Thursday, January 26, 2017

New professional cycling race coming to Colorado Springs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Christo cancels Over the River project to protest Trump administration

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 4:52 PM

Christo's rendering of the Over the RIver project. - CHRISTO
  • Christo
  • Christo's rendering of the Over the RIver project.
World-renowned artist Christo has sidelined long-gestating plans for Over the River, a massive art installation consisting of 5.9 miles of shimmery silver fabric suspended over a section of the Arkansas river. As he explained to the New York Times, the federal government owns the land where the piece was to be set up, and he "can’t do a project that benefits this landlord.” Rather than go into detail on his views of Donald Trump, he told the Times that "the decision speaks for itself."

Over the years since Christo selected the Arkansas River as the site for this piece, he's faced stiff legal resistance, mainly from a local environmental coalition, Rags Over the Arkansas River, or ROAR. At the time of the announcement, Christo was waiting for a decision by a federal appeals court, the latest in a five-year legal battle. But whatever the decision, he'll instead be focusing on a project in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, titled The Mastaba.
A collage visualization of The Mastaba by Christo. - ANDRE GROSSMAN
  • Andre Grossman
  • A collage visualization of The Mastaba by Christo.

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Colorado Springs council district has a high minority population

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

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

The 66 percent figure is based on 2010 Census data.

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

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

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

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

Another District 4 candidate is Yolanda Avila, who ran for Council in 2015. Legally blind, Avila belongs to the National Federation of the Blind and hopes to be a voice for people with disabilities. In the past, she's expressed support for ending the city's prohibition on recreational marijuana and a desire to sideline Martin Drake Power Plant in favor of renewable energy.
Here's the lineup of candidates as of Wednesday morning. A few more candidates have been given until Friday to submit the required 50 signatures on their nominating petitions.
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On sale Friday: Tech N9ne, The 1975, Primus, and more

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 10:44 AM

The 1975
  • The 1975
Before we get to shows that will go on sale this Friday, here's some good news for music fans who need an excuse to get way out of town this Memorial Day Weekend: Tickets for the three-day Sasquatch! Music Festival go on sale tomorrow (Thursday). This year’s headliners are Twenty One Pilots, Frank Ocean, and Chance The Rapper, along with dozen of support acts that include The Head And The Heart, The Shins, MGMT, Bomba Estereo, Aesop Rock, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Porter Ray, and Thee Oh Sees. The festival takes place May 26-28 at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Quincy, Washington. Bring the family! Max out your credit cards!

Meanwhile, here’s our rundown of this week’s newly announced concerts:

Tickets on sale Friday, Jan. 27:
• Tech N9ne’s Strictly Strange Tour,
Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, Apr. 8
• Tycho, Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, Apr. 25
• The 1975, Fillmore Auditorium, May 6
• Papadosio, Red Rocks, May 6
• Primus, with The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Red Rocks, May 16
• Tedeschi Trucks Band, Red Rocks, Jul. 29-30

Tickets already on sale:
• Band in the Backyard,
Vineland, June 16-17
• Blake Shelton, Falcon Stadium, Air Force Academy, Sept. 16
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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The city election is April 4.

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Lamborn reintroduces Broadmoor bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump signs orders to resume Keystone and Dakota Access pipeline construction

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 2:07 PM

  • Shutterstock
Environmental and Native American rights supporters were both dealt blows today with the announcement that Donald Trump has signed executive orders to resume construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines.  

The move comes at an especially critical time in the case of the Dakota Access pipeline, where Standing Rock protests culminated in the Army Corps of Engineers calling a halt to pipeline construction, pending an environmental impact review of risks posed to the nearby Sioux Reservation's water supply.

While the new president's reversal of Obama administration policies is not surprising, what happens next is not entirely clear. This excerpt from a December Sierra Club FAQ sheds some light on a few of the possibilities:
Can the incoming administration reverse the Corps’ decision?

The incoming administration may very well try to reverse the EIS decision, but that may not be a simple feat. Agency decisions must be based on sound reasoning and well-supported by the facts. The Corps decided that an EIS is warranted after months of careful consideration. It set forth the legal basis and reasoning for the decision in a memorandum from Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, and the decision to prepare an EIS is fully supported by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its implementing regulations.
If a Trump administration were to reverse course on a decision like this, it too would have to be accompanied by sound reasoning that makes a rational connection between the facts found and the decision made. Any hasty or arbitrary decision would be legally vulnerable and subject to further litigation. Of course, that’s not to say the incoming administration won’t rush a decision.
Another scenario would be for Congress to approve the final easement and deem it compliant with all environmental laws, either through an appropriations rider, a stand-alone bill, or some other mechanism that garners enough support from the House and Senate.
For further information on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the controversies surrounding it, see the following Indy feature stories:

Occupy America: Activism before and after Standing Rock

Water Warriors: Indigenous locals travel to Standing Rock to join pipeline resistance

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Southern Delivery System wins engineering award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Riley Bratzler

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

A lot has already gone down.

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

So that happened.

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

That all happened too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Springs' sister march biggest in local history

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

  • Nat Stein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3 things Colorado Springs firefighters want to fund with excess revenue

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, January 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This blog has been altered for content.

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New citizen watchdog group to push for answers and action on water contamination

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 11:54 AM

An early meeting of the FVCWC gave opportunity to share experiences with contaminated drinking water. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • An early meeting of the FVCWC gave opportunity to share experiences with contaminated drinking water.

You're not the only one pissed to find out that your water was poisoned for years. You’re not the only one who’s frustrated at weak answers and thin information. You’re not the only one who’s anxious about your family’s health over the long-run. 

That's the message of the newly-formed Fountain Valley Clean Water Committee wants to send residents affected by water contamination in Security, Widefield and Fountain. The committee hopes to unite over their shared concerns and thirst for solutions.

Co-organized by former El Paso County Commissioner candidate, local café owner and community activist Liz Rosenbaum and Venetucci Farm co-manager Susan Gordon, this nascent citizen watchdog group will hold its first meeting on  Jan. 24 at the Fountain Library, located at 230 S. Main Street. The goal, they say, is to bring neighbors together to share information and develop goals and a plan of action.

As we’ve reported over the last half year, nearly 80,000 people discovered their drinking water contains high levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) back in May. Multiple class-action lawsuits were filed in September, but will take years to resolve. Residents of the communities, located to the south of Colorado Springs, are demanding the state pay for blood testing, but to no avail. Water districts turned off their groundwater wells and are now scrambling to get their systems pumping clean water by the time summer rolls around, but water rates are almost sure to rise.

The areas represent the largest affected community in the whole country and, until recently, were one of the few without a community organization actively pursuing remedies.

Visit the event page for more information about the meeting and the group’s page to stay in the loop going forward. Email Liz Rosenbaum at to get involved.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Media to Trump: Game on

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 4:23 PM

This is a graphic reminder of the size of the media industry that has been and will continue to cover Donald Trump. This is just one section of a warehouse north of Denver where The Denver Post and many other newspapers are published, including the Independent. Rolls of paper are brought in by rail car. That's Indy founder and chairman John Weiss in the middle. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • This is a graphic reminder of the size of the media industry that has been and will continue to cover Donald Trump. This is just one section of a warehouse north of Denver where The Denver Post and many other newspapers are published, including the Independent. Rolls of paper are brought in by rail car. That's Indy founder and chairman John Weiss in the middle.

Journalists aren't too keen on being pushed around, so two groups of news media have authored letters to Donald Trump, who becomes the nation's 45th president on Friday.

The first is from Columbia Journalism Review, which states, in part:
In these final days before your inauguration, we thought it might be helpful to clarify how we see the relationship between your administration and the American press corps.

It will come as no surprise to you that we see the relationship as strained. Reports over the last few days that your press secretary is considering pulling news media offices out of the White House are the latest in a pattern of behavior that has persisted throughout the campaign: You’ve banned news organizations from covering you. You’ve taken to Twitter to taunt and threaten individual reporters and encouraged your supporters to do the same. You’ve advocated for looser libel laws and threatened numerous lawsuits of your own, none of which has materialized. You’ve avoided the press when you could and flouted the norms of pool reporting and regular press conferences. You’ve ridiculed a reporter who wrote something you didn’t like because he has a disability.

All of this, of course, is your choice and, in a way, your right. While the Constitution protects the freedom of the press, it doesn’t dictate how the president must honor that; regular press conferences aren’t enshrined in the document.

But while you have every right to decide your ground rules for engaging with the press, we have some, too. It is, after all, our airtime and column inches that you are seeking to influence. We, not you, decide how best to serve our readers, listeners, and viewers. So think of what follows as a backgrounder on what to expect from us over the next four years. 
To finish reading the letter, reference the link above. It's really worth the time.

In addition, the Society of Professional Journalists issued a letter to Trump, which includes this:
Our Founding Fathers knew the importance of a press that is free to
report on the activities of our government and elected officials. “Our
liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited
without being lost,” said Thomas Jefferson in a January 28, 1786, letter.
Yet here we are, almost exactly 231 years after Jefferson wrote those
words, and attempts to stifle the flow of information to citizens of the
United States continue. 
SPJ asks for a meeting with Trump, saying, "We would like to have a conversation regarding how we can work together to ensure that self-government as outlined by the Constitution survives and flourishes, and that a free press remains a cornerstone of our nation and our liberty."

I don't know whether SPJ has been asleep for the last year or what, but can anyone imagine Trump saying, "Okey dokey, let's sit down and discuss this like adults"? Not gonna happen.

In fact, while I appreciate SPJ's earnestness, some lines in the letter are laughable, considering who they're writing to. Like this one, "We urge you to publicly affirm your commitment to transparency..."

Wait. This is the guy who still hasn't released his tax returns and won't. So, all we can say is good luck with that.

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Punk Against Trump: Colorado benefit set for inauguration day

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

  • egorkeon / Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

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