Thursday, October 19, 2017

Colorado Springs parks big winner in health foundation grants

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 10:29 AM

The big winner in a recent round of grants provided via city-owned Memorial Hospital lease payments is the city's parks department, with a grant of $926,944. The money will be spent on Memorial Park trail and fitness improvements.

In a news release, the Colorado Springs Health Foundation board of trustees announced they've approved $1.37 million in grants to nine organizations in the region.

"Eight of these nine organizations were awarded funds to improve the built environment, which is defined as person-made spaces and places where we live, work, and play," the release said. "Research shows that the built environment influences our opportunities and choices to pursue greater (or lesser) physical activity. Improving the built environment in areas of high need is one way the Foundation aims to encourage healthy living for all residents in the Pikes Peak region."

So far this year, the foundation has awarded $2.94 million in grants. The foundation is funded by lease payments made to the city by University of Colorado Health on a 40-year lease of Memorial, which began in 2012.

Here's the listing of the latest round of grants:

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Audience counters Douglas Bruce at election forum

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 4:28 PM

Mayor John Suthers makes his case for stormwater fees at a forum Oct. 17. John Hazlehurst, right, with the Colorado Springs Business Journal, emceed the evening. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Mayor John Suthers makes his case for stormwater fees at a forum Oct. 17. John Hazlehurst, right, with the Colorado Springs Business Journal, emceed the evening.

UPDATE: Anthony Carlson, who's working on the "vote yes" campaign for the Colorado Springs School District 11 issue, just notified us of what he says were inaccuracies stated at the forum.

Here is his email in full:

Doug [Bruce] was pretty adamant about only presenting the "facts" last night, but one key fact he got wrong was what District 11 asked for in 2016.

Last year D-11 asked for a 32.6 million dollar mill levy, which would've phased in over 6 years and become more expensive for tax payers over time.

Additionally, last year the District had a 235 million dollar bond on the ballot which would have raised taxes by 15.5 million dollar annually.

In 2016 the District asked for a 48.1 million dollar increase.

This year the District is asking for a 42 million dollar mill levy, which will not phase in. However, due to the debt reduction mechanism in the ballot language will become cheaper for tax payers over time. For a home of [$]200,000 it will be about $14 a month in 2018, but for that same home will only be $6 a month by 2022.

The District's proposal for the 2017 mill is 6 million dollars less than the proposals put on the ballot in 2016.

I've attached the TABOR notice from last year to dispute Doug's claim.

http://www.elpasoelections.com/2016General/2016GENTABOR.pdf

——ORIGINAL POST 10:56 A.M. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 18, 2017——————————-

Douglas Bruce, the father of tax limitation in Colorado, got a taste of his own medicine on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 17. Bruce was at the Leadership Pikes Peak forum on two ballot issues, which was held at the MCI/Verizon building on Garden of the Gods Road.

Before launching into his opposition argument to Colorado Springs School District 11's proposed mill levy override, known as 3E on the ballot, Bruce tried to correct something Mayor John Suthers had said moments before. Suthers was arguing in favor of the city's stormwater fee proposal, which would impose fees of $5 per household and $30 per acre for developed property. The fees would raise $17 million a year starting July 1, 2018, if approved, and fund 71 drainage projects across the city.

In his parting shot, Suthers had reminded the roughly 60 people who attended that Colorado Springs' property taxes are among the lowest of any city in the state.
Laura Carno argued against stormwater fees, saying people are tapped out.
  • Laura Carno argued against stormwater fees, saying people are tapped out.
Bruce said Suthers was wrong, that Colorado Springs actually has the highest sales tax rate in the state, at 8.25 percent. But a member of the audience quickly called Bruce on that, saying Suthers hadn't made a claim about sales tax. Bruce disputed that but was interrupted by a man in the audience, who blurted out, "You're undermining your own credibility."

A few sentences later, when Bruce claimed the D-11 measure was triple the size of its $15 million measure on the 2016 ballot, a woman in the crowd interjected, "That's not correct. It's $42 million."

To which Bruce replied, "I realize I have a hostile audience."

It's unclear if that was true. The only measure of voter sentiment that counts will come on Nov. 7.

Suthers hopes Election Day will bring a victory for the stormwater fee, which he says is sorely needed so that the $17 million a year now spent on stormwater will be freed up to fund the city's other "critical" needs, including 100 to 125 more police officers.

He also said passage of the measure, which would levy fees for 20 years, would help the city get out from under a lawsuit filed by the EPA alleging violations of the Clean Water Act, due largely to the city's neglected stormwater system.

"I have had discussions with the EPA," he said. "If we can go to them and show we have a dedicated revenue stream for stormwater, the chances of resolving the case are very good."

But Laura Carno, a political activist who champions conservative causees, called the fees inequitable, because a person living in an apartment will pay the same $5 a month that a person living in a mansion will pay.

Lastly, she noted that some property owners in the city who own undeveloped land might pay nothing. "City Council member Jill Gaebler says nobody should get a pass, and I agree with Gaebler."

On the D-11 issue, advocate Lauren Hug said D-11 hasn't had a tax increase since 2000. To drive home how long that is, she asked the audience to consider all the technological changes that have happened since then, including the smart phone's advancement.

"D-11 needs money to provide 21st century education," she says, adding that many D-11 buildings are 50 years old and older. She also noted teachers need raises, or D-11 risks losing them to other districts or states, in light of the nationwide teacher shortage.

Hug also urged voters to support the measure to assure their property values don't plunge and to invest in making the city attractive for economic development.

But Bruce took issue, saying, "This isn't an investment, because you never get your money back." He also said D-11's enrollment is stagnant and there's no need for additional money.
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Mikey Weinstein and three MRFF accomplishments

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 10:01 AM

Mikey Weinstein is still fighting to keep religious favoritism out of the military. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Mikey Weinstein is still fighting to keep religious favoritism out of the military.
Mikey Weinstein has been a busy guy over the past 13 years. Read our interview with the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation to learn why.

Here are just a few of the accomplishments of MRFF over the years:

November 2010 – Getting the religious climate survey released. After MRFF’s pressure on the Air Force Academy, Superintendent Lt. Gen. Gould released the data behind the bi-annual Academy Climate Survey. The survey revealed that 41% of non-Christian cadets and 19% of all cadets were subjected to unwanted proselytizing.

December 2014 – USAFA withdrew its Christian-biased holiday policy. On December 1, 2014, the Academy published a document titled, “Religious Accommodations NOTAM” (NOTAM is a common military acronym that stands for Notice to Airmen) on their public website.

January 2017 – Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit win.  The case dated to Weinstein's 2011 FOIA request to the Academy for records pertaining to himself, MRFF and his family. After four years of delays, MRFF sued to compel disclosure. The Academy settle the case by promising to provide the records sought and paying MRFF's $25,000 in attorney fees.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Utilities will fund water and sewer relocations for Olympic Museum area

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 5:14 PM

Construction is under way on the Olympic Museum at Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Construction is under way on the Olympic Museum at Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue.
Colorado Springs Utilities is preparing to spend $1.3 million on water and wastewater line replacement and relocation to accommodate the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame and other development in the lower downtown area.

On the Wednesday, Oct. 18, Utilities Board agenda, Utilities proposes to fund 55 percent of a $1.9 million relocation of a wastewater line from the alley between Sahwatch and Sierra Madre streets to Sahwatch between Colorado Avenue and Cimarron Street.

The remaining cost, $875,000, would be paid by adjacent property owners, which is comprised mostly if not all by Nor'wood Development Group. Nor'wood is the master developer of the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area.

The existing pipe is old and doesn't meet current standards, Utilities CEO Jerry Forte said in a memo the Utilities Board, comprised of City Council.

An eight-inch water main in Vermijo Avenue needs to be relocated due to its age, the memo says, which will cost about $275,000, all of which would be funded by Utilities under an executive agreement with the city.

The idea is to authorize the projects so they can be coordinated with streetscape work next year, to be funded with Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and city funds.

Or as the memo says, "Future cost savings and extending infrastructure integrity can be achieved when City or private sector-required utility modifications are collaboratively addressed to minimize or eliminate future street cuts...."

The Olympic Museum, which broke ground in June, is slated to open in mid-2019.




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UPDATE: Felony charges dismissed against John San Agustin

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 12:16 PM

San Agustin during his Sheriff's Office tenure. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • San Agustin during his Sheriff's Office tenure.
UPDATE: We just heard via email from John San Agustin's attorney, Iris Eytan of Denver.

She called the prosecution of her client "malicious" and claimed the motive was to discredit him due to his opinions regarding the murder of Tom Clements, head of the Colorado Department of Corrections, at his Monument home in March 2013. (San Agustin reportedly believed others were involved besides the shooter, who was gunned down by lawmen in Texas; yet Sheriff Bill Elder tried to close the investigation until law enforcement agencies took issue with that, according to The Denver Post.)

Eytan also asserted that San Agustin was not in the room when the arrest of the domestic violence victim took place. Rather, she said, Chief Deputy DA Shannon Gerhart (now a judge) was there, along with sheriff's Commander Mitch Lincoln and Bureau Chief Al Harmon. Gerhart told a detective there was probable cause to arrest, she said. Meantime, San Agustin was not in the building, and there were no phone calls showing any contact with Sheriff Terry Maketa or Undersheriff Paula Presley, Eytan contends. She also said time cards were not presented to the grand jury.

The dismissal, Eytan says, "was disingenuous." While the 18th Judicial District claimed in its dismissal motion the case fell apart after a key witness, Sgt. Robert Jaworski, was forced to resign for making a racist remark, Eytan says his resignation came before he testified in front of the grand jury.

"It was nothing new," she said, adding that her prior motions that cited that fact were sealed by the judge, so it seemed as if the prosecutors were making a new revelation when, in fact, Jaworski's resignation was a long-standing known factor in the case.

Eytan contends, "They never had any evidence John was involved. Zero."

The Independent contacted the 18th Judicial District DA's Office to respond to Eytan's contentions, and the office declined to comment.

———ORIGINAL POST 10:37 A.M. TUESDAY, OCT. 17, 2017——————————

On Monday, Oct. 16, the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office dropped felony charges against John San Agustin, a commander during the Sheriff Terry Maketa years.

San Agustin was accused of being party to a scheme in which a woman was persuaded to drop her domestic violence complaint against a deputy said to be favored by Maketa and then was arrested on Sept. 12, 2013, for making a false police report.

The 18th DA's Office took up the case after 4th Judicial District DA Dan May bowed out, citing potential conflicts of interest. Both San Agustin and Maketa supported John Newsome for sheriff back in 2004 when May lost to Newsome. May returned to El Paso County politics four years later and was elected. He's currently in his third and final term.

In its motion, the 18th Judicial DA's Office describes how its case against San Agustin fell apart:

4. After the Grand Jury returned a true bill, it was apparent that former Sergeant Robert Jaworski was going to be a key prosecution witness at trial. The prosecution anticipated that he would have testified that he heard the defendant order the arrest of Ms. Trull. This, obviously, would have been a key piece of evidence. Shortly after the indictment, the People received information that Mr. Jaworski made racial comments towards then President Barak Obama, including calling him “n—-r.” Although the defendant is not African American, he is a person of color and the People believe that evidence of this statement would have been admissible on cross-examination to show bias on the part of Mr. Jaworski, which the People believe would severely damage not only the credibility of this key witness, but the value of his testimony in general.

5. Even with the issues related to Mr. Jaworski, the People believed that they should continue with the prosecution of this defendant, because they anticipated that Detective Lisa Kaiser would be a key witness as well. The prosecution anticipated that this witness would have testified that she felt there was no probable cause for the arrest of Kelli Trull, thereby making the arrest illegal. She also would have testified that she was ordered to arrest Ms. Trull by her superiors, which most likely included the defendant and then Chief Deputy District Attorney Shannon Gerhart. On June 14, 2017, in preparation of trial of co-defendant Terrance Maketa, Detective Kaiser said that it was definitely Chief Deputy District Attorney Gerhart who ordered Ms. Trull to be arrested and not the defendant or any of her supervisors. Again, this called into question the testimony of a key witness.

6. Finally, in late June and early July co-defendant Terrance Maketa was tried to a jury of twelve. The prosecution desired to call another witness whom they thought could offer relevant testimony related not only the co-defendant, but this defendant as well. This witness was Travis Garretson. Notwithstanding tireless, and herculean efforts to serve Mr. Garretson by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, they were unable to do so, and the People have no reason to believe that there will be a different result in the future.

7. Although several of the charges against co-defendant Maketa resulted in a hung jury, those charges related to offenses unrelated to the allegations against this defendant. In fact, the charges that relate to the defendant resulted in a not guilty verdict in the co-defendant's trial.
Read the entire motion to dismiss here:

It's worth noting that the same charges against Maketa stemming from the alleged incident resulted in not-guilty verdicts at his trial last summer. The jury reached an impasse on other charges, and the DA's Office is pursuing those. Trial is set for Jan. 23.

Undersheriff Paula Presley also has been charged in the same incident, as well as with other charges. Her trial is slated for February.

In November 2016, Presley, Maketa and San Agustin submitted a notice of claim to the county, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Sheriff's Office an many others claiming malicious prosecution, as we reported first (News, Dec. 28, 2016). Read the notice of claim letter here.

Specifically, the portion of that letter regarding San Agustin says he "has been forced to defend against criminal charges that are false, without merit, defamatory and groundless." It also notes his forensic investigation consultant business dried up after the charges were filed, as did his adjunct faculty post at UCCS, and that he's incurred significant attorney fees while being precluded from working with law enforcement due to the charges.
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Dirtyelder.com, a website critical of Sheriff Bill Elder and others, used this illustration, at right, in its commentary about the dismissal of charges against San Agustin.

We've reached out to San Agustin's attorney, Iris Eytan of Denver. If we hear something, we'll circle back.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Pueblo to vote on strong mayor form of government

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 4:06 PM

Pueblo City Hall - CITY OF PUEBLO
  • City of Pueblo
  • Pueblo City Hall
A committee is urging Pueblo voters to switch to a strong mayor form of government after the city council approved a measure for the Nov. 7 coordinated election ballot.

Question 2A asks voters to switch to a full-time elected mayor instead of Pueblo's current system, which consists of seven part-time council members and a city manager that reports to them. The nonpartisan mayor would replace the city manager, and have the authority to appoint city department heads and propose a city budget with confirmation from the council. The Pueblo Board of Water Works and Civil Service Commission would continue to be independently elected.

Nick Gradisar, president of the Pueblo Board of Water Works and local attorney, is the head of the Committee to Elect a Mayor, which is calling for the change. He previously helped place two initiatives on the ballot, one for strong mayor and another for weak mayor, but voters rejected both. Now, he thinks it's time to try again, saying that many of the same problems that were present in 2009 are still present including, crime, opioid addiction and lackluster economic growth.

"We’re sort of going backwards while the rest of the state is going forwards, I think it’s hurt us significantly," Gradisar said at Southern Colorado Press Club meeting on Oct. 10.

And while it seems people have been flocking to Colorado in recent years, they haven’t been coming to Pueblo. Whereas it used to be the second largest city in Colorado in the ‘50s, Pueblo is now the ninth largest.

"That’s been very expensive for us, in terms of our influence in the state, in terms of our representation in the state legislature," Gradisar says. He adds that his group has taken valuable lessons from Colorado Springs, which switched from a council-city manager form of government similar to Pueblo’s, to a mayor-council form (or "strong mayor" system) after voters approved a charter change in 2010. Gradisar notes that the Springs’ first strong mayor, Steve Bach — known for an authoritarian streak and frequent battles with the council and others — didn’t necessarily have "experience with governmental entities."

"I think that we can see that although they had some issues with the first mayor they elected, the second mayor [current Mayor John Suthers] was able to focus the community’s attention on getting some serious problems solved and we think that the same thing can happen here in Pueblo," he says.

City Council is willing to give the measure a chance.

"All seven of us voted to put it on the ballot," says Councilor Lori Winner.

Winner says that doesn’t mean they all necessarily support the change, though she does. She did note that the general attitude on council is one toward change. She says there needs to be a figurehead in Pueblo that citizens can call.

Ralph Williams, president of insurance brokerage company HUB International, helped with the weak mayor initiative in 2009, but didn't push for it this year because he says he didn't want to confuse the public with two measures. He neither supports nor approves of the strong mayor initiative, because he thinks a weak mayor would better suit a city of Pueblo's size.

Should the strong mayor measure pass, the first mayoral election will be held in Nov. 2018, giving candidates a chance to campaign.

"Obviously you have to get the right people," Gradisar says. "We have a year to make sure we get the one."

Gradisar is hoping that the mayor’s proposed salary, $150,000 annually, will attract a wide variety of candidates, saying that the income was set that high on purpose, so that the mayor will not have to find another job. Gradisar has had complaints that the salary is too high for Pueblo, which only has a population of about 110,000 people and a median income less than $40,000 a year, according to the United States Census Bureau. The mayor of Colorado Springs is paid $103,370, even though he governs more than four times the number of people.

The committee didn’t take population into consideration when establishing a salary, Gradisar says, and instead focused on making the salary comparable to those of other leaders in Pueblo, most notably the presidents of Pueblo Community College and Colorado State University-Pueblo. Lexi Swearingen, a small business owner and also a member of the committee, says that the mayor would make around the same amount of money as the current city manager.

The Pueblo Association of Homebuilders and the Sierra Club of Pueblo both endorse 2A. In a letter to Gradisar, the Sierra Club said it believes an elected mayor can improve transparency and government responsiveness. However, neither club has given monetary donations, according to Gradisar. Most of the donations have been from individuals and the committee hasn’t purchased any media advertisements, relying instead on word-of-mouth, buttons and signs to spread the campaign’s message. According to Gradisar, the committee has spent all of the $7, 030 they received from donors.

But the word hasn’t gotten out to everyone. Margaret and Frank Grund, a couple who came to the press club meeting to find out more about the initiative, say they haven’t heard much about campaign. However, both do not see any downsides. Margaret Grund says she was surprised to find out that Pueblo didn’t have a mayor when she first moved to the city from Minneapolis. She thinks a mayor will hold city councilors more accountable and create some unity.

"I think it’s too easy for city council members to focus on their communities [districts] which is what they’re supposed to do. But then, who wins? You know, there’s always a kind of tension there," she says.
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Firefighters seek collective bargaining, raise money for campaign

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 12:26 PM

The Waldo Canyon Fire roars into the city in June 2012. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • The Waldo Canyon Fire roars into the city in June 2012.

Local firefighters aren't giving up on their desire to secure the right to collectively bargain with the city on pay and benefits.

As we reported in June, Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Association Local 5 wants to be able to negotiate on behalf of its members. The city says it considers a state Senate bill that enables collective bargaining not applicable, because it is a home rule city.

Nevertheless, Local 5 is proceeding toward a ballot measure to put the question to voters, and firefighters are willing to put their money where their mouths are.

From Dave Noblitt, president of Local 5, via email:
We did have a special election over the summer to support a $200,000 plus assessment of our members to fund the measure. With a self imposed 51% participation of members involved for the vote to be considered valid, we were supported by almost 70% with over 220 members voting and a unanimous "yes" vote in moving forward. With the state association and the International lending their support, we are looking at a half million dollar campaign budget in moving forward. 

Noblitt goes on to say Local 5 will seek support from City Council in 2018 and community groups for its ballot measure, which might appear on either the November 2018 ballot or the city ballot in April 2019.

A slight pay raise for firefighters is included in Mayor John Suthers' proposed 2018 budget. If voters approve on Nov. 7 of a proposal to charge residents stormwater fees, that would free up general fund money for additional raises and to add personnel to the Fire Department, starting when the fees would begin, July 1, 2018.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Firefighters back stormwater measure

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 2:29 PM

2017electionbug_720.jpg
On Wednesday, Oct. 11, the Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF-Local 5, announced it has endorsed the city's stormwater fee measure, 2A, on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The measure, if approved, would impose fees starting July 1, 2018, of $5 per month on all households, including renters, and $30 per acre on non-residential developed property. Tracts five acres and larger would be assessed based on impervious surface and assigned fees by the city's stormwater manager.

The fees would raise about $17 million a year, which would be used for stormwater in place of the currently budgeted $17 million in the general fund, thereby freeing that money for spending on other city needs.

Mayor John Suthers has said he would reallocate general fund dollars to hire more cops and firefighters, improve parks and upgrade the city's vehicle fleet.

Local 5's release:
Local 5’s Political Action Liaison, John Roy, mentioned that, “After careful consideration, our association has chosen to support the stormwater campaign. We have chosen to do so because we believe that this enterprise will ultimately make Colorado Springs safer and it will allow our firefighters the ability to more effectively do their job. Due to the lack of a dedicated stormwater fee, general fund dollars have long been repurposed from their original intent to pay for stormwater. As such, we have seen our equipment, staffing levels, and employee package suffer due to lack of funding. The Mayor has committed to making public safety a top priority if general fund dollars can be used for their original intent. This would mean better service delivery for the citizens and a better work environment for firefighters. With that focus in mind, we support this initiative.”

The Colorado Springs Professional Firefighter’s President, Dave Noblitt has been a firefighter in the city for over 20 years. When asked about the current state of the department Noblitt stated that, “Our staffing levels are far from adequate. Historically, we have approximately the same number of firefighters that we did in 2008. However, we run approximately 30,000 more calls a year than we did in 2008. This means that firefighters are attempting to do more with less and that is taxing on our employees. This measure would ensure that the city has the financial capacity to support public safety from falling further behind in its ability to provide adequate response capabilities.”

The Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters view this ballot initiative with a linear focus: “What is best for the safety and welfare of the citizens of Colorado Springs and their firefighters?”. Question 2A has a direct impact on how the fire department will continue to operate and as such, the support of this initiative is seemingly what’s best for public safety.
Disclosure: The Indy's owner, John Weiss, is a board member for Together for Colorado Springs, which has also endorsed 2A.
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Congressional District 5 race draws fourth Republican hopeful

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 12:35 PM

Rhea: Fourth Republican to enter primary race in CD5. - COURTESY OF BILL RHEA
  • Courtesy of Bill Rhea
  • Rhea: Fourth Republican to enter primary race in CD5.
The race for the Republican nomination in Congressional District 5 just got bigger, with the entrance of Bill Rhea, retired judge and missionary, into the fray.

In a news release, Rhea calls himself "a distinctly centrist Republican" in a field of right-leaning candidates vying for an office held by ultra conservative Doug Lamborn.

"Frankly, I think I have a really good appeal to the independent voters," Rhea tells the Indy in an interview, "and my sense is the other [candidates], I would put them in the category of traditional Republicans. My plan and the reason I think I have a serious chance is I can appeal to independent voters as well as Republicans. The others can divide up the very conservative Republican branch."

Rhea said he was referring to candidates State Sen. Owen Hill, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and incumbent Doug Lamborn in those remarks. While Colorado Springs City Councilor Tom Strand has said he'll run, he hasn't yet filed for office.

Rhea says he won't be as well funded as Lamborn, but he is retired and at 70 has lots of life experience to bring to the office and energy to seek it. "I'm going full throttle," he says.

Rhea is a lifelong Republican, he says, and sought judicial office in partisan races in Texas, but he admits he became a registered Democrat for a brief time in 2016 "because I was Trumpized," meaning he didn't approve of President Donald Trump.

Here's Rhea's news release:
Colorado Springs resident Bill Rhea today announced his candidacy for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District* in 2018. A retired judge and former missionary in Cambodia, Rhea will focus on a needed renewal of the core values of the Republican Party, bringing his singular and responsive focus to relevant issues.

Judge Rhea is a distinctly centrist Republican, as opposed to each of the other candidates for the House seat currently occupied by incumbent Doug Lamborn.

“I am grateful for this amazing opportunity to demonstrate my commitments to the people of the 5th District of Colorado,” said Bill Rhea. “The current leadership has become complacent, and for many years we have witnessed a failure to demonstrate necessary levels of independent thoughtfulness or of commitment to a respectful, bipartisan discourse. My knowledge of the legal and judicial systems, my full and varied life experiences and my core values will help me bring new avenues of change in Washington, D.C. If elected, my focus will be to demonstrate bold leadership, with an open mind, as we address the many complex issues facing our community and our nation.”

Judge Rhea’s career has included 17 years as a civil litigation lawyer (including four years as a mediator), 15 years as a State District Judge in Texas with oversight responsibility of the juvenile justice system in Dallas County, which operates on a $30 million annual budget. Rhea also served on the Rules Advisory Committee to the Texas Supreme Court and was appointed as a special judge for high-profile cases outside his jurisdiction. He also managed large-scale asbestos and toxic-tort litigation for the entire North Texas Region.

Bill and his wife, Akemi, have raised a family of 15 children (six biological and nine adopted). They have dealt with many challenges, but through faith and much grace, continue to live out the values they so cherish.

Following six years of missionary service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Rheas relocated to Colorado in August of 2015.

Judge Rhea is developing a private section of his website where he will invite a wide range of individuals from various parts of the community to personally engage with him on issues they care about. Additionally, he will be active in social media sites as an important part of the campaign.

Rhea for Congress
More information about Bill Rhea, his background and positions on various issues, can be found at either www.rheaforrepublicanrenewal.com orwww.billrheaforcongress.com" target="_blank"> www.billrheaforcongress.com. Bill Rhea may be reached at bill@rheaforrepublicanrenewal.com or 719-209-2003.

*The 5th Congressional District encompasses Colorado Springs and the surrounding cities, towns and rural communities of Park, Chaffee, El Paso, Freemont and Teller counties.

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Stephany Rose brings on new treasurer ahead of FEC deadline

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 10:21 AM

STEPHANY ROSE FOR CONGRESS
  • Stephany Rose for Congress
On Wednesday afternoon, we heard from Stephany Rose Spaulding — a Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado’s 5th District. It's been a rough past few days for her, since, as the Independent reported, three volunteers, including the committee chair, abandoned Spaulding's campaign over the weekend. On the way out, they raised suspicions about the first-time candidate's handling of her campaign's finances. You can read about their allegations and overall rationale here.

News of their departure was "sudden" and "heart-breaking," says Spaulding, who counted at least one of those volunteers as a close friend. Spaulding is steadfast, however, in her position that the campaign's finances are fine shape.

"They wanted me to completely come off of the bank account and have no control over the finances ... no candidate worth their wisdom has or would do that," she told the Independent. "People are really investing their hope in this campaign and I am responsible for that."

Technically, the campaign's treasurer, Sarah McCollim is also responsible for that. According to multiple ex-volunteers, she's currently out of the country, even though the campaign is due to report its first quarter of receipts and disbursements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Sunday, Oct. 15.

Spaulding herself didn't know whether McCollim is in town or where she is, having not spoken with her for two weeks. (We've tried and failed to get in touch with her ourselves.) Spaulding says she's totally satisfied with McCollim's service to the campaign, but has nonetheless brought on a new treasurer/adviser/spokesperson.

That would be Jason Christiansen — a nonprofit consultant who currently lives in Colorado's 6th Congressional District. He last lived in this district in 2014. Notably, he also used to be a Republican, having worked for the former Congressman from Illinois, Don Manzullo, during the first half of his decade-long tenure in the House that ended in 2013.

So, why is Christiansen working for the other party now?

"Well, I switched my affiliation to Independent on January 20 of this year," he says. (Recall, this happened on that day.)

And, why work for this particular Democrat?

Practically speaking, because Carolyn Cathey, longtime Democrat, local realtor and one of Spaulding's most trusted advisers, asked him to. Philosophically speaking, "[Spaulding] is the kind of representation we need in this district," he says, adding that with so many volunteers ditching right before the campaign's first FEC filing deadline, "they needed some hands-on help from people with experience." 

Indeed, Christiansen's LinkedIn profile describes him as a "turnaround specialist" which, in his words, means "going into organizations that have issues and putting structures in place." In this case, he says, he's "making sure there's discipline with the money." That said, he reviewed the campaign's October Quarterly filing and found, besides a few minor, clerical omissions, everything to be in order. They'll submit their filing to the FEC on Sunday. It usually takes a few days for the agency to review and publish filings.

Meanwhile, Dawn Haliburton-Rudy, the former campaign committee chair behind the recent allegations, says she filed a complaint to the FEC on Wednesday. Find information on the adjudication process here.

Spaulding says that, contrary to the ex-volunteers' telling, she has been listening to experienced campaigners from the start. Because the campaign is such a grassroots operation, Spaulding says she didn't feel the need to disclose every conversation or relationship to every volunteer. Given that, she acknowledges the recent fallout could boil down to a miscommunication, especially since it went down over text message.

Still, Spaulding is feeling bolstered by the friends, supporters and advisers who have stuck by her.
"I've been able to see the real heart of this community," she says, adding that "this campaign from the beginning was doubted by a lot of people. They said I have no name recognition because I've never been a candidate before [so] I would be better suited to run for smaller office. But we've defied expectations."

Evidence of that, she says, is in the numbers. The campaign is preparing to report over $68,000 in receipts during their first quarter. And Spaulding says the majority of donors aren't "the usual suspects" but rather, "everyday people" who give in small amounts. There are no loans listed, she says, nor has she heard that anybody took out a second mortgage to donate. The donor who cashed in their life insurance policy, she says, is her sister.

"So they can drag my name through the mud, but we still have people willing to rise above for this district," Spaulding says, acknowledging that the name dragging tends only to get worse as campaigns move into general election season. And actually holding office? This may be good preparation.

The election is in 2018. Democrat Betty Field and Republicans Tom Strand, Owen Hill, Darryl Glenn and Bill Rhea (as of yesterday) are all also vying to unseat incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Jenkins buys RBD downtown properties

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 10:58 AM

This building at 101 W. Costilla St. recently sold to an entity controlled by developer David Jenkins, who's redeveloping the lower downtown area. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • This building at 101 W. Costilla St. recently sold to an entity controlled by developer David Jenkins, who's redeveloping the lower downtown area.

Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, as previously planned, has sold three parcels in the lower downtown area to an entity controlled by David Jenkins.

The Aug. 23 sale, recorded on Sept. 28, included RBD's former headquarters building at 101 W. Costilla St., a parking lot at 111 W. Costilla St., and a vacant lot at 435 Sahwatch St.

Purchase price was $3,069,100. The appraised value, according to an appraiser hired by RBD, was $3,265,000, but that figure was reduced by 6 percent, which would have gone toward a real estate commission had either party used a Realtor, which they did not, according to minutes of the RBD commission's May 24 meeting.

It's worth noting the purchase price is 54 percent higher than the market value as stated in assessor records for the three parcels.

The tracts, purchased by BLH No. 2 LLC, an entity formed by Jenkins in 2014, are within the boundaries of two metro districts and a business improvement district Jenkins is forming. A court hearing on a petition to create the metro districts will be held Oct. 20.

Jenkins' company, Nor'wood Development Group, initially tried to form a partnership with Regional Building to develop the properties, but that fell through when the Independent raised questions about such a partnership's legality (News, March 29, 2017).

The transaction was recorded two days after City Council approved debt authority for the special districts up to $325 million on Sept. 26. It's the highest figure ever granted for special districts locally (News, Sept. 26, 2017).

The Regional Building Department's board of commissioners is comprised of Chair Tyler Stevens, the Green Mountain Falls Mayor Pro Tem; El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller, and Colorado Springs City Councilor Tom Strand.

The board decided not to put the properties up for competitive bid, says Regional Building Official Roger Lovell, because the Jenkins family offered a "community benefit."

"They are the master developer of that region downtown," Lovell tells the Indy in an interview. "They already owned 75 percent of the block [of Costilla] as well as a number of adjoining properties, and it made sense to proceed in that direction. Their offer was the appraised price."

Chris Jenkins, president of Nor'wood and David's son, couldn't be reached to comment about the company's plans for the land. The two properties are two to three blocks from the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, which is under construction at Vermijo Avenue and Sierra Madre Street.

Here's a map of the metro districts and business improvement district.
The properties acquired by David Jenkins from RBD are indicated with stars, while the oval represents the Olympic Museum. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy city of Colorado Springs
  • The properties acquired by David Jenkins from RBD are indicated with stars, while the oval represents the Olympic Museum.


RBD serves Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Fountain, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls, Monument and Palmer Lake. It's mission, as described on the website, is to "safeguard life and limb, health, property and public welfare by regulating and controlling the design, construction, quality of materials, use and occupancy of all buildings and structures within all zoned areas of El Paso County through the enforcement of minimum building code standards." RBD also inspects new construction, alterations and additions and licenses building contractors and registers state-licensed plumbing and electrical contractors working within its jurisdiction.
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Green funeral home opens in Colorado Springs

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 11:23 AM

An outside view of the Return to Nature funeral home - RETURN TO NATURE BURIAL AND CREMATION
  • Return to Nature Burial and Cremation
  • An outside view of the Return to Nature funeral home

Funeral home director Jon Hallford still keeps his embalming license on the wall as a reminder of his past at a traditional funeral home.

Hallford, who opened Return to Nature Burial and Cremation in early September, spent around 18 years as an embalmer before deciding that he’d had enough. Research led him to discover the toxicity of embalming practices, particularly the use of the formaldehyde-based substance, formalin.

“It is one of the highest, most cancer-causing agents that
exists,” he says. “I’m sure I’ve probably got tumors just shaking hands and growing in my head right now from the amount of fluid that I’ve ingested throughout the years.”

Embalming can also harm a city’s water supply, Hallford
says.

“When you’re embalming somebody what excess fluid is left in that tank just goes right down the drain.”

Hallford searched for an alternative method that would be less threatening to the environment. Green burial ended up being the solution.

Hallford gave up his position as an embalmer to open a
green funeral home in Colorado Springs with his wife and a business partner.

At Return to Nature, Hallford takes a bare bones approach. Instead of pumping bodies full of harsh carcinogenic substances, bodies are kept on dry ice during viewing and buried without elaborate metal caskets or concrete vaults.

Everything else is the same, Hallford insists. Customers can choose to have loved ones buried in a casket or opt for cremation. Staff will still put makeup, (mineral-based, of course), on the body for viewing. Nearly all products are biodegradable or made from recycled materials. At one service, visitors released biodegradable balloons into the air in honor of a loved one.

Hallford is even in the process of installing an alkaline hydrolysis system, a metal chamber that uses water and lye for the cremation process. According to Hallford, the procedure is much cleaner than traditional cremation, which releases carbon into the atmosphere.

Hallford wants others to compare Return to Nature’s rates with those of other funeral homes.

"It’s less expensive,” Hallford says, “I encourage families — compare apples to apples. Go and see what their services consist of versus what ours do.”

Return to Nature’s location is quaint; no chapel or large viewing room. There's no cemetery, either — the funeral home uses either Fairview or Evergreen cemeteries. When the Indy most recently reported on green burials in 2009, neither cemetery at the time was allowing green burials. The first certified natural cemetery in Colorado was opened in Crestone in 2012.

But Halford says that today, while there's not a specific designated area at either cemetery, green burials are permitted cemetery-wide.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Congressional candidate Stephany Rose abandoned by campaign leaders

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 7:01 PM

UPDATE: While Dawn Haliburton-Rudy listed several groups that she says will work together to search for a new candidate for the 5th Congressional District, leaders of those groups have since contacted the Independent to say they have not yet committed to such a process, and are in a wait-and-see mode.


——- ORIGINAL POST, MONDAY, 7:01 P.M. ——-

Stephany Rose speaks alongside Dreamers at a recent rally. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Stephany Rose speaks alongside Dreamers at a recent rally.


Over the weekend, the majority of Stephany Rose Spaulding’s campaign team jumped ship, saying they’re uncomfortable with how the campaign’s finances have been handled.


Rose, a pastor and professor, is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 5th Congressional District on the Democratic side. A political newbie, she officially announced her candidacy on July 3. This staff defection comes as the campaign readies its first campaign finance report.


The Federal Election Commission (FEC) requires candidate committees close their books on the October Quarterly on Sep. 30. They have until Oct. 15 to file a report that itemizes receipts and disbursements. It’s a public document that looks like this.


Preparation for the filing is what brought some campaign members’ concerns to a fore. On Saturday, they released a joint statement:


All,


Please note that Alan Pitts, Chandra Yvonne and I have resigned from Stephany Rose Spaulding's campaign for Congressional District 5. We have made this decision based on perceived financial improprieties committed by the candidate for this race. We, in no way shape or form, had anything to do nor did we have any knowledge of the current allegations.

Further, we demanded that the candidate provide us the financial information, which only she controls, to perform a forensic evaluation to thoroughly assess the level of potential improprieties. The candidate refused. As a result of the candidate's refusal, we determined, that it is in our best interest to resign. We wish the candidate all the best.


Sincerely,

Dawn Haliburton-Rudy (campaign committee chair)
Alan Pitts (political strategist)
Chandra Yvonne (interim campaign developer)


Originally, that statement was also signed by Carolyn Cathey, a campaign advisor. But on Monday she distanced herself from the other three, releasing this statement instead.


Dear everyone,

To be clear I am still associated with the campaign in the same informal advisory role I was always in. A team of campaign experts have been deployed to complete the FEC filing due October 15th, this is a public document, and according to our team of experts including campaign finance advisors, the accounts have been set up correctly with them all leading back to the candidate as the law requires. The suspicions about possible irregularities are being looked at from all angles to include previous volunteers. all of us take this matter very seriously and I believe that numbers never lie...the money is accounted for and in its' proper place, as of writing this message, and the public filing will show that. Any impropriety will be handled with the full extent of the law and will be made public as the investigation allows. Trust is the most important asset a person can ever give... keeping that trust is the most important asset a candidate can ever possess. Thank you so much my friends.


Also on Monday, a draft press release from the campaign was leaked to the Indy.

The campaign Stephany Rose for Congress is excited about our candidate who continues to demonstrate the strength of her candidacy and leadership for our community. She has defied expectations with her first quarter fundraising, proving the seriousness as a contender to become the next U.S. House of Representatives Congressional leader for Colorado's Fifth District.

Unfortunately, trust and confidence of volunteers intimate to the campaign have been breached. In their efforts to engage in dirty tricks and orchestrating unethical meetings with potential Republican and Democratic opponents of Stephany Rose Spaulding, they have demonstrated a desire for politics as usual. This is not and never will be the spirit of Stephany Rose for Congress.

Stephany Rose for Congress is a financially and ethically sound campaign. And our candidate is surrounded by a team of trusted expert advisers dedicated to her mission of putting people over politics and transforming Colorado's Fifth Congressional District in all our best interests.

Neither Cathey nor Rose returned multiple voice mails and emails requesting their comment. We eagerly await their reply and will update this blog when we get it.

So, you might be asking yourself, what the heck is going on here?


Dawn Haliburton-Rudy feels deceived. - FILE PHOTO
  • file photo
  • Dawn Haliburton-Rudy feels deceived.

Haliburton-Rudy and Yvonne sat down with the Independent on Sunday to further explain themselves. Essentially, their misgivings are two-fold: they suspect potential campaign finance violations and they disagree with certain fundraising practices on ethical grounds.


The reason they’re suspicious, they say, is because the candidate was persistently “elusive” when it came to money matters. Rose allegedly kept the campaign’s finances quite close to the chest — withholding access to accounting spreadsheets, bank statements and the funds themselves. Tensions came to a head this weekend when members of the campaign requested that the candidate relinquish control of the finances. In a group text message thread, Rose replied that “No [I won’t] as the campaign’s finances are directly connected to my personal finances.”


A frustrated Yvonne asks, “If it was all above board, why make it off-limits to your team?”

The secretive dynamic isn’t new. Ethan Wade, former campaign manager (and Indy freelancer), says it’s one of the reasons he quit in early September. “It's pretty typical for campaigns to hire compliance consultants (lawyers and CPAs who specialize in FEC regulations) and the folks I was working with on Stephany's campaign flat out refused to hire one in favor of having the committee's treasurer work on the finances,” he writes to the Indy via Facebook messenger. “I was really against that decision since none of us had any expertise in FEC regulations, but they went on regardless.”


As committee chair, Haliburton-Rudy says that with the FEC deadline approaching, she won't rubber stamp a filing based on transactions she's never had the chance to review. “There were resources available to her but she wouldn’t accept any advisement,” she tells the Indy, adding that s
he intends to file a complaint to the FEC this week. That complaint will single out an alleged loan that the campaign received from Rose's childhood church in Chicago. Halliburton-Rudy believes, based on conversations with Rose, that the funds exceeded federal limits, were deposited improperly and came from a source that's barred from political contributions.

Again, Rose didn't return requests for comment on this story. 


FEC guidelines state that "The treasurer of a political committee is responsible for examining all contributions to make sure they are not illegal."

According to the “statement of organization” filing for “Stephany Rose for Congress,” the committee’s treasurer and custodian of records is Sarah Jeanne McCollim. McCollim is reportedly out of the country and has been for a few weeks now. We’ve reached out and will update when we hear back.


FEC guidelines also state that "The candidate may act as the committee’s treasurer."

Aside from their legal and financial skepticism, Haliburton-Rudy, Yvonne and Pitts all harbor an ethical skepticism that, they say, overshadows the rest. It stems from anecdotes they heard at multiple fundraisers. “[Rose] would tell everyone that she had at least two members of her church take out second mortgages to donate to her campaign,” Yvonne recounts. “And these were older people who need to be in a nursing home, you know. … And there was one woman, she told us, with stage-four cancer who cashed in her life insurance to give [to the campaign].”

As a licensed social worker, Haliburton-Rudy says this just didn’t sit right with her, regardless of the legality.


“It was like she was bragging about it,” she says. “And that’s not right.”


Yvonne, who lives on a fixed income because of a disability, elaborated: “If this is truly a campaign that ‘puts people over politics,’ we shouldn’t be willing to exploit vulnerable people just to get ahead.”


Both acknowledge that leaving the campaign doesn't bode well for progressives in the region. Congressional District 5, where just over 20 percent of the electorate is registered with the Democratic Party, is a long-shot race no matter how united against incumbent Doug Lamborn local Democrats may be.

The closest showing by a Democrat in recent memory was in 2014 when Irv Halter, a retired Air Force Major General, got 40 percent of the vote. In fact, voters in the 5th have never sent a Democrat to Congress. So, any drama or division puts the prospect of winning even further out of reach.

On the Republican side, Colorado Springs State Senator Owen Hill, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and Colorado Springs City Councilor Tom Strand are all challenging Doug Lamborn in the primary.

On the Democratic side, another newcomer to electoral politics, Betty Field, is gunning for the nomination. She's not rushing to judgement about the allegations against her opponent, saying, in general, that “people, not just candidates, make mistakes. No one’s perfect. People are forgiving … However, if you make a mistake with someone else’s money, that’s a much tougher thing to forgive.”


For her part, Field doesn’t touch her campaign’s finances, leaving it for her treasurer to handle. “I promised to run a clean and transparent campaign,” Field says. “There were no issues with my first filing and I don’t expect there to be any with the second.”


But the defectors from Rose’s campaign aren’t eager to join Field’s. Instead, Haliburton-Rudy says, they’re going to put their heads together with other local progressives to find the right candidate to run.

She expects the search committee to include, among others, representatives from Together for Colorado Springs (which she herself co-chairs, along with Indy founder John Weiss, for transparency), Unite Colorado Springs, Citizens for Hope and Pikes Peak Progressives. It’ll be more rigorous this time, she expects, meaning a longer questionnaire and in-person vetting. They’ll consider Democratic, Republican and Independent candidates. “We have to get serious. We can’t let this happen again,” she says.



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Stormwater fee's "vote no" committee political operative doesn't live in the city

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 4:36 PM

2017electionbug_720.jpg
When it comes to political campaigns, should someone be allowed to run one or fund one if they don't live in the jurisdiction affected by the campaign?

Laura Carno says yes, and she has and is currently doing so.

Running a campaign, that is.

Carno set up springstaxpayers.com to oppose the city's stormwater fee — measure 2A on the Nov. 7 ballot — which would impose $5-per-month charges on all households, including renters, and $30 per acre per month on owners of nonresidential property. Owners of undeveloped property or nonresidential land over five acres would pay fees based on impervious surface as determined by the city's stormwater manager.

But Carno doesn't live in Colorado Springs. She lives in Black Forest, so she won't be directly affected if the measure passes.

As Rachel Beck, who's running the "vote yes" campaign committee, Invest COS, says via email, Carno "is a voice of dissention [sic] in a matter that has no effect on her. While her anti-everything positions may serve her purposes, Colorado Springs city voters will decide for ourselves what is best for our community."

But Carno, a political strategist who ran former Mayor Steve Bach's campaign in 2011, says she does have a stake in the outcome.

"Even though I don’t live in the city of Colorado Springs, it is where I do all my business," says Carno, reached by phone. That means doing most of her shopping in the city. "Anything that hurts any businesses there, I am a customer."

In addition, Carno defines her campaign as one advocating for good government. Her website says this about the Colorado Springs measure:
Reasons Voters Are Saying NO to Colorado Springs Ballot Issue 2A
• The city has record revenues. It can adequately fund stormwater repairs on existing tax dollars
• This is the 6th time in just over 2 years that the Mayor has asked for more money
• Fee starts at $5 per month for residential customers, regardless of the size of the property
• Non-residential customers – including churches and non-profits – pay $30 per acre per month
• Fees can be increased without a vote of the taxpayers
• Owners of undeveloped land are exempt from this fee
• Owners of undeveloped land are among the largest donors to the Yes on 2A effort

"I would say to the other side," Carno says, "they are accepting money from people who don’t live in the city to pay for their mailers. They’re OK with out of town donors."
Carno ran former Mayor Steve Bach's campaign in 2011. - LAURACARNO.COM
  • lauracarno.com
  • Carno ran former Mayor Steve Bach's campaign in 2011.
And so is she, because Carno says everyone has skin in the game to advocate for fiscally responsible government.

Carno, who filed paperwork for her committee on Oct. 6, won't have to disclose the names of her donors until Nov. 3, four days before the Nov. 7 election. But she tells the Indy, "So far, my donors are in the city of Colorado Springs."

To read who's endorsed a "no" vote, go here.

It's true that Invest COS has accepted money from people who don't reside in Colorado Springs. Among those are Spencer Fane LLP, a law firm in Denver, which gave $10,000; K.R. Swerdfeger Construction, Inc., Pueblo West, $5,000; Wagner Construction, Aurora, $1,000; Tyrone Rice, Fountain, $1,000; Colorado Association of Mechanical & Plumbing Contractors, Denver, $5,000; Issues Mobilization Committee, Englewood, $10,000 (this committee can't be found in Colorado Secretary of State Records but shares an address with the Colorado Association of Realtors); Andrew Klein, Glendale, $500; JE Dunn Construction Company, Denver, $1,500; Dan Malinaric, Monument, $500; Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm, Denver, $1,000; A-1 Chipseal Co., Denver, $5,000.

Together, that's $40,500, or just under 13 percent of the $320,000 raised so far by Invest COS.

Beck explains, "Our donors, which include residents, businesses, and trade associations, are contributing to a viable solution to a real problem. Included in that group of more than 100 contributors are nine companies or member associations that have significant operations in Colorado Springs and are headquartered in Denver."


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Thursday, October 5, 2017

I-25 widening campaign raises $54K

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 4:12 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
It's one of the more creative titles for a campaign committee in the local politico-sphere, and it's raised $54,000 on behalf of a measure on the Nov. 7 ballot that would authorize spending up to $10 million of Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority money to widen Interstate 25 between Monument and Castle Rock.

The committee is titled "I-25 Shouldn't Be a Parking Lot."

The ballot measure wouldn't increase PPRTA taxes, but rather add the project to its project list. This is necessary, because previous taxing authority granted by voters assigned the money to specific projects.

The purpose of the committee, as stated on its organization filing is "to support the ballot issue in the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority district to add I-25 to the list of projects eligible for funding, and to support future local transportation initiatives for funding improvements to I-25 in Colorado."

Donors to the committee so far, according to filings with the Colorado Secretary of State, are:
Colorado Springs Forward, $7,500
Guy Childs of Spectranetics, $5,000
Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, $25,000
Olson Plumbing and Heating, $2,500
Schmidt Construction, $5,000
Altia Acquisitions Corp., $2,000
G.E. Johnson, $5,000
Mark Zeller and William Miller, both of XIO Technologies, $1,000 each

El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller says the committee's fundraising goal is $100,000. "We’re going to do radio. We're going to do a lot of web-based advertising," Waller says, adding the campaign also plans to buy space on two billboards.

The committee hadn't spent any money as of the Oct. 2 filing. The registered agent for the committee is Kristin Krause of Monument.

The next filing is due Oct. 16.
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