Noted: Donna Nelson appointed city economics vitality specialist 

Bach names economic No. 2

Mayor Steve Bach has named Donna Nelson, 40, as his economic vitality specialist, the second-in-charge over economic issues after the mayor himself.

Nelson, who previously worked as Security Service Federal Credit Union Operations Manager and spent nine years in the Army, will be charged with spreading "the spirit of the Springs," helping small businesses, and fostering a business-friendly environment. Since his campaign, Bach has said that creating jobs and growing the economy is his main goal.

Nelson, who will be paid $65,000 a year, has some college experience and years in business management, and is currently volunteering with the Urban League of the Pikes Peak Region, CoPPeR and Junior Achievement.

In a phone interview with the Indy, she says, "I want people standing in line to get to our city."

Nelson moved to Colorado Springs from New Orleans in 1994. As an African-American woman, she helps further Bach's stated goal of bringing more diversity into city government. — JAS

Manitou honors LGBT

On Tuesday night, Manitou Springs City Council went where Colorado Springs elected officials wouldn't dare and honored the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The "Resolution Celebrating Diversity, Equality and Respect for All People" was passed unanimously. In part, it stated: "Manitou Springs be known as a City that celebrates the contributions made by all of our residents to create a vibrant and welcoming community and recognizes the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community for a successful pride and diversity week."

Manitou Council member Michael Gerbig requested the resolution to honor his mother and her girlfriend, who died in a car accident six years ago.

"I've been in my position of Council person for two years ... and small steps do make a difference," he says. "At least in your own town, you can make your own statements." — JAS

Chamber, EDC to remarry?

Editor's note: For more info on merger talks, click here.

Although the Gazette reported Wednesday that the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. decided to merge Tuesday night, Chamber CEO Dave Csintyan said Wednesday morning that no decision had been made. The daily newspaper didn't cite a source for its report, which it later revised.

"It's a work in progress," Csintyan says. "No decision was made last night. Talks continue between both boards. There's staff work ahead of us to put it all together, and I can't give you any clarity when a decision will come."

According to the daily, the EDC was created as an arm of the chamber in 1971; it became its own nonprofit in 1991, after internal disagreements. The idea of merging gained support recently, with rising unemployment and a sour housing market brought on by the recession.

EDC Board President Doug Quimby and Chamber board Chairman Bill Hodgkins didn't return calls by press time to answer questions about what a new agency would be called, who would lead it, or what its budget might be. — PZ

Storm at the state fair

Editor's note: This brief was updated Thursday, Aug. 4, to reflect that "Best in Show" is not among the awards that the Poet Spiel has earned at the state fair.

Controversy has erupted at the Colorado State Fair, with one of Pueblo's top artists forced to remove his installation from consideration for the art show. The Poet Spiel has entered the fair's art exhibition three times, and twice been recognized with awards. This time, he feels he's being censored.

Spiel's work, a commentary on teenage sex myths, was ejected by fair general manager Chris Wiseman, who says it was "a bit offensive," and that Spiel was trying to publicize the piece before jurors had a chance to see it. There are no rules on the art show prospectus or sign-up form related to either of Wiseman's charges, a fact the GM acknowledges while also asserting, "I reserve the right to determine what's exhibited here and what isn't."

Sandy Murphy, executive director at Cottonwood Center for the Arts, oversees the center's monthly calls for art and says rules and restrictions should be clear to applicants. She adds that jurors essentially become an extension of the institution when they are appointed, so "if we have an open call, we take whatever it is and we're going to put it in front of our jury."

Murphy notes that she hasn't seen Spiel's work, but says, "I don't think, even as executive director, I would think it's my place to say, before a [piece] even goes before a jury, to say, 'We're pulling it.'"

You can see photos of the work on the IndyBlog here. — EA

Education question likely

Bright Colorado, a coalition pushing for more funding for colleges and schools, submitted 142,160 signatures to the Secretary of State's Office this week in support of Initiative 25, the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute reported.

That's well over the 86,105 signatures necessary to place a measure on the Nov. 1 ballot, and reflects "the mood of many Coloradans that the ongoing cuts to public education have gone too far," the nonprofit, nonpartisan institute says in a press release.

Initiative 25 would inject almost $3 billion into public education, preschool through higher ed, over five years through higher income and sales taxes. — PZ

Ups and downs for OTR

Last week, the federal Bureau of Land Management released its Final Environmental Impact Statement regarding the Over the River art installation proposed by artists Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude. The FEIS doesn't contain an official yea or nay — the BLM's "Record of Decision" is expected for September — but it does outline a version of the artwork the BLM accepts. That's good news for the OTR Corp., which wants to temporarily install about 6 miles of sheer fabric over stretches of the Arkansas River between Salida and Cañon City.

The public can read the FEIS, which gives more details on environmental impacts, and submit informal comments to the BLM through the end of August at tinyurl.com/3z46lq7.

Meanwhile, OTR's main opposition group, Rags Over the Arkansas River, is filing suit with two businesses against the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Board, claiming that the board violated several of its own regulations in giving its stamp of approval for OTR. An injunction in the suit aims to ban the board from giving its permission, and to require OTR Corp. to acquire a special parks activities permit. ROAR vice president Ellen T. Bauder says the move could potentially stall the entire project, now scheduled for August 2014 at the earliest. — EA

Compiled by Edie Adelstein, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.


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