Mail-in ballots go out Friday 

Voter registration deadline for primary is Monday
El Paso County election officials are poised to send out more than 55,000 mail-in ballots this Friday for the Aug. 12 primary election, with requests for ballots pouring in.

Liz Olson, the county election manager, says her office is receiving 600 to 1,000 requests a day, and will mail out ballots until the Aug. 5 deadline for requests.

Unaffiliated or independent registered voters must declare a party to vote in the primary, but they can do so at a polling place when they vote. Unregistered residents must register by July 14, and that is also the last day for voters affiliated with a party to change affiliation and be eligible to vote in the primary.

All contested races are on the Republican side; depending on location, residents could vote in up to three contested races. AL

Obama goes open-air
Sen. Barack Obama announced this week he will forgo the confines of Denver's Pepsi Center to accept the Democratic Party's nomination in the open air before 75,000-plus supporters at Invesco Field.

The Democratic National Convention opens Aug. 25, and Obama is scheduled to give his acceptance speech Aug. 28, the 45th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Obama's campaign is making use of the extra space for promotions. Give $5 or more at barackobama.com before July 31 and you could win backstage access at the speech, two air tickets to Denver (or maybe gas money from Colorado Springs) and more.

Or, you can go to coloradodems.org, give them your contact info, and wait to be sent updates on how to get into the stadium. AL

CSPD's Howard makes history
The Colorado Springs Police Department has promoted 10 of its own, effective July 10, and Fletcher Howard has become the city's first African-American police commander.

Howard, who has been with the department since 1977, will now be the commander of the Professional Standards Division, which includes internal affairs, inspection and control, public affairs, community relations and the Training Academy.

Lt. Skip Arms, who previously served as police spokesman, also was promoted to the rank of commander. As commander of the Information Services Division, he will oversee the communications center, records, analytic services, planning and grants, and the liaison to the city's IT department.

Sgts. Robert Ryan, Mark Comte and Catherine Buckley were promoted to lieutenants, and officers Steven Noblitt, Korey Hutchison, Dedra Phillips, Roger Vargason and Michael Roy are now sergeants. JAS

Two cops falsify documents
Colorado Springs police revealed Tuesday that two motorcycle cops, Elvin Hill and Dan Myers, had allegedly been falsifying their daily activity reports since around the first of the year. The two are accused of taking credit for more tickets than they actually wrote.

Police say that the scheme was limited to the two officers, and that tickets issued by Hill and Myers are valid.

The District Attorney's office issued a statement saying that it did not think the officers' actions violated any law. Both officers have already retired from the police department.

"We are particularly sensitive to those community members who continue to believe the Department's traffic enforcement efforts are more directed to revenue than to reducing traffic crashes and increasing safety," Police Chief Richard Myers said in a release. "This is why we are providing details on what we discovered, what we did about it, and reaffirming the sense of accountability this community expects and I expect from our police officers." JAS

Initiative petitions in question
A Denver District Court judge has agreed to a review of signatures collected to put an anti-affirmative action measure on Colorado's November ballot.

The "Vote No on 46" campaign has contended that petition circulators for the measure backed by California resident Ward Connerly misled some residents who signed the petition and violated other rules.

Secretary of State Mike Coffman certified in May that the measure qualified for the ballot based on examining a sample of 6,403 signatures. Coffman's office estimated 86,000 of the 128,000 collected are valid, which is more than the 76,047 needed to qualify for the ballot. Connerly has supported anti-affirmative action efforts in California and elsewhere. AL

Housing initiative nixed
Organizers of a proposed ballot initiative known as the Housing Investment Fund have ended their bid to have the issue placed on the November ballot, citing a lack of time and money to collect the 130,000 signatures wanted by August. Organizers say they plan to pursue the initiative in 2010.

The Housing Investment Fund would have added a 4-cent real estate tax for every $100 of property value, or $80 on a $200,000 home. The tax was expected to generate about $30 million annually, which would have been used to create affordable housing in urban areas, help struggling homeowners and assist low-income families in buying a home. JAS

Life Goes On, indeed
The Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts has canceled the fashion runway component of the opening reception for a new exhibit, Life Goes On, originally scheduled for Friday, July 11. The reason: Edward Allen Miller, the Florence photographer who was organizing the event, is in jail.

In a raid of Miller's home and studio on April 30, police reportedly found compact discs containing sexually explicit pictures of minors. Miller was arrested and charged with exploitation of a child.

But Miller's putting up a fight. According to his Web site, alanworks.net, Fremont County District Attorney's Office investigator James G. Howell called Miller a "kike" during the raid, in front of witnesses. The June 4 Web post, which appears without a byline, says Miller's planning to file a $50 million lawsuit against the city.

Anne Kelly, Miller's longtime partner, also claimed in a phone interview Monday that some of the photos Miller had were not actually taken by Miller, but by an imposter. She was uncertain as to potential motive. The Cañon City Police Department did not return a call for comment.

Miller's work, along with that of 23 other local artists, will still be shown at Smokebrush.

"No art gallery can vet the artists it works with for illegal behaviors," notes executive director Josh Kempf. MA

Fort Carson buffering continues
A new plan approved by El Paso County commissioners will extend a buffer zone around the eastern edge of Fort Carson, separating the military base from approaching development with an additional swath of open space.

Commissioners agreed to spend Department of Defense funds to purchase land from willing sellers in the Rancho Colorado development area, which is on the far southern edge of El Paso County near Interstate 25. A county press release stated that no county money would be used in the purchase, nor would the county use eminent domain to acquire properties.

Fort Carson has been working to create the buffer zone since 2005, and purchased lands in the same area in 2006 and 2007. The buffer is intended to ensure that Fort Carson can continue operations on its lands without impacting neighbors. JAS

'McCain = Bush' = boot
A Denver librarian was barred from attending Sen. John McCain's town hall on Monday in Denver for carrying a sign that equated the presumptive Republican presidential nominee with George Bush, according to news reports and the liberal advocacy group ProgressNowAction.

Carol Kreck reportedly was cited for trespassing and escorted away from the Denver Performing Arts Complex for carrying the sign, which read "McCain = Bush."

McCain visited Denver to talk about his economic plans only days after Sen. Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee, gave a speech in Colorado Springs on national service. AL

Compiled by Mike Alberti, Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.


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