Noted: Group targets Lamborn 

Lamborn on the spot

A group of Coloradans is challenging U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn's stalwart stand against spending $50 million in taxpayers' money to subsidize National Public Radio. Their idea: If Lamborn believes it's "time for American citizens to stop funding an organization that can stand on its own feet," he should be especially supportive of cutting subsidies to the energy industry.

After all, as Fremont County businessman Paul Carestia points out, $50 million is peanuts compared to the billions our government yearly funnels to the energy sector. "The top five oil and gas companies reported profits of $77 billion last year," Carestia says. "Meanwhile, $97 billion tax dollars, our tax dollars, are wrapped up in a nice bow and given to the CEOs of oil, gas, coal and nuclear corporations. If Mr. Lamborn is so determined to cut wasteful, federal spending, he should pledge to end this billion-dollar welfare to polluting industries that are making billions in profits."

Carestia and 14 other taxpayers visited Lamborn's Colorado Springs office Monday to drop off a pledge form to support efforts that would end "corporate welfare to the oil and gas, coal and nuclear industries and cut deficit spending by $96.8 billion over the next five years."

No word yet whether Lamborn, chair of a House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, has signed the pledge. According to opensecrets.org, the oil and gas industry has given Lamborn more than $100,000 since 2006. — CH

Incline plan approved

In a 4-1 vote on Tuesday, Manitou Springs City Council approved the plan that would open the Manitou Incline trail to the public. Council member Michael Gerbig cast the lone dissenting vote, while Mayor Pro Tem Aimee Cox and Councilor Ingrid Richter recused themselves.

Mayor Marc Snyder surprised many by voting for the plan, of which he has long been critical. "It's not like we have any choices," Snyder said Wednesday. "The thing is where it is, we are where we are ... If we don't try to work collaboratively, what are our options?"

The Incline, a former cable car route, climbs steeply up Rocky Mountain near Mount Manitou. An estimated 350,000 to 500,000 hikers scale the route every year, but they do so illegally, since the trail crosses private property and is technically closed to the public. Incline advocates have put together the plan to open the trail, though it still faces many obstacles.

Still to come: Three property owners must finalize agreements; Manitou and Colorado Springs must delegate responsibilities; the U.S. Forest Service must issue a permit for the part of the trail that crosses its land; and funds must still be raised to perform needed repairs to the trail. Snyder hopes that as the plan moves forward, changes can help Manitou deal with parking issues around the trail without great expense.

The trail could "open" by late autumn if all the pieces fall into place. — JAS

County names building

As names go, it's not the most snappy or original, but as El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose says, "At least it describes what it is." We're talking about the name assigned to the county's newest facility on Garden of the Gods Road. On Tuesday, commissioners officially labeled it the El Paso County Citizens Service Center.

The county bought the old Intel site for about $25 million last year. It already houses the Department of Human Services, which had been located just west of downtown. The El Paso County Department of Health and Environment and the Pikes Peak Workforce Center plan to relocate there this summer. The migration will be complete next fall with the move of three elected officials' offices: treasurer, assessor and clerk and recorder.

Commissioners left the door open to name the building for a person, or some other title, in the future. — PZ

Manitou hires administrator

Manitou Springs has selected a new city manager from three finalists. Jack Benson, manager of the Summit County emergency communications center, will start May 2.

"He just really made a great impression on everybody in our interview process," Manitou Mayor Marc Snyder says. "He has, I think, an excellent management style. He has a great résumé, lots of experience, and he just seems to be a great fit for Manitou."

Benson will be the first full-time city administrator Manitou has had in years. He replaces part-time administrator Verne Witham, who succumbed to cancer in January. Benson will be paid $92,000 a year. — JAS

More money, fewer problems

You know how good it feels to find an extra $5 in a pair of jeans you haven't worn in a couple weeks, or a handful of change under your car seat when you're sitting at the drive-thru?

Sure, it feels great. Well, that's how all of us Colorado state taxpayers ought to feel now that the Office of State Planning and Budgeting has discovered an "accounting glitch," as the Denver Post puts it, that overlooked $75.5 million in the initial state budget forecast. Simply, we are $75.5 million richer. If the Legislature approves, the Post reports, $23 million will go to reducing K-through-12 education cuts, with most of the rest helping maintain a 4 percent general-fund reserve. — CH

Powerhouses coming here

The 2011 Global New Energy Summit, a chance for big-time leaders in the fields of science, policy and finance to hobnob and network, is coming to The Broadmoor from April 17 through 19.

There will be some heavy hitters at the conference, including Colorado's U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and former Gov. Bill Ritter. The chief economist for ConocoPhillips, Marianne Kah, former Federal Energy Regulation Commission commissioner Suedeen Kelly, and Dan Arvizu, the director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will join a number of other notables in delivering presentations. If you want to register and attend, visit gnes.rmtech.org for more details. — CH

Compiled by Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.


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