which can be detrimental when it comes to relationships with your peers and with your neighbors and with the media. 

How would you describe the cultural environment for African-Americans in Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs?

So, I picked Manitou Springs specifically because I'm so proud of Manitou Springs. And outside of anything that has to do with race, when Manitou flooded, we rebuilt, we dug out, and this was before we had federal funds. This town — we know each other very well. Everyone knows my son. Everyone knows me. It's a wonderful town that's incredibly open to everyone. I've never felt, for the most part, like I feel when I drive up north, occasionally, and go to a yoga class. And it's not just because I'm familiar; it's because Manitou doesn't look twice. We see some people there in a variety of dress and appearance, but Manitou is incredibly accepting.

And so how have you found Colorado Springs to be?

In Colorado Springs, I see opposite. I see the sharp dichotomy in the people. You go down south, and I'm surrounded by people that look more like me, and specifically there are more minorities, but simultaneously [Mayor John] Suthers will talk down on them and label them as criminals.

And then you go up north, because it makes sense — you have different shopping centers proliferating up there, and even the landscaping is different — but still, when I go up there, I still get a look like they're surprised that I'm there. And I get that same look when I go skiing, or I get that same look when I'm in short shorts in the cold: It's the stereotypes associated with being a black American. But I definitely feel it when I go to certain parts of Colorado Springs, and at times it feels very negative and almost aggressive, that I'm violating a space.

Do you think there are similar issues here as those that spurred protest in places like Ferguson and Baltimore?

I would hesitate to say "similar," because all of the situations are microcosms of a greater issue. And being from Washington, D.C., I understood Baltimore a little bit differently than some people who hadn't been there, because Baltimore has been living in devastation for years and years, and it's collapsing on itself.

And it's the same reason why I look at [the Springs'] southeast and I say we have to hurry and take care of this now, because it can only get worse, and it's going to be harder to fix it then.

So, Baltimore's a different situation, and so is Ferguson. Anyone coming out of Ferguson will talk to you about intense racial relations for years there. But although this is part of a greater scheme of things, each area has its different context. So, I think that comparing Colorado Springs, or Colorado in general, to that isn't necessarily fair. But there's an undercurrent of racial tension that exists in America, of course.

Are there any things you would like to see done differently by Colorado Springs city government?

I'd love to see more youth and diversity in Colorado Springs city government. I'd like to see them actively reaching out. I'd like to see them creating more programs that are with the times. There's Periscope: You could have somebody out there just randomly live-stream while they're out in a government office — something that appeals to young people. And I don't think there's a concentrated effort for that. And certainly during the last election, even when you saw Jariah [Walker] lose and it was surprising, there's just not enough effort to get diversity in Colorado Springs. 

And it may be asking too much, because you look at the numbers, and this isn't the most diverse town. But what I love about Colorado Springs is it has so much potential, because everyone's here — outside of, of course, the military — because they love this place, and we love the mountains and we love everything about it. So, we have that in common. I'd like for us all to work on that.

Does anything else come to mind?

I definitely want to focus on the fact that this is truly a protest of unity. And we picked July 4 because it's the day of our nation's independence and we want to show one flag. We want to eliminate the division; we want to symbolize eliminating the division; and we want to show a multi-cultural group coming together.

There's a lot of talk about how much people dislike America and et cetera, but the greatest critics are those that believe in this country. And I 100 percent do.

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Good news for trail users

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 1:33 PM

The city announced yesterday that Great Outdoors Colorado has bestowed a $1 million for the Legacy Loop project. A new trailhead for the loop will be built at Recreation Way and Fontanero Street, the city says in a release.

The loop is an ongoing project that surrounds the city's central region.

The news release:

The City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department is honored to partner with Great Outdoors Colorado and our primary project partner, the Greenway Fund, to embark on this project- a project that will leverage existing park and trail assets, create regionally significant trail connections and develop new and lasting recreational opportunities for the citizens of Colorado Springs. The $1 million GOGO grant will help Colorado Springs move closer to completing a park and trail ring around the city center, known as the Legacy Loop, which was originally the vision of Colorado Springs’ founder General William Palmer over 100 years ago.

A series of projects on the north and northwest portions of the proposed ten mile loop will create significant trail connections from the Rock Island Trail to the Pikes Peak Greenway on the north end of Monument Valley Park. Enhancements for trail heads and underpasses will also create greater access to Monument Creek waterway.

Major elements of the Legacy Loop project include:
· Construction of nearly 2.5 miles of 12’-wide concrete multiuse recreational trail on the north and northwest portions of the Legacy Loop
· Construction of the Rock Island Trail’s ‘missing gap’ from the Pikes Peak Greenway to the existing Rock Island Trail at Templeton Gap Road - a trail that will link, for the first time, the major north-south trail and the major east-west trail in our region (Pikes Peak Greenway and Rock Island Trail). This project element also includes a Shook’s Run and Rock Island Trail connection.
· Construction of a 12’ wide concrete trail on the west side of Monument Creek from Uintah St. north to the Rock Island Trail Corridor at W. Van Buren St.
· Construction of the Legacy Loop Trailhead at W. Fontanero St. and Recreation Way. The multi-use Legacy Loop Trailhead will have space for up to 100 cars, amenities for special events, races, and community gatherings, and convenient access from I-25 to the Legacy Loop trail and Monument Valley Park
· Safe trail underpasses and creek access on the west side of Monument Creek at W. Uintah St. and on the east and west sides of Monument Creek at Mesa Rd.
· Development of the PopCycle Bridge at the northwest corner of the Legacy Loop at Monument Creek. The PopCycle Bridge, a project of City partner Kids on Bikes, will include a gathering space for trail users, bicycle art, and a car-free roadway striped to mimic an active road so that children and new cyclists can learn how to safely navigate bike lanes and intersections on the safety of a recreational trail. 

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Old Town adds a Tesla charger

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 4:04 PM

I somehow feel that would that we look back on some distant day, history will regard this post as amusingly as we might today look upon an article from a bygone era where a small town got its first streetlight. 

In other words, if the renewable energy revolution has its way and the "medical emergency" that is global warming doesn't collapse society by 2040, we should all chuckle to see me draw attention to Old Town Guesthouse B&B becoming the first local lodging option to be selected for a Tesla Destination Charger

Those and other EV-friendly gadgets should by then be everywhere, unless we're onto flying cars or something.  

Anyway, here's the press release about the charger, the facility and relevant parties:

Colorado Springs, CO - June 19, 2015 - In a true ‘gold medal win’ for the city, the Old Town Guesthouse B&B in historic west-side Old Colorado City has become the region’s first lodging host to offer a Tesla Destination Charger for overnight guests. The unit is complemented by a Clipper Creek Universal EV charger.

“We’re ‘super’ charged-up over this,” (pun intended) say proprietors Dave & Kim Wolinski. “We became new owners of The Guesthouse just one year ago this past week and this is a wonderful first anniversary addition to our array of guest services.”

“Tesla Motors, in cooperation with Select Registry, offered us the opportunity to become the first lodging charging station between Denver and New Mexico. Charging is an amenity for overnight guests, or $15 for stop-ins as the schedule allows. This installation makes The Springs a new hot spot on the national electric vehicle map.”

“We’re a very ‘green’ B&B devoted to energy efficiency, conservation, reuse, recycling and a hypo-allergenic guest environment. Tesla’s foray into pure electric technology seems a perfect fit. And, being convenient to I-25 in the heart of Old Colorado City near Pikes Peak attractions, local military bases, Colorado College and the US Olympic Committee training facilities, the Old Town Guesthouse B&B is truly the ideal home-away for both leisure and business travelers.”
  • Courtesy Old Town Guesthouse B&B
The Gazette and The Independent have awarded Old Town Guesthouse B&B “Best of the Springs” nine years in a row. Trip Advisor recently provided the Guesthouse with # 1 B&B rating in Colorado Springs and a Hall of Fame Award for five successive years of Certificate of Excellence recognition.

About Old Town Guesthouse B&B:
Old Town Guesthouse B&B—a member of Select Registry, Distinguished Inns of North America—is an award-winning, cozy-chic, eclectic, slightly eccentric, fun and very private inn devoted to the spirit of historic Old Colorado City. Unique, comfortable public areas offer guests an exclusive welcome. That’s paired with uniquely themed guest rooms with balconies that feature fabulous mountain views plus in–room saunas, or private rooftop escapes with hot tubs. And guests enjoy nightly wine and local brew social hours and a hearty daily gourmet breakfast/brunch presentation that is the Inn’s hallmark. The surrounding neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers opportunities to stop, shop, dine and get casually ‘recharged’ on numerous levels at some 100 independent shops, restaurants, museums and galleries just steps from The Guesthouse.

The Tesla Connection:
Old Town Guesthouse B&B joins a rapidly growing network of resorts in Tesla Destination Charging, including more than 160 other Select Registry properties throughout the U.S. This new program provides hotels, resorts, and restaurants around the world with charging equipment and gives Tesla drivers the freedom to charge wherever they want to travel by replicating the charging convenience owners are accustomed to at home. Old Town Guesthouse B&B has one 80A Tesla Wall Connector and one Clipper Creek Universal Connector for other hybrid vehicles; overnight guests charge for free and non-guests can charge for $15 based on daily parking availability. Select Registry properties and other Tesla Destination Charging Locations are hosted on Tesla’s interactive webpage and will soon be GPS located on Model S’ navigation through a free software update sent wirelessly to the car. In coming months, Tesla owners will be able to use the Model S 17” touch screen to easily plan trips and locate the property.

About Tesla Motors:
Tesla Motors' (NASDAQ: TSLA) goal is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transport with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. California-based Tesla designs and manufactures electric vehicles as well as EV powertrain components. Tesla has delivered more than 55,000 electric vehicles to customers worldwide.

About Select Registry:
Select Registry is a portfolio of more than 300 quality-assured premier inns, bed and breakfasts and small hotels throughout North America. Each property has passed an unannounced, rigorous, 200-point quality assurance inspection to earn and maintain its Select Registry membership, and to ensure it provides travelers with guaranteed quality, exceptional service and an unforgettable lodging experience. Learn more at www.selectregistry.com

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Review extra: The Little Prince at Funky Little Theater Company

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 9:56 AM

  • Funky Little Theater Company

Indy theater critic Bill Wheeler sees more plays than we can fit into print each week. He also runs his own blog, Theater Colorado, where you can find his critiques on plays both local and regional.

Last weekend, he saw Funky Little Theater Company's The Little Prince, and had this to say:
Funky cast Evan Slavens as The Little Prince, and it’s hard to imagine they could have found a more suitable actor anywhere. Slavens is only a 7th grader at Eagleview Middle School, but he has some heavy duty acting experience, including Ludlow, 1914 at Theatreworks and The Wizard of Oz at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

...  He is onstage nearly the entire 90 minutes of this show, and he has more lines than any other actor on this stage. He never missed a mark, never missed a cue, and never dropped a line. He was, in fact, formidable, holding his own among the “grownups” sharing the stage with him.

It’s not often I get the chance to say this, but if you have children, take them to see Evan Slavens in The Little Prince. Not only will they benefit from seeing Saint Exupery’s story play out in real time, but they may also be inspired by what one of their peers can do on the Funky stage. 
The Little Prince closes July 3. Find tickets here, and read the rest of the review here.
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Netflix Picks: Winnebago Man

Posted By on Sun, Jun 28, 2015 at 7:50 AM

  • Screenshot
Whatever happened to Jack Rebney? Known as the Winnebago Man or the Angriest Man in the World, Rebney wrote and starred in a 1989 Winnebago industry film shoot. The obscenity-laden outtakes were an underground humor hit, and after years of tape trading, they made it on to YouTube (see below). The 2009 film Winnebago Man is a documentary about Rebney, the famous outtakes and director Ben Steinbauer's quest to learn about the man who kept losing his cool.

Before YouTube, videos like Rebney's outtakes were passed around on VHS tapes from person to person. The opening scenes establish the Rebney film's pre-internet notoriety; it has been quoted in Hollywood productions, and Dreamworks even has a painting of Shrek as Rebney in its offices. But Steinbauer is curious about how viral fame has affected Rebney's life, if he's even still alive.

Steinbauer finds Rebney acting as the caretaker for a small fishing resort in northern California, living like a hermit. When he first meets Steinbauer and crew, Rebney is placid and well-spoken. But, over the phone, Rebney admits that it was an act; he's still as vulgar and cantankerous as ever, convinced of the failings of modern society (though still a case study in good speaking). Rebney is unwilling to open up about himself and convinced he would have no way of connecting to his audience.

With help from Rebney's friend Keith Gordon, Steinbauer convinces Rebney to attend a specially-organized showing from the Found Footage Film Festival and answer questions. Rebney connects with his fans, who find him sweet and genuine.

Steinbauer does a great job of putting his journey into Rebney's head into context. He has all manner of writers, directors and actors talking about how Rebney's video turned into a secret language among them in the 90s. But Steinbauer also acknowledges how viral fame has gone wrong before. He spends a lot of the film looking at the relationship between viral celebrities and their audiences without making it feel like a thesis.

Rebney himself is a compelling character. At first, he's a spent flashbulb lost in the stockroom. As we meet him, we see a man who has only his principles and the sense that he's outmoded. He worked in TV news until he felt it lost objectivity, then he switched to promo films. Shortly before Steinbauer's second visit, Rebney loses his eyesight to glaucoma; except for his dog, Buddha, he is cut off from the world altogether. It becomes clear that Steinbauer's goal in the latter half of the movie is keeping Rebney connected to the rest of the world.

Stylistically, Steinbauer loves echoing the feel and the shot structures of the original outtakes. He uses shots of himself and Gordon opening the gate to Rebney's home as visual metaphor for Rebney's openness to the outside world – shots made to feel like the Winnebago footage. And Steinbauer narrates most of the film in a pleasant, clear voice which neither bores nor grates.

In the process of looking for the man from the video tape, Steinbauer taps into powerful parts of the modern human condition, like alienation, voyeurism and empathy. Winnebago Man is a funny look into the life of this dedicated curmudgeon and reluctant minor celebrity. So what if it doesn't have the gravity or universal importance of a usual documentary subject? Stupid little things like web videos affect millions of people too. Tune in and leave your ideas about noteworthiness and the door. It's the little things that count.

Congratulations, you're one movie closer to justifying that $8.99 a month.

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Photographer Profile: Jason Odell

Posted By on Sat, Jun 27, 2015 at 6:48 AM

Sunset over Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO. - JASON ODELL
  • Jason Odell
  • Sunset over Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO.
"At the end of the day it’s about making people happy. I do photography to make myself happy. I teach photography to make my students happy."

That’s Jason Odell’s answer to why a PHD in animal physiology and evolutionary biology left corporate America and became a highly-regarded wildlife photographer and instructor. But this doesn’t mean his skill set isn’t put to good use.

"So much of my experience in getting a doctorate involved learning something that I didn’t realize I was learning along the way. Writing, teaching and technical, I’m using all of the stuff I learned,” he says. 

Odell also says his time spent as a teaching assistant is huge asset to teaching photography. “It’s what I really enjoy about teaching. I’m watching the light bulb turn on and I see it in people’s eyes. 'Oh, I get it' That’s where I derive a lot of personal satisfaction.”  

His scenic landscapes and wildlife photographs are the real deal, and he only does a handful of intimate workshops (two instructors and no more than 10 students) every year. One of his favorites trips is to South Texas to photograph song birds. Photographing birds? That’s a technical challenge and difficult to do well, even for the seasoned professional.

"It’s very difficult to fill the frame of a camera with a small bird. It takes a lot of lens and you have to be quite close,” he says. 

His journey as photographer began in 2004 when took a job in Colorado Springs after getting his doctorate at UC Riverside. He quickly got bored and decided he wasn’t up to warming a seat in an office cubicle. 

“You certainly learn what you don’t want to do. I decided to do what I liked to do. I like animals. I like the outdoors and I enjoy teaching,” he says. "I get to do something I didn’t get to do when I was working in corporate America. Something that is intellectually challenging and creative."

His next project is teaching how to shoot the urban landscape, and teamed up with well-known travel photographer, Deborah Sandidge for workshops in Chicago and South Beach this year. The idea is to teach people how to make great travel pictures.

"When people travel they’re usually on and off a bus and onto the next thing. This workshop is designed for people who want to take pictures. We make it a point to go to places to photograph them. This is really for people who love to travel,” he says.  

And the challenge in urban settings? Making one-of-a-kind pictures. 

"We try to impart a skill set that allows them to tackle a variety of subjects, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, and still come away with an image that is different than everyone else." he explains. "We show people how to do multiple exposures, light painting, long exposures, infrared photography, cinema graphs, light trails etc… You don’t always get to go to a spot at the perfect time. So, what do you do? In this workshop, we show them."

Colorado Springs wedding photographer Sean Cayton loves remarkable photographs and the stories behind them. You can see his wedding work at caytonphotography.com, his personal work at seancayton.com and his editorial work in the Colorado Springs Independent. Submit your photo and the story behind the image - no more than two a week, please - to sean@caytonphotography.com for consideration in upcoming blogs.
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Time to party for equal rights

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 3:49 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court just made marriage equality the law of the land, and supporters are ready to celebrate.

The party is getting started at Poor Richard's Rico's Café & Wine Bar at 4 p.m. today. And if you aren't buzzed enough by the good news, there will be free wine and beer.


What: FREE! 3 oz. pours of wine and beer at Poor Richard’s Rico’s Café & Wine Bar!!!

Come toast with us, this landmark decision! All day TODAY (while the hooch lasts)

When: Today

Where: 322 N. Tejon St. – Rico’s Café & Wine Bar!

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Road repairs are top priority, citizens say

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 3:38 PM

A huge majority of Springs citizens say the city's crumbling road network is the highest priority, above flood control, according to a poll conducted by Colorado Springs Forward, a nonprofit group formed to influence public policy.
A crater on Barnes Road. - CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
  • A crater on Barnes Road.

Other results of the poll show more voters support a sales tax rather than a property tax, despite the city's property tax mill rate being among the lowest in the state.

Here's a news release from the city about the poll. Look for a ballot measure at the November election on this topic, as well as a request by the city retain $2.1 million in excess revenue from 2014.

In a formal public poll of Colorado Springs voters regarding possible solutions to address the city’s deteriorating stormwater and streets infrastructure, participants overwhelmingly chose road projects (77 percent) as a higher priority than stormwater projects (14 percent).

Additional poll highlights include:
· By 58 percent, voters stated that if the Mayor and City Council were able to use funds from the existing city budget to pay for necessary stormwater repairs they would be willing to pay a higher sales tax or property tax to be used solely for road repairs. Twenty-nine percent stated they would not support a tax, and 13 percent were unsure or had no opinion.
· Based on a scenario to raise $50 million a year for road repairs, voters preferred funding repairs through a sales tax (69 percent), to a property tax (14 percent).
· Respondents also said that based on the information they heard they think the Mayor and City Council are moving in the right direction in addressing road and stormwater funding issues (75 percent).
· Sixty-five percent of voters preferred that any tax imposed be for five years and voters would have an opportunity to assess progress before deciding to extend it another five years. Twenty-six percent preferred a 10-year term.

Voters were also polled about whether the $2.1 million in revenues from fiscal year 2014 that exceeded the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) should be refunded to Colorado Springs residents or if the city should be allowed to retain the funds to be used towards other city projects. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they would support the city retaining the excess revenues, and 43 percent selected funding road repairs and trail improvements in city parks as a preferred potential project.

During the Council/Mayor Workshop held June 12, elected leaders discussed the importance of gaining voter opinion about the level of support for increased funding of city infrastructure before placing an item on the November ballot. This autodial telephone poll, conducted by Magellan Strategies, surveyed 769 registered Colorado Springs voters between June 22 -23, 2015. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.53 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval and was weighed based upon past off-year November election voting demographics. The poll was funded by Colorado Springs Forward.
The poll's questions:

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Take pride: Same-sex marriage is finally legal everywhere

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 11:37 AM

  • Purple Sherbet Photography

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right to marry for same-sex couples.

Today, my inbox has been flooded with emails — most of them celebrating the decision. I, too, am celebrating. Like many of you, I have family and friends in the LGBT community. But unlike most of you, I have been surrounded by that community from the day I was born. I "marched" in my first Pride Parade before I could walk. I gave speeches at PFLAG when I was an adolescent. I watched many dear family friends succumb to AIDS in a country that despised and feared them.

When I was growing up, the LGBT community was focused on dealing with the AIDS crisis and with violence. Community members were worried about getting beat up. They were worried about being murdered. They were worried about losing their jobs or their homes or their families.

A few years ago, I watched a YouTube video of a little girl who was outraged that her lesbian moms couldn't get married. It made me cry. At first, I wasn't sure why. But then it occurred to me that I was proud she was growing up in a world where she expected life to be fair — she expected everyone to be treated equally under the law. 

I had never dared to expect such a thing when I was her age. 

In the last few days, we've witnessed this country get better. Across the nation, loving gay and lesbian couples will soon be exchanging long-delayed wedding vows. In the South, Confederate flags are coming down. We're changing as a country. We're getting better.

I've always been proud to be an American. But today, I'm prouder than I've ever been.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

ACLU demands internal-affairs records from CSPD over traffic stop

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado issues a press release condeming the Colorado Springs Police Department for clearing its officers in the case of the Browns.

“The ACLU of Colorado is deeply disappointed that [CSPD] has concluded, without explanation, that the officers’ treatment of Ryan and Benjamin Brown was justified and proper,” says legal director Mark Silverstein in a press release. “The internal affairs decision makes it clear that, when officers removed Ryan and Benjamin from a vehicle at gunpoint and taser point, handcuffed them, searched them and detained them, all stemming from a traffic stop for a cracked windshield, it was just business as usual.”

“The message to the community, especially young people of color, is that they should expect this kind of treatment from Colorado Springs police during the course of routine traffic stops. That is unacceptable.”

The organization says it has requested the entire internal investigation.
The two brothers were driving just a block away from their home when Benjamin, the driver, noticed police lights flashing in the rearview mirror. After a taser-wielding officer ordered him out of the car, he was handcuffed, searched without cause, and detained in the back of a police vehicle, even though he had been cooperative, no weapons or contraband were found, and there was no evidence to suggest that he had been involved in a crime.
Ryan Brown began recording the scene on his phone. His repeated requests for the officers to identify the reason for the stop were ignored. Officers worked together to force him out of the car, push him to the ground, face down in the snow, search him, and cuff him, all the while at gunpoint.

While dragging Brown out of the car, officers on the video are heard saying that he is not under arrest and that they were just checking him for weapons. No weapons were found. Officers took his phone, turned off the video, and threw it in the snow.

Benjamin Brown was cited for a cracked windshield, and Ryan Brown was charged with “interfering with official police duties.” Later that day, Ryan Brown provided his recording to the Colorado Springs Police Department to accompany his official complaint to internal affairs about the officers’ conduct. The ACLU announced in May that it will defend the Browns in criminal court.

“No reasonable person could watch Ryan’s video and conclude that two young white men would have been treated the same way. Similarly, it is unfathomable how internal affairs could possibly conclude that the officers’ conduct was justified, legal, or proper. We look forward to receiving the internal affairs file and reviewing the reasoning and explanation for the department’s conclusions. “

The ACLU encourages people to record their interactions with police. This summer, the ACLU of Colorado will launch Mobile Justice Colorado, a free smartphone app that allows people to record video that automatically uploads to the ACLU, preventing law enforcement from deleting or destroying it.

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Ksenia Quiros hiked a far distance

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 11:12 AM

This week, we revisited the search for Ksenia Quiros, who went missing in the Stratton Open Space in April, in our cover story "As I Lay Dying."

Here's a visual showing the point where her pickup truck was found at the La Veta Way trailhead on April 15, on the right side of the map, and where a couple of hikers discovered her frozen body four days later. The distance is about one mile but the hike covers about three miles, according to those familiar with Stratton Open Space on the city's southwest side.

The map was produced by the El Paso County Assessor's Office:


Here's another perspective of the area from Mark Lewis, who was following the story as it unfolded.

The distance, as measured on Google earth is 1.94 miles, and it's very steep towards the end. - MARK LEWIS
  • Mark Lewis
  • The distance, as measured on Google earth is 1.94 miles, and it's very steep towards the end.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Colorado research says no negative impact on children of same-sex couples

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 2:19 PM

  • shutterstock
Researchers from the University of Colorado-Denver have released a study that found "scientists agree that children of same-sex parents experience 'no difference' on a range of social and behavioral outcomes compared to children of heterosexual or single parents."
The study was le​d by Jimi Adams, an associate professor in the Department of Health and Behavioral Studies at CU Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and published this month in Social Science Research.

The research comes at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court is determining whether the Constitution requires marriage equality. In the case, Obergefell v. Hodges, courts are using social science research to shore up arguments for and against gay marriage. Adams’ study provides evidence against the idea that children of same-sex couples suffer disadvantages.

The study examined thousands of peer-reviewed articles referencing same-sex parenting for patterns in citation of work by other researchers. Adams found that over time, the articles began to cite the same research which supported the “no difference” conclusion.

To determine if and when scientific consensus had been achieved, Adams systematically examined citation networks to find shifts in content. By 1990, he found a developing consensus among researchers about the effect of same-sex parenting. And by 2000, he discovered that researchers had reached “overwhelming” consensus on the issue.

Adams co-authored the study with Ryan Light in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oregon. Adams and Light believe their approach can provide courts with an accessible and objective measure of scientific consensus for application to a range of legal questions.

“As same-sex marriage has been debated in courts across the country, there has been the lingering question about the effects of same-sex parenting on children,” explained Adams. “I wanted to analyze the research from the past decades to determine if there was consensus amongst researchers about that effect. I found overwhelming evidence that scientists agree that there is not a negative impact to children of same-sex couples.”

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Bike to Work Day: Now I just have to get home

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 2:00 PM

  • City of Colorado Springs

Today was Bike to Work Day, and the timing was not exactly great.

My allergies have been so bad that I stayed home from work yesterday. I was pretty tired when I hopped on my bike this morning and rode from Manitou Springs to downtown. Thankfully, it's downhill.

When I arrived at work, I read that an off-duty police officer had been hit on his bike. According to the police blotter, which lists the time of the crash as 6:35 a.m., "The Bicyclist suffered non life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital for evaulation [sic] and care. The Motorist was cited for careless driving causing bodily injury and failure to yield." 

Well, my ride wasn't that bad. Aside from the copious ragweed, actually, it was fairly pleasant. The sun was shining. The birds were chirping. The golden morning sunlight was sparkly with bits of cotton from the trees. 

I didn't make it out to ride with the mayor. (Sorry, but I'm just not masochistic enough to get up in time for a 5:45 a.m. bike ride.) I didn't go to the free breakfast either — because I have food allergies. But I did the ride. And really, it wasn't bad.

This evening, however, looks less pleasant. The rain clouds have moved in.

It's sort of refreshing, though, to be a part of the world in this way. Normally, when I'm driving, the worst a rain cloud is going to do to me is dampen my clothes as I rush to the car. When you're on bike, you're suddenly a part of nature again. You're at its mercy. When you're wet and cold, that's sort of a bad thing. But at the same time, there's something refreshing about it. You become more observant of the world around you. You break out of your bubble. 

So, tonight, as I ride up the hill back home, I'm going to try to appreciate the weather. The ragweed, however...

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

System of a Down and The Prodigy added to Riot Fest lineup

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 3:46 PM


Organizers of Denver’s Riot Fest — or Riot Fest & Rodeo, as it’s being called this year — have just announced a handful of additional acts for the August 28-30 festival at the National Western Complex.

System of a Down, The Prodigy, 88 Fingers Louie, Input & Broken, and Chef’Special are the latest to join more than a hundred previously acts, which include Ice Cube, Pixies, Modest Mouse, Motorhead, Drive Like Jehu, L7, Run DMC, The Black Lips, Bootsy Collins, and Anthrax.

You can find the full lineup at riotfest.org

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Mike Miles resigns in Dallas

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 1:45 PM

Miles: On the road again. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Miles: On the road again.
Controversial school superintendent Mike Miles resigned today from Dallas public schools, drawing cheers from some and words of sorrow from others.

He served as Harrison School District 2  ("School house rocked," May 13, 2010) superintendent here some years ago and made an unsuccessful bid for Senate. He left for Dallas in 2012.

He says he's headed back here in this coverage from the Dallas Morning News, which reports he recently had a contract dispute. He resigned, news agencies are reporting, without a severance payoff and without another job waiting in the wings.

Miles made friends and enemies all over the place. Here's an announcement of his resignation from Dallas schools that landed in our in-box a few minutes ago.

Diane Ravitch's blog

BREAKING NEWS: Mike Miles Resigns as Dallas Superintendent
by dianeravitch

Mike Miles, the controversial superintendent of the Dallas public schools, resigned. He was a military man, trained by the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy.

When he arrived in Dallas, he announced ambitious goals, including significant gains in test scores. He fired many principals, closed schools, demoralized teachers (who left in droves), pushed school choice, instituted pay-for-performane, appointed large numbers of young TFA to high-level administrative positions (including the director of human tesources, hired at age 28, fired at age 30 for improprieties), evaluated teachers by test scores: the whole reform play book, but achieved none of his goals. After three years, test scores (the golden ring of reformers) were flat or declining.

Teacher turnover and flight from DISD reached unprecedented numbers. The atmosphere became so toxic that Miles moved his family back to Colorado, presumably for their safety.
One of the lowest points in his three-year tenure was when he directed police officers to remove a school board member from a high school in her district, where she was visiting.
His supporters were disappointed and called it "a sad day."

Others, no doubt, will be glad to see him go.

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