Local Government

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

UPDATE: Colorado Springs City Council election news

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2017 at 5:26 PM


A couple of candidates have filed the Feb. 1 reports, which changes their totals. They are as follows:

Yolanda Avila in District 4: Raised, $6,361, spent, $3,641.

Jill Gaebler in District 5: Raised, $14,684, spent, $3,210.

——————-ORIGINAL POST 5:26 P.M. WEDNESDAY, FEB.1, 2017———————

Colorado Springs City Council campaigns are well underway, so it's time to rev up the election blog to report on forums, campaign finance and endorsements.

The election is April 4. Please register and participate.

The Council of Neighbors and Organizations will hold three candidate forums. Only the southwest District 3 and southeast District 4 races will be featured.
CONO spokesperson Sarah Poe explains via email:
CONO decided to do the Dist 3 & 4 forums only because of the work we are currently doing in the SE neighborhoods. The community centers expressed interest in having forums hosted on-site to really encourage a bigger voter turnout in the zipcodes 80916 and 80910- which are always low.

We will have people there ready to register voters on site and we will have questions regarding the concerns in those neighborhoods- transportation, safety, connectivity, parks, trails, etc.

We are only planning these 3 forums so far but will support others initiated by neighborhoods as they arise. 
The forums are as follows:

District 3: 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 21, Hillside Community Center, 925 S. Institute St.

District 4: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24, Deerfield Hills Community Center, 4290 Deerfield Hills Road.

Districts 3 and 4: 6 to 8 p.m. March 1, Meadows Park Community Center, 1943 S. El Paso St.

We took a peek at what candidates have raised so far (incumbents are marked with an *):

District 1:
Don Knight*: Raised $1,540, spent $750.
Greg Basham: No report.

District 2:
David Geislinger. No report.

District 3:
Richard Skorman: Raised, $5,000 via a loan from the candidate, spent $1,667.
Chuck Fowler: No report.

District 4:
Helen Collins*: Raised $4,766, spent $40. Over half of her money was carried forward from a past campaign. (Former City Councilor Joel Miller and his wife, Anita, donated $150.)
Yolanda Avila: Raised, $2,781, spent $1,962. No Feb. 1 report.
Deborah Hendrix: Raised, $18,225, spent $9,950. Donations are coming from developers, such as Elite Properties, which gave $2,500 this cycle. All her spending has gone to Sarah Jack, a campaign manager hired by Colorado Springs Forward.

District 5:
Jill Gaebler*: Raised $10,869, spent $2,476. Cash on hand: $8,893.
Lynette Crow-Iverson: Raised, $20,130, spent $13,817. Lots of money is flowing into this campaign from developers, such as Ralph Braden, Vantage Homes and Jeff Smith, and business people. The only expenditures have been paid to Sarah Jack.

District 6:
Andy Pico*: Raised, $1,032, spent $48. Most of his money has come from a hold-over of his last campaign. No Feb. 1 report.
Melanie Bernhardt: No report.
Robert Burns: No report.
Janak Joshi: No report.

The HBA has made its big announcement:
The Political Action Committee of the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs (HBA PAC) has been working the last several months to identify visionary leaders for the April 4, 2017 municipal election. All six City Council District seats are on the ballot in this election.

Members of the HBA PAC have invested many volunteer hours meeting with candidates, who were evaluated based on several criteria, including their service to the Colorado Springs community, knowledge of City government, and demonstrated leadership to the community, as well as their background, availability to devote to public service, and ability to field an effective campaign.

Among the number of impressive candidates this election cycle, six received the HBA PAC endorsement. The candidates were endorsed based on their leadership, collaboration skills, community involvement, business experience and commitment to supporting and promoting sound economic development policy. They are as follows: Greg Basham (District 1), Dave Geislinger (District 2), Chuck Fowler (District 3), Deborah Hendrix (District 4), Lynette Crow-Iverson (District 5), and Andy Pico (District 6).

“We were inundated with a slew of qualified candidates,” said Kyle Campbell, HBA PAC Chairman. “We are pleased to endorse candidates with strong business backgrounds who believe in the process of city government, the principles of limited government, and allowing the private sector to work. All endorsed candidates demonstrate great leadership skills and the ability to build a consensus and will be an asset to our community as members of City Council. We look forward to working together with the newly-elected council members.”

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Colorado Springs renames stormwater division

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 11:05 AM

Sand Creek on the city's east side. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Sand Creek on the city's east side.
I think it was Gertrude Stein who said, "A rose is a rose is a rose." Meaning that no matter what name you put on the thorny flower, it's still a rose.

But this message is lost on the city of Colorado Springs, which has suddenly decided to rename its stormwater division.

In a news release just in, the city announces the name will be changed to Water Resources Engineering, effective immediately.

One can only wonder what the goal is.

Will the new name somehow placate federal regulators, who've filed suit against the city alleging repeated violations of the Clean Water Act by the city failing to control its stormwater, uh, water resources?

Will the new name remove the evil-sounding "stormwater" label so that a stormwater fee, uh, water engineering fee that Councilor Bill Murray predicts is coming soon will be easier for citizens to swallow?

Or, is the new name, as the city contends, simply a better description of what's involved in controlling stormwater, uh, water resources.

Anyway, here's the city's release:
To more accurately reflect its role and purpose, the Colorado Springs Stormwater Division has changed its name to Water Resources Engineering effective Tuesday, January 31, 2017.

The Stormwater Division has long represented the City’s team dedicated to managing the City’s storm drain infrastructure such as channels, culverts, creeks and waterways to convey water, mitigate runoff and flooding, and preserve water quality to comply with federal clean water regulations.

However, in recent years, more comprehensive watershed approaches have been replacing the traditional stormwater management practices. The focus of stormwater infrastructure has transformed from building concrete culverts and underground storm drains to creating more naturalistic channels that convey water, but also has become a valuable natural resource people can enjoy through the incorporation of trails or other amenities.

“Ultimately, the purpose of Water Resources Engineering is for clean waterways,” said Richard Mulledy, Water Resources Engineering Division Manager. “Because the majority of stormwater (precipitation or snow melt) eventually makes its way into our waterways and to downstream communities, managing our water resources at the source with a comprehensive approach, including the planning and management of constructed facilities, community education, and the adopt-a-waterway program, is key to maintaining clean waterways for our community and our downstream neighbors.”

Stormwater infrastructure projects and programs remain a significant part of the Water Resources Engineering Division to control flooding and comply with federal clean water regulations. As part of the new name, Water Resources Engineering will launch several campaigns throughout the year highlighting the importance of clean waterways and how simple actions people take can impact our waterways.

Scoop the Poop… For Clean Waterways! Pet waste adds up! Bacteria from every mess your pet leaves behind ends up in your water.

Volunteer…For Clean Waterways! Learn about volunteer programs to help keep our waterways clean, including “Adopt-A-Waterway”.

Think Outside the Lawn…For Clean Waterways! Learn how taking simple steps in and around the home can help keep our storm drains clear from debris and protect our waterways.

Report Spills and Dumping…For Clean Waterways! Illegal spills and dumping not only pollutes our waterways, they can be dangerous to people and the environment. Be a guardian of our water resources by reporting spills and dumping.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority chooses director

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 4:52 PM

Walker: from acting to executive director. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Walker: from acting to executive director.
Jariah Walker, who ran unsuccessfully for El Paso County commissioner and Colorado Springs City Council and then went to work for the city, has been promoted.

The city announced Monday that he will become executive director of the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority as of February 1. He's been acting in that role for several months.

His salary is $82,000 a year.

This will be a high profile position, because the CSURA is the vehicle through which money will flow to the city's City for Champions tourism projects.

From the city's release:
“Serving in the acting role these last two months, Jariah has provided excellent leadership and has displayed his own passion for and commitment to the betterment of our city,” said Peter Wysocki, the city’s planning director. “Jariah is a collaborative and dedicated leader and I am very pleased that the Board and City have selected him to continue to lead this effort.”

"Jariah is one of Colorado Springs’ most talented young executives,” said Wynne Palermo, CSURA Chair. “The board is excited to have him and we are confident he will accomplish our expectations to take us to a new level."

Most recently Walker served as a senior economic development analyst for the City of Colorado Springs.

“I’m honored that the CSURA board presented me with this opportunity and I look forward to working together on a number of great projects ahead,” said Walker. “Words cannot describe how much it means to me to be able to play an active role in the positive redevelopment of a number of areas in my own hometown.”

Prior to joining the city, Walker spent seven years as a senior partner with Walker Asset Management Realty, Inc. Walker serves on a number of committees, including the newly-formed Plan COS steering committee, charged with the two-year development of the city’s comprehensive plan. In addition, he is the economic team lead on the city’s sustainability committee and serves on committees with the Urban Land Institute, Strategic Plan, Business Climate Task Force and Renew North Nevada Plan.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Ballot position set for Council election

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 4:47 PM

City Clerk Sarah Johnson chooses candidate names in the drawing for ballot position today. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • City Clerk Sarah Johnson chooses candidate names in the drawing for ballot position today.

Three of four incumbent Colorado Springs City Council members seeking re-election won top line on the April 4 city election ballot in a drawing earlier today.

Ballot order will be as follows (* indicates incumbent):

District 1:
Don Knight*
Greg Basham

District 2:
David Geislinger

District 3:
Richard Skorman
Chuck Fowler

District 4:
Helen Collins*
Yolanda Avila
Deborah Hendrix

District 5:
Jill Gaebler*
Lynette Crow-Iverson

District 6:
Melanie Bernhardt
Andy Pico*
Robert Burns
Janak Joshi
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Council candidate bows out, handing race to opponent

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 5:08 PM

Attorney Tim Dietz has withdrawn from the Colorado Springs City Council race, citing his client work load and private considerations.

That means that another attorney, David Geislinger, who now serves as a chaplain in the Penrose-St. Francis Health System, is the only remaining candidate on the ballot for norther District 2. (Incumbent Larry Bagley decided against a run.)

Dietz issued this news release:
He also tells the Indy in an interview, "I've talked with Dave [Geislinger]. I think he's a very nice guy. There's no animosity between the two of us. I don't know where he stands on the issues, but we've had some friendly conversations."

Calling the Council campaign "a full-time job," Dietz says he simply can't just drop his clients to stump for a part-time job on Council that pays a mere $6,250 a year.

Dietz says he's already informed the City Clerk's Office of his decision in time so that his name will not appear on the ballot.

Voters will elect six of the nine members of Council at the April 4 city election. Go here for a list of candidates. Want to learn more? Check out our article on the candidates from earlier this week.

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New professional cycling race coming to Colorado Springs

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 11:13 AM

This summer, a new four-day cycling circuit called the Colorado Classic will kick off in Colorado Springs. The first stage will be held here, the second in Breckenridge and the final two in Denver. Each stage will start and end in the same location, so fans can catch many more than one glimpse of the cyclists. The route isn't yet finalized, but organizers suggest it'll include both downtown and more rugged roads. 

"Attracting this sort of high profile event is great news for Colorado Springs,"  said Mayor John Suthers in the announcement. "Along with the prestige of elite sport, the Classic will bring significant tourism dollars, thousands of visitors and positive national and international coverage for our beautiful city."

  • Colorado Springs Sports Corp
Colorado Springs Sports Corp is the organizing committee of the local stage. President and CEO Tom Osborne, says in the release that the Corp "is absolutely thrilled to be able to help bring back elite professional cycling to the state. We are honored that our city was awarded the first stage of this spectacular event."

The announcement comes as professional cycling struggles to get footing domestically. Past events like the USA Pro Challenge of course hoped to be sustainable in the long-run, but that particular race died after 2015's running, having launched in 2011.

More details about the Colorado Classic route, public participation opportunities and musical performances are forth-coming, but the dates are set on August 10-13. The race is being produced by RPM Events Group, with sponsors including USA Pro Cycling, the City of Colorado Springs, Nor'Wood Development, El Pomar Foundation, the Guadagnoli family and the Gazette.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Colorado Springs council district has a high minority population

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 12:16 PM

After the Independent went to press Tuesday, we received a more concrete figure for the minority population in Council District 4 in the southeast area of Colorado Springs. It's 66 percent, according to the city's community development department.
The story in which this figure appeared covered who's running for City Council seats and noted that a District 4 candidate, Deborah Hendrix, had referred to her district as a "ghetto."

The 66 percent figure is based on 2010 Census data.

Here's the pertinent part of the story. Hendrix has since submitted additional signatures and has been certified to the ballot:
Deborah Hendrix is challenging the incumbent in District 4. - COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATE
  • Courtesy of the candidate
  • Deborah Hendrix is challenging the incumbent in District 4.
In southeast District 4, Deborah Hendrix, who didn't have enough signatures by Jan. 23, wants to unseat Helen Collins. Hendrix was defeated by Collins in the 2013 election and in 2015 led a recall effort against her.

Collins survived the recall but later was censured by Council for her role in a land transaction with tax activist Douglas Bruce, convicted of tax evasion in an unrelated case.

At a Jan. 16 El Paso County Republican Women's Club meeting at GOP headquarters, Hendrix, who's black, referred to the district as a "ghetto," multiple sources say. The southeastern district lies within House District 17, where minorities comprise roughly 56 percent of the population. Hendrix, former president of the Harrison School District 2 board, has received $11,000 in campaign donations from developers, records show.
Helen Collins has competition for her seat. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Helen Collins has competition for her seat.
Collins seized on the "ghetto" remark, telling the Indy via email, "I was stunned and dismayed by Deborah's arrogant and contemptuous comment about District 4, which I am proud to represent.... Is that how our council representative should describe our community? ... Do you want your vote to endorse such hateful, reckless, and negative views?"

Hendrix didn't return the Indy's phone calls and emails seeking a comment on that and the question of whether she's paid off a $21,982 IRS lien against her and her husband, Charles, filed in November 2015, as reported by the Indy two years ago ("Glass meets stone," News, Jan. 7, 2015).

Another District 4 candidate is Yolanda Avila, who ran for Council in 2015. Legally blind, Avila belongs to the National Federation of the Blind and hopes to be a voice for people with disabilities. In the past, she's expressed support for ending the city's prohibition on recreational marijuana and a desire to sideline Martin Drake Power Plant in favor of renewable energy.
Here's the lineup of candidates as of Wednesday morning. A few more candidates have been given until Friday to submit the required 50 signatures on their nominating petitions.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Colorado Springs Council votes 6-3 to ask voters for excess money

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 2:48 PM

Mayor John Suthers' ballot measure seeking voter approval to keep up to $12 million in excess revenue flushed out the guy who wrote the measure that made a ballot measure mandatory:
Douglas Bruce speaks to City Council against a ballot measure asking voter permission to keep excess revenue.
  • Douglas Bruce speaks to City Council against a ballot measure asking voter permission to keep excess revenue.
Douglas Bruce.

After serving prison time for a probation violation in an earlier tax evasion case last year, Bruce has been back in Colorado Springs for several months and today showed up at the City Council meeting to put in his two-cents worth.

The measure seeks voter permission to keep $6 million from 2016 excess revenue collected above caps imposed by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, and another $6 million from any excess raked in during 2017. All the money would go to stormwater projects.

First, Bruce noted that although government officials frequently bemoan TABOR's effect of not allowing revenues to grow, nothing could be further from the truth. He said the city's general fund has increased by 150 percent since TABOR, which he authored, was passed by voters in the early 1990s. That doesn't include the city's other taxes dedicated to public safety and trails, open space and parks, he noted.

He also cited salaries of several city employees: $159,000 for the budget director, $192,000 for the city attorney and $190,000 for the chief of staff.

Then he launched into the mayor's and council's 20-year agreement with Pueblo County to sink $460 million the city stormwater system to better control flooding and help water quality, notably in Fountain Creek.

"Even if you get $6 million every year for 20 years, you’re still $320 million short of your self-inflicted wound of this illegal obligation," he said. "We’re being told to give up our tax refunds in order to benefit Pueblo County, because of an illegal obligation you made in violation of your oath. I don’t think that’s a very strong selling point to make to your voters."

Councilor Tom Strand piped up saying, "I want to make it clear my motion is to ask the electors, not to tell them. This will be on the ballot to freely choose how they want to use these excess funds."

Three councilors voted against the measure: Helen Collins, Andy Pico and Bill Murray.

Murray railed against the measure, saying that public safety needs are taking a backseat to stormwater. He noted the mayor himself has said police pay needs to increase to prevent an exodus of officers to other departments and that response times are lagging. He also noted firefighters could use some new equipment to keep them safe.

"None of these are addressed in this ballot measure," he said.

Murray also called the measure a precursor to a stormwater fee to be imposed later. "This ballot issue is nothing more than a BAND-AID which will be followed by a fee, guaranteed."

The measure includes language stating which flood control projects will be completed with the money and that the excess revenue spending is above and beyond the $460-million deal with Pueblo County.

The city election is April 4.

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Southern Delivery System wins engineering award

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 12:58 PM

The outlet at Pueblo Dam that feeds the pipeline to Colorado Springs. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS UTILITIES
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Utilities
  • The outlet at Pueblo Dam that feeds the pipeline to Colorado Springs.
Back in June, local officials saluted the April completion of Colorado Springs Utilities' Southern Delivery System pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir.

The project spanned more than a decade and will deliver water to Colorado Springs for 40 years or more. It was a long ordeal getting from square one to a finished product.
A celebration was held on June 17 to mark the completion in April of the SDS pipeline. City and county officials from Colorado Springs and Pueblo were on hand, along with contractors. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • A celebration was held on June 17 to mark the completion in April of the SDS pipeline. City and county officials from Colorado Springs and Pueblo were on hand, along with contractors.
Perhaps nobody knows that more than CH2M Hill, which was the lead design consultant on the project since 2002. Now, it has been recognized for that.

Here's a news release from the PR wire:
Engineering News-Record (ENR) selected Colorado Springs Utilities' Southern Delivery System Program as the recipient of the ENR Mountain States Best Projects Award in the Water/Environment Category. Projects were judged on design and construction quality, contribution to the community and the industry, and how they overcame unusual challenges through teamwork and innovation.

"The Southern Delivery System Program is a game-changing water infrastructure project that is ensuring the vitality of the Colorado Springs community and surrounding areas for years to come," said Greg McIntyre, CH2M State & Local Governments Client Sector President. "We're honored to be a part of the SDS Program and to receive this recognition from ENR for the outstanding work completed by the team."
Officials celebrate the groundbreaking on March 21, 2013 of the water treatment plant that's part of the SDS pipeline project. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS UTILITIES
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Officials celebrate the groundbreaking on March 21, 2013 of the water treatment plant that's part of the SDS pipeline project.
Serving as the lead design consultant since 2002, CH2M provided planning and engineering services for elements of the SDS Program. Over the years, the firm contributed to the full spectrum of services, from project management, preliminary through final design, value engineering, permitting assistance, land acquisition services and services during construction for the pipelines, pump stations and water treatment plant.

The $825 million SDS Program, the largest single infrastructure project ever undertaken by Colorado Springs Utilities, finished on schedule and nearly $160 million under the original budget. As one of the largest water infrastructure projects built in the Western United States, it has contributed millions of dollars to the local economy.

The program consists of a reservoir connection at the north outlet works of Pueblo Dam; 45.4 miles of 66-inch-diameter raw water pipeline; three pump stations that lift the water 1,500 feet in elevation; a new 50-million-gallon-per-day water treatment and finished water pump station; and 4.6 miles of large-diameter, finished water distribution pipeline.

The SDS Program is no stranger to receiving awards, including having won 2013's Best Projects Award by ENR Mountain States for the South Pipeline 2 project and the Pueblo Dam Connection, two of more than 20 projects that comprise the program.

The regional awards program recognizes top projects across the nine-state region, which includes Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. The winners were honored at two breakfast awards events in October in Salt Lake City and Denver. Detailed highlights on all projects appeared in the October issue of the ENR Mountain States publication.

About CH2M
CH2M leads the professional services industry delivering sustainable solutions benefiting societal, environmental and economic outcomes with the development of infrastructure and industry. In this way, CH2Mers make a positive difference providing consulting, design, engineering and management services for clients in water; environment and nuclear; transportation; energy and industrial markets, from iconic infrastructure to global programs like the Olympic Games. Ranked among the World's Most Ethical Companies and top firms in environmental consulting and program management, CH2M in 2016 became the first professional services firm honored with the World Environment Center Gold Medal Award for efforts advancing sustainable development. Connect with CH2M at www.ch2m.com; LinkedIn; Twitter; and Facebook.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

3 things Colorado Springs firefighters want to fund with excess revenue

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 2:23 PM

Flames like these seen during the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 make adequate fire protective gear essential for firefighters. Local firefighters want 60 sets of new gear with excess revenue from 2016. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Flames like these seen during the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 make adequate fire protective gear essential for firefighters. Local firefighters want 60 sets of new gear with excess revenue from 2016.
Colorado Springs firefighters have written to City Council seeking $1.22 million from the estimated $6 million in excess revenue from 2016.

Mayor John Suthers wants to spend the entire $6 million, and a like figure in excess revenue from 2017 tax collections, on stormwater control.

The letter to Council, from David Noblitt, president of Colorado Springs Professional Firefighter Association, Local 5, says, in part:
Understanding the success or failure of convincing the citizens of our community to allow the city to retain these Tabor dollars depends upon proper justifications. Public safety, I believe, is one of those items that falls within a favorable category to support the retention of those dollars. Committing all the dollars to Storm Water, a sometimes-divisive issue, may negatively impact the retention of funds. Even if successful, it could impact future and hopefully the timely discussion of implementation of the necessity of a separately funded Storm Water enterprise. 
The group wants funding for a new front-line pumper truck, 60 sets of protective fire gear, and an egress/access improvement road for Squad 8 with storage for training pumpers housed at the Fire Department Complex.

City Council is expected to refer a measure to the April 4 city election ballot on Tuesday.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

UPDATE: Colorado Springs City Council candidate bags race before it starts

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 2:31 PM

Carlson: He's out of the race.
  • Carlson: He's out of the race.
A young professional who had sought to run for Colorado Springs City Council says he has decided to bag the effort.

 Joseph Carlson, 27, chairman of the board of Colorado Transitioning Veterans Association and an Army veteran, dropped out for personal reasons.

Carlson, who studies nonprofit leadership at Colorado Technical University, says he wants to help the homeless and the less fortunate. Although he says he's acquired almost all the needed signatures to qualify to run, he won't turn in the petition and become a candidate.

Rather, he'll be an activist with an eye to seeking an at-large Council seat in 2019, he says.

Candidate filing deadline is Monday. Carlson had not yet turned in signatures when he decided not to run.

This blog has been altered for content.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

CSPD bestows honors on its own and citizens

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 1:00 PM

A sampling of the awards bestowed by the Colorado Springs Police Department on officers, civilians and citizens at a Wednesday ceremony. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CSPD
  • Photos Courtesy of CSPD
  • A sampling of the awards bestowed by the Colorado Springs Police Department on officers, civilians and citizens at a Wednesday ceremony.

Wednesday night, the Colorado Springs Police Department honored citizens and their own at a ceremony at the Stargazers Theatre.

Here's an account of those honors, provided by the CSPD:
The Colorado Springs Police Department Honor Guard was formed in 1974. The Honor Guard was established to reflect the honor and integrity of the Colorado Springs Police Department on various solemn or auspicious occasions.

Each year an “Honor Guard Member of the Year” is selected by a vote of the team in order to recognize that individual’s extraordinary dedication and service to the Honor Guard and the Department.

In 2014 members of the Honor Guard voted to change the name of the award to the “Laura Cochran Honor Guard Member of the Year” to honor our fellow officer, teammate and friend who passed away in December of 2013. Laura’s dedication and commitment to the Honor Guard were an inspiration to all who knew her.

The department's drill team was on hand to perform during the ceremony.
  • The department's drill team was on hand to perform during the ceremony.

This year’s recipient is Detective Nancy Gifford. Detective Gifford has been a member of the Honor Guard since December of 2001. This is the third time she has been selected as Member of the Year. The Honor Guard was involved in 50 events in 2016 and Detective Gifford participated in 29 of those events.

Detective Gifford exemplifies the commitment and dedication required of all members of the CSPD Honor Guard and we are privileged to present her with the “Laura Cochran Honor Guard Member of the Year.”
Officer Robert Lichti is being recognized for his untiring efforts following the Planned Parenthood shooting on November 27, 2015.

Within 20 minutes of being notified, Officer Lichti responded to the shooting scene with the police department’s mobile command post, and remained on scene for 20 hours following the call-out.

During his time on scene, he successfully worked with Planned Parenthood personnel in Denver to get a video feed from the cameras inside the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility. Officer Lichti was able to maintain the feed during the entire incident, which provided invaluable information to the staff responsible for decision-making and safety for officers inside the Planned Parenthood building.

For his dedication to duty and ingenuity, Officer Lichti is presented a Department Commendation.
Detective Jerry Schiffelbein is receiving a Department Commendation for his remarkable efforts following the Planned Parenthood shooting on November 27, 2015.

Understanding the incident required an extraordinary amount of investigative resources; detectives and supervisors undertook a variety of critical duties. Detective Schiffelbein, assigned to the Homicide Unit, was assigned as the lead detective on the case and was responsible for interviewing the suspect once he was taken into custody.

In addition to getting the suspect’s confession, Detective Schiffelbein worked countless hours interviewing witnesses and compiling evidence for the anticipated prosecution phase. He also coordinated efforts and resources among local, state, and federal agencies that responded to the shooting, sometimes working full-time with the prosecution team from the District Attorney’s Office.

To keep up with the enormous work volume generated by this case and organize the indescribable complexities of its investigative processes, Detective Schiffelbin worked closely with the District Attorney’s Office – reaching far beyond the normal daily demands of an already rigorous homicide detective’s job.

Detective Schiffelbein’s dedication, teamwork and professionalism contributed immensely to a successful investigation and is worthy of this Department Commendation.
Commander Adrian Vasquez is being recognized for his efforts throughout 2015 to develop and implement a new policy on officer involved shootings.

Working in conjunction with several law enforcement partners, Commander Vasquez painstakingly developed a policy that was subsequently adopted by both the Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

The policy, developed in accordance with a new statutory requirement, provides investigative support to every police agency within the 4th Judicial District.

His efforts included developing training materials used by all the participating agencies to ensure all entities were well informed and on board with how these sensitive and difficult incidents would be investigated, culminating in all the 4th Judicial District agencies signing a Memorandum of Understanding adopting the policy. Throughout the entire process, Commander Vasquez continued to handle the duties of the Violent Crimes Lieutenant.

The new policy was crucial to the successful investigations of four officer-involved shootings that occurred in the final months of 2015, being the Halloween and the Planned Parenthood shootings, which both involved an active gunman and multiple victims, drawing national attention and intense public scrutiny. Due to his leadership, the Colorado Springs Police Department successfully navigated through these events while still finalizing the policy itself.

Throughout, Commander Vasquez displayed the highest level of leadership, organizational ability, and dedication. His efforts led to the development of a policy impacting the entire 4th Judicial District. Commander Vasquez is awarded a Department Commendation for going well beyond his normal duties. 

Civilian of the Year Award
Heather Edwards works in the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Human Resources Section and is receiving this year’s Civilian of the Year Award.

Heather was nominated for her extreme dedication to all Colorado Springs Police Department employees. She believes human resources should provide superior service to ensure officers and other staff are able to fulfill the department’s mission.

She’s always seeking to do the right thing for the long-term interests of the city, the department and its employees.

Besides being humble, Heather is a great communicator, a great organizer, and believes responsiveness is a key to success.

All the department’s sworn and civilian staff knows they well get a quick answer and their concerns will be addressed promptly by Heather.

With Heather’s leadership, the department has implemented a new injury reporting software and a new examination process for police recruits.

She is a great asset to the Colorado Springs Police Department and Heather deserves this recognition for all she does.
Here are the awards given to citizens:

And here's a list of department life-saving awards:

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Local developers make two picks for Colorado Springs City Council

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:58 PM

It's clear from the most recent round of campaign finance reports that the development community has chosen their darlings in the April city election in Colorado Springs, and they are Lynette Crow-Iverson and Deborah Hendrix.

Hendrix: Making her second try. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES
  • Photos courtesy of the candidates
  • Hendrix: Making her second try.
Crow-Iverson is challenging incumbent Jill Gaebler in the city's central District 5, while Hendrix is taking another run at Helen Collins in southeast District 4. Hendrix also was the one who carried the ball to try to oust Collins in a recall election two years ago but failed.

Those two challengers have raised $11,000 each from businessman Phil Lane and Classic Companies, $2,500 each; Ralph Braden Jr., with Norwood Development Group, $1,000, and Nor'wood Limited, Inc., $5,000. Crow-Iverson also gave her campaign $100.

Crow-Iverson: The choice of developers.
  • Crow-Iverson: The choice of developers.
Those are their donors. Nobody else.

We're going out on a limb here and guessing those will also be the choices of Colorado Springs Forward, a local political activist group that wants to change the governance of Colorado Springs Utilities from the current panel comprised of City Council. CSF wants an appointed board. It's headed up by Amy Lathen, the former El Paso County commissioner who left her elective office early to take the CSF job.

In contrast, Gaebler has raised $10,870 in 78 separate donations, some of them heavy weights by virtue of their past community service. Among them, former Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin, former Council President Scott Hente, former Vice Mayor Richard Skorman, former Councilor Mary Ellen McNally, former NORAD commander Ret. Gen. Gene Renuart, neighborhood advocate Jan Doran and former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.

In District 4, Collins has yet to file a report. Another southeast District 4 candidate who's challenging Collins, Yolanda Avila, an advocate for the disabled — herself being legally blind — has brought in $2,781 from 34 donations.

While six of the Council's nine seats are up for election, developers have yet to give money to candidates in the northwest District 1, north District 2, southwest District 3 and eastern District 6. That might become more clear at a CSF fundraiser slated for next week.

The filing deadline for candidates is Monday.

Check in with the Independent next week for election coverage.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

North Nevada renewal draft plan revealed Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Blue indicates the area of focus for the study. - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • City of Colorado Springs
  • Blue indicates the area of focus for the study.
A long process that dates back six months comes to at least partial fruition this evening with the unveiling of the draft plan for North Nevada Avenue.

Now, Nevada is a hodgepodge of motels, restaurants and some retail stores in the study area, which lies north of the Rock Island Trail.

Here's the city's release about tonight's meeting:
A draft plan to renew the North Nevada Avenue corridor from Garden of the Gods Road/Austin Bluff Parkway to the Rock Island Trail/railroad right-of-way two blocks south of Fillmore Street will be unveiled at an upcoming community open house to be held on:

Tues, Jan. 17 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The Mortgage Solutions Financial Expo Center,
3650 N Nevada Ave. Colorado Springs 80907

Those interested in the project are encouraged to drop by any time between 6 and 7:30 p.m. to view displays, visit with the project team, and submit comments about the draft plan. There will be a brief presentation and question-and-answer session beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Media please note: If you are unavailable to attend the meeting, interview opportunities are available with Project Manager, Nina Vetter on Wednesday between 11-12 p.m. RSVP Krithika Prashant at kprashant@springsgov.com.

Since July 2016, the City of Colorado Springs has been conducting a community involvement process to create a plan that will result in continued investment in the North Nevada Avenue corridor. Community roundtables, an online survey, and a series of four community workshops have generated the involvement of over 825 residents. Results from the process to-date can be found on the website: www.coloradosprings.gov/renewNNAve.

The final recommended plan will be considered for approval by the Colorado Springs Planning Commission in February and by City Council in March.
The plan will be available on line after the meeting, a city spokesperson says.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Colorado Springs Forward holds fundraiser for select council candidates

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 10:13 AM

Colorado Springs Forward is wasting no time trying to influence who's elected on April 4 to the six district slots on the nine-member Colorado Springs City Council.

Two days after the Jan. 23 filing deadline, the group is hosting a fundraiser for the candidates it's supporting. The announcement went out on Jan. 9, so I guess CSF isn't interested in waiting to see who files.

It seems clear CSF has already chosen its candidates. One is Lynette Crow-Iverson, a former CSF board member, who's opposing incumbent Jill Gaebler in District 5.

We reported in depth on CSF here. ("Calling the shots," Cover, Nov. 16, 2016.)

For information on how to file to run for Council, go here.

As for the fundraiser, we don't know who got invitations, but it doesn't appear to be a public event. Therefore, if you decide to show up, be aware you might be turned away if you're not in the inner circle.
We've asked Amy Lathen, former El Paso County Commissioner who left her elected job six months early to run CSF, who the chosen candidates are. We'll update if and when we hear back from her.

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