Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ralph Routon announces move to executive editor emeritus

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 5:06 PM

Ralph Routon
  • Ralph Routon
Ralph Routon, award-winning journalist and executive editor of the Colorado Publishing House, the Independent's parent company, has announced he will retire on Sept. 27.

While he still plans to contribute to our family of newspapers in the coming years, and help out as needed, his new title will be executive editor emeritus, and he plans to spend most of his time enjoying his family and friends, traveling, and exploring Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs. His wife, Bunny, is surely glad that she'll be seeing more of him.

Ralph was raised in Hope, Arkansas — the same hometown as Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee. Early in his career, he was sports news editor for the Arkansas Gazette and sports editor of the Arkansas Democrat, before spending the bulk of his career at the Gazette in Colorado Springs as a sports editor and columnist from 1977 to 2001. When he left the Gazette in 2001, he served as editor of the Northwest Florida Daily News, executive editor of the Amarillo Globe-News and sports editor of Florida Today. But Ralph loved Colorado Springs, and was happy to return to work for the Indy in 2006.

Indy publisher Carrie Simison and Colorado Springs Business Journal Editor & COO Amy Sweet sent out a statement on Ralph's retirement via email today, saying:

Without Ralph’s guidance, dedication, expertise and love of this community, the publications would not be the papers they are today. We are forever grateful to Ralph for his leadership and mentorship. Our congratulations and unending gratitude go to Ralph as he starts this next chapter of his life! 

Ralph hired me back in 2007, when he was the editor of the Indy.

He was already a legend in this city, and when I was first starting out here, I remember that when I told people I worked for the Indy, often the first words out of their mouths were, "Oh, do you work for Ralph?"

At that point, many people knew him for his sports writing — no sports fanatic can ever help asking him his thoughts on the home team — but Ralph is a newshound and a hell of a columnist too. Working for him has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Ralph is good at this job because he cares about it. He cares about people. He cares about journalism. And he cares about this city. At points, I have been convinced that he must know everyone in this city and probably everything about the city's history too. He has always been there with a great contact or tip, a word of encouragement, or a pat on the back. Indy Senior Reporter Pam Zubeck told me today, that when Ralph told her "your story is strong" it felt like the ultimate compliment. She's right. It did.

Ralph has always been a journalist's journalist, the type of editor I always imagined having — one who made all of us feel like we were fighting the good fight, by acting as the eyes and ears of the people. He never lost sight of the fact that what we do is a service and a mission.

When our parent company, the Colorado Publishing House, brought on the Colorado Springs Business Journal, Ralph was tapped as the talent to handle that transition and lead the paper. Since then, he's worn many hats, including  publisher of the Pikes Peak Bulletin and executive editor of the company. And, of course, he's helped us out at the Indy, and written his "Between the Lines" column.

Despite having many responsibilities, Ralph has remained the mentor he always was: the type of guy who always had the time to listen to your question or problem and offer sage advice. He always made you feel as though yours was the most important problem — even though we knew he worked long hours.

We are all going to miss having Ralph around the office. On the announcement of his parting today, Ralph shared this letter with me:

This voyage began in December 2006 and has lasted going on 11 years. It has been rewarding in so many ways, guiding and impacting all the papers along the way, editing and writing. I owe deep thanks to John Weiss for the opportunity to return to Colorado Springs, first with just the Independent, then adding CSBJ in 2012 and the Bulletin in 2014.

It’s been wonderful to wrap up 45-plus years of continuous newspaper experiences by working with such great people dedicated to keeping our readers informed, making this a better place and our papers as influential as they can be.

Now, to be honest, it’s simply nice to have a happy ending.
Speaking for all of us a the Indy, I want to thank Ralph for everything he's done for each of us, and for our newspaper. Thanks for your contribution to journalism, and to making our community a better place. Thanks for your patience and wisdom, and for making me feel like I had some chance of winning the office NCAA brackets.

Congratulations on your happy ending.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Hickenlooper, in bipartisan bromance, releases health care proposal

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 11:34 AM

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican, have teamed up to draft a proposal to stabilize individual health insurance markets that, nationwide, have seen insurers drop-out and premiums go up over the past year.

Now, you might be thinking, "Hmm... health care reform... Doesn't the Republican majority in Congress still want to 'repeal and replace?'"

Ding, ding! They sure do, since it's a seven years-long promise and all, but you'll recall that despite controlling both chambers of the legislative branch with a willing executive in the White House, Republicans have failed to accomplish anything on the health care front.

In addition to embarrassing, their failure has been destructive. As the Indy has reported, all this uncertainty around policy has created instability, most acutely in the the individual market, where people who don't have employee or government sponsored insurance must buy their plans. About 13 million Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, get coverage through the exchanges that were set up under the Affordable Care Act. This year, because of all the jockeying in Congress, premiums for insurances plans offered through Connect for Health Colorado, our own state exchange, are projected rise an average of 27 percent. That could be a huge hit in the wallet for the about 13,400 El Paso County residents who enroll through the exchange.

That's why governors, who have experience implementing health care policy on the state level, are taking matters into their own hands. The Hickenlooper-Kasich proposal, which has the support of six other governors, is addressed to Congressional leaders of both parties. It recommends "immediate federal action to stabilize markets," "responsible reforms that preserve recent coverage gains and control costs" and "an active federal/state partnership that is based on innovation and a shared commitment to improve overall health system performance."

Check it out yourself for the specifics.

(Don't have time to read the whole plan? Highlights are: fund cost sharing reduction payments; keep the individual mandate for now; fund outreach and enrollment efforts; and commit to federal risk sharing mechanisms.)

And, if you're just swooning at how reasonable and pragmatic and bipartisan these popular governors' partnership is, you'll be tickled to know there are, indeed, rumors that they're toying with a "unity ticket" in 2020. Each governor has been coy about it in the press, saying there are no ulterior motives to this joint health care proposal... Which is exactly what you would say if you were running for president.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Suthers kicks off Colorado Springs stormwater ballot measure campaign

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 10:12 AM

Mayor John Suthers spoke to a select crowd of supporters of the city's stormwater ballot measure Wednesday evening. - PHOTOS BY PAM ZUBECK
  • Photos by Pam Zubeck
  • Mayor John Suthers spoke to a select crowd of supporters of the city's stormwater ballot measure Wednesday evening.

If voters pass a stormwater fee measure on the Nov. 7 ballot, the city's financial woes will be over for at least 20  years, according to Mayor John Suthers.

That was one of his comments made on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at a kickoff for the "vote yes" campaign held at Johnny Martin's Car Central downtown.

"Colorado Springs will be on very firm financial footing for the next two decades [if the measure passes]," he said, urging those in attendance to spread the word about "how serious an issue this is."

While the crowd wasn't massive — only about 40 people — the place was filled with movers and shakers who could emerge as key campaigners in the next two months. Among them were former Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin, Nor'wood Development Group official Ralph Braden, Councilors Jill Gaebler, Tom Strand and David Geislinger, Council President Richard Skorman, the mayor's chief of staff Jeff Greene, and Chamber officials Hannah Parsons and Dirk Draper.

Suthers recapped the city's history of neglecting its stormwater problems, which has led the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulators to file a lawsuit against the city (News, Aug. 23). It now appears that case, which Suthers initially wanted to try to resolve through settlement, will drag out for "three, five, six, seven years," he said.

"We can't go that long without resolution of this stormwater issue," he said.

Those in the crowd were urged by Suthers to reach out to friends and everyone they could think of to tell them it's time to adequately fund the city's drainage needs.
  • Those in the crowd were urged by Suthers to reach out to friends and everyone they could think of to tell them it's time to adequately fund the city's drainage needs.

Currently, the city is spending $17 million a year to fulfill an intergovernmental agreement with Pueblo County to spend $460 million in 20 years on stormwater projects. But that obligation is cutting into the need to hire more police and firefighters, Suthers said. Hence, if voters approve the new fees — $5 per household and $30 per acre for commercial property up to five acres — the new money would satisfy the IGA while freeing general fund dollars for public safety and other needs.

Suthers said the Colorado Springs Police Department currently has 14 uniformed officers per 10,000 people, far short of the norm across the country of 18 to 20. Denver Police Department has 21, he said. Suthers wants to shoot for 17 per 10,000 population.

The Fire Department is operating with 15 fewer firefighters than were on the force before the recession of 2008, Suthers noted.

The political action committee Invest in COS, which hopes to raise $500,000 to fund the campaign, hosted the kickoff.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , ,

UPDATE: Meet (some of) the candidates at partisan town hall at Colorado College

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 10:03 AM

  • Georgia Democrats
Trevor Dierdorff, chair of the El Paso County Republicans, says the candidates from his party didn't really get a fair shake.

"[The student organizer] didn’t email me his request until after hours last Friday," Dierdorff wrote to the Indy. "I’m afraid that participation will be very light as he was trying to get a couple dozen very busy candidates to come to an event on Labor Day Weekend with only one week’s notice. He should have been reaching out to campaigns at least six weeks prior."

———————-ORIGINAL POST 2:23 P.M. Wednesday, AUG. 30, 2017———————-

We're sure you're busy, but we're also pretty confident you care to inform yourself about the people running to represent you at the various levels of government. So, this may be just the right chance to hear from nearly all of the Democrats in one fell swoop. (Insert idiom about multiple birds and fewer stones here.)

The Colorado College Democratic Student Club is sponsoring a candidate forum they're calling "State of the State" (not to be confused with the Governor's annual address.) It's this Saturday, Sept. 2 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at the Kathryn Mohrman Theatre in Armstrong Hall on the campus of Colorado College. If you've never been, just plug 14 E Cache La Poudre St. into your preferred mode of navigation.

Steven Ortega, the student organizer, says by email he had hoped that candidates from both political parties would participate — both for the sake of fairness and to comply with a college policy stipulating that campus events featuring candidates for elected office give equal opportunity to both sides of the aisle. To that end, early this summer he asked both party chairs (Electra Johnson for the Democrats and Trevor Dierdorff for the Republicans) to invite their slate of candidates, but only Johnson followed through.

There's currently no GOP-affiliated student group at Colorado College, a famously progressive-minded institution.

Ortega comments, "As you can probably imagine, it makes complying with college policy on events like these a touch awkward for CC Dems, since in the past the college Dems and [Republicans] would contact their respective party's officials/candidates. We're working on developing a similar relationship with CC Centrists, a new student group, but political events would undeniably be simpler to put on if there was a Republican group on campus again."

Kit Roupe, secretary for the El Paso County Republicans, says that GOP candidates for all these state and local offices have made plenty of public appearances. "We have had candidates speak already, including the 5th Congressional and [Gubernatorial] candidates at our Lincoln Day Dinner two weeks ago," she wrote the Indy by email. "I know personally the candidates have attended local events and were at the El Paso County Fair Republican booth in July."

The GOP keeps a web calendar that lists opportunities to meet candidates running for elected office.

As for this Saturday, the hosts have provided a commendably thorough rundown of what to expect:

5:30-6:30 p.m. Candidate Tables

Candidate tables may remain open for the duration of the event and a number will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis in Armstrong Hall outside of the Kathryn Mohrman Theatre. Candidates may bring their own tables should they so choose.

6:30-7:00 p.m. State House and Senate (30 minutes)

Candidates Confirmed: Tony Exum, Graham Anderson, Liz Rosenbaum, Terry Martinez


• What topics or issues will you principally focus on if elected?

Q&A: Audience

7:00-7:20 p.m. CD5 (20 minutes)

Candidates Confirmed: Stephany Rose Spaulding, Betty Field


• What topics or issues will you principally focus on if elected to Congress?

Q&A: Audience

7:20-7:40 p.m.  Secretary of State (20 minutes)

Candidates Confirmed: Jena Griswold, Gabriel McArthur


• What is the core mission of the position you’re running for, and why is it relevant to the community in-and-around Colorado College?

• What topics or issues will you focus on if elected?

• What steps will you take, if any, to expand Coloradans' access to the ballot?

Q&A: Audience

7:40-7:50 p.m. State Treasurer (10 minutes)

Candidates Confirmed: Steve Lebsock

•What is the core mission of the position you’re running for, and why is it relevant to the community in-and-around Colorado College?

• What is your assessment of the fiscal health of Colorado's state pension fund, and what, if any, steps does PERA need to take to ensure that it meets its future obligations?

Q&A: Audience

8-8:30 p.m. Governor (30 minutes)

Candidates Confirmed: Cary Kennedy, Noel Ginsberg, Mike Johnston (by proxy), Jared Polis (by proxy)


• Hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as "fracking," has become an increasingly large part of Colorado's economy in recent years, with over 900 injections wells currently in operation across the state, according to EPA data. However, in light of the fatal explosion of an abandoned flowline in Firestone this last April, public scrutiny of the practice has also increased. If elected, would you support additional safety regulations on fracking, and what role do you see for the practice in Colorado's energy landscape?

•A Colorado Public Radio assessment of Colorado's public school system found that our state ranks 42nd in the nation in terms of funding per student. Does this funding shortfall impact the quality of K-12 education in Colorado, and if so, what will you do as Governor to increase funding for our public schools?

• A 2015 report by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice found that African-Americans were the target of 12.4% of arrests and court summonses in Colorado, despite making up only 4.2% of our state's population. To what extent do you believe this disparity is a reflection of bias in our state's judicial system, and if it is, what will you do as Governor to reduce such bias?

• A report by the Denver Post found that the city of Denver saw an average of 2.9 jobs created per every unit of housing in the city since 2010, contributing to rising rents in the capital, and other cities with similar labor markets, at a time when Colorado has seen an 8% increase in its homeless population since 2013. As governor, what actions will you take, if any, to make Colorado's cities more affordable places to live?

A recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll of rural America found that two thirds of those surveyed rated local job opportunities as only "fair" or "poor," sentiments that are often echoed in rural Colorado. If elected, what steps, if any, will you take to create greater economic opportunity in Colorado's rural communities?

Q&A: Audience

8:30-9:30 p.m. Attorney General (30 minutes)

Candidates Confirmed: Phil Weiser, Brad Levin, Michael Dougherty, Joe Salazar (by proxy)


•What is the core mission of the position you’re running for, and why is it relevant to the community in-and-around Colorado College?

•A report by the Drug Enforcement Administration released in 2016 indicated that Colorado has seen a 350% increase in the rate of drug overdoses since 2011, largely tied to heroin usage throughout the state. If elected, what, if any, steps will you take to address the opioid crisis in Colorado?

• Data from the Prison Policy Institute indicates that Colorado imprisons 364 people out of every 100,000 in our state, a rate of incarceration much higher than the state had during the peak of its violent crime rates in the 1980s and early 1990s. As attorney general, would you seek to reduce the size of our state's prison population, and if so, how would you go about doing so?

Earlier this year, the Colorado State Court of Appeals released a decision requiring that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission consider public health, safety, and welfare when reviewing requests for oil and gas extraction permits. However, since then, the State of Colorado has appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of our state. As Attorney General, would you continue to appeal the State Court's decision regarding the COGCC?

Q&A: Audience

  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

To hurricane-ravaged Houston, with love

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 6:16 PM

  • The National Guard
When I heard about Hurricane Harvey bearing down on Houston, my first thought was a selfish one: I was worried about my brother.

My only sibling and his fiancé call Houston home. Thankfully, they are safe, having always loved high-rise living. My brother, like so many Texans, loves Houston, has full faith that it will recover, and has no plans of leaving.

But it's hard to imagine a recovery right now — when people have died, others are in danger, and high waters have destroyed so much of America's fourth most populous city. The Independent is a member of the Association for Alternative Newsmedia, an organization representing 108 news organizations much like our own. AAN journalists have been in contact with each other throughout the crisis, and today, we've been showering love and support on the journalists in Houston, who are fighting to cover this disaster even as their own lives have been impacted.

In a particularly touching exchange, Kevin Allman, editor of New Orlean's Gambit Weekly, reached out to the Houston press saying, "Love from New Orleans. You have such a long road ahead. We know, and we won’t forget you in the weeks and months to come."

Allman meant it as a personal exchange, but I'm sharing it with you because it made me think about how we are all linked with each other in times of disaster. The people of New Orleans can't help but flash back to Hurricane Katrina when they see those images from Houston. And, while it's certainly a different kind of disaster, I couldn't help but think of what we went through with the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires, and the flash floods that hit afterward.

Disasters are horrible for everyone caught in them, but for reporters they mean long hours of work, even when all you want to do is go home to your family and take care of your personal affairs. So, our hats are off to our colleagues in Houston. And we'd like to share some of the work that they are striving so hard to produce. Take a look at some of the links below:

When Houston Went Under: Harvey Brings Historic Floods (Houston Press)

Exxon, Other Refineries, Emitted Chemicals Into the Air During Harvey (Houston Press)

Houston's Real Heroes of Harvey...and One Goat (Houston Press)

After the storm: 15 things to do (Houston Defender)

46 Inches of Rain (Hispanic Houston)

And if you'd like to help the victims, but want to go a little off the beaten path with your donation, our (unabashedly populist) columnist Jim Hightower, of Austin, Texas, wanted us to share this list of organizations sent by Our Revolution Texas:


Thousands in our state are suffering because of Hurricane Harvey and spillover flooding since this weekend. Our Revolution Texas members are among them. Many of us around the state are wondering how we can volunteer and donate to help the many in hard-hit areas. We all know that showing solidarity in trying times is an important part of what we do and why we do it as progressive populists.

In the Houston Area

If you have a flat-bottomed boat or a high-water vehicle, you are urgently needed. Call 713-881-3100.
If you are in need of immediate help from a life-threatening emergency call 9-1-1.
If you are or know others in need of non-emergency help call 3-1-1 in Houston or 2-1-1 in nearby areas.

Outside Houston

Local relief groups, progressive organizations, unions, and immigrant rights groups are already mobilizing grassroots relief efforts. Here is a list of groups and efforts you can plug into to help:

The Texas Workers Relief Fund. A union-relief effort by the Texas AFL-CIO, donations are tax-deductible. The state fed has been closely coordinating with the Houston and Corpus-area central labor councils to provide material aid.

RNRN Disaster Relief Fund. Our ally the National Nurses United organizes medical relief for major disasters through this fund.

Texas DSA. DSA chapters (also allies) have been organizing both volunteers and those in need at a grassroots level. Sign up here to offer help (or ask for it) or donate directly to Houston DSA.

Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund. If you want to donate directly for relief in the Coastal Bend towns hit directly by the hurricane.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston's mayor has set up this fund to assist with victims of Houston's ongoing and increasingly dangerous flooding. Donations are tax-deductible.

The extreme enforcement policies of SB4 and ICE have put immigrant workers in increased harm's way through the crisis. Immigrant and refugee groups such as RAICES in San Antonio are moving to get aid directly to immigrant families. Jumping in now is just the beginning.

In solidarity,

Chris Kutalik-Cauthern
Our Revolution Texas, Statewide Coordinator

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

James Mattis puts stay on transgender military ban, pending study

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 10:53 AM

  • Shutterstock
In this weeks’ Queer & There, we heard from a transgender veteran who spoke out in opposition to President Trump’s ban on transgender people entering or serving in the U.S. Military.

Tuesday night, after the Independent went to press, news broke that Secretary of Defense James Mattis had put a “freeze” on the ban, pending a six-month study and input from a panel of experts. The exact makeup of that panel is as yet uncertain, though one might hope transgender military personnel may be involved in the process.

While Mattis’ decision to delay implementation of the ban was lauded by those who oppose it, the Washington Post pointed out in a Wednesday report that, in reality, Mattis was just following orders. The text of the White House directive clearly states that implementation must occur by February of 2018. Moreover, it reads:

As part of the implementation plan, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving in the United States military. Until the Secretary has made that determination, no action may be taken against such individuals under the policy set forth in section 1(b) of this memorandum.

And while an extensive study on this matter (conducted by the RAND Corporation) has already determined that the effect of transgender service members on military readiness and budget would be negligible, it seems the upcoming six months of study and deliberation will yield final results.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Longtime Colorado Springs Utilities water official dies unexpectedly

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 10:47 AM

Former Councilor Margaret Radford with Gary Bostrom. - COURTESY MARGARET RADFORD
  • Courtesy Margaret Radford
  • Former Councilor Margaret Radford with Gary Bostrom.
Gary Bostrom, 60, recently retired water officer with Colorado Springs Utilities, died unexpectedly on Aug. 28.

Bostrom worked for Utilities for 36 years, retiring in mid-2015.

Utilities CEO Jerry Forte issued this statement:
Gary’s contribution to our community, through his passion and expertise for providing safe, reliable, quality water is unmatched. During his 36-year career at Colorado Springs Utilities he worked on most all facets of the water system. We owe Gary much gratitude for sharing his knowledge with us and playing an integral role in planning for the future of water in Colorado Springs and the region. We won’t forget his tireless efforts on the Southern Delivery System. He was brilliant as an engineer and perhaps even better at building relationships and collaborating with others – even staying involved in regional water organizations after retirement. He is already missed.
Former City Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin tells the Independent in a text, "30 years of local water history just gone. Breaks my heart."

A Colorado Springs native, Bostrom was named chief water officer in 2011 after having served as general manager for planning, engineering and resource managment in water services. He also worked in water supply acquisition, water and wastewater infrastructure planning and engineering, and developing regional partnerships. He was instrumental in the development of the Arkansas River Exchange Program, the 1996 Water Resource Plan and the Southern Delivery System permitting process.

Bostrom served as a director on the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, was past president of the Fountain Valley Authority, a director for the Aurora-Colorado Springs Joint Water Authority, and a director for the Homestake Steering Committee. Additionally, he is past president of the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Company, the Lake Meredith Reservoir Company and the Lake Henry Reservoir Company.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Mary Lou Makepeace announced as Inside/Out Youth Services interim executive director

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 9:28 AM

  • File photo
Inside/Out Youth Services, our local LGBTQ youth center, announced Tuesday that Mary Lou Makepeace will soon become interim executive director of the organization.

Makepeace, who served on the Colorado Springs Planning Commission, City Council and, most notably, as mayor of Colorado Springs from 1997-2003, has historically been a steadfast ally to the LGBTQ community. In addition to championing local LGBTQ causes, she has also served as executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado.

She will begin her duties as Inside/Out’s executive director in mid-September while she helps the board search for someone to fill that position permanently.

We reached out to Inside/Out's current executive director, Mary Malia, for comment, but have yet to hear back. We will update this space when and if we do.

See the full letter from Inside/Out Youth Services Board President Margo Chandler below:

The Inside Out Youth Services Board of Directors is extremely excited to announce that Mary Lou Makepeace has accepted the position of interim Executive Director of the organization.

Mary Lou brings a depth of experience to the position that will support the mission of Inside Out while continuing outreach to the Colorado Springs community and assisting the Board in the search for a permanent Executive Director. The Board is thrilled to have Mary Lou joining the Inside Out family in mid-September and we look forward to the continued success of Inside Out.

Mary Lou Makepeace, Colorado Springs' first female mayor, completed two full terms and was responsible for several equality measures including domestic-partner benefits under her leadership. Prior to becoming mayor, she was the Executive Director of the adolescent child placement agency STAY, and after leaving office, became the Executive Director of The Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, where she was responsible for awarding over $2 million annually to nonprofit organizations across Colorado. Mary Lou attended the Harvard University Program for State & Local Government, earned a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs (UCCS), and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of North Dakota. She was inducted to the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 2009.

The Board of Directors is also pleased to announce the promotion of Maegan Brundage to the position of Youth Health Educator and Program Manager. Maegan joined Inside Out as a youth facilitator and volunteer in 2014, and was hired in May 2017 as a part-time Youth Health Educator and Program Coordinator. She has been an integral part of the organization's growth, the development of programs, and the overall reach within the community. We are excited that she's joining Inside Out in a full-time capacity to further expand our reach and mission within the community.

Maegan Brundage worked in child welfare at the Pikes Peak Region and Cleveland County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for six years. In her position with the Pikes Peak Region CASA, Maegan spearheaded the Human Rights Campaign's All Children - All Families initiative, which created a welcoming and affirming space for LGBTIQ youth, volunteers, and staff. She also attended the 2017 National CASA Conference, where she advocated for, and presented on, how to best serve LGBTIQ youth in the child welfare system. Maegan received both her Bachelors and Masters of Social Work from The University of Oklahoma. She lives in Colorado Springs with her Siamese cat and miniature Aussie puppy. When not focused on youth initiatives, she enjoys hiking, photography, exploring new places, and writing her blog.

Margo Chandler
Inside Out Youth Services
Board President

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

National Cybersecurity Center loses its CEO

Posted By on Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 12:16 PM

Ed Rios is leaving the cybersecurity center. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Ed Rios is leaving the cybersecurity center.
After existing for only a year or so, the National Cybersecurity Center is losing its cyber czar.

Tuesday, The center announced in a news release that CEO Ed Rios has resigned to focus on his business interests.

Vance Brown, executive chairman and co-founder of Cherwell Software, will serve as interim CEO while the board searches for Rios's replacement. He'll be assisted by Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Anderson.

The cybersecurity center was first announced in January 2016. Rios was named CEO last October, and Jen Furda, publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal, which is under the same ownership as the Independent, joined the center as chief operating officer in late February.

Here's the release about Rios:
Ed Rios, CEO, National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) today announced his resignation in order to devote more time to his business interests. Rios stated, "I am grateful for the opportunity to have helped in bringing NCC from an idea to a viable organization serving a critical need in our evolving cyber landscape. We have accomplished a great deal in a brief time, and it is now time for me to return to provide leadership and direction for the other companies I own."

NCC's Board Chairman Bob Hurst, former Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs, expressed appreciation for Rios' efforts in establishing the operating structure for NCC and ensuring the NCC is a viable organization. Hurst stated, "Ed Rios' knowledge of cybersecurity, government and entrepreneurship made him uniquely qualified to lead NCC through its nascent phase. The NCC Board is grateful for Ed's leadership. We are also fortunate Mr. Rios has agreed to continue serving NCC as a member of our Board of Directors.”

Hurst announced Vance Brown would assume the Interim CEO position for NCC. Vance Brown has over 20 years of experience as the CEO of software technology innovation and information technology companies. Currently, Brown is Executive Chairman and Co-founder of Cherwell Software. In 2014, he was named EY Entrepreneur of The Year™. In 2017, Vance Brown was named one of the “100 most intriguing entrepreneurs” by Goldman Sachs. Chairman Hurst stated, “NCC is fortunate to have someone of Vance’s character and caliber assisting with this transition. We are grateful to Ed Rios for his leadership and appreciative of Vance Brown’s willingness to accept this important baton from Mr. Rios.” Mr. Brown will be assisted by current NCC staff and Lieutenant General Ed Anderson (U.S. Army, retired) who has also agreed to provide interim support for National Cybersecurity Center.
The center is said to be located in the former Mortgage Solutions Financial Expo Center at 3650 N. Nevada Ave. but its website gives a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs address for its physical location.

  • Favorite

Tags: , ,

Monday, August 28, 2017

Springs's road program shows good progress, mayor says

Posted By on Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 2:26 PM

Workers lay asphalt at Centennial Boulevard and Chuckwagon Road. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy city of Colorado Springs
  • Workers lay asphalt at Centennial Boulevard and Chuckwagon Road.
Mayor John Suthers held a news conference Monday to report to the community progress under his tax increase for roads approved by voters in November 2015.

Here's the update from city communications:
2C concrete and paving operations are on-time and under budget as crews pass the halfway mark for the 2017 paving season. So far, crews have paved 137.65 of 242 scheduled lane miles for 2017. The remaining 105 miles are expected to be complete by the end of October.

The effort is funded through a temporary five-year $0.62 sales tax approved by Colorado Springs voters in November 2015 to be used solely for roadway repairs. Paving efforts occur in tandem with continued Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) projects to provide routine preventative maintenance that helps roads achieve their full life span.

“Maintaining our city’s critical infrastructure continues to be a key priority, and we are making good on our promise to achieve the milestones we initially set when voters approved ballot measure 2C. I’d like to commend our street crews, who, despite considerable wet weather, expect to reach the finish line for year two by late October.” said Mayor John Suthers. “Roadway work is on-time and under budget, which is good news as any additional funds will be rolled into additional road improvements in future years.”

2C Work On-Time, Under Budget:
2017 2C Program Budget:                                                    $49,104,459
2017 2C Pre-Overlay Concrete*:                                           17.5 percent under budget
2017 2C Paving Operations*:                                                13.9 percent under budget
*Information reflects estimated v. actual expenditures through Aug. 24 and is subject to change based on a variety of factors.

2017 2C Paving Operations and Concrete Work Stats
Despite recent wet weather, 2017 scheduled paving operations and concrete work are on schedule. Below stats are current as of August 24.

· Paved 137 of 242 scheduled lane miles (56 percent complete)
· Replaced 114,595 linear feet of curb and gutter
· Replaced 230,149 square feet sidewalk
· Installed 71 new pedestrian ramps
· Retrofitted 667 existing pedestrian ramps
· Placed more than 44,340 tons of asphalt

Contractors continue to make progress already completing 57.62 percent of paving and 72 percent of the 2017 pre-overlay concrete list. Crews expect to complete 2017 concrete work in September and the 2017 paving list by the end of October, weather permitting. Curb and gutter work is required prior to repaving as any deficiency in this infrastructure creates risk of water and structural damage, which would significantly lessen the lifespan of any new streets. Further, sidewalk work was completed ahead of paving to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that anytime a street is repaired or repaved, ADA accessibility must be brought up to current standards.

Interactive Map Highlights 2017 Roadway Projects
In addition to the 2C-funded paving, the Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division conducts maintenance work throughout the city. To date, these crews have completed:
· 82 of 120 scheduled lane miles of chip seal preventative maintenance
· 473 of 466 of scheduled lane miles of crack seal preventative maintenance
· 6 lane miles of scheduled paving through General Funds/Capital Improvements
· 6 of 13 lane miles are complete through PPRTA funds
· 104 of 153 lane miles of mechanized patching through PPRTA
· Repaired 50,534 potholes

Thirteen miles were added to the 2C paving list for 2017 bringing the total scheduled miles from 229 to 242 lane miles. The following streets were added to the 2017 list:
· Woodmen Road between Black Forest and Marksheffel Road
· Bradley Road between Horizon View and East City limit
· Research Parkway between Voyager Parkway and Chapel Hills Drive

Residents can view an interactive map highlighting progress of all roadway paving and maintenance operations, to include 2C-funded paving and concrete; PPRTA-funded crack seal and chip seal; and General Fund-sponsored pothole repairs, mechanized paving, and dig-outs. The map does not include PPRTA-funded capital improvements projects. For more information on maintenance applications visit:

2C Paving 5-Year Map is Now Available Online

Residents can view an interactive map of planned streets to be paved throughout the five-year life of Ballot Measure 2C, years 2016-2020. Coordination with multiple stakeholders, including City and County departments, Colorado Springs Utilities, private organizations and other entities facilitated completion of the 2018-2020 2C paving list. Paving lists are subject to change based on a variety of factors including coordination of roadway work, resources and weather.

For more information about voter-supported 2C projects visit To view an interactive of public works projects, including stormwater, maintenance and capital improvements for roads and bridges view the 2017 Public Works interactive projects map at

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , ,

NorthCom already deployed search teams to Hurricane Harvey, standing ready

Posted By on Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 12:13 PM

First responders from the Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacán practice bringing a drowning victim to shore using a rescue sled donated by U.S. Northern Command in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, March 22, 2017. As part of USNORTHCOM's humanitarian assistance mission, members of the U.S. Public Health Service provided water search and rescue training to Mexican first responders. - U.S. AIR FORCE 1ST LT. LAUREN HILL
  • U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Lauren Hill
  • First responders from the Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacán practice bringing a drowning victim to shore using a rescue sled donated by U.S. Northern Command in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, March 22, 2017. As part of USNORTHCOM's humanitarian assistance mission, members of the U.S. Public Health Service provided water search and rescue training to Mexican first responders.

Northern Command, based on Peterson Air Force Base, has already deployed resources to Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey and could send more.

Capt. Chase McFarland reports that a search and rescue "package" and a defense coordinating officer were sent over the weekend to the Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth. The SAR package includes two planners, several helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft, along with two rescue teams. The defense coordinating officer and his support staff will provided the "DoD knowledge set."

"They’re there to support the dual status commander, the commander who synchronizes efforts between active duty and Guard units," McFarland says, adding that all those resources came "from all over."

In addition, he adds, "We provided Randolph [Air Force Base in Texas] as an installation support base. What that does, is FEMA, the Defense Logistics Agency, all these people bringing in meals, water, gas, generators, it allows them to come into that location and then can be forward-distributed into those areas [of need]."

While NorthCom stands at the ready, McFarland says that county and state resources must be depleted before military resources are deployed on a wider level.

"We haven’t had a mission tasking yet," he says. "They’re responding very well. It’s only when they need to fill up with gas they’ll call us."

Even before the hurricane made landfall, McFarland says, "We were already doing prudent planning, saying what could we send. Texas has a very robust guard unit and response unit. If FEMA or the state is asking for federal help, if we have that capability to send it, we would definitely be there to help."

And that is likely to unfold, because NorthCom became a key component of the formula for response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to this account by NorthCom itself.

NorthCom was stood up Oct. 1, 2002, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. In addition to protecting America's homeland, NorthCom also performs a civil support mission that includes domestic disaster relief operations that occur during fires, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.

In another development, the Colorado Springs Fire Department tweeted: "8 Firefighters from CSFD Heavy Rescue Program, members of CO Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue are in Houston TX helping those in need."

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

El Paso County judge resigns, nominees sought

Posted By on Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 11:33 AM

Wilson: Resigning his judge's seat. - COURTESY COLORADO JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
  • Courtesy Colorado Judicial Department
  • Wilson: Resigning his judge's seat.
Daniel S. Wilson has resigned as an El Paso County court judge, according to an announcement by the state seeking applicants for the post.

The news release didn't speak to reasons Wilson has resigned, but some insight might be gained by reading this review of Wilson leading up to the vote to retain him in 2016.

From that report:
Judge Wilson states that he enjoys doing his own research on cases. He provided the Commission with a number of well written opinions. Judge Wilson has at times been criticized for his particularly careful scrutiny of warrants he is asked to issue. However, the Commission sees Judge Wilson’s caution as strength because it fulfills the appropriate and important judicial obligation to make sure that warrants comply with Constitutional requirements. In the courtroom, Judge Wilson was observed to move through cases quickly and with apparent efficiency. He took time to see that defendants understand the proceedings. There was concern expressed by members of the Commission regarding Judge Wilson’s relatively low survey scores. Accordingly, while Commission recommends the retention of Judge Wilson as a County Court Judge, it also recommends that Judge Wilson participate in a performance improvement plan. 
Here's the release about the opening:
The Fourth Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet at the El Paso County Judicial Building on Oct. 4, 2017, to interview and select nominees for appointment by the governor to the office of county judge for El Paso County. The vacancy will be created by the resignation of the Hon. Daniel S. Wilson. The vacancy will occur on Sept. 15, 2017.

To be eligible, the applicant must be a qualified elector of El Paso County at the time of investiture and must have been admitted to the practice of law in Colorado. The current annual salary for this position is $156,278. The initial term of office of a county judge is a provisional term of two years; thereafter, the incumbent county judge, if approved by the voters, has a term of four years.

Application forms are available from the office of the ex officio chair of the nominating commission, Justice Nathan B. Coats, 2 E. 14th Ave., Denver, CO 80203; and the office of the district administrator, Scott Sosebee, 270 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, CO 80901. Applications also are available on the court’s home page at

The original, signed application and an identical copy stored as a PDF must be filed with the ex officio chair no later than 4 p.m. Sept. 11, 2017. Late applications will not be considered. Any person wishing to suggest a candidate to fill the vacancy may do so by letter to be submitted to any member of the nominating commission, with a copy to the ex officio chair, no later than 4 p.m. Sept. 5, 2017.

The members of the nominating commission for the Fourth Judicial District are: Jack Donley, Larry Gaddis, Beth Lieberman, Juan Moreno, Mary Linden, all of Colorado Springs; and Daniel Nicholson and Philip Mella, of Woodland Park.

Editor’s Note: Contact information for the nominating commission members.
Jack Donley, 24 S. Weber St., Suite 300, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Larry Gaddis, 118 S. Wahsatch Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Beth Lieberman, 2975 Broadmoor Valley Rd., Suite 101, Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Mary Linden, 111 S. Tejon St., Suite 202., Colorado Springs, CO 80903-2246
Philip Mella, 2018 Valley View Dr., Woodland Park, CO 80863
Juan Moreno, 250 Vandenburg St., Peterson AFB, CO 80914
Daniel Nicholson, 226 Illini Dr., Woodland Park, CO 80863

  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Friday, August 25, 2017

White House working on guidelines for banning transgender service members from the military

Posted By on Fri, Aug 25, 2017 at 1:18 PM

  • Shutterstock
After President Donald Trump tweeted about a blanket ban on transgender service members last month, the future of transgender folks currently serving in the military, and those hoping to serve, was up in the air. Originally, the tweets suggested that all transgender people might be banned from service, but a recent memo gives Secretary of Defense James Mattis discretion when it comes to those currently serving.

However, should Mattis decide that current transgender service members are not “capable” of fulfilling their service (i.e. being deployed), then it seems he could extend the ban as per Trump’s original intent.

Of course, transgender service members have been deploying faithfully and openly since President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Defense Ash Carter lifted the ban on transgender service members last year, and serving closeted much longer than that. But in spite of a lack of evidence, the White House and the Pentagon seem to be of the opinion that the presence of transgender troops could be “disruptive.” Which basically means that cisgender troops might be uncomfortable with their presence.

The White House’s guidelines are currently pending legal review, but will most likely include instructions to cease admitting transgender people into the military, and cease paying for transition-related medical treatment.

For the estimated 2,450 active-duty transgender military members, this could mean remaining closeted and without medical care that, in many cases, is vital to a transgender person’s mental health.

Once the guidelines are finalized by Trump administration lawyers and officially handed off, the Pentagon will have six months to implement the restrictions.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , ,

Gay Satan-worship at the Indy, hate mail to an "idiot"

Posted By on Fri, Aug 25, 2017 at 11:03 AM

  • Shutterstock
In response to the Independent's Aug. 23 Queer & There, regarding the high rates of millennials who identify as LGBTQ, we received an email from a concerned citizen, Mr. Ken H.

He says:
You're an idiot. They let you write trash like this. I thank GOD I am not part of your jacked-up generation. Are you f——-g kidding me, where's the real men of your worthless generation. It's IDIOTS like you that are messing up the USA and other parts of the world. Stuff your article up your ass, that's where it belongs. READ THE BIBLE, GROW UP. You're mind is in the gutter, you need help. Do you worship Satan, looks like your going down with him. TRASH, TRASH AND MORE TRASH.

Since we take all feedback seriously here at the Indy, we decided to take Mr. H.’s advice and consult our Bible. Surely it must say something about those nasty millennials and Satan-worshipping gays, right?

But, instead of anything condemning, we found this:
Matthew 7:1-3King James Version (KJV)
7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

We sincerely hope Mr. H. may take his own advice. In the meantime, we'll be here, with our minds 'in the gutter.'

  • Shutterstock

  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Suthers unveils new stormwater project

Posted By on Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 4:54 PM

As the city seeks more money from citizens' pockets to fund flood control and water quality, commonly referred to as stormwater, Mayor John Suthers unveiled a project Wednesday to show what a difference drainage control can make.

The $500,000 project at Arcadia and San Miguel Street in the city's mid section was funded with the ballot measure approved by voters in April that allowed the city to retain $6 million from 2016 revenues and $6 million from 2017 revenues in excess of caps imposed by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.

Here's a photo before the project:
  • Photos courtesy City of Colorado Springs

And here's the finished product:

Here's a shot during a heavy rain before the work was done. There hasn't been a storm since the project was completed to compare it to, the city reports.
This week, City Council referred a measure to the Nov. 7 ballot that would impose $5 per month fees on all residents, and $30 per acre per month on commercial properties. The new fees are expected to generate $17 million a year, allowing the city to spend a like amount on other city services that now comes from the general fund to satisfy an intergovernmental agreement with Pueblo County to spend $460 million in the next 20 years on stormwater projects.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , ,

Recent Comments

All content © Copyright 2020, The Colorado Springs Independent

Website powered by Foundation