Local Government

Friday, September 20, 2019

Climate Strike draws hundreds to City Hall

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 6:03 PM

Activists unrolled a banner in front of City Hall. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Activists unrolled a banner in front of City Hall.

Holding signs bearing slogans such as "End environmental racism," "Believe in science," and "Don't be a fossil fool," around 300 activists of all ages rallied on the steps of City Hall — and later marched around downtown — to demand action on climate change.

The Sept. 20 "Climate Strike" was part of a global movement, planned three days ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York — a meeting of leaders around the world who hope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade.

Hundreds of people gathered to kick off Climate Action Week. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Hundreds of people gathered to kick off Climate Action Week.

Environmental nonprofit 350 Colorado publicized the event and helped coordinate strikes across the state.

In Colorado Springs, the strike included students from Palmer High School, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Colorado College, along with members of the NAACP - Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Group of the Sierra Club. City Council President Richard Skorman was among those in attendance.

Two people hold a sign reading "Time 2 act like your house is on fire. Because it is." - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Two people hold a sign reading "Time 2 act like your house is on fire. Because it is."

The impetus for a Global Climate Strike came from 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg (of sailing fame) and 45 other young people who called for students to walk out of school Sept. 20 and make their voices heard. They asked adults to leave work and join in, too.

Other strikes were planned in Denver outside the state Capitol, at Colorado School of Mines in Golden and at Pueblo's Rawlings Library, to name a few in Colorado. They're meant to kick off a worldwide Climate Action Week Sept. 21 to 29.

A high-energy crowd brandished signs and chanted. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • A high-energy crowd brandished signs and chanted.

Colorado's Action Week events are centered in the state's Capitol. They include a weeklong art installation on Denver's 16th Street Mall, protests in downtown Denver during rush hour Sept. 23, and a community garden-building event Sept. 29.

“Climate Change and pollution affects us, the citizens of Colorado Springs, whether we like it or not," said Palmer High School organizer Taylor Saulsbury, who was quoted in a statement from 350 Colorado. "...We are standing up for a future stolen from us whether our teachers or our government like it or not.”

Teen activist Emma Tang joined the rally. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Teen activist Emma Tang joined the rally.
At one point, Colorado Springs protesters chanted about closing the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant, a central issue for local environmental activists. The plant is scheduled to be decommissioned no later than 2035.

However, activists have repeatedly demanded that Colorado Springs Utilities close the plant (along with the Ray Nixon Power Plant in Fountain) as soon as possible.

A recent study by Strategen found that the Drake coal-fired units, which came online in 1968 and 1974, would cost $42.5 million more over 30 years to run compared to wind and solar.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

City Council approves tiny home village for at-risk young people

Posted By on Tue, Sep 17, 2019 at 11:11 AM

A tiny home development will go forward in the Mill Street neighborhood. - COURTESY OF WE FORTIFY
  • Courtesy of We Fortify
  • A tiny home development will go forward in the Mill Street neighborhood.

A tiny home village for at-risk young people in the Mill Street neighborhood will be Colorado Springs' first such development, thanks to City Council's unanimous approval of the project Sept. 10.

(Other than tuberculosis huts in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the city's never had a tiny home development, according to the project consultant.)

The development, dubbed Working Fusion at Mill Street, replaces five 19th-century homes on Fountain Boulevard between Sierra Madre and Sahwatch streets with 18 tiny homes, each about 240 square feet.

They'll will be rented, for $600 a month, to young people between the ages of 18 and 29 working toward independence — those who have a steady job and don’t use drugs, but may need an extra hand after leaving the foster care system, exiting military service, or encountering life difficulties that could put them at risk of becoming homeless.

While Councilor David Geislinger ultimately supported the project, he initially voiced concern that the price tag could be steep for a low-income renter.

Going by the formula that 30 percent of one's income should go to rent, he pointed out, "that's a yearly take-home of $24,000, or about $12 an hour. ...I guess the question I have is, what is the population that you're trying to bring into this? And is it a population that realistically we can expect to have take-home pay of $24,000 a year?"

(Of note: A former resident of one of the 19th-century homes on the future project site told the Indy in August she was paying $500 a month for rent, less than the at-risk young people will pay. Colorado has a minimum wage of $11.10, which will bump up to $12 in 2020.)

Project founder Shelley Jensen said she expects residents to be financially challenged, and that an emergency fund will help provide a cushion if they can't make a rent payment. Wraparound services tailored to each person, which could include budgeting classes, career counseling and anger management, will be offered to the residents through the nonprofit running the village, We Fortify.

Joanne Zeigler spoke on behalf of the Mill Street Neighborhood Association, which opposes the project. She argued that the neighborhood was already overwhelmed by clients using Springs Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army Shelter & Services at RJ Montgomery.

"Ever since we've started public hearings, we've described that these people who are going to be the residents are not going to be homeless," Jensen argued. "And I get it, that it's hard to believe that, because there is so much transient activity down there." She told Council that she had expressed a willingness to work with the neighborhood on a "good neighbor contract," but hadn't received a response.

Ultimately, City Council voted 8-0 in favor of the project, with Councilor Wayne Williams absent.

"I really appreciate this project and all the work you've put into it," Council President Richard Skorman told Jensen before the vote, calling it "a good example of what we can do in the future."

The property is owned by the Flaks Family Trust, which planned to demolish the old houses whether or not the project secured approval. Developer Kairos Project 17 has a 10-year lease.
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Monday, September 16, 2019

AMR appeals city decision to deny its protest of ambulance bids

Posted By on Mon, Sep 16, 2019 at 5:03 PM

COURTESY FALCK AMBULANCE
  • Courtesy Falck Ambulance
The ordeal of selecting an emergency ambulance provider has taken on a life of its own, with the latest volley from American Medical Response noting, "as the saying goes, there may be something rotten in Denmark," a play on the chosen contractor, Danish firm, Falck Ambulance.

In a Sept. 13 letter to Mayor John Suthers, Greenwood Village-based AMR appeals the city procurement department's protest. That protest objected to the city's selection of Falck with which to negotiate a five-year contract that begins in January.

Read the background on this complicated process here.

AMR, which has provided emergency ambulance service here for decades, says one basis of its appeal stems from the procurement department's denial of request for proposal records AMR sought after Falck was chosen.

From the letter:
This is inconsistent with the City’s commitment to open government as set forth in its CORA Administrative Regulation 2019-01 and the City Open Data Policy signed by you. We note the City’s Open Data Policy identifies that it was “developed to outline the City of Colorado Springs’ commitment to the principles of open government, including transparency and civic engagement.”

As noted in our Protest, the Procurement Department’s refusal to produce public records that form the basis for the Award along with the Procurement Department’s requirement that we file our Protest blind is a fatal flaw in the RFP process. It undermines the Procurement Department’s stated objective to “assure a procurement system of quality, integrity and accountability.” See Procurement Rules, Section 1-100. Not only AMR, but the citizens of this City have a right to know that the basis for the August 16th Award on life-saving ambulance services to determine whether it was the right decision including, whether the City’s Danish provider was truthful in its proposal to the City and will actually live up to its promises. Given recent revelations from Falck’s proposal to and performance in Alameda County, California, there are questions about these points and as the saying goes, there may be something rotten in Denmark. 
The point to all that, AMR says, is that without being able to see the proposal submitted by Falck, AMR and the public cannot make an assessment of Falck's qualifications.

It's worth noting that First Amendment attorney Steve Zansberg of Denver is representing AMR on the open records question.

Falck Rocky Mountain CEO David Patterson responded to a request for comment by saying he'd already issued a statement regarding an allegation from SG Collaborative. That situation is covered in the link about the complicated process.

Here's the city's process for dealing with appeals:
4-105.5 Appeals
An aggrieved party must submit a written appeal of the decision issued by the Procurement Services Manager to the Mayor within seven (7) Days after receiving the decision. The Mayor may:
a) render a decision and that decision shall rule; or
b) assemble a committee to review the protest and all relevant data from involved parties. This committee may include the Chief Financial Officer, a representative of the Chief of Staff, and the division head of the Using Department. This committee shall issue a final decision. The majority decision made by the committee shall rule.

Regarding the final decision, the committee or the Mayor may:
a) render an immediate decision in the matter, especially matters that are specifically addressed in these Regulations;
b) request additional documentation or meetings with parties involved; or
c) utilize any other method deemed appropriate to bring the matter to timely resolution.
The decision, once issued, is final and will exhaust the administrative remedies. The Mayor or the committee shall issue the final decision within twenty-one (21) Days after receiving such an appeal, unless extended by agreement between the protester and the Mayor or the committee. This final decision does not preclude the protestor from pursuing further legal action allowed by the laws of Colorado. Once the final decision is issued, the stay of procurement shall be immediately lifted.
If unsatisfied by the appeal decision, AMR apparently could take its case to court.

Read AMR's appeal:
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Friday, September 13, 2019

UPDATE: Fire Department slashes service level due to "significant" budget error

Posted By on Fri, Sep 13, 2019 at 11:25 AM

Squad 11, a two-person team the runs first response to medical calls, has been  shut down in the southeast part of the city. The nearest squad now is Squad 8, located near Airport Road and Academy Boulevard. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Squad 11, a two-person team the runs first response to medical calls, has been shut down in the southeast part of the city. The nearest squad now is Squad 8, located near Airport Road and Academy Boulevard.

UPDATE:
Mayor John Suthers said in a statement the Fire Department will "effective immediately" restore service by Squad 11 in the southeast sector of the city.

His full statement:
I was briefed today by Chief Collas about the full scope of the fire department’s budget issues and that projected expenditures may exceed the 2019 budget. We also discussed the department’s plan to meet those budget requirements by the end of the year. CSFD has developed several solutions designed to have the least impact to public safety services citywide. After our discussion today, the fire department will reinstate Squad 11 in southeast Colorado effective immediately.

———————-ORIGINAL POST 11:25 A.M., FRIDAY, SEPT. 13, 2019—————————

Colorado Springs firefighters are crying foul over service cuts, including the dismantling of Squad 11 that makes just under 3,000 runs a year in the city's southeast sector, triggered by a recent discovery of a "significant error" in the Fire Department's 2019 budget.

In a release issued Sept. 13, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 5 (the union) said the cuts will "negatively affect the fire department's service delivery" and have a "possibly dangerous impact."

We've asked the city for a comment, and will update when we hear something. But it's worth noting that Mayor John Suthers didn't even hint at the cuts during his State of the City address on Sept. 12, which was interrupted several times by protesters decrying the police shooting of 19-year-old DeVon Bailey on Aug. 3 in the city's southeast sector.

According to a source, the cuts were announced to top fire personnel on Sept. 5 and already have gone into practice.

The budget shortfall could reach $1.5 million due to an "oversight," Local 5's release said.

"In an attempt to offset this significant financial shortfall, the Fire Chief [Ted Collas] has taken drastic measures that will have a negative and possibly dangerous impact on how the fire department provides service," the release said.
Among the cuts:

• Shutting down Squad 11, the Advanced Life Support Paramedic unit on the Southeast side at Jet Wing Drive and Academy Boulevard. The squad made 2,673 runs in 2017 and 2,810 in 2018, according to a source. The suspension of Squad 11 will "increase response times during medical emergencies," Local 5 said.

• Reassigning staff from positions such as captain of emergency management, training division captain, medical lieutenant, and public information officer to serve on fire crews at stations.

• Cancelling mandated training for specialized personnel, such as in hazardous materials.

• Cancelling fall Paramedic School for firefighters seeking to become Advanced Life Support providers, which Local 5 says will hinder the department’s ability to recover from a continued paramedic shortage.

Mayor Suthers discussing the 2019 budget in October 2018. He didn't mention the cuts during his Sept. 12 State of the City Address. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mayor Suthers discussing the 2019 budget in October 2018. He didn't mention the cuts during his Sept. 12 State of the City Address.
Regarding Squad 11, Local 5's release stated, "[R]esidents on the southeast part of town may have to wait longer for a paramedic fire unit when their loved one has a dire medical need. The Colorado Springs Firefighters believe this reduction of service is unacceptable."

But City Councilor Yolanda Avila, who represents the southeast District 4, was circumspect when told of the cuts on Sept. 13 by the Indy. (She acknowledged no one from the city had yet informed her of the service changes.)

"On the surface it doesn't sound good," she says. "Before I make a statement, I need to see the whole story and what the facts are. Sometimes it looks different when I do more digging."

Councilor Don Knight also was caught off guard by the firefighters' release, and noted Council's budget committee met on Sept. 10 but the cuts weren't discussed.

Local 5 noted the cut of Squad 11 is in direct conflict with the department's mission of providing the highest quality of problem solving, fire and rescue service.

From the release:
Despite this isolated and internal event within the fire department, this occurrence brings to light a larger systemic issue ... making public safety a continued priority. As the city grows, the fire department must grow accordingly. Our economy is the best it has been since the Great Recession. Yet, the Colorado Springs Fire Department continues to operate at recession level staffing numbers. As residents of Colorado Springs, this should concern you. A basic tenet of government is public safety. Every politician claims that public safety is a priority. With budget discussions for 2020 around the corner, we will see how much of a priority public safety truly is. If things stay status quo, the fire department's service delivery will remain compromised.
Local 5 proposed collective bargaining for its ranks in the April 2019 city election, but voters soundly defeated the measure after Suthers campaigned vigorously at service clubs and in radio and TV ads.

He and Council pledged to add firefighters, but it's unclear how many new positions have been hired.

During the April election campaign, firefighters asserted that by the end of 2019, the department would have 451 assigned firefighters, two fewer positions than in 2008. While plans call for adding 12 for the Cimarron Hills Fire Protection District, the union said in its statement "We [are] fundamentally still short of where we were 12 years ago."

We'll update if and when we hear back from the city and other City Council members.
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

UPDATE: Falck Ambulance, the city's choice for a 5-year contract, accused of lying in a proposal in Califorina

Posted By on Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 2:40 PM

COURTESY FALCK AMBULANCE
  • Courtesy Falck Ambulance
UPDATE:
David Patterson, CEO for Falck Rocky Mountain, sends us this response:
Care Ambulance Service, Inc. a subsidiary of Falck USA, Inc. (“Falck”) and respondent to the Alameda County 911 RFP, has a valid contract with SG Collaborative Solutions, LLC (“SG Collaborative”) specifically to use copyrighted material and intellectual property of SG Collaborative in 911 bids. We also have e-mail communications with SG Collaborative in which they show interest in us sharing their strategies in our 911 bids.

Falck has requested that SG Collaborative retract their cease and desist letter and affirm Falck’s proper and legal right to use the materials in 911 bids. We have also made it clear that Falck is prepared to pursue further legal action to remedy the situation.

Additionally, Falck’s proposal in Colorado Springs did not contain any SG Collaborative material or reference any SG Collaborative material.

At this point, Falck is unsure how SG Collaborative’s letter came into AMR’s possession, or what role AMR has played, if any, in disseminating these false accusations.
We will update again if we hear back from SG Collaborative.
This just in from Michael Coffin with SG Collaborative:
SG Collaborative has no contract with Care Ambulance that allows Care Ambulance or any related entity to use copyrighted material and intellectual property of SG Collaborative in 911 or any other bids.

A retraction demand has been made by Falck, but we are unaware of any basis for it. Our Notice of Cease and Desist stands as written. Falck does not have a legal right to use SG Collaborative materials for any purpose, nor to represent that they created them.

SG Collaborative has not reviewed the Colorado Springs proposal and therefore cannot comment on whether it incorporates any SG Collaborative materials.

This is a matter between SG Collaborative and Falck and will be handled accordingly.
As also received this comment from an AMR spokesperson:
This issue is between Falck and SG Collaborative. However, if the allegations about Falck are true, it would be concerning. There is a need for transparency in the RFP process in Colorado Springs and RFP processes elsewhere. We direct you to Falck and SG Collaborative for further comments.

—————————ORIGINAL POST 2:40 P.M., TUESDAY, SEPT. 20, 2019———————

The city of Colorado Springs' choice for a five-year emergency ambulance contract, Falck Ambulance, has been accused of lying in its response to a Request for Proposals for a contract with Alameda County, California. Falck took over the ambulance contract there July 1, replacing Paramedics Plus.

The letter making the claims, first reported by KRDO, was sent on Sept. 10 by Michael Coffin, the chief operating officer of SG Collaborative Solutions LLC of Westland, Texas.

The letter was provided to the Independent by American Medical Response (AMR), which was sent a copy of the letter by SGC. AMR, which has provided emergency ambulance service here for decades, has protest the city's decision to award the local contract to Falck.

Coffin's letter alleges Falck made several claims in its RFP to Alameda County that are false. For example, in Falck's RFP, it wrote that he consulted "nationally recognized SG Collaborative Solutions in 2015 to help establish a reliable framework for 'Collaborative Just Culture.'"

"This is not true," Coffin wrote. "Falck has not consulted with SG Collaborative Solutions ("SGC") at any time in the past, and is not, nor ever has been, licensed to use any of SGC's proprietary intellectual property, methods or tools.

Coffin spells out other claims Falck allegedly made that he said are "not true." Nor is Falch authorized to use SGC's images or logo.

"We were shocked to discover this, and wonder if this is an isolated instance of infringement, or if similar false claims are being made in other Falck proposals," Coffin wrote, adding that SGC will see "all legal remedies" if Falck doesn't "cease and desist the unauthorized use" of SGC materials, trademarked tools and the like.

We've asked for a comment on the letter from Alameda County Emergency Medical Services, AMR, Falck in California and in Colorado, and the city.

We'll update when we year back.

Here's the SGC letter:


 
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Monday, September 9, 2019

Springs man shot by police 20 times, autopsy report says

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2019 at 4:05 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
Colorado Springs police officers shot Joshua Vigil at least 20 times, according to the El Paso County Coroner's Office autopsy report, released Sept. 9.

Vigil, 38, died on July 23, the autopsy says, after "an altercation with law enforcement."

Police first approached Vigil after receiving a report of a man with a gun, according to KKTV's report at the time.

Later, he crashed a vehicle and was confronted by police at Fountain Garden Apartments.

The autopsy report says Vigil was shot in the head, chest, trunk multiple times, neck, back at least four times, shoulder, left arm and left foot. The autopsy report also shows Vigil had several drugs in his system, including methamphetamine and amphetamine.

Vigil's family has told local media they contacted police after Vigil's first interchange, saying he was upset and needed help with mental health or emotional issues.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is conducting an investigation. Three Springs officers were placed on leave; it's unclear if they've returned to duty.

Vigil's family has demanded that body camera footage of the shooting be released. The District Attorney's Office has not yet ruled on whether the shooting was justified.

Read the autopsy report:
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Friday, September 6, 2019

UPDATE: AMR employees might stay put, rather than shifting to a new provider

Posted By on Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 4:48 PM

COURTESY FALCK AMBULANCE
  • Courtesy Falck Ambulance
UPDATE:

American Medical Response (AMR) submitted its protest on Aug. 23 challenging the city's decision to select Falck Ambulance to negotiate a five-year contract for emergency ambulance service.

Among the grounds listed:
• That selection was conducted inconsistent with requirements and specifications in the Request for Proposals.
• That the city refused to release records in response to AMR's Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request, which undermine's AMR's ability to confirm integrity in the selection process.

City procurement manager Nicole Spindler dismissed those concerns in a Sept. 5 letter, saying AMR has a right to appeal her decision to the Office of the Mayor.

Read the details of the protest here:

The city's response:


———————— ORIGINAL POST 4:09 P.M. FRIDAY, AUG. 30, 2019—————————-


Who will staff ambulances for Falck Ambulance, which the city of Colorado Springs chose as the preferred provider for a potential 10-year contract, is unclear after the current provider hinted that many of their employees might not be available to transfer over to Falck.

In a story reported in this week's edition, Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, the Independent reported that Falck, a Danish company, was chosen for further negotiations for emergency ambulance service in the city.

When asked where the company would get employees to staff ambulances, Falck Rocky Mountain CEO David Patterson said, “Our approach to treatment of the incumbent work force is to bring over on a fast track basis all those qualified in the system. Ultimately, these folks have served the city, and we’d like to maintain their existing role with the community and perhaps hire some additional folks as well.”

But when we asked the current company, American Medical Response, about that, the local AMR operations Manager Jesse Baker issued this statement:
... [W]e’re going to continue serving a large number of customers in the region, including El Paso County, local medical facilities that contract with us for inter-facility transfers, and many, many municipalities across the state.

Based on my conversations, it seems that a large portion of our employees want to stay with us. I’ve been working with these guys and women for years, in some cases decades. We love our employees, and we’re always going to take care of them.

That makes it sound like Falck might not be able to attract some employees away from AMR, which might pose a problem, considering there's a paramedic shortage nationwide.

AMR has not said whether it will protest the selection of Falck.
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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Leon Young Pavilion project inches closer to completion

Posted By on Tue, Sep 3, 2019 at 12:55 PM

The Leon Young Pavilion is near the southern end of Shooks Run trail. - ALLEN BEAUCHAMP
  • Allen Beauchamp
  • The Leon Young Pavilion is near the southern end of Shooks Run trail.

With the city's official invitation for contractors to submit design proposals, a long-delayed makeover for the Leon Young Pavilion — an aging wooden structure in the Hillside neighborhood, named for the city's first and only black mayor — is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The city on Aug. 29 issued a Request for Proposal, or RFP, soliciting bids from design and construction companies. Contractors must submit their proposals by Oct. 2, and the city will make a decision in November, according to the document.

The winning bidder must "revitalize the Leon Young Pavilion space for local gatherings" and "commemorate who Leon Young was and how much he brought to this community," the RFP says.

In order to accomplish that, the contractor should "help the City assess the existing site, propose a concept design & approach, and implement as many elements from the community’s
input as possible."

The work will include adding an accessible walkway and portable toilets, replacing the picnic tables, conditioning some wooden elements and removing others, redesigning community gathering areas, restoring turf and irrigation, installing a receptacle for electricity access, and adding security lighting.

Separately, a committee of Hillside neighborhood community members is designing a memorial to Leon Young to be installed on the site.

Last year, although a $150,000 federal community-development block grant was available for pavilion redevelopment, the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department said the project couldn't go forward — to the consternation of neighborhood advocates hoping to preserve and honor Young's legacy while improving an important recreational amenity.

Representatives from the city's Community Development and Parks departments held community meetings in the fall of 2018 and early 2019 to solicit feedback from Hillside residents and develop a plan going forward. Feedback from those meetings resulted in the city's RFP, along with the formation of a memorial committee.

The project will be paid for with the same type of federal block grant funding that was available last year, according to the RFP.
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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Another red-light camera starts snapping Sept. 1

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 5:13 PM

WALTER BAXTER
  • Walter Baxter
Get ready to get caught on camera by the city at another intersection, starting Sept. 1.

The northbound approach at Academy Boulevard and North Carefree Circle will be added to two other sites to be monitored by a red-light cameras.

The camera will snap photos of violators, but a 30-day warning period is being observed before any $75 fine citations are issued, the Colorado Springs Police Department said in a news release. Violators will get a warning by mail during the 30-day period.

The other cameras are at Platte Avenue and Chelton Road, and  the intersection of Lexington and Briargate boulevards.

Later this year, red-light cameras will be mounted at Academy and Dublin boulevards.

Ten cameras will be installed at locations around the city, with the remaining six sites yet to be determined.

From the CSPD:
Cameras operate 24-hours-a-day and capture images of vehicles when they run a red light at an intersection. Violations are issued after police personnel confirm a violation has occurred. Signs posted along the street will alert drivers that red light safety cameras are in use at the intersection ahead. For more information about the program, visit www.ColoradoSprings.gov/RedLightSafety.

“2018 witnessed the highest number of traffic fatalities in Colorado Springs. Intersections can be one of the most dangerous places in the city for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists,” said Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski. “Our goal is to reduce the number of red light runners, thus decreasing the number of violations and their potential for crashes and injuries on our roadways. We want drivers in Colorado Springs to stop on red, drive attentively, and follow the rules of the road.”

The automated red light safety camera enforcement program works to change driver behavior through increased enforcement of red light laws and increased public awareness of red light running.

Data shows that red light safety cameras can change driving behavior and city officials chose the locations after evaluating several factors including crash data and where the technology would have the most impact.

Colorado Springs contracts with Verra Mobility as their red light safety camera vendor. Verra Mobility is the leading provider of red light and speed camera enforcement programs across North America.
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Thursday, August 22, 2019

City chooses Danish firm for ambulance contract

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 3:34 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
UPDATE:
We received this statement from AMR's vice president of operations, Rocky Mountain Plains, Scott Lenn:
We are clearly disappointed in this decision. As we have for the last 40 years, AMR will continue to provide excellent patient care to the citizens of Colorado Springs. We also currently provide EMS services to the county (through a separate ongoing contract) and provide interfacility transport services to a number of hospitals and will work with our customers to continue providing those services. We will work with the city and all stakeholders and are reserving our right for potential protest.
————-ORIGINAL POST 3:34 P.M. THURSDAY, AUG. 22, 2019———————————

A Danish-owned company, Falck Ambulance, has been chosen for further negotiations for the Colorado Springs emergency ambulance contract, the city tells the Independent.

That means that long-time ambulance provider, American Medical Response (AMR) of Greenwood Village, would be cede the contract to another provider on Jan. 1, 2020.

In a statement, city spokeswoman Jamie Fabos said four companies and the Colorado Springs Fire Department submitted proposals. CSFD's insource proposal was eliminated due to concerns over the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights limitations and other issues, as we previously reported.

Fabos did not name the other bidders, but noted this criteria was used by an evaluation committee, in order of importance:

• Project approach / Compliance with the Statement of Work
• Organizational background and overview
• Qualifications and Experience / References
• Proposal Presentation
• Exceptions and Insurance
screen_shot_2019-08-22_at_3.13.23_pm.png
Fabos said the city sought the "best value" and interviewed contenders.

"Upon evaluation of the proposals and interviews, Falck Ambulance emerged as the highest-ranked candidate in the proposal process," she said. "CSFD will begin contract award negotiations soon with the top scoring candidate. Residents of Colorado Springs may be assured that there will be no gap in ambulance service during the contract negotiation period."

Falck provides emergency ambulance service in Aurora and many other American cities.

She also said in her statement:
The City recognizes that it is essential for a quality EMS system to provide rapid EMS care, and therefore requires specific response times for ambulance providers. After reviewing performance metrics over the past five years, CSFD sought with this proposal process an improved response model for the EMS contract.

During the finalization of the contract award, the City will have no further public comment and no additional information will be released. At the conclusion of the contract award, CSFD looks forward to working in conjunction with the successful bidder in joint pursuit of continued ambulance service improvement.
David Patterson, CEO of Falck Rocky Mountain, tells the Indy via email, "We are honored and excited about the recommendation of award for the City of Colorado Springs ambulance contract. We look forward to partnering with the community on the delivery of ambulance service in the near future."

When AMR's first contract was approaching expiration at the end of 2018, the city sought proposals which led to negotiations with Priority Ambulance. But AMR protested, which led to a new round of solicitation. The city contracted with AMR for additional time until the renewed process is completed.

We've asked AMR for a comment and will update when we hear back.
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Polis: Maybe the DA should hand off the Bailey shooting to another agency

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 2:44 PM

Suthers to Polis: Keep politics out of it. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Suthers to Polis: Keep politics out of it.
Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement on Aug. 22 that District Attorney Dan May's office should think about turning the Aug. 3 police shooting death of De'Von Bailey to another agency. That idea triggered a strong reaction from Springs Mayor John Suthers.

In the statement, Polis said the 4th Judicial District should "consider turning the investigation's findings over to another local jurisdiction for independent review, and if warranted, additional information gathering," according to thedenverchannel.com.

Bailey, 19, was killed after two Springs police officers approached him for questioning in an armed robbery that had happened minutes before Bailey was stopped by officers. As an officer approached him, Bailey ran, arms dropping toward his waistband, according to police body camera footage released last week. Officers fired and shot him four times, three times in the back.

"Given how the events have unfolded surrounding the death of De'Von Bailey — the public details and video that have been shared and the questions that have been raised by the general public — I hope that El Paso County takes steps above those legally required to additionally maximize the public trust in the investigation," Polis said.
Polis: Maybe the DA's office should think about recusal in the Bailey case. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Polis: Maybe the DA's office should think about recusal in the Bailey case.
Suthers wasted no time responding, issuing a statement at 2 p.m., about two hours after Polis' statement topped news feeds.

Said Suthers:
The Fourth Judicial District protocol for investigating an officer involved shooting is in accordance with the law passed by the legislature, and the governor cites no legal or ethical basis that should cause the fourth judicial district (which includes El Paso and Teller Counties) district attorney charged with the responsibility to make a charging decision to recuse himself. In this instance the governor appears politically motivated. Of note, he does not take the position that every district attorney in every judicial district in Colorado, including Denver, Boulder and Pueblo, should recuse themselves from making decisions in officer involved shootings in their districts.

I'm concerned that he suggests a precedence with impacts he has not yet considered and does not understand, to include undermining the will of the people, who elected the public officials charged with carrying out legal responsibilities.

Some in our community are experiencing a great deal of emotion. I recognize that and empathize with all impacted. But this is a  time for healing and allowing legal processes to run their course and not to act with political expedience.
Here's a timeline of events of the Bailey shooting and its aftermath.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Colorado Springs Utilities Board tackles how or whether to stretch its water supply

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 2:31 PM

This map shows the reach of Springs Utilities' services into surrounding areas and military bases. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS UTILITIES
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Utilities
  • This map shows the reach of Springs Utilities' services into surrounding areas and military bases.
This week's Independent features a cover story that delves into the scarcity of water in our region and whether regionalizing Colorado Springs Utilities water supplies and delivery systems might make sense. We also takes a look at how one district dealt with dwindling water supplies, and Springs Utilities sales of water to outsiders.

Colorado Springs City Council, sitting as the Utilities Board, took up those questions on Aug. 21, beginning a process that will span the next eight months and lead to policies that will dictate how and whether outlying areas will be able to avail themselves of city water and wastewater service.

A few highlights of the Aug. 21 commentary from board members:

David Geislinger:
I'd like to see a real deep dive into what are the practical limitations of the areas around us going forward — the enclaves, the external groups.... Whether it’s 60 to 150 years from now, sooner or later I think they’re going to be coming to Utilities. And it’s incumbent on us now to say, "If you want to come to us then, these are the things you need to start doing now." What type of requirements do we want to put on now? 
Wayne Williams:
Seeing the long history we have of various cooperative agreements, while I don’t feel bound by what past Councils did, I want to be informed about what they did. I’m curious as to when we made the agreements, whether with Green Mountain Falls, Cascade or Manitou Springs, what the terms were and what the drivers were. As we look at potential other agreements, what’s our history been? To what extent did they [pay a premium] informs where we go forward. Utilities customers paid for certain development costs, so I want to make sure our current customers and citizens are treated fairly and not disadvantaged in the process. But I also recognize that when our neighbors lose water and can’t drink, that has impacts on Colorado Springs, and a large portion of our sales tax, for example, comes from our neighbors who live outside the city limits.
Richard Skorman:
We may decide down the road to help some of the outlying communities [with water and wastewater service]. Are we going to be putting more volume into Fountain Creek because of it? I just want to understand if there’s an implication of the volume and flow of Fountain Creek and some of these districts that are outside of that basin.
Don Knight:
The decisions we make here — 20 years from now I hope the people sitting here will be thanking us and not cussing us out. I’m glad you’re doing this whole thing. As you went around the region, I’d like to see what is the time criticality of these places? I'd like more information on the aquifers themselves. How do they get recharged? That bottom layer — once it’s dry, it’s dry?

Richard has said we need to store [water] under ground to avoid evaporation. Can you pump in as well as drill out? Is that useful or a viable approach? When these other districts do run out of groundwater, even if they started today, what are their alternatives? They don’t have the money to buy the water rights. What I’m worried about is 20, 30, 50 years from now, poor foresight on their part will impact our customers. Because of their poor planning, our folks have to go on water rationing.
Mayor's Chief of Staff Jeff Greene:
I am very concerned about outlying areas. There are opportunities there and how we look at development. The area around there, there’s over 4,000 units that are not within Colorado Spring. The county continues to approve developments. I want to be super clear. The county ensures they’re [developers] meeting legal requirements (300 year water rule). The county’s been very clear they support the city to annex. But one of the things that’s going to be very, very important: The county is looking at comprehensive plan strategies, looking at consolidating plans into one plan that will govern their development practices. The city and county have to come to agreement and define the planning areas for the city and county, and through that mutual agreement, we make the determination if you develop and build in that planning area, you may have an application submitted to the county, but you agree to annexation to the city ... ensuring a healthy tax base.
See the staff briefing report here:
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10 local stories making headlines this week

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 12:20 AM

GRIBOV ANDREI ALEKSANDROVICH / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Gribov Andrei Aleksandrovich / Shutterstock.com

The city proposes to require bear-resistant trash cans west of Interstate 25. Have your say at public meetings, which begin at 6 p.m. on Aug. 22 at Fire Station 18, 6830 Hadler View, and Aug. 29 at Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper ended his presidential bid on Aug. 15 and now is being eyed to take on Republican Cory Gardner in the U.S. Senate race in Colorado.

On the heels of the city closing Prospect Lake due to blue-green algae, Colorado Springs Utilities announced Aug. 14 that Pikeview Reservoir tested positive for the algae. Humans and pets are banned, though fishing is still allowed.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office announced that 16 deputies graduated from its training academy to work in the crowded Criminal Justice Center, which has made headlines for assaults and inmate deaths.

Colorado Springs Airport received a $9,000 grant from the Colorado Energy Office to build a Level 2 dual-port electric vehicle charging station, to be completed in early 2020.

The Rocky Mountain Vibes baseball team will bury a time capsule next month, after the final home game of their inaugural season. The time capsule will be opened April 27, 2069, (the birthday of mascot Toasty).

The Bureau of Land Management anticipated no significant impact in Fort Carson’s request to use 43 sites in Teller, Fremont and Park counties to practice helicopter landings.

Planned Parenthood said Aug. 19 it will forgo federal Title X funding, which helps low-income people access contraception, rather than comply with a Trump administration-imposed “gag rule” it called “dangerous, unethical, and harmful to patients.” The rule prohibits the agency from providing abortion referrals.

A bat with rabies was found at the Rainbow Falls Historic Site on the western edge of Manitou Springs, El Paso County Public Health reports. If you know of a person or pet that came in contact with a bat in the area call 578-3220 immediately.

The city will host an open house at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum to present a draft historic preservation plan update, HistoricCOS.
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Manitou Springs hires interim city administrator

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 12:10 AM

Denise Howell will serve as an interim city administrator for Manitou Springs. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Denise Howell will serve as an interim city administrator for Manitou Springs.

It took more than a year and a half, but Manitou Springs City Council appears to have finally found a new city administrator. Or at least an interim.

Council offered the city’s top job to four others, all of whom turned them down, before announcing that Denise Howell will serve as an interim through Jan. 30, 2020. Howell was formerly a customer service manager with Fountain’s utilities department and a community liaison with Colorado Springs Utilities, the Pikes Peak Bulletin reports.
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Road tax and TABOR question likely to appear on city ballot

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 12:10 AM

Voter-approved sales tax 2C funded removal of a median on North Carefree Circle. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
  • Voter-approved sales tax 2C funded removal of a median on North Carefree Circle.

City voters will be consulted on two tax measures in the Nov. 5 election.

Referred unanimously by City Council on Aug. 13, one issue seeks extension of the city’s 2015 voter-approved sales tax for roadwork for another five years, at .57 percent — lower than the current .62 percent.

Mayor John Suthers has vowed to tackle residential roads with the tax, if approved. The current tax raises about $50 million per year.

Voters also will be asked to allow the city to keep $7 million in 2018 excess revenue to spend on parks. The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires revenue collected above a certain cap to be refunded unless voters allow the government to keep it. In this case, the measure’s failure translates to $30 per household refunded on utility bills. Council referred the measure 7-2, with Councilors Andy Pico and Don Knight opposed.
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