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Land swap opposition setback, Maketa heads to trial, inmates riot, and more 

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POPs suffers setback

District Court Judge Michael McHenry has ended a push for a voter-approved measure to end the city's controversial Strawberry Fields land swap.

McHenry sided with the city's Title Review Board in turning away a proposal by Save Cheyenne, a group asking voters to overturn the city's land swap of 189-acre open space property to The Broadmoor. The group wanted to circulate petitions for a measure, dubbed Protect Our Parks, requiring voter approval on all parkland sales or trades, including the Broadmoor deal, by wording the measure as effective May 1, 2016. City Council approved the swap on May 24.

But McHenry ruled that including the retroactive clause could confuse voters.

Save Cheyenne says the group next week will ask Council, which approved the swap by a 6-3 vote, to refer the measure.

The land transfer has not yet occurred.

Still alive is Save Cheyenne's lawsuit seeking to void the land swap, based on Strawberry Fields having been acquired by the city as parkland in 1885 through a vote of the people. That case is pending.

Lieber will leave city parks

Chris Lieber, a 17-year employee of the city parks department, will leave the city Dec. 31. Lieber, a design and development manager who oversees the Trails, Open Space and Parks program (TOPs), played a key role in the Strawberry Fields proposal. Lieber has accepted a position at an undisclosed entity in the private sector.

SSA office moves

The Social Security Administration office in Colorado Springs will relocate to 2306 E. Pikes Peak Ave. on Monday, Dec. 12. The existing office at 1049 N. Academy Blvd. will remain open until Friday, Dec. 9.

Office hours will continue on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. The local number remains 1-888-880-0688 or TTY 1-800-325-0778. Or, ask questions toll-free at — 1-800-772-1213 — from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Go to socialsecurity.gov for many services available online.

Maketa case goes on

A district judge has dashed former Sheriff Terry Maketa's hopes that criminal charges against him would be dismissed.

District Judge Larry Schwartz ruled last month on motions filed by attorneys representing Maketa and two others that the grand jury indictment was not "fatally flawed," according to the Gazette.

Maketa, his former undersheriff Paula Presley and former sheriff's commander Juan San Agustin face charges stemming from an incident in which a domestic violence victim was persuaded to change her accusations against a sheriff's deputy. The victim was later arrested. Maketa and Presley also face charges arising from threats to end the jail medical contract and from claims regarding the internal affairs file of now-Sheriff Bill Elder.

Free on bond, they await a Dec. 19 hearing.

Inmates don't approve

A food fight — or rather, a fight about food — erupted last month in El Paso County's Criminal Justice Center. Nine inmates were charged with crimes stemming from the uprising on Nov. 19 that began about 5:42 p.m. and lasted several hours.

Inmates complained about the size of portions, and kicked their cell doors. One deputy was struck in the chest.

The protest follows the county's Sept. 1 change of contractors from Aramark Correctional Services to Trinity Services Group, which also contracts with 28 other county jails in Colorado. The contract is valued at roughly $2 million annually.

A week's worth of menus obtained by the Independent show that a typical breakfast includes a cup of oatmeal, two links or patties of sausage, a biscuit, a tablespoon of jelly, a cup of a beverage and a cup of milk.

Social media pays

It took a week, but we found out how much the Colorado Springs Police Department is paying new social media guru, long-time local weatherman Paul Kavanaugh. He's working 29 hours a week at $17.50 per hour or an annual salary of $25,375, assuming two weeks' unpaid vacation.

The Independent asked CSPD spokesperson Lt. Howard Black for the salary the morning of Nov. 28. He responded the next day with only "CCJRA," meaning we had to submit a Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act request. We did and got an answer Dec. 3.

The city and other government agencies are generally quick with such information, avoiding the open records process.

AFA coach tweets questioned

Air Force Academy football assistant coach Steed Lobotzke has posted tweets filled with Christian messages, also clearly identifying him as affiliated with the Academy. The tweets include team photos and AFA images but no disclaimer.

The Academy hasn't responded to questions, but over the weekend, Lobotzke added, "Tweets are my own views."

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has sought an investigation.

Complied by Pam Zubeck.

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