Thursday, August 17, 2017

Colorado Springs mayor is glad resort turned away a white supremacy conference

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 4:40 PM

Mayor John Suthers wasted no time speaking out about hate. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Mayor John Suthers wasted no time speaking out about hate.

Today, a day after the Cheyenne Mountain Resort announced it wouldn't host a white identity group's conference next April, Mayor John Suthers expressed thanks to see the matter resolved.

In an interview with the Independent today, Suthers said, "I felt very good about how the situation resolved. I think the city took the role it can properly assume. I was clear [that] the city can’t tell private entities who they can contract with. Anybody has the right to express the opinions they have in the city of Colorado Springs. But I would appreciate if organizations in Colorado Springs do a little bit of due diligence before they contract with groups, if it’s the type of folks that could generate controversy and [could] be bad for their business and the community’s business."

He added that he felt "fairly confident" that the resort didn't know the nature of VDARE when it accepted the booking.

The whole episode started and ended within three days in a city that has often drawn attention due to its ultra-conservative bent and intolerance of LGBTQ issues.

The short cycle could stem from Suthers' swift reaction to the news that VDARE was coming to Colorado Springs. The Indy posted a blog regarding the conference at 5:36 p.m. on August 14. Before midnight, Suthers posted this statement on his website:
The City of Colorado Springs does not have the authority to restrict freedom of speech, nor to direct private businesses like the Cheyenne Mountain Resort as to which events they may host. That said, I would encourage local businesses to be attentive to the types of events they accept and the groups that they invite to our great city.

The City of Colorado Springs will not provide any support or resources to this event, and does not condone hate speech in any fashion. The City remains steadfast in its commitment to the enforcement of Colorado law, which protects all individuals regardless of race, religion, color, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, harassment and physical harm.
By Wednesday morning, Cheyenne Mountain Resort announced it wouldn't host VDARE's meeting. Game over.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Conservation group targets Lamborn

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 8:38 PM

LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS FACEBOOK PAGE
  • League of Conservation Voters Facebook page
The League of Conservation Voters is going after Rep. Doug Lamborn and others over their position on President Trump's executive order to determine if the Department of the Interior should scale back some national monuments.

In Facebook posts and a news release, the group is making a push for public responses in the runup to the deadline for public comment, as reported in a more far-reaching story by politico.com.

Here's the portion of that story that pertains to Lamborn:
The League of Conservation Voters is launching a final $100,000 push today across multiple platforms against the Trump administration’s review of nearly two dozen previously-designated national monuments. The campaign will urge people to urge Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke against making changes to the designations and promote videos highlighting support of public lands. LCV also plans to use Facebook and Instagram to push Reps. Paul Gosar, Steve Pearce, Doug LaMalfa and Doug Lamborn to stop their support of the review.

Here's the news release from the LCV:
Denver, CO – With the futures of national monuments across the West on the line, the League of Conservation Voters is investing $100,000 in a final push to urge Congressman Doug Lamborn and other members of Congress to stop attacking our public lands and to ensure Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Trump administration hear the overwhelming outpouring of support for our national monuments ahead of the August 24th deadline for its unprecedented monument ‘review.’

A member of the anti-public lands Congressional Western Caucus, Lamborn supports far-reaching changes to the dozens of national monuments caught up in the Trump administration’s dangerous and unnecessary review, including completely eliminating Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

“Coloradans cherish our public lands, but Congressman Lamborn and Secretary Zinke are pushing a dangerous agenda that threatens all of our parks and monuments protected under the Antiquities Act,” said Conservation Colorado Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate Scott Braden. “While the Trump administration’s mysterious review criteria spared Canyons of the Ancients, this unprecedented attack opens the door to drastic changes to public lands across the West.”

Starting today, LCV will run animated Facebook and Instagram ads urging Lamborn to stop attacking our public lands and monuments, and encouraging his constituents to take action by calling his office and expressing their opposition to the monument review. Lamborn is one of four members of the Congressional Western Caucus included in the ad campaign.

LCV is also running ads encouraging monument supporters to call Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and tell him to stop playing games with our public lands and end his dangerous review without recommending any changes to national monuments. Additionally, the campaign includes promoted videos amplifying support for threatened public lands and outlining the risks of the Trump administration turning over these special places to Big Polluters.

“It’s time for Secretary Zinke to stop playing games with our public lands, our waters and our national monuments,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski. “People across the country have spoken out and shared their stories of the value these special places bring their communities, from boosting local economies to preserving our cultural heritage for the next generation. But Zinke is treating our national monuments like contestants on a reality TV show, and his anti-public lands allies in Congress are enabling this dangerous agenda. Let’s be clear: if the Trump administration attempts to revoke protections for our national monuments, the millions of families who hike, fish, and enjoy our parks and public lands won’t sit on the sidelines while they sell out these special places to polluters.”

An unprecedented 2.7 million public comments were submitted in support of protecting national monuments, including more than 350,000 from LCV members. LCV’s “Our Lands, Our Vote” campaign has been engaging people across the country to stand up for our public lands and waters throughout the summer.
We've asked for a comment from Lamborn's office and will circle back if and when we hear something.

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UPDATE: White nationalist group books conference at Cheyenne Mountain Resort

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 10:48 AM

Tancredo, who's an announced speaker at a white nationalist conference set for April in Colorado Springs, is pictured with Rep. Doug Lamborn, who endorsed him for governor of Colorado in 2010. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Tancredo, who's an announced speaker at a white nationalist conference set for April in Colorado Springs, is pictured with Rep. Doug Lamborn, who endorsed him for governor of Colorado in 2010.
UPDATE:

KRDO TV is reporting the Cheyenne Mountain Resort won't be the host for the VDare white identity group.

The statement issued by the resort said:
"Cheyenne Mountain Resort will not be hosting the VDARE Foundation in April of next year. We remain committed to respecting the privacy of guests at the resort."

After the cancellation, Mayor John Suthers issued this comment: “Businesses need to make their own decisions in situations like this, and in doing so, consider both the business and community impacts of hosting disruptive groups.

I know I am joined by many Colorado Springs residents when I say I appreciate Cheyenne Mountain Resort’s action to cancel this conference, and its conscientious decision not to bring this group to Colorado Springs.”

———————————————————-

UPDATE:
Mayor John Suthers posted this statement to his website:

The City of Colorado Springs does not have the authority to restrict freedom of speech, nor to direct private businesses like the Cheyenne Mountain Resort as to which events they may host. That said, I would encourage local businesses to be attentive to the types of events they accept and the groups that they invite to our great city.

The City of Colorado Springs will not provide any support or resources to this event, and does not condone hate speech in any fashion. The City remains steadfast in its commitment to the enforcement of Colorado law, which protects all individuals regardless of race, religion, color, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, harassment and physical harm.
——————ORIGINAL POST 5:36 P.M. MONDAY, AUG. 14, 2017———————

A white nationalist organization with ties to the Charlottesville, Va., demonstration and subsequent death of one woman and injury of at least 19 others is coming to Colorado Springs.

VDare, a group based in Litchfield, Conn., whose name stems from Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World in 1587, is charging $225 to register in advance for the conference, planned for April 19-22 at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

VDare.com says it's "a non-profit journalistic enterprise, the main project of the VDARE Foundation. We publish data, analysis, and editorial commentary in a variety of formats. We inform the fight to keep America American."

From the website:
It all started with a bold idea: in the face of unwavering hostility from the Main Stream Media, our editor, Peter Brimelow, launched VDARE.com on Christmas Eve of 1999 as an extension of his national bestselling book, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster. After all, the issues of unrestricted mass immigration, both legal and illegal, weren’t going away. They were getting bigger.

We gave a call to the resort, but the person answering wouldn't comment. We left a voicemail but never heard back.

Jason Kessler, the organizer of the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Va., has written several posts for VDare. Michelle Malkin is a regular writer featured on VDare.com. Her columns are also carried by the Gazette.


Here's an expanded report from Media Matters for America:
The white nationalist and anti-immigrant hate group VDare will host its next conference at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, CO. The 2018 event will feature anti-immigrant writer Peter Brimelow, Breitbart.com columnist Tom Tancredo, and writer John Derbyshire, who describes himself as a “mild and tolerant” “homophobe” and “racist.”

Civil rights groups have heavily criticized VDare for its racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), VDare is a white nationalist website that “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.” The Anti-Defamation League wrote that VDare is a racist site that “posts, promotes, and archives the work of racists, anti-immigrant figures, and anti-Semites.”

Headlines on VDare include: “One Problem With These Hispanic Immigrants Is Their Disgusting Behavior,” “Indians Aren`t That Intelligent (On Average),” “Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Hispanic Immigrants Taking Over FBI’s Ten Most Wanted,” “America Does Not Need ANY Immigrants From Africa,” and “Roll Over, JIHAD—There’s Also HIJRA, Muslim Conquest By Immigration.”

Numerous media outlets have correctly identified the site as white nationalist, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Associated Press, and CNN.

VDare recently announced, and started taking reservations for, its April 2018 conference at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, which is a part of Benchmark Resorts & Hotels. A booking page for the event states that it will feature “a weekend of candor, fellowship, and top-notch speakers, as we celebrate the shifting political tides and discuss the way forward for patriotic immigration reform and American national identity.”

VDare attempted to hold its first public national conference at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite National Park earlier this year, drawing criticism from Media Matters and SPLC. That event was also set to feature Brimelow, Tancredo and Derbyshire. The lodge subsequently took “steps to immediately cancel this booking” when it “became aware of the nature of VDare Foundation.” VDare responded by criticizing Media Matters for engaging in “cultural Marxism” and questioning whether “we live in a free country or not.”

In response to Media Matters’ inquiry about VDare’s 2018 conference, a Cheyenne Mountain Resort spokesperson gave the following statement: “Cheyenne Mountain Resort respects the privacy of its guests and does not comment on groups or individuals that hold meetings at the resort.”

VDare’s scheduled speakers for its 2018 conference have a history of pushing racist, anti-immigrant, and white nationalist views.

Tancredo is a Breitbart columnist and a favorite immigration "expert" for White House chief strategist and former Breitbart head Stephen Bannon. His columns regularly demonize immigrants as dangerous and disloyal invaders, with headlines such as “Mexico Is Sending Us Colonists, Not Immigrants,” “European Colonization, Not Refugee Resettlement,” and “From Jenner to D.C., Multiculturalism Virus Is Destroying the U.S.” He claimed in January 2016 that “Muslim rape culture … could be coming to a town near you all too soon” because of immigration.

Tancredo has a long history of making anti-immigrant and racist statements. The former Colorado congressman once suggested that the United States bomb Mecca; criticized Miami, FL, for purportedly becoming “a Third World country” because so many people speak Spanish there; and proposed a “civics literacy test before people can vote.”

Derbyshire was fired from the National Review after he penned a column suggesting that white and Asian parents warn their children about the supposed threats posed by black people. Derbyshire has stated of his views: “I am a homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one, and a racist, though an even more mild and tolerant one, and those things are going to be illegal pretty soon, the way we are going.”

In a profile of Brimelow, SPLC wrote that he “is one of the leading voices in the anti-immigrant movement. Interestingly, he is himself an immigrant (from England), a fact that he regularly brings up when he worriedly notes that his son, with his ‘blue eyes’ and ‘blond hair,’ could grow up in an America in which whites have lost their population majority. For Brimelow, immigration itself is not the problem — it's the influx of non-whites that is destroying America.”
*Updated with additional information.

UPDATE (8/14): Before he organized the August 12 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, Jason Kessler wrote multiple articles for VDare. A June 19 post (his most recent) concludes that the “governments of the West are waging a campaign of slow extermination against their own core populations. It is white genocide.” VDare also posted a defense of the Charlottesville rally on August 12 which concluded that “it’s not Unite The Right that is ‘dividing’ America. Whites who aren’t comfortable with being dispossessed in every single Western country, or with seeing the symbols of their heritage wiped out, gathered to protest peacefully. … Why should Unite The Right apologize for anything? Indeed, how can the ‘Far Right’ be regarded as anything other than an incredibly moderate protest movement against a deliberate campaign of genocide?” (The white supremacists did not actually “protest peacefully.”) 

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Opioid crisis spreads in El Paso County

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 9:54 AM

The Independent reports some disturbing news about the increase in opioid-related deaths in El Paso County in its latest issue.

Deputy Coroner Leon Kelly sees victims of drug overdose deaths almost every day. - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY CORONER'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy El Paso County Coroner's Office
  • Deputy Coroner Leon Kelly sees victims of drug overdose deaths almost every day.
First, find maps showing the change from 2013 to 2016 in where these deaths are occurring and a story that explores those changes. ("Opioid ground zero," News, Aug. 16, 2017)

Also check out this story about how two babies ended up dead as collateral damage in the opioid crisis. ("Toddler deaths highlight 'collateral damage' in opioid crisis," News, Aug. 16, 2017)
As Mary Steiner with the Community Health Partnership, who coordinates the Coalition for Prevention, Addiction Education and Recovery (CPAR), dealing with this problem will require silver buckshot, figuratively speaking, because, "It's everywhere."

Steiner provided this summary of her group's work on the issue:
Still doubtful the problem is significant. Take a look at this presentation, which contains this slide:
screen_shot_2017-08-16_at_9.26.07_am.png

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sen. Cory Gardner makes Colorado Springs appearance

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 11:33 AM

Sen. Cory Gardner, dressed in blue jeans, answered questions to a raucous crowd Tuesday morning at Pikes Peak Community College, with an assist from State Sen. Bob Gardner. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Sen. Cory Gardner, dressed in blue jeans, answered questions to a raucous crowd Tuesday morning at Pikes Peak Community College, with an assist from State Sen. Bob Gardner.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner held a town hall in Colorado Springs — finally, as one attendee yelled out — tuesday morning, and the room at Pikes Peak Community College's Centennial Campus was packed.

Gardner, who dodged speaking with voters in Colorado during the U.S. House and Senate's failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, got an earful from voters, dozens of whom held up red signs saying "disagree" or green signs saying "agree" when Gardner spoke.

They also hammered on what many in the audience said was the best solution: a single payer health system.

Gardner repeatedly said he opposes "socialized health care" and is ready to work with Democrats to find ways to bring health care costs down and make it more accessible through cheaper premiums and deductibles. He also acknowledged that Medicaid in some form should be preserved as a safety net, but said it shouldn't continue to grow.

Besides health care, which dominated the 90-minute town hall, Gardner fielded questions about North Korea, taxes and President Donald Trump.

One man asked, "Do you feel comfortable that Donald Trump is competent to lead the country?"

Gardner also repeated his previously made comments regarding the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that ended with one person dead and at least 19 injured. He called the Ku Klux Klan, national socialists and other groups "unacceptable."

"They're not part of this country, and we will not allow them to be a part of this country," he said.
There was no shortage of media for Gardner's appearance. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • There was no shortage of media for Gardner's appearance.
When Gardner then noted that "the people of this country elected Trump," the audience exploded in disapproval, shouting "No," and groaning.

But his next statement drew a bigger response when he said, "I believe he's fit but...." The blowback was so deafening, we couldn't make out the rest of his answer.

Later, Gardner drew shouts of disapproval when he was asked whether there's a connection between Trump and a build-up of hate in America. He sidestepped the question, instead saying, "When evil raises its head, we name it and call it what it is." He then lapsed into more instruction on getting along, saying more efforts need to be made to work together.

Another groaner response came when Gardner was asked about protecting the environment, notably through growth of renewable energy. Gardner led off his comment by saying coal has a place in America's energy portfolio — cue the shouts of disapproval — but that he also supports the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

A man who said he's a registered Republican expressed concerns about the party and oberved that "a good part" of the division that exists comes from "rhetoric of the White House," as well as Republicans' "hiding behind closed doors" in drafting bills. The upshot of the question — again, health care — prompted Gardner to again say, "I believe in the free market," which, again, drew groans and protests. Several shouted, "Medicare for all."

At one point Gardner lectured the crowd about being willing to listen to one another instead of shouting someone down with whom they disagree.

Several people who posed questions to Gardner said they'd either gone to his office or sent him letters, but weren't given a chance to meet with him or received a form letter in return.

Sitting in the back of the room was Mike Seely, a retired school psychologists who attended to hear Gardner "justify why he wants to give tax breaks to the wealthy."

After the meeting ended, Seely wasn't impressed. Asked what he thought, he said, "A lot of political bullshit and deception."

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Monday, August 14, 2017

UPDATE: Poll shows support for Colorado Springs stormwater fee

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 3:02 PM

Stormwater work on Monument Branch in the Northgate area— Voyager north of Middle Creek Parkway. This project was listed under the Intergovernmental Agreement with Pueblo County, which is designed to significantly reduce the amount of sediment entering Monument Creek and involves some work to address runoff concerns at the Air Force Academy. Phase 1 of this project was completed in April. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy city of Colorado Springs
  • Stormwater work on Monument Branch in the Northgate area— Voyager north of Middle Creek Parkway. This project was listed under the Intergovernmental Agreement with Pueblo County, which is designed to significantly reduce the amount of sediment entering Monument Creek and involves some work to address runoff concerns at the Air Force Academy. Phase 1 of this project was completed in April.
UPDATE:

This just in on the poll:

Invest in COS, a group of community leaders backing a proposal to improve Colorado Springs’ stormwater drainage and flood control infrastructure, conducted a statistically-valid poll last week to assess voter knowledge of stormwater and attitudes toward a proposed fee to fund improvements.

The poll revealed the following:
59 percent of likely voters say they would vote yes on a proposed fee and 36 percent say they would vote no.
Even after hearing potential negative messages, 54 percent say they would vote yes.
Six percent said they are undecided, both before and after hearing messages.
Voters are very informed about stormwater drainage and flood control issues, and understand how a lack of maintenance drives up costs and threatens other infrastructure like roads and bridges, endangers public safety, and affects other city budget priorities, such as police staffing.
“Colorado Springs doesn’t have the dedicated funds we need to control dangerous floods, and our infrastructure has deteriorated for decades,” said Mayor John Suthers. “Funding stormwater in a separate, dedicated fund will address long-standing maintenance issues. We’re the only city in the country that doesn’t fund stormwater this way. It’s time to repair our crumbling stormwater drainage and free up money in the city’s budget for other priorities like hiring more police officers.”

Colorado Springs City Council will finalize changes to the existing stormwater enterprise and determine ballot language for the fee proposal at its meeting on Aug. 22. The proposal would generate $17-18 million per year for 20 years to be used exclusively for stormwater drainage and flood control, including a list of 71 projects. Funds would be generated through a $5 per month fee for residential properties and $30 per acre per month for non-residential development. Use of funds will be overseen by a citizen committee.

The poll, led by the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, was conducted of 400 2017 likely Colorado Springs voters by The Tarrance Group. See the attached graphs for more poll data.
———————-ORIGINAL POST 3:02 P.M. MONDAY, AUG. 14, 2017———————-

A poll conducted last week shows voters are well informed on the city's need to fix its stormwater system, and 58 percent say they'd vote "yes" on a measure to impose a fee to fund it.

So says City Council President Richard Skorman following a meeting Monday to learn the latest figures from the poll, which was funded by the local business community and surveyed 400 likely voters.

"When we read them the ballot language, it was 58 to 38," Skorman says, referring to the percentages in favor and against. When pros and cons were shared, the approval rating fell to 54 percent and opposition rose to 40 percent. Only 6 percent, he says, were undecided.

Another portion of the poll tested voters' trust of City Council and Mayor John Suthers, which Skorman reported was "high."

All of that translates to a high likelihood that voters will see the measure on the Nov. 7 ballot, Skorman says.

The measure would charge residential properties $5 per month, while assessing all other property $30 per acre, though some concession would be made for property that's pervious.


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Former CSPD chief moves into role with Major Cities Chiefs Association

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 9:42 AM

Myers: Moving up. - COURTESY NEWPORT NEWS POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Courtesy Newport News Police Department
  • Myers: Moving up.
Richard Myers, Colorado Springs Police Department chief from 2007 to 2011, has accepted a national position with the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Myers, currently serving as chief of police in Newport News, Virginia, was a casualty of the Steve Bach administration when most department heads were shooed from office to make way for Bach's chosen ones. After Myers left, Bach named Pete Carey as interim chief and later made him chief.

After leaving his Colorado Springs post, Myers took on a job few chiefs would relish. Read about that here.  ("After serving as a local police chief, Richard Myers went where few others would: Sanford, Fla.," News, June 12, 2013)

Here's a release about his new position:
Newport News Police Chief Richard W. Myers has announced plans to leave his position effective September 1, 2017. He has accepted the position of Executive Director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA). MCCA, established in 1949, is a professional association of Chiefs and Sheriffs representing the largest cities in the United States and Canada. MCCA membership is comprised of Chiefs and Sheriffs of the sixty-nine largest law enforcement agencies in the United States and ten largest in Canada. They serve 81.9 million people with a workforce of 185,183 officers and non-sworn personnel.

“It has been an honor and a privilege working with the Newport News Police Department, the City Manager, and City Council, as well as the citizens of this great city. This department truly exemplifies professionalism and community policing, and I am proud to have been a part of that,” Myers said. “This new opportunity is a natural and timely transition from being a chief while still being able to continue to serve my profession.”

“We have been fortunate to have Rick as our Chief of Police these past three and a half years,” City Manager Cindy Rohlf said. “With his extensive knowledge and experience in law enforcement, he has served the citizens of Newport News well during his tenure here.”

An extensive national search will be conducted to fill the position of Police Chief. City Manager Rohlf has not named an Interim Chief of Police at this time.


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Friday, August 11, 2017

Colorado Springs contracts with mega firefighting aircraft

Posted By on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 5:09 PM

COURTESY GLOBAL SUPERTANKER SERVICES
  • Courtesy Global SuperTanker Services
The city has signed a contract with a super tanker aircraft, just in case.

Here's the release:
The City of Colorado Springs has entered into a Call When Needed (CWN) public contract with Global SuperTanker Services, LLC. With over 36,000 addresses in the wildland urban interface (WUI) Fire Chief Collas was happy to announce that “Our City and the fire department took the necessary steps to engage is a contract with the Global SuperTanker, a one of a kind firefighting asset, that doesn’t cost our citizens anything, unless we call upon it during a disaster. We are always looking for ways to ensure the safety of our community while being financially responsible. ”

The Global SuperTanker is what is known as a Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) and has the following firefighting capabilities:

· Capable of delivering up to 20,000 gallons of water and/or retardant on wildfire
· Flying at 600 mph is capable of eight segmented drops of its pay load
· Qualified to fly on State and Federal lands to assist with ground fire suppression efforts.
· The Global Supertanker is without equal in the aerial tanker fleet and is capable of flight profiles unavailable to any other tanker aircraft.

The SuperTanker is a phenomenal resource that the Colorado Springs Fire Department has drafted into its operational plan to protect our citizens and City assets against the threat of wildfire. 

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City seeks input on Colorado Classic cycling race

Posted By on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 2:54 PM

The crowd downtown before the first pass of the race didn't appear to be in the tens of thousands, as the city says, but spectators lined the route, so perhaps that's an accurate count. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • The crowd downtown before the first pass of the race didn't appear to be in the tens of thousands, as the city says, but spectators lined the route, so perhaps that's an accurate count.
The city wants your feedback on how you enjoyed the Colorado Classic. A survey asks for impressions beyond traffic conditions, but we're guessing the traffic issue will rise to the top when all is said and done.

Anyone who travels to or from downtown or goes through it daily found one giant tie-up on the afternoon of August 10 after Stage 1 of the Colorado Classic. Traffic was stalemated in every direction of the downtown area and on the west side. Motorists wound through neighborhoods to find a way to make progress only, in many cases, to confront more paralysis.

Here's the city's release, which contains a link to the survey:
The inaugural Stage 1 Colorado Classic bike race in Colorado Springs is in the books, after bringing thousands of athletes and fans from across the state, nation and world to Colorado Springs.

Spectator attendance, international exposure and economic impact estimates are as follow:

· On average, people attending cycling events will stay for just over three days.*
· Approximately 500,000 spectators were expected over the four-day race (All stages).*
· Estimated TV viewership for the 2017 Colorado Classic is 41-50 Million.*

· The event is being broadcasted in over 140 countries.

· 500,000 individuals will watch the event online.*

*Source: RPM Events Group


“Large scale events like the Colorado Classic event dramatically heighten the profile of Colorado Springs,” said Bret Waters, Deputy Chief of Staff for the City. “In addition to the positive economic impact, which is significant, we saw tens of thousands of people line the streets to enjoy the elite-level event. Some of these racers were fresh off the Tour de France, and having the opportunity to watch them perform is something very special. These are the types of events that the nation’s top cities have the privilege of hosting.

An event of this magnitude is a very complex effort and we realize there are always things we can do better. We are continually looking for ways we can improve our planning and operations. A thorough after-action process will be conducted and citizen input is vitally important to that process.”

In order to gain resident feedback, the City of Colorado Springs has created a post-event survey. Data gained from this survey will be instrumental in helping to analyze the event. The City thanks residents in advance for completing the survey to share what went well, what could be improved and what the City can do to best accommodate this and other large events in the future. The survey is available at coloradosprings.gov/coloradoclassic.

The City’s event-day call center handled 95 phone calls, with the most frequent service for assistance navigating traffic closures. CSPD reports that there were zero event-related traffic accidents yesterday.

Colorado Springs is becoming a popular destination for elite-level sporting events and a large, cross-organizational team participated in a six-month planning effort around all areas of operations. Resident feedback will be instrumental to this group’s after action efforts. www.coloradosprings.gov/coloradoclassic.


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Poverty is moving out of the city center

Posted By on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 9:25 AM

The number of high-poverty neighborhoods in Colorado Springs rose from six to 22 between 2000 and 2015, a study conducted by the U.S. Census and published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University has found.

In the Springs, low-income neighborhoods used to occupy high-density urban areas, but, following a recent national trend, the study found that the city’s poor have increasingly dispersed into the city’s outer edges: fragmented neighborhoods with potentially limited access to public transportation or support programs. The study did not specify what outlying neighborhoods the growth has occurred in, but defined “high poverty” areas as those where 20 percent or more of the population lives below the federal poverty line. See image below.

screen_shot_2017-08-10_at_12.57.56_pm.png
As more neighborhoods are becoming classified as high-poverty, individual families in Colorado Springs are experiencing noticeable financial struggles as well. According to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, Colorado Springs saw a 6.5 percent decrease in individuals occupying the middle class between 2000 and 2014.

The United States Census Bureau reported the median income for a Colorado Springs household to be $61,190 in 2016. The standard of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for low-income household is 80 percent of the median household income of the area, while very low-income is defined as 50 percent of the median household income of the area.

Using this definition, a household that brings in less than $48,952 annually in Colorado Springs is considered low-income, while a very low-income household cannot bring in any more than $30,595 per year.

In a survey conducted by the rental service Apartment List, average rent for a Springs-area apartment is now $1,060.84 a month — unaffordable to those with the above very low-income status.

Low-income housing, provided by organizations such as the Colorado Springs Housing Authority and Greccio Housing, have strict guidelines for individuals and families to be waitlisted for placement in an affordable home. While Greccio requires applicants to meet HUD’s definition of low- or very low-income, the Housing Authority alters their standard of family income based on the number of individuals in a household, such as $36,800 for four people. Neither organization currently has housing availability.

The problem isn’t just helping those who are already low-income. With few affordable housing options, a shrinking middle class and skyrocketing rent prices, many people are at risk of finding themselves in poverty.

The need for affordable housing in Colorado Springs is only expected to increase over time. “As real incomes decline while housing costs remain the same, the need for affordable housing options in Colorado Springs and El Paso County increases,” reads The City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County’s 2014 Affordable Housing Needs Assessment. “The increase in cost burden and rise in low-income households suggests that the supply of affordable housing does not currently meet the demand for affordable housing.”

With the city bus service, Mountain Metropolitan Transit, most heavily concentrated in and around downtown, low-income individuals and families are not guaranteed to live near a bus route, therefore potentially becoming isolated from resources such as food banks, donation centers, and job counseling that often exist in urban settings.

As Colorado Springs is a sprawling city, it may become increasingly difficult to extend assistance to high-poverty neighborhoods if they start popping up on the edges of town. With financially struggling households shifting out of the public eye and into less traveled outskirts of Colorado Springs, the next steps the city must take to support its growing impoverished population remain unclear.


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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

City gets $5.9 million in federal funds for landslide buyouts

Posted By on Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 3:35 PM

This map shows the areas of Colorado Springs that are said to be susceptible to landslides. - COLORADO GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
  • Colorado Geological Survey
  • This map shows the areas of Colorado Springs that are said to be susceptible to landslides.
Via news release, the city announced today it's received $5.9 million in federal funds to bail out homeowners whose dwellings were damaged due to landslides.

According to news reports, some homes were rendered uninhabitable when shifting soils pulled their homes apart. Earlier this year, the city adopted a geological hazards ordinance that officials hope will stem such problems.

The release:
The City of Colorado Springs has been awarded grant funding totaling $5.9 million to acquire qualifying properties in southwest Colorado Springs impacted by landslide activity that began in 2015. Twenty-seven homeowners qualified to be included in the application for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

“The City is pleased to have successfully secured grant funding to provide financial relief to those residents who have been struggling since May 2015 with significant damage to their homes from landslide activity. This grant funding will allow the city to purchase many homes that were significantly damaged or destroyed. In turn, and by FEMA rules, the land will be converted to open space to mitigate future damage,” said Bret Waters, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management.

The City will begin the property acquisition process using a prioritized list of impacted homes until funding is exhausted. While the grant amount is not enough to purchase all 27 homes on the list, the City will continue to seek additional funding until all options are exhausted.

Several steps must take place prior to acquisition of any homes and the City of Colorado Springs will provide additional information and timeline of activities to applicants as the process moves forward.

No City of Colorado Springs General Fund budget money will be used for the acquisition of the homes. FEMA will provide a maximum reimbursement of up to 75 percent of the total eligible project cost. The project cost includes items such as title search and appraisal fees, property acquisition and cost of demolition. The property owner is responsible for the remaining 25 percent of the project cost. The City will apply in-kind services and staff time towards the required 25 percent grant match, which will lessen the cost to the property owners.

Background

Heavy rains that plagued Colorado Springs during spring and summer 2015 saturated slopes and caused significant damage to public infrastructure and prompted FEMA to issue a Major Disaster Declaration on July 16, 2015 (“Colorado Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Flooding, Landslides, and Mudslides (DR-4229)”). The heavy rains also triggered several landslides in isolated areas on the city’s west side.

The City of Colorado Springs applied in February 2016 for a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, a statewide competitive grant that could provide assistance to eligible property owners who have been impacted by recent landslides that are occurring as a result of the unprecedented rain events in 2015. City officials have been working with property owners, the State of Colorado and FEMA throughout the application process.
The HMGP program is a statewide program authorized under the Major Disaster Declaration for “Colorado Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Flooding, Landslides, and Mudslides (DR-4229)” declared on July 16, 2015. This statewide competitive grant program is designed to provide funds for projects that reduce the risk to individuals and property from natural disasters. It does not serve to provide recovery assistance, but instead to mitigate future damage. Funds are provided to the City as reimbursement for eligible documented costs.


For more information visit ColoradoSprings.gov/landslideinfo or the Colorado DHSEM website https://www.colorado.gov/MARS.

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Lance Armstrong booted from association with Colorado Classic

Posted By on Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 1:12 PM

Lance Armstrong, 2007 - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Lance Armstrong, 2007
As reported in Wednesday's issue of The Gazette, the Colorado Classic cycling race, featured in this week's List, has “cut ties” with controversial cycling star Lance Armstrong, whose long-term doping scandal made international headlines.

It was announced last week that Armstrong would be attending (though obviously not participating in) the Colorado Classic cycling race, recording his podcast from each stop along the route. However, due to his ongoing struggles with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and his ban from involvement in sanctioned races, he cannot be officially tied to the race.

Armstrong will still record his podcast during Velorama, the three-day music and bike festival associated with the Colorado Classic, which will be held in Denver’s RiNo Arts District all weekend, but the race will no longer pay production and traveling expenses, and he will not receive race updates in real time.

The Inaugural Colorado Classic cycling race, which has attracted international racers, begins Aug. 10 in Downtown Colorado Springs, and continues onto Breckenridge and Denver this weekend. See the website for further details.

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City says it enforces drainage compliance, Archer Park residents beg to differ

Posted By on Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 9:55 AM

A developer plans to build seven  high-end homes on this 4.7 acres in the Broadmoor area. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • A developer plans to build seven high-end homes on this 4.7 acres in the Broadmoor area.
As the city prepares to place a measure before voters to impose fees to fund stormwater management, neighbors of a small development would like the city to first force developers to adhere to existing drainage requirements.

City Engineer Travis Easton told City Council on August 8 the city does require compliance with the city's drainage manual, but citizens who live near the proposed Archer Park subdivision beg to differ.

Read our report in this week's Independent about the development. ("A flood of complaints," News)

As the Indy was going to press, one of those neighbors, Dr. James Albert, told us he's filed an open-records request for emails between the city and the developer's representatives.

"We are looking for the communications to further understand the process that the neighbors are excluded from, like the private closed door meeting between CSFD and Altitude [Land Consultants, the developer-hired firm] that they were so proud of at the initial neighborhood meeting," Albert says via email. "We believe that more type meetings occurred but do not know."

He also says while the city staff's responsibility, as he sees it, is to protect resident safety, neighbors suspect the chief goal is to "get things approved at all costs."

"Remember, thus far even though we have been told that the city engineers would cooperate with the Martin and Martin people [engineers hired by the neighbors], they have refused to talk or provide any of the engineering resubmittals from Altitude to the city" since the June 27 Council meeting. "The only way we can evaluate the safety of a plan we assume will somehow get approved is to get that information through the open records act."

Developer Rick Delesk has called the opposition NIMBYism [not in my backyard], saying in an email, "The fact is, Albert et al simply do not want the development there and are willing to use any conceivable method to stop it."


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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Colorado Springs City Council OKs stormwater ordinance

Posted By on Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 6:01 PM

Bill Murray: Wants to hold developers accountable. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Bill Murray: Wants to hold developers accountable.
As expected, the Colorado Springs City Council voted 6-3 to approve changes in the city's code to accommodate resurrecting a stormwater fee. Those opposed were Don Knight, Andy Pico and Bill Murray.

For background on this ordinance, check out this blog.

Murray said during today's discussion, "Where I come from, the penalty should fit the crime. The cost of the stormwater fee is a direct result of our inability to enforce our stormwater requirements. It should be proportional to those who caused the stormwater damage."

He was referring to developers, who have been faulted by many for building inadequate drainage systems that the city nevertheless approved. But City Engineer Travis Easton said the city does enforce the drainage manual.

"The developers do know we’re holding them accountable," he says.

The next step is to refer a measure to the November 7 ballot, which Council is expected to do on August 22.
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Sheriff Bill Elder seeks second term, and political races shaping up

Posted By on Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 5:15 PM

Sheriff Elder: For campaign business, call him at the Sheriff's Office. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Sheriff Elder: For campaign business, call him at the Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Bill Elder will seek a second term in El Paso County, having filed for re-election in the 2018 election way back on March 24.

But there does appear to be a snag: Elder's campaign candidate affidavit filed with the Secretary of State lists his residential phone as a number that rings to his office at the Sheriff's Office. That's curious, given that campaigns and official business aren't supposed to mix.

Reached at that phone number, Elder says, "I don't have a home phone." Asked if he has a cell phone he could have listed, he says, "I have a personal cell phone, but I'm not putting my personal cell phone on it. I'd get all kinds of crank calls."

He promised to "get some kind of phone machine" when "the campaign ramps up."

When asked if he saw anything wrong with using his elected office's phone on his re-election campaign candidate affidavit, he says, "I'm not going to comment on that."

Colorado Ethics Watch Executive Director Luis Toro says, "No, it's not OK."

"You shouldn't be using public resources for your campaign," he says. "This would be using a public resource of a government phone as your campaign phone number."

The purpose of listing phone numbers on affidavits is to allow the Secretary of State's Office to reach candidates if problems in their campaign finance filings arise, Toro says.

"They ask for a residential number, and that's what they want," he says. "It's not the biggest thing in the world, but that's not the way you're supposed to do it."

In other election news, many of this year's candidates have familiar names:

A battle for the Republican nomination in El Paso County Commission District 1 next year is shaping up between Holly Williams and Ann Howe.

Williams, wife of Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who himself served as a county commissioner for the maximum allowed eight years, has filed to succeed Darryl Glenn. Glenn is serving his second term representing the north District 1 on the commission, and has said he'll challenge Doug Lamborn for the Republican nomination in Congressional District 5.

Holly Williams also served some years ago as public trustee, having been appointed by then-Gov. Bill Owens on whose campaign she and her husband worked on. She also worked for Lamborn for a time and now reportedly is back on the county payroll working in environmental services. We've asked the county for more specifics but haven't heard back. We'll update if and when we hear something.

Her opponent, Ann Howe, is a defense contractor and former New Hampshire state representative.

Another with deep ties to the Republican party is Anna Camille "Cami" Bremer, who's running in Commission District 5, which covers most of Colorado Springs. Peggy Littleton is in her second and last term as the District 5 commissioner. Bremer is married to Eli Bremer, former El Paso County GOP chair and son of former County Commissioner Duncan Bremer.

In addition, Assessor Steve Schleiker, Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman and Treasurer Mark Lowderman, all Republicans, are seeking re-election. Lowderman served the maximum eight years as assessor before being elected treasurer in 2014.
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