Breaking News

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Dakota Access Pipeline halted after veterans join Standing Rock protesters

Posted By on Sun, Dec 4, 2016 at 5:19 PM

In a sudden turnabout that few could have predicted, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it's been ordered by the federal government to halt construction of the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

This last-minute development comes in the wake of a weekend influx of more than 2,000 veterans to Standing Rock, where some 5,000 pipeline protesters have been camped next to the Sioux Reservation — many of them for months — in increasingly hazardous weather conditions. The incoming veterans vowed to create a human chain around the encampments tomorrow, in order to shield protesters from what was seen as a potentially violent forced eviction.

Concerns over violence were not unwarranted. Two weeks ago, an estimated 4,000 protesters faced off against police during an attempted march across the bridge to the pipeline construction site. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons, which were deployed in below-freezing conditions. A reported 300 protesters were injured, one of whom nearly lost her arm from a concussion grenade that police insist they did not fire.

Last Sunday, I spent three days camping out with protesters and joined them in a silent march across that same bridge. Halfway across, there was a barrier of razor wire, cement blockades, riot police and an elevated "sound cannon." An aircraft circled the area, while a drone silently hovered above the crowd. After a tense standoff, the large contingent of women leading the march turned their fellow protesters back around. While returning to the encampments, a heavy rain began falling, followed by a blizzard that would blanket the camp in nearly two feet of snow.

While the pipeline was originally intended to run along the outskirts of Bismarck (a North Dakota town with a 92% white population), community fears of drinking water contamination prompted a change of course. Energy Transfer Partners — whose investors have included president-elect Donald Trump — responded with a new plan to reroute the pipeline through Native American lands located more than 100 miles south of Bismarck. In addition to creating the same safety issues, tribal leaders say the new route would result in the desecration of sacred burial sites.

Prior to the veterans' involvement, national news outlets had virtually blacked-out coverage of the Standing Rock protests. But a CNN reporter reassured viewers, somewhat condescendingly, that this was not at all due to bias or negligence. Broadcasting live on a split-screen with scrolling social media reactions, she responded on camera to the barrage of angry, real-time posts.

"I don't think you saw a lot of national coverage when it comes to the last few months," she explained, "because there was this thing called the 2016 election."

We'll be posting further updates as events unfold in the days ahead. Meanwhile, you can read Nat Stein's Nov. 23 Indy cover story for an account of indigenous locals' participation in the Standing Rock protests.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, October 3, 2016

Policeman charged with brutality is found not guilty

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 9:42 AM

Biscaro: found not guilty.
  • Biscaro: found not guilty.
Colorado Springs Police Sgt. Steven Biscaro has been found innocent of all charges.

Biscaro was charged with menacing, a Class Five felony, and third degree assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor. The jury reached their decision after deliberating for a short time today.

Biscaro, a 23-year police veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, was charged after he responded to a traffic accident that turned into a disturbance. 

The Gazette, which covered the trial, reported that 43-year-old Michael Ferguson, who was involved in the traffic accident, reported that Biscaro punched, kicked and choked him and told him, "I'm going to (expletive) kill you."

El Paso County Sheriff's deputies, who were also on the scene, also testified in the case. One testified that he believed  Biscaro had used excessive force with Ferguson. 

Biscaro's name also surfaced in the Independent's reporting on accusations of police use of excessive force. 
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Police shooting of Halloween murderer ruled justified

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 1:54 PM

A weapon like this was used to kill three people on Oct. 31, 2015. - WWW.BRAVOCOMPANYUSA.COM
  • A weapon like this was used to kill three people on Oct. 31, 2015.
The District Attorney's Office has justified the Colorado Springs Police Department's shooting and killing of Noah Harpham, who took three lives with an AR-15 on the morning of Halloween 2015.
Noah Harpham
  • Noah Harpham
According to a report released today:
The facts and evidence from this particular investigation show that CSPD Officers Randall Scott Hallas, Edward Crofoot, Matthew Anderson and Charles Surratt acted reasonably and were justified in defending themselves and others from the continued use of deadly physical force by Noah Harpham. Officers Hallas, Crofoot, Anderson, Surrat, David and Darress performed admirably in preventing further carnage in the City of Colorado Springs. Their actions were not only justified; they were heroic. Because their actions were justified under Colorado law, no criminal charges will be pursued.
Read the whole report here:

Here's another part of the report that's worth noting:
In the days leading up to this event his family grew alarmed about Harpham’s situation. According to Elizabeth Tucker, Harpham had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Harpham’s step father told investigators that Harpham had become ‘more manic’ as of late. Harpham’s mother also informed his ex-girlfriend this was happening, stating “He (Harpham) has escalated to a new level.” Heather Kopp warned Elizabeth Tucker to “Do everything you can to avoid contact with him (Harpham).” Heather Kopp further had contact with Harpham’s psychiatrist.

Due to these concerns, his stepfather, David Kopp and his brother, Nathan Harpham, boarded separate planes on October 31, 2015, to come to Colorado Springs. They had made plans to try and have Harpham hospitalized. In a later statement from Heather Kopp, she informed law enforcement, “We wanted to get Noah to a medical treatment facility and considered if the police could assist. But we were told by both Dr. Everett and the Cedar Springs Mental Health Center that unless Noah was a threat to himself or others (which he wasn’t) the police wouldn’t be able to assist us” She further stated, he was having “…manic delusions of grandeur and (was) in need of medical help. Prior to coming out to get him hospitalized, his stepfather informed Harpham he was coming to Colorado Springs. David Kopp reported that Harpham told him he (Harpham) was euphoric. The stepfather said Harpham told him ‘it would be great and it would happen here’, and ‘it would be awesome’ and ‘it would blow your mind.’ Harpham’s stepfather arrived in Colorado Springs in the evening of October 31, 2015, several hours after the shootings. Harpham’s mother and stepfather were aware that Harpham had several guns, including the long gun.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Riot Fest unveils 2016 lineups

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Even Donald Trump cares about Riot Fest!
  • Even Donald Trump cares about Riot Fest!

So Chicago gets Morrissey. Denver gets Jane's Addiction. And we all get Ween.

Following up on the news of the Misfits reunion 
that will be taking place at this year’s Denver and Chicago Riot Fests, event organizers this morning announced the first round of bookings for the multi-genre event.

Among the acts who’ll be playing both cities are Ween, Death Cab for Cutie, the Meat Puppets and the aforementioned Misfits.

Other bands will be playing only one city. Like Denver, for instance, where fans can see Jane’s Addiction performing Ritual De Lo Habitual in its full glory, while the Chicago lineup boasts Social Distortion doing a 20th anniversary rendition of White Light, White Heat, White Trash.

NAS, Sleater-Kinney and Tyler, the Creator will all be playing Denver, while Chicago has a lock on Method Man & Redman, Rob Zombie and The Specials.

Meanwhile, Chicago’s Morrissey devotees can swoon over the fact that their beloved idol will be headlining down that way. Up here, their Colorado counterparts can appreciate having one more excuse to feel miserable.

Denver’s Riot Fest will be held at the National Western Complex Sept. 2-4. The Chicago version runs from Sept. 16-18 at Douglas Park.

Look for plenty of details about both events at

Meanwhile, here is the full Denver lineup to date…
The Original Misfits (Featuring Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Wolfgang Von Frankenstein), Ween, Death Cab For Cutie, Jane’s Addiction, Sleater-Kinney, NAS, Deftones, Fitz & The Tantrums, Descendents, NOFX, Underoath, Bad Religion, Thursday, Tyler, the Creator, Pepper, Jake Bugg, Motion City Soundtrack, Wolf Parade, The Hold Steady, Yo La Tengo, Sleigh Bells, Chevy Metal, Vince Staples, Suicidal Tendencies, Flatbush Zombies, The Dandy Warhols, Hatebreed, Lagwagon, The Aquabats, Glassjaw, The Wonder Years, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, Danny Brown, Against Me!, Meat Puppets, Leftöver Crack, Dan Deacon, Murder By Death, Rogue Wave, Converge, Billy Talent, Fucked Up, Set Your Goals, Juliette Lewis & The Licks,Touché Amoré, Frnkiero andthe Cellabration, Pouya, White Lung, Plague Vendor, People Under the Stairs, Fat Nick and Don Krez, Violent Soho, Judith Hill, Tigers Jaw, Bleached, Diarrhea Planet, Planes Mistake For Stars, Dee-1, Kirk Knight, Somos, Turnover, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, Bryce Vine, 3Teeth, Night Riots, Holy White Hounds, Jule Vera, Microwave, Death Spells, Diet Cig, Donna Missal, High Waisted, Culture Abuse … MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Radiohead ends disappearing act with new single and video

Posted By on Tue, May 3, 2016 at 10:04 AM

Here's some good news for Radiohead fans who felt more deprived than usual after the band blacked out virtually all of its social media presence earlier this week.

Turns out it was all a clever way to set up the release of a new video, which was posted earlier this morning.

While there's no embedding available at this point, you can view the video by clicking this link:

The single itself will be available for purchase from iTunes, along with the other usual outlets, tomorrow. 
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Judge dismisses federal marijuana suit against Pueblo County and Colorado officials

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 9:03 AM

Yesterday, Judge Robert E. Blackburn dismissed charges against Pueblo County, as well as other government agencies and officials, in a lawsuit that challenges the legality of recreational marijuana.

Filed in February 2015, the suit asked the U.S. District Court of Colorado to find Amendment 64 illegal due to conflict with the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. The suit also asked the Court to find Pueblo County guilty of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Judge Blackburn dismissed these claims, concluding, in short, that private parties aren't allowed to seek recourse for violations of the Supremacy Clause. He also concluded that it's up to the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Justice to enforce — or not enforce — the Controlled Substances Act, under which marijuana is still federally illegal. Government entities can't be prosecuted under RICO, he said, as "[they] cannot form specific criminal intent."

Last February, the Washington, D.C.-based anti-marijuana group Safe Streets Alliance filed the suit — along with Pueblo County landowners Hope and Michael Reilly — against Rocky Mountain Organics, which was constructing a recreational grow facility near their property in Rye. The plaintiffs also held officially responsible Governor John Hickenlooper; Barbara J. Brohl, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue; W. Lewis Koski, director of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division; the Pueblo County Board of County Commissioners; and the Pueblo County Liquor & Marijuana Licensing Board.

Only the public-sector defendants, however, are off the hook. Rocky Mountain Organics owners Joseph and Jason Licata, as well as the landowner, the leaser, an insurance company, and a developer are among the private-sector defendants named in the suit. All may still be looking at a RICO suit.

Safe Streets Alliance filed two RICO suits last February. The second was against Summit Marijuana and its banking, bonding and accounting companies. Said financial companies either disavowed any association with Summit Marijuana or settled, and the suit was dropped.

Though drug-law expert Sam Kamin told The Cannabist Safe Streets' case would have lost at trial, he added that suits like this "are going to be incredibly problematic for the industry going forward. The folks who helped to bring this suit and sought out plaintiffs for this suit are looking for more and other lawsuits.”

All told, this is good news for Amendment 64 supporters. Between this and U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. advising the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss Nebraska and Oklahoma's lawsuit against Colorado, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that legalization will be struck down by a Supreme Court decision.

Read the full text of the decision here:

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Beatles albums to begin streaming Christmas Eve

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 12:07 PM

  • shutterstock

fans — at least those who don’t limit their listening to vinyl — will get an early Christmas present this year, as the Fab Four finally come to streaming music services.

It was announced Wednesday that the group['s 17-album catalogue will come to most of the major players, including Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Slacker and Spotify.

The Beatles were among the last holdouts. Others who belatedly took the plunge include 

Frank Zappa, whose original catalogue began streaming in 2012

Led Zeppelin, who succumbed to Spotify in late 2013, and then went stateside earlier this year, and

Taylor Swift, whose 10-second Apple boycott ended in June.

That still leaves the Dave Clark 5 — as well as King Crimson and Tool — but pretty much everyone else is now onboard.

  • Favorite

Tags: ,

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Lending a hand in the wake of the shooting

Posted By on Wed, Dec 2, 2015 at 1:11 PM

  • Travis Lowell

We haven't buried our dead yet from the mass shooting at Planned Parenthood on Friday.

But in San Bernardino, early reports are flooding in that as many as 20 people have been shot at a social services office. Our thoughts and prayers are, of course, with them. We grieve for them because we know what it's like to be faced with such violence and tragedy. 

Here in Colorado Springs, we are still trying to cope with the loss of three people: 44-year-old Officer Garrett Swasey, 35-year-old Jennifer Markovsky, and 29-year-old Ke'Arre Marcell Stewart. All three leave behind young children.

Many people have helped in various ways already, but here are a couple more ways you can reach out:

1) Donate money to the Pikes Peak Community Foundation's new Emergency Relief Fund for Crisis Intervention

Supporting Victims and the Colorado Springs Community through PPCF Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention

The Pikes Peak Community Foundation (PPCF) has initiated a new Emergency Relief Fund in response to the recent shootings at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs in which three people were killed and several more were injured. Through a thoughtful application process, PPCF’s Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention will support community-wide efforts of healing in the aftermath of this tragic event.

The Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention will provide financial resources to local nonprofits and agencies including first responders who immediately answered the call to help our community during this unexpected event, and to the agencies that will be working to meet future recovery needs.

A committee of community experts is being put into action now to help achieve the maximum positive impact possible for every dollar invested back into the community. In its commitment to that end, PPCF is underwriting all of the administrative costs associated with the Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention. That means 100% of every donation to this Fund will flow back into the relief and recovery effort.

Tax-deductible donations are being accepted to the Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention immediately and can be made online at or sent by mail to:

Pikes Peak Community Foundation
730 North Nevada Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
(Please make checks out to Pikes Peak Community Foundation, with “ERF: Crisis Intervention” noted.)

About the Emergency Relief Fund

PPCF’s Emergency Relief Fund: Crisis Intervention is modeled after the 2013 Black Forest Fund, which received an outpouring of community support and led the charge in relief efforts after the devastating Black Forest Fire, with the flexibility to quickly respond to the community's needs. PPCF created the Emergency Relief Fund so that donations may be instantly available for any emergency such as fires, floods, and other community challenges.

About PPCF

The Pikes Peak Community Foundation was founded in 1996. PPCF makes grants to support community improvement projects and operates high-impact programs such as Venetucci Farm, the Fund for the Arts, Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, the Erikson Fund, the Pikes Peak Conservation Fund, Pinello Ranch, and the Gordon Jackson Foundation at Aspen Valley Ranch, to create maximum benefit for our community. The Foundation creates custom-designed charitable gift funds for individuals, families, and businesses, including donor-advised funds, donor-designated funds, endowment funds, memorial funds, and scholarship funds, providing flexible and inexpensive alternatives to setting up private or family foundations.

2) Sign the thank you banner for first responders

The COS Human Relations Commission has organized a community Thank You banner signing event for the first responders in our city. The event is to honor those who protect and serve us as we begin recovery from the tragedy of last Friday.

Colorado Springs School District 11 is donating the banner paper and markers.

The signing events are:

Thursday , December 3 , 2015, from 3-5 PM , Pikes Peak Room, City Hall, 107 N. Nevada, Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Friday , December 4 , 2015 from 9-11 AM, C 21 Library , ENT Conference Room , 1175 Chapel Hills Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

Please bring your family, neighbors and co-workers to sign banners which will be distributed throughout the city to our first responders. The banners signed on Thursday will be used at Officer Swasey's service on Friday.

There is no better time for our city to unite, overcome adversity and thank those that continually and selflessly serve our community.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

UPDATE: Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia stepping down

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 9:52 AM

The governor's office has provided the following statement:

Lt. Gov. Garcia to join Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

DENVER — Tuesday, Nov.10, 2015 — Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia today announced that Lt. Gov. Garcia has accepted a position as president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. He will leave his dual role, which includes executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE), and plans to begin with WICHE sometime before July 1, 2016.

“I want to thank Gov. Hickenlooper and the State of Colorado for the incredible opportunity to work on important policy issues for the last five years,” said Garcia. “This was a difficult decision but education has always been my passion. I look forward to carrying the message of opportunity, college completion and workforce development throughout the West.”

“Joe will be nearly impossible to replace,” said Hickenlooper. “He has been an exceptional lieutenant governor and in leading education efforts for Colorado. He has given five years selflessly to the success of this state and the future education of our children. We are grateful and wish him continued success.”

Before he was elected lieutenant governor, Garcia was president of Colorado State University - Pueblo. He also served as president of the second-largest community college in Colorado, Pikes Peak Community College and as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary’s Representative for the Rocky Mountain States; Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies; and was named the first Hispanic partner in the 100-year history of the law firm, Holme Roberts & Owen.

Lt. Gov. Garcia has been actively involved throughout his career as a board member for many non-profit agencies such as the YMCAs of Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver; Pikes Peak Legal Aid; the Colorado Springs and Pueblo Economic Development Agencies; The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (where he served as board president); the Pikes Peak Child Nursery Centers Inc.; the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; and numerous other civil rights, educational, and cultural organizations. He earned a business degree from the University of Colorado and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.

In the event of a vacancy, the governor nominates the lieutenant governor who takes office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both houses according to the Colorado constitution.

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and its 16 members work collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all citizens of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy among states and institutions, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. Its programs – Student Exchange, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, Policy Analysis and Research, and Mental Health and several other interstate collaborations – are working to find answers to some of the most critical questions facing higher education today. WICHE’s 16 members include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states (the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is the first of the group to participate).
——- ORIGINAL POST, TODAY, 9:52 A.M. ——-

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia - BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller
  • Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia has announced he will step down to accept a position as president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, several news outlets are reporting.

Before becoming lieutenant governor, Garcia served as president of Colorado State University-Pueblo and, before that, Pikes Peak Community College. While lieutenant governor, he has served concurrently as executive director of the state Department of Higher Education. Back in 2013, the Independent's Ralph Routon wrote that Garcia was the "rising star" of the Pikes Peak region, and was likely to be pursued for an opening in the president's cabinet. 

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Public Market chooses Carter-Payne

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 3:24 PM

After many years in the planning, the Colorado Springs Public Market appears to finally have a home: the former Green Man Taproom

This just in from their Facebook page: 

Colorado Springs Public Market Announces Downtown Location For Immediate Release Contact: Sally Davis Colorado Springs...

Posted by Colorado Springs Public Market on Thursday, October 1, 2015

  • Favorite

Tags: ,

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Newly announced Riot Fest lineup includes Modest Mouse, The Pixies, and Run DMC

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 6:57 PM


Denver’s Riot Fest is is investing heavily in the nostalgia market this year, with its biggest names hailing from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

The just-announced lineup for the three-day music festival — which this year will take place at the National Western Complex from August 28 to 30 — ranges from generation-spanning hip-hop (Run DMC, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, De La Soul, GZA, Doomtree) to punk icons (Iggy Pop, The Damned, Rancid, The Vandals, Off!) to indie-rock stalwarts (The Pixies, Modest Mouse, The Black Lips, Drive Like Jehu, Eagles of Death Metal).

The Denver Post’s Kiernan Maletsky was first out of the gate with the complete artist roster, which is as follows:
Modest Mouse
The Pixies
Snoop Dogg
Iggy Pop
Tenacious D
Ice Cube & special guests
Flogging Molly
Coheed and Cambria
Drive Like Jehu
Explosions in the Sky
The Airborne Toxic Event
Bootsy Collins' Rubber Band
Babes in Toyland.
The Damned
Eagles of Death Metal
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
De La Soul
The Dead Milkmen
Nada Surf
The Lawrence Arms
Reverend Horton Heat
Andrew W.K.
The Black Lips
The Get Up Kids
American Nightmare
The Vandals
Less Than Jake
The Joy Formidable
Cloud Cult
7 Seconds
Benjamin Booker
Joyce Manor
The White Buffalo
Post Malone with FKI
Jazz Cartier
Teenage Bottlerocket
The Bunny Gang
Speedy Ortiz
Beach Slang
The Hotelier
Fit For Rivals
Direct Hit!
The Moth & The Flame
Main Attrakionz
Broadway Calls
White Mystery
Skating Polly
Northern Faces
Meat Wave
Rozwell Kid
Sleep On It
Gateway Drugs
Daye Jack
Indian School
Cypress Hill
Alkaline Trio
Cold War Kids

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Colorado Springs' choice for mayor: Suthers, in a landslide

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 8:29 PM


John Suthers
will be the next mayor of Colorado Springs.

Yes, it's only the first round of results, and yes, there's a ways to go before everything's made final, but with 68 percent of the vote so far, the former state attorney general is clearly cruising to a victory over Mary Lou Makepeace in the 2015 mayoral runoff.

Here's the info, released by the City Clerk's Office at 7:15 p.m.:


It's an outcome that will surprise few, given that Suthers easily bested Makepeace, who served as the city's mayor (in a council-manager form of government) from 1997 to 2003, in the April 7 general election. Suthers took 46 percent, with Makepeace at 24 percent and four others well behind her.

However, because he didn't take 50 percent of the vote, city rules under the relatively new strong-mayor form of government allowed the second-place finisher a chance in a runoff.

Suthers, who was term-limited as state Attorney General a few months ago, will bring deep local roots to the office. He grew up in Colorado Springs and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1970; after completing his undergraduate studies at Notre Dame, he returned to Colorado for law school at CU.

His first public service came right after that, as a deputy district attorney in Colorado Springs, and he returned to the office when he was elected DA in 1988. He served for two terms there, and has spent much of the time since working at the state level — first as head of the Department of Corrections, and then as attorney general.

Suthers’ name recognition, solid reputation and conservative cred helped him land major endorsements and donations during the mayoral campaign. After speaking mostly in general terms about the need for civility, better infrastructure and economic development on the campaign trail, he’ll be pressed to articulate specific goals and plans upon taking office on June 2, and probably before.

In at least one arena, he's wasting no time: Indy senior reporter Pam Zubeck says that according to his acceptance speech, Suthers will announce his selection for chief of staff Wednesday afternoon.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Friday, May 8, 2015

Llamapalooza rained out

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2015 at 11:50 PM

  • Galyna Andrushko / shutterstock

Bad news for local music fans: According to a post on its Facebook page this evening, Colorado College's Llamapalooza Festival has been canceled due to weather conditions.

The annual event was to set to take place this Saturday with a lineup that included Brooklyn's highly-touted art-funk band Phony Ppl, as well as Kithkin, Netherfriends, Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire, and Moon Hooch. 

The cancelation follows a previous decision to move the festival from Worner Quad to the nearby Armstrong Hall parking lot in order to avoid a sinking stage and damaged grounds. 

Look for further information and updates at

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Suthers, Makepeace advance to runoff; Bennett, Strand, Murray on Council

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 9:53 PM

The latest batch of ballots counted, released at 9:38 p.m., puts us just shy of 75,000 total. With only one issue still in doubt, we're turning in for the night. To recap:

For mayor, it will be John Suthers and Mary Lou Makepeace advancing to a May 19 runoff election.

Council at-large: Merv Bennett, Tom Strand and Bill Murray.

Council District 2: Larry Bagley.

Council District 4: Helen Collins will keep her seat.

Issue 1: The mayor will be relieved of sign-off authority on Colorado Springs Utilities contracts and agreements.

Issue 2: It's still a mystery whether Council will get to hire its own administrator and assume a few other responsibilities related to staffing. Check out these numbers:

Come back to the IndyBlog tomorrow for more on tonight's events.

——- PREVIOUS POST, 8:59 P.M. ——-

The City Clerk's Office just released info reflecting more than 2,000 additional counted ballots, but the only noteworthy change comes in the ballot question regarding Council being able to hire its own staff. Now only 82 votes separate the "no" votes from the "yes" votes.


——- PREVIOUS POST, 8:37 P.M. ——-


According to both Suthers and city communications professional Julie Smith, there were 11,000 votes not yet counted in the city clerk's first round of results.

 At this point, though, both Suthers and Makepeace are talking about a runoff election.

Pam Zubeck, who's at Suthers' party at the Mining Exchange Hotel, reports that Suthers spoke to about 150 wildly enthusiastic supporters, saying, “We celebrate tonight, but tomorrow morning we go to work. We need to make sure everyone who voted for us tonight votes for us on May 19.”

J. Adrian Stanley, at Makepeace's gathering at Nosh, says the mood was more subdued, but that Makepeace said the runoff would be "all about getting out the vote." Makepeace noted that in the last mayoral election, 8,000 more ballots were cast in the runoff than in the general municipal election.

——- ORIGINAL POST, 8:08 P.M. ——-

Former Attorney General John Suthers is well out in front in Colorado Springs' 2015 mayoral race, but the numbers suggest he won't be able to escape a runoff against former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.

The first round of unofficial numbers from the City Clerk's Office, time-stamped 7:38 p.m., show Suthers having received 33,214 votes, or 47.41 percent. Makepeace stands in second place, with 16,112 votes, or 23 percent.

Under the strong-mayor initiative of a few years ago, a mayor can't be elected without at least 50 percent of the vote. A runoff election pitting Suthers against Makepeace would be scheduled for May 19.

Meanwhile, former City Councilor Joel Miller has gotten 15.51 percent of the vote, and El Paso County Commission Chair Amy Lathen 11.21 percent. Two long-shot candidates, Tony Carpenter and Lawrence Martinez, have together taken less than 3 percent.

These numbers reflect 70,673 votes counted. Votes filed earlier Tuesday are still being tallied, but what's counted so far represents the vast majority of the take from about three weeks of mail-ballot and drop-off voting.

In the race for City Council at-large, two of the most well-funded candidates seem to be cruising toward victory. With three seats up for grabs, the early results find Merv Bennett and Tom Strand out in front, with Bill Murray edging Jariah Walker for third: 

Makepeace with supporters at Nosh. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Makepeace with supporters at Nosh.

Meanwhile, in District 2, sitting Councilor Larry Bagley is easily defeating Kanda Calef with 70.61 percent of the vote. And in District 4, Councilor Helen Collins appears safe from a fairly bizarre recall effort, with 55.38 percent of southeast-side voters wanting her to say on Council.

As for the two issues on the ballot, 52.64 percent of voters are willing to amend the city charter in order to grant City Council final sign-off authority on contracts and agreements made by Colorado Springs Utilities. (Council serves as the Utilities Board.) But it's a toss-up as to whether voters will allow Council to hire its own administrator and to be able to direct and supervise that administrator, the city auditor, and their employees and assistants. Right now, 50.16 percent of voters are saying no. That's a difference of 208 votes, out of nearly 67,000 cast on that issue.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 5, 2015

County consultant terms C4C 'of great importance'

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 2:10 PM

The long-awaited consulting report on City for Champions, commissioned by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, concludes the four tourist venues are "of great importance," but the county didn't release the full report to the public.

Nor did the press release issued by the county address specifics of the downtown stadium project's financial viability and economic impact on the county. In other words, the release didn't address whether it would be wise for the county to dedicate tax increment financing or other tax dollars to the project. 

The county supposedly sought the study in part because the county is being asked to help fund C4C by assigning $1.4 million a year, or $42 million over 30 years, through TIF — sales tax revenue growth over a baseline set in December 2013.

We've asked for the report itself but haven't heard back.

City for Champions was introduced in July 2013 by Mayor Steve Bach. It includes four projects: downtown Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Air Force Academy visitors center and a downtown stadium.

The consultant, BBC Research and Consulting, concluded the four projects would attract 1.5 million new visitor days to El Paso County and that the museum has the "greatest prospect" of bringing in new tourism money, the news release said.

But there was no data provided specifically for the $97 million downtown stadium project, the most controversial of the projects and the one requiring local tax money to be built. 

According to a report prepared by Economic & Planning Systems for the state Economic Development Commission, which has agreed to give the city $120.5 million to build the four projects over 30 years, the downtown sports and events center can be expected to attract 4.75 million net new out of state visitors from 2017 to 2043. Net new out of state visitors is the goal of the Regional Tourism Act under which the EDC allotted the money.

The report presented today didn't use that term, but rather provided the "new visitor days" figure of 1.5 million and didn't say whether that was per year or over a longer term.

The release:
BBC Research and Consulting, a nationally recognized firm with more than forty years of experience in economics, research and planning has completed development of a financial model to assist El Paso County in evaluating the benefits and financial impacts of City for Champions. The firm was engaged by the County in 2013 for an independent and “county focused” review of various projections, assumptions and conclusions affiliated with the state supported City for Champions economic development initiative.

“The state’s analysis focused on the financial impacts to the state itself, said El Paso County Budget Officer Nicola Sapp. We wanted to focus specifically on the impacts to El Paso County. We asked BBC to give us a fresh look, a different look and a specific focus in order to develop a financial model that we can use to assess the bottom line impacts of the various C4C projects as they evolve and become more defined. We know that some of the projects are well into the design phase while others are still very much conceptual at this time and what BBC has developed is a flexible model to assess the financial and budget impacts on the county as these projects gain greater definition.” Mr. Frick observed that the Sports and Events Center is in conceptual development with a business plan and feasibility study needed.

“It is reasonable to assume that these four projects will bring 1.5 million new visitor days to El Paso County,” BBC Managing Director Ford Frick told Commissioners. “The Olympic Museum has the greatest prospect of bringing new national dollars and the sports and events center also holds similar promise with competitors coming from all over the world and bringing with them coaches and families others.” Frick also noted that the UCCS Sports Medicine Center will have benefits beyond just new visitors to the area because local residents using the facilities will be bringing the insurance premiums they have paid out back into the local economy. He went on to tell Commissioners that the model focuses on new dollars, adjusts out local attendance by residents and takes into account the fact that visitors from other parts of the state will typically stay for shorter lengths of time and spend less. “These are strong projects, independently financed; bring unprecedented levels of state support and prospects for substantial local benefit,” Mr. Frick concluded noting that the projects are of “great importance.”

Budget Officer Sapp concluded the presentation noting that the BBC review confirms that all C4C impacts are over and above the County’s existing sales tax base and the historic and projected natural growth of that base. “It’s important to keep in mind that the County’s has experienced over the past 30 years annual increases in sales tax revenues of more than 5% and that growth is not fully captured in the BBC analysis making this a more conservative than what we would actually expect. But again, this is a flexible tool for you to use in evaluating these projects as they gain more definition.”
Former City Councilor Joel Miller, who's running for mayor, has been critical of the downtown stadium project and the county's $45,000 study, saying last August it would be useless because it was based on "overly optimistic numbers" for attendance and tax collections.

Miller: The study is useless. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Miller: The study is useless.
Moreover, Miller said BBC officials told him the study wouldn't include include a cost-benefit analysis. Such research, Miller says, would look at the "substitution effect" — consumers' tendency to forgo spending at an existing venue to attend a new one — and "opportunity costs," the "what if" factor of channeling the money elsewhere, such as city infrastructure.

Here's the letter Miller wrote back in August to commissioners and City Council about the study:
August 3rd, 2014
To: The El Paso Board of County Commissioners and Members of Colorado Springs City Council
From: Councilmember Joel Miller

Dear Colleagues and Honorable Members of the El Paso County Board of Commissioners:

I appreciate the BOCC offering the opportunity to sit down with BBC’s Ford Frick. He seems like a good man who’s committed to doing the best work he can within his assignment. That said, after meeting with Mr. Frick, it’s apparent that he’s working with figures that will not provide an accurate City for Champions (C4C) picture for citizens. Mr. Frick’s analysis will take mostly at face value visitor numbers, spending assumptions and multipliers provided from previous analysis conducted by C4C proponents and analyzed in the state’s third‐party analysis conducted by Economic and Planning Systems (EPS).

BBC’s analysis may make some minor adjustments for double‐counting tourists and the number of visitor days spent in the area, but the primary inputs will be proponent data provided to BBC and used by EPS. The goal of the proponents’ data was to show the maximum potential of economic benefit. Because Mr. Frick will base his analysis on proponents’ overly optimistic numbers, as well as other reasons detailed below, I believe the analysis will be flawed.

In recent months, I’ve communicated with several nationally renowned sports economists, including Stanford Economist Roger Noll. In the case of C4C, and the proposed downtown stadium in particular, Dr. Noll has stressed the necessity of conducting a “cost‐benefit analysis” that takes into consideration specific factors, especially the substitution effect and opportunity costs.

The substitution effect considers that visitors to Colorado Springs (and citizens, also) have a limited leisure budget. Money these consumers spend at one leisure activity is money they will not spend at another. If consumers spend money at the proposed downtown stadium, for example, that’s money they won’t spend at the zoo, Fine Arts Center, or a Sky Sox game. In effect, with C4C, government would choose winners and losers by funding projects that would take money away from other businesses and non‐profits via the substitution effect. In some cases, actual business could be taken away by C4C projects; venues that currently hold flea markets, for example, may be forced out of business if future flea markets are held at the stadium.

Opportunity costs are projects that could’ve been funded if the same amount of money being spent on C4C was instead spent elsewhere. Proponents are considering using County and City tax increment financing (TIF) from 90% of the City for 30 years to fund C4C. While I’m not in favor of using sales tax from 90% of the city on any project, a thorough economic analysis should consider the “what if” effects of spending that money elsewhere, especially on projects that fall within the role of government—on road and other infrastructure improvements, for example.

Not only did Mr. Frick acknowledge that his assignment was not to perform a cost‐benefit analysis that includes the substitution effect and opportunity costs, but he hadn’t even been informed that TIF financing was being considered by his client, the County. Furthermore, Mr. Frick will not evaluate whether or not attendance figures given to him by C4C proponents are realistic—he will use those numbers as the primary basis of his analysis.

Given the concerns I’ve cited, I do not believe the BBC analysis will be a useful tool in determining the real costs and benefits of the C4C proposal on our community.
Again, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet with Mr. Frick, and, of course, I’m open to discussing this matter further with any of you.

Very respectfully,
Joel Miller

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Recent Comments

All content © Copyright 2017, The Colorado Springs Independent

Website powered by Foundation