County: Maketa guilty; lobbyist revealed secrets; stadium backers hire full-timer; and more 


County: Maketa at fault

A law firm hired by El Paso County commissioners to investigate a range of allegations against outgoing Sheriff Terry Maketa has found numerous violations.

The firm, Sherman & Howard, found that Maketa had inappropriate relationships with three subordinates to whom he granted preferential treatment. The firm also found that Maketa and Undersheriff Paula Presley inappropriately interfered with internal affairs investigations.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is conducting a separate inquiry into the allegations to determine if Maketa acted criminally. The county has received notices of intent to file suit from nine current or former Sheriff's Office employees, but none had actually sued as of Oct. 30.

Maketa did not respond to requests for comment. — JAS

New owner for rail station

O'Neil Group Co. announced last week that it has purchased the Homburg buildings at the intersection of Colorado and Pikes Peak avenues, site of the former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Depot, built in 1917.

There the group plans to open the "Catalyst Campus," a hub for technology, engineering and innovation, which the company says will attract and retain businesses and create jobs.

A couple sizable businesses currently operate in the depot building. O'Neil's economic development director, Ingrid Richter, says via email that Iron Horse Pediatrics' lease extends through 2023, and that the practice will contribute to the "campus" feel. The lease for University of the Rockies, which occupies a large space, ends next year, but Richter says O'Neil is "in negotiations" with the school. — PZ

Stadium backers make hire

Laura Neumann, Mayor Steve Bach's former chief of staff, has been hired by Colorado Springs Sports Corp. to work on the City for Champions downtown stadium project under a six-month, $48,000 deal.

Neumann, the first hired hand for the stadium project, left her $186,945-a-year job with the city in March and has volunteered for C4C since then.

The stadium is the subject of a proposal from City Councilor Joel Miller to require voter approval if local tax money is used. It will be considered by Council Nov. 10. Meantime, in case that effort fails, Miller's wife, Anita, is collecting signatures on a petition that would put the question to voters in April. She needs 14,482, and says she'll count signatures Nov. 11, about a month into her 90-day effort. — PZ

Lobbyist secrets revealed

Last week, The New York Times offered an inside look at the opposition to anti-fracking environmentalists when it reported on a June meeting at The Broadmoor featuring energy industry bigwigs. It was secretly recorded by one executive who balked at the tactics proposed by Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist Richard Berman.

"Fear and anger have to be part of this campaign," reads a transcript of Berman's remarks at the Western Energy Alliance.

The campaign is called Big Green Radicals. Its website says it "exists to educate the public about the real agenda of well-funded environmental activist groups." How this is done, explained Berman in June, is, "We list their radical positions. ... We're really making this personal."

But forget about finding out who's funding the effort, writes the Times: "Mr. Berman repeatedly boasted about how he could take checks from the oil and gas industry executives ... and then hide their role in funding his campaigns." — BC

Coming in from the cold

The city's stock of shelter beds has declined in recent years. That's a problem in warm months, but a bigger danger in the winter, when homeless people are at risk of freezing. Now, in partnership with the city, the Salvation Army has opened a 100-bed winter shelter at 505 S. Weber St.

It's open 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. through April 15 and will provide a warm meal, bedding for the night, restroom facilities, and a continental-style breakfast. Residents must be at least 18 and will be required to obtain ID after their first night's stay.

Springs Rescue Mission, at 25 W. Las Vegas St., also has 57 winter shelter beds open through April 15. Residents there must be 18, too. — JAS

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