Local leaders keep eye on Pueblo race 

Outcome could affect area water dealings

Amid the euphoria Tuesday night at the Republican primary victory parties for Mark Waller (state House) and Dan May (district attorney), there was one cause for apprehension.

While watching those returns, Mayor Lionel Rivera and other elected officials also paid close attention to the Pueblo County commission race between Democratic incumbent John Cordova and challenger Dorothy Butcher, a term-limited state legislator.

"It's the second-most important race to the future of Colorado Springs in this election," Rivera said, explaining that with Cordova remaining in office, City Council would feel much better about continuing negotiations with Pueblo County regarding water and, in particular, the Southern Delivery System. Butcher has been much more vocal in opposition to working with the Springs.

Cordova led a tight race through most of the night, and was still ahead with 93 percent of the votes counted. But the final precincts went for Butcher, giving her a 48-vote lead, 3,593 to 3,545, with 91 provisional ballots still to be validated and counted. There's also the possibility of a recount, but the likelihood still is that Butcher will prevail.

"What this does is, it gives us a deadline now," City Councilwoman Margaret Radford said at Waller's celebration, referring to the time before Butcher would take office. "We've got to get to work." RR

Dem candidate reports problem
Andre Vigil, unopposed Democratic candidate for El Paso County Board of Commissioners District 4, says his wife didn't get to vote for him in the primary.

Debbie Vigil, a registered Democrat, showed up at her Precinct 332 polling place on Tuesday. Not an avid follower of politics, she didn't realize she had been given a Republican ballot. She did notice that her husband's name was nowhere on the list, and called him in dismay.

"[She] said that I wasn't on the ballot," Andre Vigil says. "I said, 'What do you mean I'm not on the ballot?'"

The candidate did some fishing, and says he was able to confirm through an election judge that his wife was indeed given a Republican ballot.

"My own wife can't vote for me!" he says. "More than likely it was just a mistake, but how many mistakes do we have? It just makes me wonder." JAS

Senate debate on west side
The three U.S. Senate candidates Democratic Rep. Mark Udall, Republican Bob Schaffer and Green Colorado's Bob Kinsey will be in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Aug. 16, for a debate focusing on immigration, part of a day-long program called "Towards a Spirituality of Justice: A Day on Immigration," at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 2021 W. Colorado Ave.

The initial program, with a $10 registration fee including lunch, will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the Udall-Schaffer-Kinsey portion starting at 4 p.m. and free to the public.

Keynote speakers for the initial event include Fr. Daniel G. Groody of the University of Notre Dame, Fr. Juan Molina of Catholic Relief Services, Most Rev. Michael J. Sheridan and Colorado Catholic Conference executive director Jennifer Kraska.

For more information, contact 290-5427 or jfi@jnpcarole.com. RR

Bruce initiatives on ballot
With little other choice, City Council has approved sending two initiatives proposed by state Rep. Douglas Bruce to the November ballot. But the councilors aren't happy about it.

Community leaders and council members took jabs at Bruce and the initiatives, which they say would have a detrimental effect on city government. Even the normally reserved Mayor Lionel Rivera took a swing, saying, "Apparently, the proponent of these has a vision of what our city should look like, and maybe it's that property on the west side." (The Bruce-owned, boarded-up rental to which the mayor refers was viewed by many as a "slum" when it still had tenants.)

Bruce's two initiatives are aimed at the city's enterprises. If passed, they would make all customer payments to enterprises voluntary and gradually eliminate enterprise payments to the city. The initiatives would effectively kill the city's controversial Stormwater Enterprise.

The city says the initiatives would cost the general fund $200 million over 10 years, and that they would prevent federally mandated stormwater maintenance, leading to fines. Some say they would also jeopardize negotiations on the proposed Southern Delivery System. JAS

Memorial's net profits drop
Memorial Health System CEO Larry Mc-Evoy told City Council on Monday that the system's net income so far this year is just $715,000 suggesting the system won't match last year's $18 million-plus profit, and won't come close to the $41.7 million profit it turned in 2003.

The financial troubles have been caused in part by big losses in non-operating income, but McEvoy said the hospital also suffered in June due to patients paying lower bills because "they aren't that sick."

McEvoy says summer losses are not out of the ordinary because patients tend to be healthier, the cold and flu season is over, and doctors schedule fewer appointments because they take vacations. He also pointed to other problems, like lower payments from insurance companies, as causing financial hardship, and said the hospital will need to find ways to attract patients for "high-margin" procedures, like surgeries. JAS

Compiled by Ralph Routon and J. Adrian Stanley.

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