Fireworks displays cancelled, Academy hires gender expert, more 


Transgender girl vindicated

A 6-year-old little girl is celebrating a very big victory.

Coy Mathis was pulled out of Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 last year by her parents, after the district told the child she could no longer use a girls' restroom. Coy, who is transgender, was told she could use the boys' bathroom or a staff restroom.

With help from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Coy's parents challenged the district through the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which ruled in Coy's favor. It is the first ruling in the nation holding that transgender students must be allowed to access bathrooms of the gender with which they self-identify.

"Schools should not discriminate against their students, and we are thrilled that Coy can return to school and put this behind her," Kathryn Mathis, Coy's mother, stated in a press release. "All we ever wanted was for Coy's school to treat her the same as other little girls."

When Coy returns to school, it won't be in Fountain-Fort Carson; the Mathises have recently moved to the Denver area. — J. Adrian Stanley

Fireworks banned in city

Noting that extreme fire danger conditions persist, the city of Colorado Springs placed a hold on all public fireworks displays within city limits, effective last Monday. The city remains under burn restrictions, and personal use of fireworks is always illegal within the city limits.

"The safety of our community comes first. With fire conditions in our area not improving, we all need to take extra precautions to keep our community safe from any potential fire hazards," Interim Fire Chief Tommy Smith said in a news release.

Fort Carson and Manitou Springs have also cancelled their annual July 4 fireworks displays. — Pam Zubeck

AFA brings in gender expert

Christopher Kilmartin, a psychology professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., will teach courses in gender awareness at the Air Force Academy this year. Academy spokesman Dave Cannon says Kilmartin has taught at the U.S. Naval Academy and is a recognized expert in the field.

The academy has a long-standing problem with sexual assault, most notably evident in a scandal that made national headlines in 2003 in which women accused the academy of failing to adequately prosecute rapists. But even last year, the academy had 52 cases of sexual assault reported, Cannon says, resulting in "several cadets" being sent to jail or kicked out of school. — Pam Zubeck

Big week for Morse

Shortly after Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced that there were more than enough valid signatures to force a recall election for Colorado Senate President John Morse, a complaint was lodged. Catherine Kleinsmith, who lives in Morse's district, claims that all the signatures should be thrown out because the petition to recall Morse lacked language required by the Colorado constitution.

Gessler's office will host a hearing on the complaint Thursday, the outcome of which will be posted at sos.state.co.us. If it fails, Morse supporters still have time to make other objections and challenges. But if all fail, Morse's fate will be decided by Senate District 11 voters in an election held 45 to 75 days from the end of the protest period.

The campaign to oust Morse was launched after he championed gun control laws in the 2013 legislative session, and conservatives are already lining up to vie for his seat. Both former City Councilor Bernie Herpin and El Paso County Republican Party volunteer Jaxine Bubis have announced they will run.

In related news, Gessler has certified that there are enough signatures to force a recall election for Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo. She, too, is expected to contest. —J. Adrian Stanley

Ambulance divorce moves on

Colorado Springs City Council was expected Tuesday to approve a request from Mayor Steve Bach's staff to abandon a nearly 20-year-old agreement with regional agencies formed to provide emergency ambulance service.

The city must give notice six months ahead of time to pull out of the Emergency Services Agency. Since the city expects to have its own contractor in place by April 1, it must notify the ESA of its intentions, Interim Fire Chief Tommy Smith said in a memo to Council.

The city received bids for emergency ambulance service in late May but isn't divulging anything about them, even the number received. The change was triggered by Bach wanting to extract up to $3.5 million a year from the provider to cover what he calls reimbursement for city firefighters' time responding to medical calls. — Pam Zubeck

Black Forest gets committee

In an effort to deal with long-range recovery, restoration and rebuilding efforts in the wake of the Black Forest Fire, El Paso County has formed a Long Range Recovery Planning Committee for Black Forest.

Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who represents the Black Forest area, will chair the committee, and Commissioner Amy Lathen will co-chair. The committee will communicate plans through the media and a newly created network of homeowners associations and neighborhood contacts. State- and national-level political offices will also be represented on the committee, as will community members. — J. Adrian Stanley

Environmental A's for Dems

The results are in, and those who rank high for environmental conservation and advancement of renewable energy are Democrats, while Republicans score poorly, according to the nonprofit Conservation Colorado.

In the Pikes Peak region, Democratic Reps. Pete Lee and Tony Exum Sr., and Sen. John Morse scored 100, the highest possible, based on their votes in the last legislative session.

On the Republican side, Sens. Bill Cadman, Owen Hill and Kent Lambert tallied the worst scores in the state, at 10 each. Rep. Amy Stephens scored 11, Reps. Mark Waller and Bob Gardner, 20, and Rep. Lois Landgraf, 22.

Scoring was based on how lawmakers voted on a variety of bills, such as Senate Bill 252, which increased the renewable energy standard for large rural electric co-ops and cooperative wholesale electric associations; House Bill 1044, which clarified how pre-treated wastewater from showers and washing machines can be used; and Senate Bill 048, which for the first time allows local communities to spend approximately $250 million annually from the state gas tax to fund pedestrian, bike and other transit projects.

Conservation Colorado says polls show 68 percent of Coloradans identify as conservationists. — Pam Zubeck

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