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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Coloradans conflicted on Trump's Supreme Court pick

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2017 at 1:03 PM

Neil Gorsuch's nomination has been met with support and resistance. - COLORADO LAW
  • Colorado Law
  • Neil Gorsuch's nomination has been met with support and resistance.

Wednesday, while some Coloradans celebrate the nomination of Colorado’s own Justice Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court, others are adamant that Gorsuch’s track record doesn’t reflect the state’s values.

Gorsuch, a fourth-generation Coloradan, was born in Denver, but now lives and works in Boulder. He serves on the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals while working as a visiting professor for The University of Colorado’s law school.

CU Chancellor Philip D. DiStefano offered his congratulations in a press release yesterday, saying, “[Gorsuch’s] time spent teaching, advising and mentoring our students has been invaluable to our campus. He has embodied our goals at CU Boulder for ensuring student success and developing tomorrow’s leaders.”

Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, too, congratulated Gorsuch on the nomination, though the language of their statements differed. Gardner said in a statement, “I'm enthusiastic about the native Coloradan's nomination and will work to ensure that his confirmation process is fair, thorough and expedient.” A spokesperson for Bennet, however, said, “Michael takes seriously the Senate's responsibility to advise and consent on Supreme Court nominations. He intends to review Judge Gorsuch's record carefully in the coming weeks.”

Not all Coloradans are quite as thrilled as CU and our Republican senator. One Colorado, the state’s leading LGBTQ-rights organization, released a statement condemning the nomination yesterday evening, citing Gorsuch’s support of religious exemption cases, which would allow businesses and individuals to refuse service to someone based on religious beliefs.

“A Supreme Court that would rule in support of religious exemptions would certainly open LGBTQ Americans up to discrimination,”  Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado, stated in a press release, “and open up a can of worms that could allow individuals to ignore child welfare, domestic violence or other laws that someone could contend [are] contrary to their religion.”

ProgressNow Colorado, an online progressive advocacy organization, also criticized the nomination. Executive Director Ian Silverii stated in a press release, “On the Supreme Court, Gorsuch would be a vote to roll back women's rights, environmental protections and hard-won protections against discrimination in the workplace.”

Both One Colorado and ProgressNow Colorado also mentioned that Gorsuch has been endorsed by multiple anti-LGBTQ organizations, a warning sign for progressives.

There has been national outcry against the nomination as well, coming from Greenpeace, the Latino Victory Project and NARAL Pro-Choice America, among others.

However, with recommendations on the pages of The New York Times and The Denver Post, it is hard to say whether Gorsuch’s history will call his impartiality into question enough to keep him off the Supreme Court.

In either case, his nomination comes at a tumultuous time in our political climate, and it is doubtful he will skate into that coveted seat without public resistance.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Pipeline protest draws hundreds in opposition to one of Trump's latest orders

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 6:38 PM

  • Nat Stein

About 300 people gathered outside City Hall on Sunday to protest President Trump’s executive order to revive the stalled Keystone XL and Dakota Access (DAPL) pipelines.

His action wasn’t some final stamp of approval for DAPL, the hard-fought oil pipeline that, if built, would threaten the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s drinking water in violation of generations-old treaties. Rather, the document instructs the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for permitting the project, to “review and approve [remaining pipeline sections] in an expedited manner, to the extent permitted by law.”

  • Nat Stein

But, the action certainly signals what observers have long assumed: that the Trump administration will be dogged where the Obama administration was sheepish in its approach to fossil fuel infrastructure projects. So this executive order comes as no surprise, especially given President Trump’s own private investment in DAPL, disregard toward climate science and overall disdain for anyone who dares challenge state-guarded corporate power.

Some such people heeded a call from Unite Colorado Springs to come hear speakers from various environmental and activist groups before setting off on a short march through downtown to show local opposition to the pipeline order.

  • Nat Stein

“We are not going to let Trump steal these victories without a fight!” former state representative
Dennis Apuan of the Colorado Springs Council for Justice declared, referring to hard-won progress on energy policy and land conservation over the last eight years.

  • Nat Stein
Protesters carried a diverse array of messages about respecting indigenous rights, protecting the environment and resisting the new administration. Without a parade permit, marchers kept to the sidewalks, chanting slogans like, “Resist, rise up, keep the pipeline down!” and “the people, united, will never be divided!”

The Army is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) relating to Dakota Access LLC’s request for an easement to build the pipeline under a contested section of the Missouri River near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. You can send your opinions to Mr. Gib Owen, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, 108 Army Pentagon, Washington, DC 20310-0108 or email them to gib.a.owen.civ@mail.mil until public comment closes on February 20.

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Lamborn calls Trump's immigration order "prudent"

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 1:08 PM

Lamborn: Trump acted prudently. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Lamborn: Trump acted prudently.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, terms as "prudent" President Donald Trump's travel ban on people entering the United States from seven specific countries.

But Colorado's Senators Cory Gardner, a Republican, and Michael Bennet, a Democrat, were more critical. The Denver Post reports that Gardner said the ban “goes too far” and called on the White House to fix “this overly broad executive order.”

Here's Lamborn's statement, as posted on his government website:
The safety and security of America is a primary constitutional function of the federal government. President Trump's recent Executive Order is consistent with H.R 4038, a bipartisan bill that passed the House in the last Congress and called for a temporary halt of refugees from nations torn apart by terrorism until the implementation of increased security and screening measures. By taking steps to temporarily stop refugee admittance from nations that are hotbeds of terrorist activity, the President is taking prudent action to ensure that his national security and law enforcement teams have the strategies and systems in place that they will need to protect and defend America.

While I do not support the broad, misinformed, and inflammatory criticisms of the Executive Order, it is important that the privileges of law-abiding Green Card holders are not abridged. I appreciate the White House Chief of Staff clarifying this point over the weekend.

Rather than being influenced by one-sided media narratives, it is important to remember that President Obama also implemented temporary refugee and visa restrictions for national security purposes. Now is not a time for division fueled by dishonesty and partisan politics, now is a time for our nation to come together and work diligently to find lasting and sustainable solutions to the national security challenges of the 21st century.

For a more complete explanation of Obama's ban of Iraqi refugees, check this out.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Lamborn reintroduces Broadmoor bill

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 2:42 PM

The main lodge on the 83-acre Ranch at Emerald Valley, located about nine miles southwest of The Broadmoor. - PHOTOS BY PAM ZUBECK
  • Photos by Pam Zubeck
  • The main lodge on the 83-acre Ranch at Emerald Valley, located about nine miles southwest of The Broadmoor.

Rep. Doug Lamborn and two other Colorado legislators have reintroduced several bills dealing with public lands, his office said in a news release issued today.

Among them is the Crags, Colorado Land Exchange Act. This is the deal in which The Broadmoor will trade forest land west of Pikes Peak for the acreage upon which its Ranch at Emerald Valley sits. Under its agreement with the Forest Service, The Broadmoor has to account for revenues to the government. If the resort owned the property outright, of course, that requirement would go away.

Here's how the swap is described in a news release jointly released by Lamborn, a Republican, Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat, and Scott Tipton, also a Republican:
This bill would convey 320 acres of land on the west side of Pikes Peak to the U.S. Forest Service. The Broadmoor Hotel currently owns the land, and in exchange, the government will transfer an 83-acre parcel located at Emerald Valley Ranch to the Broadmoor.
The Emerald Valley property is a verdant respite from urban life.
  • The Emerald Valley property is a verdant respite from urban life.
We previously reported on this land swap a couple of times.

Three other bills dealing with public lands, as outlined in the news release:
• Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act - This legislation would allow the town of Minturn to use its existing water right to fill Bolts Lake by giving the town special use of the Bolts Ditch headgate and the segment of the Bolts Ditch within the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. When Congress designated Holy Cross Wilderness Area in 1980, Bolts Ditch was inadvertently left off the list of existing water facilities.

• Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act - This bill would expand the Arapaho National Forest, informally known as the “Wedge,” to include ten new parcels of land, which are currently undeveloped. The move enables the U.S. Forest Service to effectively protect and preserve an area were millions of people travel annually.

• Elkhorn Ranch and White River National Forest Conveyance Act – This legislation would resolve a costly title dispute between the federal government and private landowners. It would convey a small portion of land near Rifle to its property-owners who have used and paid property taxes on the acreage for years.

Lamborn: He says he's looking out after public lands. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Lamborn: He says he's looking out after public lands.
"Last Congress," the release adds, "all four bills passed the House of Representatives, but did not make it to the U.S. Senate for a vote. Both Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Republican, introduced Senate companion legislation last Congress."

Lamborn is quoted as saying, "I am pleased to have worked alongside my House colleagues, Jared Polis and Scott Tipton, to introduce these commonsense bills to resolve various land disputes and improve access to our public lands. I hope to see these four bipartisan bills enacted into law as quickly as possible.”

We know this is no surprise, but it's worth noting that Philip Anschutz, owner of The Broadmoor, contributed $2,700 to Lamborn in May.

As you may recall, The Broadmoor and the city did a land swap last year.

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A guide to local resistance in week one of the Trump-era

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 12:56 PM

  • Riley Bratzler

Ok, so you participated in the historic Women’s March this weekend. Good for you! You deserve many pats on the back. But wrap it up quickly, because there’s work to do.

A lot has already gone down.

President Trump wasted no time issuing a flurry of executive orders to ban government aid for NGOs that provides abortions, direct the weakening of Obamacare, enact a hiring freeze on all non-military federal employees, pull out of the Trans Pacific Partnership and re-negotiate the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.

So that happened.

Then, Tuesday morning, Senate committees cleared Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, Elaine Chow for Secretary of Transportation and Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce.

That all happened too.

But, looking to the future, organizers have defensive actions planned to stave off what’s not yet a done deal.

Colorado Springs Showing Up For Racial Justice, which co-hosted the local Women’s March, will be celebrating #ResistTrumpTuesday by putting some pressure on Colorado’s Democratic Senator Michael Bennet. Organizers have invited the public to come down to his local office at 409 N Tejon St. to urge “no” votes on billionaire privateer Betsy DeVos (nominee to head the Department of Education) and climate change denying Scott Pruitt (nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency.)

DeVos’s next hearing has been delayed after her less-than-assuring performance at the first. Sen. Bennet, who sits on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, will get his chance to cast a vote on her nomination on January 31.

Sen. Bennet will not, however, get a chance to vote on Pruitt in committee. He would should it come to a floor vote.

The goal of Tuesday’s action at the downtown office, organizers say, is to convey concerns about those appointments and request an in-person meeting with Sen. Bennet (who’s in D.C. right now.)

"We realize he doesn't sit on the committee that will confirm Pruitt," organizer Brooke Sassi told the Indy. "But, he's our voice there so hopefully he can advocate to his colleagues."

The focus on the education and environment nominees, Sassi says, comes from a concern about the issues that affect children the most. 

Wednesday and Thursday bring more opportunity for local action, but not in the legislative realm. As we've reported, a well-known and widely reviled figure from the so-called “alt right” movement — which contains elements of white supremacy, misogyny and homo/transphobia — is coming to Colorado. Milo Yiannopoulos will visit the campus of CU Boulder on Wednesday and the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs on Thursday. Carpools are headed to join protesters in Boulder, then actions here the following day plan to both protest and outright shut down the speaker.

Such attempts have been successful on other campuses, although an anti-fascist protester in Seattle did get shot last week. That episode of violence has prompted renewed calls for these Colorado universities to call off the speaking engagement. Neither institution has caved. 

On Friday, Denver Homeless Out Loud holds their annual “Right to Rest Fest” to rally support for a state homeless bill of rights. Advocates there have been embroiled with local law enforcement and city officials over a series of sweeps that stripped homeless people of their possessions and dignity. As we’ve reported, these issues strike close to home. That’s why a local contingent is making the trek to support the Denver cadre. They’ve got room for three more, so hit up Raven Canon, editor of the Springs Echo at 719/287-6027, if you wish to join.

On Saturday, pastor and professor Stephany Rose will speak at Ebenezer Baptist Church (4040 E. Bijou) on what it takes to build a movement, not just a moment. That includes conversation, community building and direct action, according to her description.

Following Tuesday's news about Trump pushing ahead with previously stalled pipeline plans, the progressive organization Unite Colorado Springs has called for a rally outside City Hall. (Our city government, of course, has nothing to do with this but the location is symbolic.) Meet there at 2:30 p.m. to hear from a yet-to-be-announced lineup of speakers and to make noise for indigenous rights, climate justice and an end to corporatism. "The only way for the United States to achieve true energy independence is to radically transform our energy infrastructure away from fossil fuels and towards renewable, sustainable energy," organizers assert.

Then rest up, because next week will be just as packed.

Editor's note: This post has been updated for content and additional information.
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Monday, January 23, 2017

Springs' sister march biggest in local history

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 2:59 PM

  • Nat Stein

Our newly inaugurated President has proven himself quite sensitive about the size of his hands (and other body parts), the size of his precious wall and the size of his crowds. And if bigger means better, then mathematics may tell us all we need to know about the popular majority of Americans who oppose his capricious and regressive agenda. 

That truth was on display around the world this weekend. Women’s Marches overwhelmed public squares in nearly 700 cities, according to organizers of the seminal one in Washington, D.C. An estimated 4.8 million people took part in the mass demonstrations, designed not only to inaugurate resistance to the new administration, but also to reaffirm, through celebration, a collective commitment to the values of liberal democracy that may now to be under threat. 

At the outset of the local march here in the Springs, co-organizer Mac Sargeant recited those values, the full version of which can be found here. In short, they include affirmations of the rights of women — especially black, brown, native, LGBTQ, poor, differently abled and immigrant women — to live free from injustice. Environmentalism, workers’ rights and an end to wars, police brutality and mass incarceration also got shouts out. The march’s message and goals were far-reaching, but unified by the recognition that all these struggles are interconnected. 

On Saturday, Sargeant was joined on stage by other local social justice leaders, including NAACP State Conference President Rosemary Lytle, Local NAACP Chapter President Lisa Villanueva, Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission Executive Director Anjuli Kapoor and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church Reverend Nori Rost. Some elected officials made appearances too, including Rep. Tony Exum, Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. Michael Merrifield. They’re all Democrats. Local rappers Stoney Bertz, Kevin Mitchell, Lord Damage and poets Chris Varano and Nico Wilkinson all performed for the crowd, though reportedly could not be heard towards the back. 

Colorado Springs Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) plans to fundraise for a louder PA system at their next community meeting on February 19. 

At about 2:30 p.m., the river of humans began to flow down Tejon St. Cars stood in standstill, some honking their support and some gesturing exasperation behind the wheel, as some 7,000 people made their way through downtown. The mood was near elated, and for good reason — they were part of the biggest public protest in local history. 

Chants like “my body, my choice!”, “not my president!” and “love trumps hate” rang out sporadically. Signs were diverse in message and tone. See a smattering below.

Organizers were blown away by the turnout, leaving them both exhausted and energized. 

Now, they’re strategizing about how to keep all these newcomers mobilized over the next four years. At a post-march debrief with the Indy on Sunday, SURJ organizer Olivia Romero asked rhetorically, with a hint of frustration, “where were all these people before?” 

Ultimately, though, she welcomes this new era of political action that seems to be dawning. 

“The response I heard overwhelmingly from people afterwards was ‘so, what’s next?’” Romero says. “And we’re already putting that together for them.”

SURJ chapters across the Front Range have devised an action plan for the first hundred days of resistance that can be found on their Facebook page

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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

Punk Against Trump: Colorado benefit set for inauguration day

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 2:30 PM

  • egorkeon / Shutterstock

January 20, 2017, a date which will live in infamy…

Yes, Friday will be the 35th anniversary of Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off a live bat in Des Moines, an event of indisputably historic importance!

In other news, Friday also brings with it the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington D.C., as well as an anti-inauguration “Punk Against Trump” benefit show in Denver.

The latter will feature a local bill that includes Three Grams, Screwtape, Allout Helter, The New Narrative and Colorado Springs’ own Cheap Perfume.

The all-ages show gets underway 7 p.m. at Summit Music Hall’s Moon Room, with proceeds from the $10 admission fee going to to potentially endangered organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and Food Not Bombs.

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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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UPDATE: UCCS will host Milo Yiannopoulos — but only because it must

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:54 PM

Since posting, we heard back from UCCS spokesperson Tom Hutton on a few questions we posed. So, in case you were wondering whether the university will pay for additional security, should it be necessary for the event, the answer is "no."

Per Hutton: "the event sponsors are responsible for any additional security as determined by the UCCS Chief of Police." And about the university's preparations for protestors, Hutton says that "the university is anticipating the possibility of demonstrations. If demonstrations occur, there will be an area that is designated to ensure the safety of all participants."

——- Original post, JAN. 18, 1:57 P.M. ——-

Troll incoming! Today, a press release from the
University of Colorado in Colorado Springs announced that right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos is officially scheduled to speak on campus. Two student groups — chapters of the College Republicans and Turning Point USA — invited the guy and will pick up the tab. To repeat: No university dollars will be spent on the affair.

The university does not endorse this speaker’s views (which, as we previously reported, are pretty repugnant), but because the university’s public, cannot turn him away for it. Yiannopoulos — who has been scorned by some in the so-called alt-right movement he purportedly speaks for because of his identity as a gay jew — will also speak at CU-Boulder on the 25th. Students there organized an event featuring Laverne Cox, a black trans actress, to speak at the exact same time, hoping to draw attention away from the smug, transphobic misogynist.

Yiannopoulos lives to insult. - WIKIPEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikipedia Commons
  • Yiannopoulos lives to insult.

UCCS’s release also highlighted another event going on at the exact same time that was planned months ago. The “university appreciation event,” the release says, will “include comments by [Chancellor Pam] Shockley-Zalabak, music by members of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, who will perform works by composer Leonard Bernstein, and a brief video presentation with campus community members stating support for the university's core values.”

Shockley-Zalabak penned a letter on the matter, found below:

A response to elected officials concern over the rhetoric Milo Yiannopoulos

I absolutely reject this type of rhetoric.

The statements that Mr. Yiannopoulos has made at other campuses are clearly in opposition to the values of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and its commitment to creating an inclusive community that welcomes all.

Moreover, his tactics of personal denigration, as well as racist and misogynist comments, are both personally reprehensible and contrary to the university's values of civil, respectful discussion of difference and difficult topics. We ascribe to The Board of Regents' Guiding Principle that the University of Colorado shall always strive to be "provide an outstanding, respectful, and responsive living, learning, teaching, and working environment."

At the same time, the University of Colorado system adheres to the freedoms embodied in the United States Constitution, which include the freedom of speech contained in the First Amendment. Under well-established constitutional principles, when a student group invites a speaker, the University of Colorado does not censor the speaker because it disagrees with his viewpoints.

In doing so, we draw guidance from, and I quote the words of, the United States Supreme Court, which recently reaffirmed that speech touching on social and political matters are within the bounds of constitutional protection. When speech is on a matter of public concern, even though it it racist or sexist, it "cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt" and we "must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate 'breathing space' to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment."

Mr. Yiannopoulos's attacks on others constitute "vehement, caustic, and unpleasant expressions" that "can stir people to action" and "inflict great pain." We can, and do, condemn his words, but, as a nation, "we have chosen to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate." As a public university, we know of no legal grounds to prevent Mr. Yiannopoulos from coming to our campus based on his comments elsewhere.

UCCS will, however, require the organizations that invited him to campus, the College Republicans and Turning Point USA, to be responsible for all costs, including security. Additionally, the university will handle all ticketing to ensure that fire codes and other legal requirements are met. I will continue to emphasize that while Mr. Yiannopoulos may be speaking at UCCS, he in no way represents us as a campus community or our values.


Pam Shockley-Zalabak


Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists are still planning to protest the event. “We’re planning a direct action as well as a more general nice picket thing for those that are less militant,” says a representative of the group, who would direct anyone who’s interested in participating to keep an eye on the event page for an upcoming planning meeting.

Plans to get the biracial, progressive comedian Trevor Noah to speak on campus concurrently appear to not have materialized.

Find tickets and other time/place details about the Yiannopoulos event here.

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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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Thursday, January 12, 2017

A handy guide to upcoming local actions around inauguration day

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 2:09 PM

Do you have a gnawing pit of dread in your stomach? You know, the one that wells up every time you see, hear or even think about what’s going on in our federal government right now? If so, this post is for you!

Find below a handy guide to all upcoming opportunities for good, ol’ fashion direct action in the Springs area. Showing up not only strengthens the resistance to certain people and policies, but it also strengthens the networks we’ll need if we’re to have any say over our fate in the coming years.

Trump resistors join hands in solidarity after the November election. - NAOMI PUEO WOOD
  • Naomi Pueo Wood
  • Trump resistors join hands in solidarity after the November election.

Sunday, January 15

Our First Stand: Save Healthcare

Congressional Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, have called for rallies across the country to show opposition to Republicans’ health care agenda. Unite Colorado Springs, a progressive activist organization, has honored the request, calling on all those who don’t want to see Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or Planned Parenthood totally decimated to come express that in public. “Our First Stand,” organizers have dubbed the rally, signaling that, yes, there’s more to come.

Bring yourself and a sign to the steps of City Hall at 1:30 p.m.

Sunday, January 15

COS SURJ community meeting

Learn about strategies for resisting deportation and other threats to immigrant, Muslim and LGBTQ communities. This local chapter of “Showing Up for Racial Justice” works to call white people into the struggle against racism, bigotry and systemic oppression through supporting groups led by people of color. Per organizers description:

This community meeting falls within a moment of national calls to action by MoveOn.org and coalitions of concerned democratic congressional leaders. We will be unveiling our Front Range SURJ campaign: ‘100 Days of Resisting Trump’ and discussing concrete daily actions that we can all take to make our voices heard and pressure our representatives to respond to our concerns.

Feel free to bring the kiddos, and, remember, it’s timed so you can go to Unite’s health care rally right after.

Show up at the Casa Verde Co-Housing Community (1355 Lindenwood Grove) at 12 p.m.

Friday, January 20

Inauguration Day bannering

The inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump is almost certainly going to be a shit-show, but, luckily, you can stay far, far away from it. Citizens for Peace and Space — a pacifist group led by Indy contributor Loring Wirbel — will hold what’s likely to be a far more benign gathering here in the Springs. Bring signs, bring banners, bring a friend.

Join at noon at Acacia Park.

Friday, January 20  Saturday, January 21

Women’s March on Denver

Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend this march in our state’s capital city that’s designed to support a similar one in D.C. The organizers are women unaffiliated with any activist group who got a permit from the city to hold this massive event, replete with a badass lineup of lady speakers and performers. The Pikes Peak Dems have organized two buses to Denver, leaving from their downtown office at 7 a.m. There are only a few spots left so call to reserve yours at 473-8713. (Warning: some attendees will be sporting knit pink pussy hats which may or may not be seen as trivializing a dead-serious cause.)

Activities will span 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Denver’s Civic Center Park.

Saturday, January 21

Day 1: March on Colorado Springs

Don’t waste any time after the President-elect gets sworn in. This sister march” to the ones in Denver, D.C., and around the country will take place the day after the inauguration and is meant to usher in the first hundred days of resistance. Co-hosted by COS SURJ and the NAACP State Conference, the event will include marching, bannering and a benefit concert featuring hip-hop (by locals Kevin Mitchell & Lord Damage and Stoney Bertz), spoken word poetry (by local wordsmith, community organizer and sometimes Indy contributor Nico Wilkinson) and other speakers yet to be announced. From the co-hosts:

“We strive to provide an outlet and support for those who wish to: 1) Advocate for and defend the most marginalized members of our community. 2) Connect with like-minded individuals and organizations within local Colorado communities. 3) Serve as a model of peaceful demonstration for future generations. 4) Honor those who have fought before us for human, civil, and women's rights.”

Meet at Acacia Park at 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, January 21

Silence in Solidarity

Omtastic Yoga Studio, in the Roswell neighborhood just north of the Old North End, provides a break from all the noise. For a half hour after the march downtown, gather in candlelit silence before another half hour of mingling. The opportunity is meant for people unable to participate in loud, outdoor, ambulatory protests but still want to be apart of the public conversation. It’s also meant for those who do participate in those kind of actions, but just need a little break to take care of themselves. Bring food or drink.

Silence begins at 5:00 p.m.; mingling at 5:30 p.m. The studio is at 2727 N. Cascade, suite 140.

Monday, January 23

First 100 Hours Climate Justice Vigil

Faith communities across the country are holding vigils to mark a new era in the climate justice movement. Locally, the Colorado Springs Council for Justice, also active on refugee issues, will facilitate what’s described as “a moment to ground ourselves and create community to help us process our grief, our anger, and our fear.”

The action may be vague but the need is not: While President Obama may have not been the perfect ally to environmentalists, he’ll start to look like a downright saint relative to the gang of climate change deniers and fossil fuel executives set to be making climate policy decisions.

Gather around Uncle Wilbur’s Fountain in Acacia Park at 5 p.m.

If we missed anything, please speak up!

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Monday, January 9, 2017

'Alt-right' agitator Milo Yiannopoulos named LGBTQ Nation's 'Person of the Year'

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 3:33 PM

  • Wikipedia Commons
LGBTQ Nation, an online news magazine that claims to be a leading news source for LGBTQ people (and runs other LGBTQ-focused websites such as Queerty and GayCities), has named Milo Yiannopoulos its “Person of the Year.”

Yes, we’re talking about the same Milo Yiannopoulos with ties to the white-nationalist, xenophobic, racist, transphobic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic “alt-right” movement whose upcoming visit to UCCS has half our city in an uproar.

What’s more, in the article announcing his win, the site bowed to pressure from Yiannopoulos himself to remove reference to the “alt-right” movement from their write-up. While Yiannopoulos does not personally identify with that label, and many “alt-right” leaders disavow him, he still shares fundamental ideological beliefs with the movement.

Their excuse for Yiannopoulos’ win? It’s the result of internet poll, which accepted votes from everyone — LGBTQ Nation readers and otherwise. The “otherwise” — Yiannopoulos’ fans who mobilized via sites like Reddit and 4chan — won out. These fans spammed the poll, and ended up tipping the scales in his favor, earning him nearly 70 percent of the vote.

A similar effort on behalf of Vice President-Elect Mike Pence (who is vehemently anti-LGBTQ and advocates for LGBTQ conversion therapy) landed the governor in second place.

Now, one might think that, even if Yiannopoulos did win “fair and square” as LGBTQ Nation says, there might be some amount of editorial control over these things. The site could make a statement by refusing to allow Yiannopoulos the same courtesy previous persons of the year have received — namely an interview.

But instead of making that statement, it seems LGBTQ Nation will give Yiannopoulos an opportunity to speak his mind, allowing him one more platform for his vehement hate speech.

The site has asserted that in naming Yiannopoulos “person of the year,” they do not necessarily mean that he’s had a positive impact on the LGBTQ community. What it means, simply, is that he has had an impact.

“Hate him or love him, one thing Yiannopoulos truly excels at is getting attention for himself and his causes ... For a gay guy from Britain, he has truly made his mark on conservative American politics and entertainment. He’s been able to brand himself the ultimate gay provocateur in a year of provocateurs,” the website says.

Considering Yiannopoulos consistently encourages violence against minority groups, it may not be the best idea to allow him more platforms to “provoke,” but LGBTQ Nation has made up its mind.

If you are interested in making a statement to UCCS about his speech, currently tentatively scheduled for Jan. 26, the community group Colorado Springs Anti-fascists have organized a Facebook event with information about who to contact with your concerns. There may also be a public protest scheduled for the same day.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

UPDATE: Will Colorado Springs' mayor be tapped for federal judgeship?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 10:59 AM

Will Mayor Suthers be waving goodbye to his mayor's job? - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Will Mayor Suthers be waving goodbye to his mayor's job?

Mayor John Suthers, appearing on the Richard Randall show on KVOR radio, apparently gave a stronger response to the idea of being tapped for a federal judge position than he gave us. He tweeted: "Richard, I am not going after a federal judgeship. Have people called me & asked if I was interested? Yes. But I said, 'No, I'm not.'"
Glenn Sugameli, of Washington, D.C., who's headed the Judging the Environment judicial nominations project since 2001, set us straight on openings on the federal bench. He noted the openings referred to in the 10th Circuit are on district court benches, not the appeals court:
... they are all on the district courts within the Circuit- including Judge Blackburn's seat in Colorado- there are no vacancies on the U.S, Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit itself (unlike the four on the 9th circuit indicated by CCA for Circuit Court of Appeals).

More importantly, Senators Bennet and Gardner jointly recommended and strongly pushed for action on a nominee. There is every reason why they should continue to do so given the caseload and need to move quickly to fill this seat that they both cited, and the continuing need for both home-state senators to approve any hearing (scroll down).
See these press releases:

Sens. Bennet, Gardner Urge Judiciary Committee to Consider Regina Rodriguez Nomination: President Nominated Rodriguez in April Following Bennet, Gardner Recommendations
(Republican - Colorado) 07/12/16
Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner today urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to work swiftly to consider the nomination of Regina Rodriguez to fill the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The Colorado senators wrote to Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy urging them to schedule a hearing and a vote on confirmation as soon as possible.... "Given the court's caseload, it's crucial that the Judiciary Committee move quickly and thoroughly to consider this nomination," Bennet said. "Regina Rodriguez is eminently qualified to serve on the District Court. We're confident that her impressive background in both the public and private sectors will serve her well on the federal bench." "Regina Rodriguez has a long record of service to Colorado," said Gardner. "She is immensely qualified to serve on the federal bench, and I'm certain that her broad experience will allow her to better serve Coloradans in a new capacity as a judge on the U.S. District Court for Colorado."

—————————-ORIGINAL POST 10:59 A.M. FRI., JAN. 6, 2017————————-

News over the past two months has focused on who Donald Trump is choosing to fill various cabinet and other posts.

Now, we hear that our own Mayor John Suthers might be in line for a presidential appointment, and he's not denying that he might be interested.

After he takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, Trump will nominate people to fill 114 judgeships across the land, as reported by CBS News.

Word is that Suthers is currently being vetted by the Republican Attorneys General Association, though RAGA has yet to confirm this to the Independent. When we hear back, we'll update.

A place on a federal bench would be a natural culmination of Suthers' career. He's served as district attorney, U.S. Attorney, Colorado Department of Corrections chief and Colorado Attorney General. He was elected mayor in mid-2015.

Trump is looking for people who "will reflect conservative opinions on a wide array of issues, from gun control and abortion access to regulatory reform," according to CBS News, and Suthers seems to fit that bill perfectly.

He's adamantly opposed to recreational marijuana, for example, and his Catholic background translates to opposition to abortion.

When we posed the question of a federal court appointment to the mayor's office, we got this response from city spokeswoman Kim Melchor:
Mayor Suthers has had several inquiries about his interest in various positions. This is not uncommon after a Presidential election. But as he has indicated in the past, there are very few positions he would seriously consider at this point in his career. The press would undoubtedly become aware if he was being considered for a position he was interested in. 
According to this website, there are six vacancies with the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, Denver.

So what if Suthers is chosen and answers the call? The City Charter says Council President — currently Merv Bennett, former CEO of the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region — steps into the mayor's shoes.

The Charter says:
If a vacancy occurs in the office of Mayor, duties and responsibilities of that position shall transfer according to section 4-20 of this Charter, and Council shall call an election within ninety (90) days, unless a general municipal election will occur in one hundred eighty (180) days and nominations for the office of Mayor can be timely filed in accord with municipal election law, for the purpose of electing a qualified person to the unexpired term of the office of Mayor. If a general municipal election will occur within one hundred eighty (180) days, the provisions of section 4-20 of this Charter shall apply until a successor of the Mayor last elected pursuant to the provisions of section 2-10 of this Charter is elected and qualified, in accordance with this Charter. (1909; 1961; 1975;
1987; 2010)
And here's section 4-20 from the Charter:
(a)Whenever the Mayor is unable, from any cause, to perform the duties of the office for more than a temporary or short-term absence, the President of the Council shall be the acting Mayor and shall hold such office until a successor of the Mayor last elected pursuant to the provisions of section 2-10 of this Charter is elected and qualified, in accordance with this Charter, at which time the President of the Council may return to his or her seat on Council. (2010)

(b)If the President of Council refuses or is unable to discharge the duties of the Office of Mayor, the Council shall elect one of its members acting Mayor, who shall hold such office until a successor of the Mayor last elected pursuant to the provisions of section 2-10 of this Charter is elected and qualified, in accordance with this Charter. (2010)

(c)Whenever the President of Council becomes the acting Mayor, Council shall elect a new President of Council to serve during the absence as provided in this Charter. (2010) 

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