Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Doug Lamborn would collect a pension for life after leaving Congress

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2018 at 5:36 PM

Lamborn might be in the pension line soon. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Lamborn might be in the pension line soon.

When it comes to deciphering retirement benefits, things can get a little complicated, and the Independent goofed in reporting that Doug Lamborn was likely under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

Rather, Lamborn's retirement benefit will be provided through a program called the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS).

And that means, his benefit is likely to be lower than we originally reported. According to a formula contained in the Congressional Research Service report we cited, his annual pension payment if he leaves Congress after 12 years would come to $35,496.

This payment could be supplemented with a Social Security retirement payment as well, according to the report.

—————-ORIGINAL POST 11:32 A.M. TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2018————————-

As near as we can figure, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, is entitled to a congressional pension of $52,200 a year for life if he leaves office at the end of this term in January 2019, according to formulas outlined in a report by the Congressional Research Service.

That could happen due to a Colorado Supreme Court ruling on April 23 that bumped him off the June 26 Republican primary election ballot. (Lamborn is now challenging Colorado election law in an effort to get added back onto the ballot.)

Of course, it's not simple nor cut and dried, because members of Congress are covered under several plans that have changed over the years.

But assuming Lamborn is covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), his minimum benefit would be $52,200, which is adjusted for inflation just as Social Security benefits are, based on his annual pay of $174,000.

That benefit doesn't include Social Security benefits to which he would be entitled; nor does it include the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS), for which certain members qualify. At 63, Lamborn could take early retirement benefits under Social Security, in which the earliest age for benefits is 62.

Lamborn is an attorney, so he could set up a law practice. Or perhaps he'll be appointed to a government job by President Donald Trump?

The Congressional Research Service report, delivered in December 2017, found:
There were 611 retired Members of Congress receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of October 1, 2016. Of this number, 335 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $74,028. A total of 276 Members had retired with service under FERS and were receiving an average annual pension of $41,076 in 2016. 
Read the whole report here:

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Manitou Springs announces water restrictions

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2018 at 11:13 AM

  • Carsten Tolkmit
Manitou Springs is the first in the region to announce water restrictions amid a dry spell that's played a role in several grass fires, including the Mile Marker 117 fire that burned 24 homes from April 17 to 20.

In a release, the city of Manitou said that starting on May 1 these restrictions will apply:
• Outdoor watering shall be restricted to Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays for properties with even-numbered addresses, and to Wednesday, Friday and Sundays for odd-numbered addresses.
• Outdoor watering at properties south of Manitou Avenue, and not having assigned street number addresses shall be restricted to dates allowed for outdoor watering at properties having even-numbered addresses, and properties north of Manitou Avenue, not having assigned street number addresses shall be restricted to dated allowed for outdoor water at properties having odd-numbered addresses.
• Outdoor watering is permitted for a maximum of two hours on a day on which watering is permitted, and such watering is permitted only between the hours of five a.m. to eight a.m. or seven p.m. to ten p.m. (either period, but not both). To maximize irrigation efficiency, area watering shall be limited to twenty minutes per zone or location.
• Outdoor watering for longer than the time allowed, other than at permitted times, or other than on permitted days is prohibited, with the following exceptions:
o Refilling ornamental pools, hot tubs and swimming pools; and,
o Hand watering from a hose equipped with automatic shut-off, so long as it is attended; and,
o Unrestricted drip irrigation; and,
o Watering from a rain barrel or other collection device as allowed by State law.
• Washing cars is allowed under Level One Restrictions only with a hose equipped with a shut-off valve at or adjacent to the nozzle and the shut-off valve must be engaged at all times when the hose is not directed at the vehicle being washed.
• Washing sidewalks awnings, decks, exteriors of buildings and windows during Level One Restrictions is permitted only with a hose equipped with a shut-off valve at or adjacent to the nozzle, and the shut-off valve must be engaged at all times when the hose is not actively in use for washing.
Colorado Springs Utilities has said restrictions aren't likely this summer, as we reported here.

One reason for that might be related to Utilities having three years worth of water in storage, as reported here.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Doug Lamborn promises he'll appeal in effort to get onto primary ballot

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 5:17 PM

Michael Franciso, left, and Michael Kuhn, one of the plaintiffs that brought the lawsuit to remove Lamborn from the ballot, talk with reporters after the Colorado Supreme Court ruling. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Michael Franciso, left, and Michael Kuhn, one of the plaintiffs that brought the lawsuit to remove Lamborn from the ballot, talk with reporters after the Colorado Supreme Court ruling.

From Rep. Doug Lamborn's campaign spokesperson Dan Bayens:
Today we took action in federal court by filing a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction with the federal court for the District of Colorado in Denver.

We believe that the part of Colorado law that requires petition gatherers to be residents of the state is manifestly unconstitutional, and controlling case decisions here in Colorado and courts around the country have agreed with that assessment. Citizens who either signed the petitions for Congressman Lamborn or who plan to vote in the 5th District in the Republican primary should not be deprived of their rights by an unconstitutional election law.

We are also seeking to keep Congressman Lamborn's name on the ballot while this matter is decided.
This statement then prompted a lengthy statement form five El Paso County Republicans who challenged Lamborn's petition. Spokesperson Kyle Fisk says in an emailed statement:
A coalition of interested parties, including the five plaintiffs from the original suit, as well as various state legislators, will be filing a motion to intervene in this federal lawsuit and defend Colorado law. This group has a vested interest in upholding the law as it clearly complies with the US Constitution and will vigorously work to defend the state statutes in question. It’s a pity that Doug Lamborn refuses to comply with the order of the Colorado Supreme Court, who has the final say in the interpretation and application of state election law. We sincerely wish that one who is charged with writing and passing laws would have more respect for the laws of our state.

Until 2:45 this past Monday afternoon Doug Lamborn had no problem with Colorado law as it stood for decades. In fact, he has declared multiple times that he followed the law. He claimed to have spoken to the company who collected the petitions and was assured that all laws and regulations were followed. We now know that was not the case as proven in Court.

Doug Lamborn has said that courts shouldn’t decide elections. Let us be clear. The Court did not decide an election. The Court determined that Lamborn’s campaign broke the law, committed petition fraud and should not be allowed to appear on the Republican Primary Ballot. That is the role of the judiciary. When you break the rules these are the consequences.

Until 2:45 PM this past Monday Doug Lamborn had said lawsuits shouldn’t determine ballot access. Yet, now that it has been proven that his campaign broke the rules and violated Colorado law he’s changing his mind on the role of lawsuits. Now that he won’t appear on the ballot and is on the outside looking in, we are witnessing a stunning reversal where Mr. Lamborn is now the one asking the Courts to intervene and place him back on the ballot. The inconsistency is staggering.

We believe the requirements for petition circulators is fully constitutional. So does the Colorado Secretary of State, as his office argued in their briefs before both the District Court and Supreme Court in the Kuhn v Williams case. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with Secretary Williams and Attorney General Coffman to defend this unwarranted attack upon the laws of Colorado.


Bill Rhea, a retired judge from Texas who's on the primary ballot for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District, says he believes Lamborn should be placed on the ballot.

In a statement provided to the Indy, Rhea says, in part:
The key issue in that federal court proceeding will be whether circulators are involved in “core political speech” in their activity of collection ballot access petitions. If so, the 10th Circuit precedent, particularly in YOTL v. Savage (2008), almost certainly would control and the incumbent would prevail. “Core political speech” is very clearly involved in the circulation of referendum initiative petitions (which was involved in the YOTL case). I believe it is highly likely that the federal court(s) will also hold that ballot access petitioning will fall into the same category. 
Here's his entire statement:
——————ORIGINAL POST 5:17 P.M. MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018—————————-

The attorney who brought an action to have Doug Lamborn removed from the primary ballot met with reporters on April 23 to essentially take a victory lap after the Colorado Supreme Court deemed 269 signatures collected by an out-of-state circulator ineligible on Lamborn's petitions.

Michael Francisco told reporters, "In this expedited appeal under section 1-1-113(3), the Supreme Court addresses whether the Colorado Secretary of State may certify incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn to the 2018 Republican primary ballot for Colorado's 5th Congressional District. Relying soley on the Colorado Election Code, the Supreme Court concludes he may not."

Lamborn released a statement saying, "We are disappointed by the outcome and we believe it was wrongly decided. We are immediately bringing an action in federal court to overturn the part of Colorado law that deprives voters who have petitioned to have Congressman Lamborn on the ballot of their Constitutional rights."

But Francisco said such a federal lawsuit would have to ask the nation's highest court to rule Colorado election law unconstitutional.

"Today, the Supreme Court has unanimously overturned the District Court ruling and declared that Mr. [Ryan] Tipple [a petition circulator] was not a resident of Colorado and, therefore, ineligible to collect petition signatures," Francisco said. "His 269 signatures on behalf of primary candidate Congressman Doug Lamborn have been declared invalid."

He also said Lamborn had the choice to go through the Republican assembly process to gain a spot on the June 26 primary ballot, but instead went the petition route. Digging at Lamborn, Francisco noted, "It's a pity that Mr. Lamborn cares to little about election fraud in our state. The dismissiveness with which Doug Lamborn has treated this case is indicative of the dismissiveness with which he has treated Colorado election law."

Other Republicans who have qualified for the ballot include El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, state Sen. Owen Hill, retired Texas judge Bill Rhea and former mayor of Green Mountain Falls Tyler Stevens.

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Lamborn does not qualify for the ballot, state supreme court rules

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 3:43 PM

Six-term U.S. Congressman Doug Lamborn may not be able to run for his seventh term after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that one of his signature gatherers is not a legal resident of the state and invalidated those petition signatures.

Without those signatures, Lamborn lacks the 1,000 valid signatures needed to make the ballot.

The Denver Post reports:

It’s unclear whether Lamborn will challenge the ruling, or whether he could return to the district court level to seek qualification of other signatures that were initially rejected by the secretary of state’s office. The court is allowed to apply a more lenient standard — known as substantial compliance — than the secretary’s office.

——- POST, April 11, 9:39 a.m. ——-
Walker Stapleton with his family. - STAPLETONFORCOLORADO.COM
  • Walker Stapleton with his family.
Various local media are reporting that a judge has allowed Doug Lamborn to stay on the primary ballot despite questions about the signature gatherers for his petitions.

The group of GOP voters that challenged the petitions plan to appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.

——- ORIGINAL POST, April 10, 4:19 p.m. ——-
The fate of Congressman Doug Lamborn, seeking his seventh term a representative of the Fifth Congressional District, was hanging in the balance at an April 10 evidentiary hearing on a lawsuit. That suit alleged that the signature gatherers responsible for the petitions that qualified Lamborn for the Republican primary ballot were not residents of Colorado — and that therefore many of the signatures weren't valid.

That's a big problem for Lamborn, because he skipped the Fifth Congressional District assembly. If his petition signatures are invalidated he's out of the race.

Lamborn earlier released a statement saying he expected the suit to blow over soon.

9News reported that Walker Stapleton, Colorado treasurer and leading Republican candidate for governor, "filed paperwork in the court case to intervene and have the case against Lamborn dismissed. Why? Because he hired some of the same signature collectors being challenged in the Lamborn case."

So, here's the bombshell: Stapleton has reportedly asked the Colorado Secretary of State to remove his name from the primary ballot, saying that the signature gathering company in question, Colorado Springs-based firm Kennedy Enterprises, lied to him and collected fraudulent signatures. Stapleton now plans to seek a place on the primary ballot through the assembly process.

News Channel 13 reports that Lamborn's hearing is ongoing.

But one would expect that Stapleton's move won't help Lamborn's position.

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Looking for some good local environmental news? Well, too bad.


The average person moves roughly 12 times in their lifetime, but when serious environmental concerns arise, individuals might feel encouraged to pack up their bags and relocate. And, unfortunately, the local environmental news has been less than positive.

Most recently, in a perfect sign of the absurd times, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in a feud with a Colorado mine. Bizarrely, the mine is accusing the EPA of hurting the environment, not the other way around — let that sink in.

The Denver Post reported this April on the strange tale of Sunnyside Gold Corp. versus the EPA. According to The Post, EPA officials ordered Sunnyside to pay for a study to support a cleanup plan of a superfund site in Southwestern Colorado.

Sunnyside claims the EPA is harming the Animas River by "running a treatment plant below full capacity," which allows mine wastewater to flow into the river. The superfund site also includes the Gold King Mine, which was accidentally flooded with 3 million gallons of wastewater by the EPA in 2015, turning rivers bright yellow. About 3 billion tons of hazardous materials are shipped across the country each year. And while the Gold King Mine produced only a drop in that hazmat bucket, the story drew national attention because of the incident's striking visuals.

For its part, the EPA says Sunnyside officials just want to distract the public from its responsibility to fund cleanup in the area.

Meanwhile, according to Streetsblog Denver, another government agency is drawing ire from Colorado residents. North Denverites are furious with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) over pollution from the I-70 freeway. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 3.3 million deaths per year are attributed to indoor air pollution across the globe. Additionally, 6% of those reported cases were lung cancer. Outdoor pollution, however, is just as dangerous.

CDOT announced its plans to rebuild the elevated stretch of I-70 as a sunken highway with four additional lanes, bringing more traffic and pollution across north Denver.

Pollution from the I-70 freeway is too much of a health hazard for many Swansea, Globeville, and Elyria neighborhood residents. These people are now protesting, calling for CDOT to not make the pollution matters even worse.

"[The project] means a lot more of these particles in the air that are gonna be hurting us," says Davita Sanchez, a 15-year resident of North Denver.

Sanchez and her three children all suffer from asthma, but never experienced issues until she moved into the area.

The neighborhoods affected by the pollution are already some of the most polluted in Denver, with the highest rates of chronic diseases. Ean Tafoya, Colorado Latino Forum Director, even went as far to call the I-70 pollution expansion the city's own version of Flint, Michigan.

"This is the woeful disregard by the government of people who live in neighborhoods who they represent," Tafoya says.

CDOT officials have gone on record stating that the department was not under an obligation to address pollution issues beyond initial examinations. Additionally, CDOT says it already invested $20 million into assisting the Elyria-Swansea pollution situation, but neighborhood residents have said otherwise.

"It's already been happening as a result of 50 years of exposure to this pollution," says attorney Bob Yuhnke. "But the pollution will be worse — that much we know."

Conversely, CDOT officials, alongside officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Colorado Energy Office, and the Regional Air Quality Council have finalized a plan to spend $68.7 million to cut car and truck pollution in the state by investing in electric-vehicle charging stations.

According to the Denver Business Journal, the plan is for the city to have approximately 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. For that to happen, however, there needs to be plenty of electric-vehicle infrastructure accommodations.

"Our goal has been for Colorado to use this money to make forward-looking, transformative investments to reduce pollution," says Joe Halso, a Denver-based attorney for the Sierra Club. "This plan takes big steps in that direction. That [$10.3 million] will go a long way to improve the state's infrastructure."

Residents have a right to be upset — pollution is serious business. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 16% of all global deaths in 2015 were linked in some way to outdoor or indoor pollution. For reference, that's much higher than your odds of dying in a natural disaster, which is roughly 1 in 3,500.

"They haven't done enough," says Rey Gallegos, a lifelong North Denver resident.
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Nor'wood pledges "Vision Plan" for public spaces in Banning Lewis Ranch

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 1:27 PM

Undeveloped Banning Lewis Ranch, east of Colorado Springs, has been annexed for 30 years but not much has happened. Mayor John Suthers wants to change the agreement to motivate developers to build homes and businesses, rather than see that development leap frog into El Paso County. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Undeveloped Banning Lewis Ranch, east of Colorado Springs, has been annexed for 30 years but not much has happened. Mayor John Suthers wants to change the agreement to motivate developers to build homes and businesses, rather than see that development leap frog into El Paso County.
Controversy over the amended annexation agreement for Banning Lewis Ranch has given rise to a resolution, which is non-binding, that would "recognize the unique natural characteristics" within the ranch.

The resolution is on tap for consideration by City Council at its April 23 meeting, and approval at the April 24 meeting, along with the annexation agreement itself.

The resolution states that Council "finds there is significant community interest in preservation of certain areas of that part of the City of Colorado Springs commonly referred to as the Banning Lewis Ranch, particularly in the vicinity of the Corral Bluffs Open Space and Jimmy Camp Creek Regional Park noted within the Park System Master Plan...."

It also states that the owner of most of the ranch, Nor'wood Development Group, "Has acknowledged its desire to create a meaningful open space system that improves connectivity of existing City-owned parks, trails, and open space, provides multi-use trail access, integrates into future development patters, and protects sensitive landscapes and creek corridors."

The resolution goes on to say Nor'wood agrees to invite Council reps to participate in a planning effort that would yield a "Vision Plan" for the property.

Read the resolution here:
The resolution materialized after an April 11 meeting for public comment at which at least a dozen residents expressed concern about the lack of public open space, parks and trails built into the new annexation agreement.
Bill Koerner, with the Corral Bluffs Alliance, calls the resolution "a good step" and hopes the city follows up.

"We do need to do some visioning. We need to understand the resources, how Banning Lewis is going to develop and the time frame," he tells the Independent. But he's concerned there's no explicit timeline for the vision plan.

"We've got to start on it now," he says.

With the city's Trails, Open Space and Tops sales tax expiring in 2025, and the possibility of a renewal ballot measure in 2019 or 2021, Koerner wonders if certain areas of the ranch could become the poster child for passage of an extension of the tax.

"Nor'wood is a good partner," he adds, but says he wants to see some specific dates for getting the vision plan under way and completed.

Nor'wood has expressed interest in selling portions of the ranch to the city for open space and said when it purchased the property in 2014 for $28 million:

Nor’wood Development Group is pleased to announce that after careful consideration and much due diligence, the purchase of the Banning Lewis Ranch has been finalized. As a locally owned multi-generational business operating in the Pikes Peak Region for more than 40 years, we consider it a privilege to be the stewards of this great community asset and will ensure that the property’s long term potential is discovered and achieved. Responsible development, recreation and conservation will be foundational principles of the vision for Banning Lewis Ranch, which will take decades to fully realize.

We have previously outlined and restate our commitment to promote the stewardship of environmental resources, quality neighborhood and commercial design, support efficient public services and facilities, leverage opportunities for the long-term viability of our local Air Force installations, protect the property’s world-renown natural formations with a signature conservation effort, and encourage meaningful outdoor educational and recreational opportunities.

We will continue and expand our work with a knowledgeable and experienced team of local and national professionals, municipal leaders, conservationist, community stakeholders and citizens to develop land use and development strategies for the property. We look forward to sharing periodic updates, timelines and additional details when appropriate. 

Not everyone was thrilled with the resolution. Sustainable growth advocate Dave Gardner tells the Indy via email the measure seems "worthless."

"Looks like a resolution to somehow appease open space advocates and get them to back off on Banning Lewis Ranch. But this resolution is worthless," he says. "It is just words and vague promises. No guarantees at all. I will be sorely disappointed if this is all it takes for open space advocates to accept the current BLR amendment. We need to set the bar higher!"

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Scott Pruitt's Broadmoor stay funded by HBA

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 3:51 PM

Scott Pruitt visited Colorado Springs. - GAGE SKIDMORE/FLICKR
  • Gage Skidmore/Flickr
  • Scott Pruitt visited Colorado Springs.
The Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs cozied up to one of President Trump's most controversial figures, Politico reports, and funded his "luxury hotel stay" at The Broadmoor.

When EPA director Scott Pruitt came for a visit in October 2017, the HBA paid for his Broadmoor room, at $409.12, the story says.

Pruitt has been in hot water over several instances of alleged conflicts of interest and lavish travel spending.

From the story:
“We didn’t pay for his team but we paid for him. That was the agreement when we talked to him,” [HBA executive director Renee] Zentz said. “We just wanted to get him here, we were just so excited to have him.”

The trip's headline event was a Pruitt speech to a local lunch gathering of about 150 people on Oct. 5, Zentz said. But in a stroke of good timing, board members from the National Association of Home Builders, a major lobbying group, were meeting in nearby Santa Fe, N.M., and flew up for the event. NAHB President Jerry Howard hustled in from Washington to moderate Pruitt’s remarks.

The group's invitation describes the event as "a rare opportunity to hear directly from the EPA administration" and "our chance to make sure the concerns of our industry are being listened to."

“It just was an awesome opportunity,” Zentz said. “It was a pretty big feather in our cap locally.”
Politico also reports that builders have lauded the administration's efforts to roll back regulations on clean water and stormwater runoff.

However, it's worth noting that the HBA supported Mayor John Suthers' stormwater fee, which won voter approval last fall and becomes effective in July.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

El Paso County Sheriff's lieutenant has been given six raises under Elder

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 11:32 AM

Sheriff Elder basks in the limelight after taking the oath of office. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Sheriff Elder basks in the limelight after taking the oath of office.
In this week's Independent, we report that several delegates at the GOP assembly on March 24 felt intimidated by El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder or Lt. Bill Huffor, who reportedly screamed at several delegates regarding their votes.

Huffor, who works in detentions, has been a rising star at the department in recent years. He's worked there since 2004, according to employment records obtained by the Indy through an open records request, but after Elder came into office on Dec. 31, 2014, Huffor's career took a leap.

He's received six raises since then, which comprise a 52 percent increase in pay, to his current salary of $97,605.

During the previous 10 years, from 2004 to 2014, Huffor's pay went up by 77 percent, from $36,228, to $64,334. During that time, he had four merit raises. Since Elder became sheriff three years ago, Huffor has had at least three merit-based salary bumps.

It's worth noting that Huffor's wife, Janet, serves as Elder's chief of staff, at an annual salary of $90,986. She's had one raise since she was hired on Jan. 1, 2015, Elder's second day in office.

Here's Lt. Huffor's employment history, as provided by the county's HR department:
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Memorial Hospital earns Level 1 Trauma Center designation

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 10:24 AM

Memorial Hospital's emergency department got a new designation: Level 1 Trauma. It's the first outside of the Denver metro area. - COURTESY UCHEALTH-MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
  • Courtesy UCHealth-Memorial Hospital
  • Memorial Hospital's emergency department got a new designation: Level 1 Trauma. It's the first outside of the Denver metro area.

City-owned Memorial Hospital Central, operated under a 40-year lease by UCHealth, has achieved Level 1 Trauma Center status, the first such designation given by state health regulators outside the Denver metro area.

We wrote about the application here and here.

Memorial Central is home to Colorado's busiest emergency department. The designation was finalized on April 16 following a survey and review.

We've asked Penrose-St. Francis Health Services for an update on its application for Level 1 Trauma Center designation and will circle back when we hear something.

Here's the news release from Memorial, including comments from Mayor John Suthers:

The State of Colorado has designated UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central as a Level I Trauma Center, making it one of only four hospitals in the state with the highest classification for trauma care. A Level I distinction recognizes the hospital has the ability to treat severe and complex injuries, giving southern Colorado residents rapid access to top-level emergency and trauma care without having to go to Denver.

The state finalized the designation on April 16 after a survey and review process, and the hospital is the first in southern Colorado to receive the classification.

“Earning this Level I designation has taken years of planning and advancements,” said Joel Yuhas, Memorial’s president and CEO. “Memorial has recruited some of the nation’s best trauma surgeons, upgraded our facilities, led important research, and hired excellent subspecialty surgeons to support the trauma program. This preparation, and the Level I designation, will result in more lives being saved.”

Hospital trauma designations are determined according to varying criteria, including medical resources and patient volumes. Key elements required to be a Level 1 trauma center include around-the-clock coverage by trauma surgeons and prompt availability of specialists in orthopedics, neurosurgery and anesthesiology, among others. Such facilities also must be leaders in trauma prevention and education, conduct research and meet volume requirements for treating severely injured patients.

Memorial Central, which houses the state’s busiest emergency department, provided care in 2017 to more than 2,100 trauma patients who met trauma registry inclusion criteria. The majority of trauma cases involve blunt injuries that are often the result of incidents such as motor vehicle crashes, pedestrians or bicyclists hit by vehicles, falls and penetrating trauma.

“Achieving a Level 1 designation is the fulfillment of a promise made to the community when Memorial became part of UCHealth in 2012,” said Dr. Thomas Schroeppel, the hospital’s trauma medical director. “Because of the investments made in the hospital – both in technology and medical expertise – and the expansion of physician training programs through a strong collaboration with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, we are able to ensure southern Coloradans have access to top trauma and surgical critical care services. This is not just an honor for the hospital, but a time of celebration for Colorado Springs and beyond.”

Until now, Colorado’s only Level I trauma centers were located in the metro Denver region, and southern Colorado patients with the most severe injuries might have to fly to Denver for care.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said, “We congratulate UCHealth and Memorial Hospital on this designation. Colorado Springs residents are fortunate to receive care by the high caliber of medical professions serving our community. We appreciate UCHealth’s commitment to the Pikes Peak region and to providing its residents with access to excellent medical care.”

It is the third elite designation Memorial Central’s trauma center has received in 2018. The hospital also was verified as a Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). The ACS reviewers highlighted the strong collaboration that has been built with Children’s Hospital Colorado that has led UCHealth Memorial to provide exceptional care to children.

“This highest level of trauma care means critically-injured patients stay closer to home, that families can more easily stay or visit them, and that the long process of healing and rehabilitation occurs not miles away, but across the street,” said Dr. David Steinbruner, Memorial Hospital’s chief of staff and an emergency medicine physician.

In January, Memorial Central become the first hospital in southern Colorado to be named a Comprehensive Stroke Center, a classification given to programs that offer the highest and most advanced level of stroke care. As the only hospital in the region with multiple teams of neurosurgeons and neuro-interventional physicians on-call 24/7, Memorial has the unique capabilities to quickly and expertly treat every kind of stroke or brain aneurysm. These advanced capabilities are saving lives and improving outcomes for patients because time is crucial in the treatment of stroke. Getting the best care rapidly can lead to a better recovery.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Denver Post must be owned by Coloradans, local leaders say

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 12:05 PM

Community leaders in Colorado Springs want to join the effort to rescue The Denver Post from the grips of hedge fund Alden [Global Capital], which owns Digital First Media, which has continually gutted the state's largest newspaper's newsroom. The most recent layoff slashed 30 people from the newsroom.

In the Post's heyday, it had 250 journalists in its newsroom; now it has fewer than 75.

In a news release, Together for Colorado Springs, a civic and activist organization, announced that local leaders have pledged at least $10 million to purchase the newspaper.

T4CS is "rallying residents from across Colorado to join with us to purchase the Denver Post,"  says T4CS chair John Weiss, who is the owner of the Colorado Springs Independent and its sister publications that include the Colorado Springs Business Journal, the Pikes Peak Bulletin and The Transcript. He also holds the contract to publish three local military newspapers under the Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group.

“According to industry reports, the Denver Post is currently profitable,” Weiss said in the release. “But it is not making enough money to satisfy its current, out-of-state, hedge fund owners. Cutting core staff — not just in the newsroom, but in circulation, marketing, accounting, and throughout the paper — will never lead to the journalism Colorado deserves.”

A growing list of advisors is helping T4CS connect to allies across Colorado. “The Denver Post’s new owners must reflect our state’s diversity — geographically, politically, and demographically,” health care executive Jennifer Furda, a member of the committee and former Business Journal publisher, said in the release.

Attorney and hotelier Perry Sanders and hotel owner John Goede have committed to helping facilitate the purchase of the Post to ensure "open-minded, journalist-driven print and digital news for decades to come," the release said.

“Colorado needs a great statewide paper to keep both elected officials and citizens informed,”  Marcy Morrison said. “When I served as El Paso County Commissioner, State Legislator, Manitou Springs Mayor and Colorado State Insurance Commissioner, my first priority every morning was to read the Denver Post.”

Weiss will speak on the impact of newspaper ownership on newspaper content at the opening session of the Colorado Press Association's meetings this week in Colorado Springs. The panel featuring Weiss and others will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the Antlers Hotel.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, who recently told Rolling Stone magazine he wished the hedge fund would sell the Post, will give the Friday keynote address at the press association's convention.

If you're interested in helping with the effort, email

Among those serving on an exploratory committee are Alan Gottlieb, former Post reporter and co-founder of Chalkbeat, a nonprofit digital news source covering education; former editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal and Indy and current editor emeritus Ralph Routon;  Morrison; Furda; Deborah Mahan, a bank vice president; contractor Chuck Murphy, Sanders; Jim Stewart, founder of the Springs Black Chamber of Commerce; John Street, founder of Telephone Express and other businesses, and Weiss.
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PPCC Black Student Union to host community discussion

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 11:59 AM

Black Lives Matter protests have been held throughout the country since the movement began around 2013. - SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Black Lives Matter protests have been held throughout the country since the movement began around 2013.

The subject of police brutality, especially against people of color, has been much in the news in recent years. Since the uprising in Ferguson after the fatal shooting of Mike Brown in 2014, the public has begun paying more attention to institutionalized racism within police departments across the country, and recognizing the disproportionate amount of black people killed by police for minor or even perceived infractions.

Our local community has its concerns, too, as the whole nation has watched the same stories play out in cities of all sizes, in every region. Tensions are high everywhere, and no one wants to see them reach a boiling point.

In order to facilitate dialogue between law enforcement and activists, the Pikes Peak Community College Black Student Union has organized a panel to facilitate a community discussion about police brutality and racism.

Panelists will include a sheriff deputy, a Black Lives Matter representative, a CSPD officer, two PPCC sociology professors and a local activist.

In a press release, the Black Student Union said: “This will be an opportunity for the community to have an uncensored conversation regarding police brutality and address any questions or concerns with community policing and activism.”

Attendees are encouraged to bring questions to the Pikes Peak Community College Centennial Atrium, 5675 S. Academy Blvd. on Friday, April 13, 6 p.m.
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Final Banning Lewis Ranch public meeting attracts scores

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 10:44 AM

About 40 people attended a meeting Wednesday, April 11, about Banning Lewis Ranch. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • About 40 people attended a meeting Wednesday, April 11, about Banning Lewis Ranch.

About 40 people showed up on April 11 for the final public comment session for the revised Banning Lewis Ranch annexation agreement, which will ease the way for homes and commercial development on about 20,000 acres on the city's east side.

City Council is due to take action on April 24.

At issue is a 1988 annexation agreement that was designed to force development to pay for itself, but is viewed as too demanding by developers. The new agreement changes many of the requirements, including narrowing the city's right of way required for dedication by developers for a proposed Banning Lewis Ranch Parkway, among other changes.

Here's some background.

At the public meeting, about a dozen people spoke, many urging City Council to make arrangements for reservation of open space, parks and trails before the city loses its leverage by approving the agreement, which doesn't contain those specifications.

Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, asked Council "one more time" to honor the city's master plan for the property, which contains designation for large swaths of open space.

The point, she said, was to secure far-reaching public spaces so that residents on the east side of the city will have the same amenity afforded those living on the west side, which abuts Pike National Forest, Stratton Open Space, North Cheyenne Canyon and Garden of the Gods.

Lee Milner, long-time open space and parks advocate, pointed out a "fatal flaw" in the revised agreement. "It's based on current standards of service," he said, "and the current standard of service isn't good enough." He noted that police response times, for example, are substandard, and asked why Council is willing to base development of roughly 20 percent of the city on substandard service.

He also asked why the city was willing to give up right of way for Banning Lewis Ranch Parkway when it might, someday, have to purchase the property to widen the road. Keep the right of way, he said, and if it's not needed in 50 years, it could be sold.

Dave Gardner, who's been accused of opposing growth but says he supports sustainable growth, offered his two cents in this letter, which is followed by an outline for the ranch from former city planner Larry Larsen.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

StoryCorps returns to Colorado Springs with Military Voices Initiative

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 1:00 PM

  • Via StoryCorps Facebook page

StoryCorps, a nonprofit that captures and preserves stories of everyday Americans, will return to Colorado Springs to record interviews from April 30 through May 11 at Library 21C, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive. The 12-day stop is co-hosted by 91.5 KRCC and the Pikes Peak Library District. StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative allows veterans, service members and military families to share their stories. "In doing so we honor their voices, amplify their experiences and let them know that we — as a nation — are listening," notes StoryCorps in a release.

Two people can record a conversation with one another about who they are, what they've learned in life and how they want to be remembered, the release said. A StoryCorps facilitator guides them, and a complimentary CD is given to participants at the end of each 40-minute session. A second copy is archived at the Library of Congress.

The mobile booth will record stories weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sign up at 800/850-4406.

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CBI clears El Paso County Sheriff's Office in notary case

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 9:59 AM

Borland: He's sure he didn't order the notaries to notarized signatures they didn't witness because he "would never do that.” - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office
  • Borland: He's sure he didn't order the notaries to notarized signatures they didn't witness because he "would never do that.”
In this week's issue, we report the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has concluded its investigation into the saga of notarizing El Paso County sheriff deputy oaths without the deputies present. It found no basis for criminal charges, despite three people saying they felt the order to notarize the documents without the deputies present for their signatures to be properly witnessed forced the two notaries to violate state notary laws or face retaliation.

After the Independent went to press on April 10, the CBI produced a Feb. 21 letter to District Attorney Dan May sought by the Indy a couple of weeks ago.

In it, CBI director John Camper says agent Jodi Wright interviewed a retired sheriff's lieutenant who witnessed the order, given by sheriff's administrator Larry Borland, and saw it as a threat that "both would be fired, or there would be other repercussions if they did not notarize the commission cards," the letter quotes the lieutenant as saying to Wright.

We use [blank] to indicate redactions in the letter, as follows:

"While it was certainly [blank] opinion that the two men would be fired, or would incur other repercussions, the conversation as related by [blank] does not, in our view, constitute such a threat," Camper wrote.

Borland had earlier told Wright he didn't order the affidavits notarized all in one day in April 2016, and Sheriff Bill Elder said in a Nov. 8, 2017, news conference that the notaries, Rick Dietz and David Mejia, took it upon themselves to do so.

The CBI letter goes on to note that violation of notary laws are "non-criminal in nature" that should be handled by the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.

Which wasn't really the point of this issue. No one is arguing that notary laws were not violated; the issue is why they were violated and who's responsible for those violations and whether some other law could be at play due to the coercion that Dietz, Mejia and the retired lieutenant say they witnessed.

In any event, Camper ends his letter saying, "Additionally, the actions of [blank] do not, in our view, meet the elements of 18-8-404, First degree official misconduct, and 18-8-405, Second degree official misconduct, although we certainly leave that determination to your judgment."

May apparently agrees with Camper; no charges have been filed.

Here are the definitions of the crimes cited by Camper:
(1) A public servant commits first degree official misconduct if, with intent to obtain a benefit for the public servant or another or maliciously to cause harm to another, he or she knowingly:

(a) Commits an act relating to his office but constituting an unauthorized exercise of his official function; or

(b) Refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law; or

(c) Violates any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation relating to his office.

(2) First degree official misconduct is a class 2 misdemeanor.
(1) A public servant commits second degree official misconduct if he knowingly, arbitrarily, and capriciously:

(a) Refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law; or

(b) Violates any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation relating to his office.

(2) Second degree official misconduct is a class 1 petty offense.
Here's Camper's letter, followed by the CBI investigation report.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Where should the city's beloved/loathed stadium go?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 10, 2018 at 11:17 AM

An "artist rendering" of Pikes Peak Municipal Stadium.
  • An "artist rendering" of Pikes Peak Municipal Stadium.
Our April Fool's Day shenanigans are always fun, especially when we entice a little giggle from our readers, but 2018's prank (see next page) got us thinking a little more about the stadium story which, in reality, remains quite controversial.

Talk of a downtown stadium began years ago — though the project has yet to move beyond the early planning stages — but recent headlines have signaled a renewed push to find a location for the proposed complex. Where that location is going to be is the greatest question, and one we can't seem to get an answer to.

So where should the city's beloved/loathed stadium sit?

One Indy reader suggested the top of Pikes Peak, which, looking at the photo above, would make quite a spectacular $2 Tuesday experience, but likely add to the traffic on the peak after the closure of the Cog Railway.

But would that top a prime location at America the Beautiful Park, as a few other readers suggested?
An "artist rendering" of America the Beautiful Municipal Stadium.
  • An "artist rendering" of America the Beautiful Municipal Stadium.

Or, even better, the city could capitalize on the world-famous name of Garden of the Gods.

An "artist rendering" of Garden of the Gods Municipal Stadium.
  • An "artist rendering" of Garden of the Gods Municipal Stadium.

Of course, all kidding aside, a handful of readers see an opportunity to kill two controversial birds with one stone by replacing the Martin Drake Power Plant with the venue.

An "artist rendering" of Martin Drake Municipal Stadium.
  • An "artist rendering" of Martin Drake Municipal Stadium.

And at least one reader called for an infill development in the New South End.

An "artist rendering" of New South End Municipal Stadium.
  • An "artist rendering" of New South End Municipal Stadium.

It also didn't take long for billionaire Phillip Anschutz's name to be attached to the project, as one reader suggested his "backyard." While were not entirely sure if Anschutz has a local address, or where it is, we figured one of his well known local properties would suffice.

An "artist rendering" of the Broadmoor Municipal Stadium.
  • An "artist rendering" of the Broadmoor Municipal Stadium.

Lastly, in an obvious sign of disapproval for the project, the idea of tossing the entire project in the toilet was pitched by another reader.

Keep the recommendations coming! We'll be updating this piece with the most suitable (and whacky) places our readers think a new stadium would best fit until the official word finally comes down.

An artist rendering of Strawberry Field Municipal Stadium.
  • An artist rendering of Strawberry Field Municipal Stadium.
After months of speculation and swirling rumors about the possible location of a downtown stadium, the Independent has learned the preferred site is nowhere near downtown after all.

Rather, it will be built in the meadow of Strawberry Fields open space and will be owned and operated by The Broadmoor resort and hotel. The Broadmoor's owner, billionaire Philip Anschutz, operates the mega entertainment company, AEG, which has a deal with the Broadmoor World Arena.

Strawberry Fields was traded to The Broadmoor in 2016 in a land swap in which the city received hundreds of acres in rugged open space and trails.

The open space's building envelop, once envisioned as a site for picnic pavilions and horse stables, is about 8.5 acres, more than adequate for a stadium. Lawyer and businessman Perry Sanders, who had previously proposed a stadium for Antlers Park just west of his Antlers Hotel, told the Indy previously that four acres is all that's needed for a stadium.

The real question remains: How will the project be funded? The city expects to received $27.7 million in state sales tax increment funding via the Regional Tourism Act, which also is funding three other projects. Those include the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' sports medicine center and the Air Force Academy's new Visitors Center.
The stadium has been estimated to cost roughly $93 million, leaving a $65 million gap between state funding and the actual cost.

The Broadmoor couldn't be reached for comment, but sources tell the Indy the resort is proposing to convert a large portion of the 186-acre Strawberry Fields into parking to serve the stadium. Because the open space consists of rolling hills and some rocky outcroppings, the sources say significant excavation will be required. The deal would allow The Broadmoor to retain parking fees, sources say.

The Palmer Land Trust could not be reached for comment on how that new plan squares with requirements contained in its conservation easement for Strawberry Fields, which required that most of the land be open to the public and maintained as open space.

Reached on a Broadmoor golf course for comment, Mayor John Suthers said simply, "April Fools."

Editor's note: In case you didn't get it: This is a joke and none of it is true.
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