Noted: County wants longer term limits 

Two terms: not enough?

Commissioners want voters to allow El Paso County's elected officials a third four-year term in office, overruling term limits imposed by voters statewide in 1994.

The commissioners are expected to decide Thursday to place three term-limit measures before voters at the Nov. 2 election: one for commissioners; another covering treasurer, clerk and recorder, assessor and surveyor; and a third for district attorney. (Teller County, included in the Fourth Judicial District, has placed the DA measure on its ballot.)

At least three commissioners — Sallie Clark, Dennis Hisey and Amy Lathen — have said they favor placing the questions on the ballot. All three would be eligible later for third terms should the measures pass.

"The comissioners work a full-time job and are involved in a lot of areas on the state level," Clark says, noting that just as commissioners learn wide-ranging functions from the jail to human services, their eight years are up.

These measures were discussed in 2008, but commissioners held off, fearing they might distract voters from a 1-cent sales tax increase proposal, which ultimately failed. Back then, Hisey, Lathen and Wayne Williams voted against placing term-limit extensions on the ballot, while Clark and Jim Bensberg supported the measures.

County Assessor Mark Lowderman says he didn't seek to extend term limits — he's unopposed this year for his second term — and he's not sure whether he'd run in 2012 if given the chance. Treasurer Sandra Damron and Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink, who are finishing their second terms in January, would not be affected.

County voters lifted term limits for the coroner in 2001 and added a third term for the sheriff in 2006. According to Colorado Counties Inc., to date, voters in 56 counties have removed or extended term limits for one or more elected offices. — PZ

Rescuers of rabid bat found

The two young people who brought a rabid bat to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region on Aug. 15 have been found. They were being sought by the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment because of concern they were infected with the deadly disease.

Rabies can show no symptoms for a week to a year. After symptoms appear, it tends to be too late; the virus is almost always fatal.

Thankfully, the do-gooders were contacted by an acquaintance who recognized one of them on a widely circulated Humane Society security camera video. Under law, medical records are confidential, so their identities are not being released.

Health department executive director Kandi Buckland says the two are being evaluated to determine whether they need shots to protect them from rabies.

"We're hoping to wrap this up by the end of the week," she says. "You have to investigate it, get the whole picture and make the determination."

Colorado has had an unusually high number of rabies cases in recent years, rising from 70 cases in 2006 to 103 in 2009 and 99 so far this year, including 11 in El Paso County.

Buckland says people should refrain from touching or feeding wild animals or stray cats and dogs. If an animal is acting strangely, contact the Division of Wildlife or the Humane Society to pick up the animal. — JAS

Strong mayor makes ballot

City Clerk Kathryn Young has confirmed that the Mayor Project has gathered enough signatures to put a "strong mayor" question on the Nov. 2 ballot.

If passed, the new law would change the form of Colorado Springs government, getting rid of the office of city manager, and handing more power and responsibility to a full-time mayor.

The Mayor Project found itself rushing to gather signatures in mid-August after thousands of petition signatures turned in to the city clerk were found to be invalid. It wound up with about 500 more valid signatures than it needed. — JAS

'Doc' Holiday taking holiday

Italy and Germany are beautiful in the fall, we hear — so beautiful that El Paso County sheriff candidate John "Doc" Holiday will spend three weeks there in the middle of his campaign leading to the general election Nov. 2.

The former district attorney's investigator is running as an independent trying to unseat two-term incumbent Republican Terry Maketa.

Holiday says he'll be out of the country from late September through mid-October. Mail ballots go out on Oct. 12, while he will be gone.

Asked about the trip, Holiday calls it a long-planned vacation, much of it paid for in advance. — PZ

Sewage fines for CSU

City-owned Colorado Springs Utilities will pay $56,890 in fines for 26 water-quality rule violations that date to 2006. The fines are being imposed for incidents that occurred after the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the city in 2005 alleging Clean Water Act violations. That lawsuit was triggered by contamination of Fountain Creek and led to fines of $35,000 for spills that predated the lawsuit, as well as a settlement in which the city agreed to pay the Sierra Club's legal fees.

New fines of $43,624 cover 18 sanitary sewer overflow violations that happened between Nov. 23, 2006, and July 31, 2010. The spills ranged from two to 8,700 gallons, Utilities spokeswoman Patrice Quintero says in an e-mail. An overflow is when untreated wastewater reaches or has the potential of reaching a waterway, such as Fountain Creek. Causes range from vandalism and tree roots to blockages and storms.

The city also will pay $13,266 to resolve eight unauthorized reclaimed-water discharges dating to Dec. 7, 2006, which ranged from 50 to 3,525 gallons. Reclaimed water is treated at a higher level than wastewater effluent released into the creek and is used for non-potable purposes, such as irrigation.

Quintero notes there have been no incidents this year and that Utilities has spent $143 million to upgrade the wastewater system in the past decade. — PZ

Four in mayoral race

Kenneth Paul Duncan, a 48-year-old, unemployed, 15-year resident of Colorado Springs, has filed paperwork to become the fourth candidate running for mayor in the April 2011 election. Duncan has no previous political experience.

The other mayoral candidates who have made announcements are Council of Neighbors and Organizations president Dave Munger, defense contractor Buddy Gilmore and Challenger Homes owner Brian Bahr. — JAS

Teller sheriff rides away

Teller County Sheriff Kevin Dougherty submitted his resignation Tuesday, ending a legal battle over his eligibility to serve after moving to El Paso County two months ago.

In June, Dougherty and his wife bought a house east of Marksheffel Road, north of Fountain, and sold their home in Divide, records show.

State law requires sheriffs to live in the county in which they serve. Dougherty's status had been uncertain recently, with Dougherty insisting he still was renting a place in Teller County. In an agreement approved Tuesday, Teller commissioners agreed to pay half of Dougherty's attorney fees up to $1,250, and to pay his salary and benefits through Oct. 1.

In an unexplained provision, commissioners agreed not to eliminate any approved command staff positions in the Sheriff's Office for 14 days after Dougherty's replacement takes office.

That person is Michael Ensminger, who won the Aug. 10 Republican primary election and, with no general election opponent, would have taken office in January. Commissioners appointed Ensminger to be acting sheriff starting at noon Friday, when Dougherty's resignation becomes effective. — PZ

Compiled by J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.


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