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News briefs from the Front Range

Lamborn has cake, eats it, too?

Talk about strange, and late.

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs this week boasted that he helped fund an important study of the Fountain Creek watershed even though he voted against the bill in which the provision was contained.

A statement issued via Lamborn's press office Tuesday claimed Lamborn "has secured $150,000 in federal funding to complete" analysis of the watershed.

"I'm pleased to help allow this necessary study to be finished," Lamborn said in the statement.

Although Lamborn supported the earmark to probe flood control and other watershed issues, on July 17 he opposed the passage of the $31.6 billion energy and water bill.

The timing of Lamborn's statement arriving a full week following the 312-112 House vote was oddly late by the standards of other congressional offices. Last week, the Independent printed a "Noted" item about the study's funding, based on a press release issued by Rep. John Salazar's office the day of the vote.

Lamborn press secretary Chris Harvin did not respond to questions by deadline. MdY

Dobson blasts Potter

As copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows flew from the shelves, Dr. James Dobson made it clear that he's no Muggle.

In a Focus on the Family statement titled, "What I think about Harry Potter," Dobson, the conservative Christian ministry's chairman, said he fears the books are a gateway to the occult.

The statement faulted the Potter series for including magical characters, including "witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, poltergeists and so on."

"[G]iven the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in the larger culture, it's difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds," according to the statement.

The statement came last week, after the Washington Post erroneously reported that Dobson praised the books. On Tuesday, the Post printed a correction. MdY

Local CU regent backed firing of Churchill

Kyle Hybl of Colorado Springs joined with other University of Colorado regents late Tuesday in an 8-1 vote to fire professor Ward Churchill.

"Ward Churchill's research misconduct, as laid out in the three reports put forward by three different committees, clearly showed plagiarism, falsification and general research misconduct and fabrication," Hybl said following the vote.

Churchill's lawyer on Wednesday was expected to file a lawsuit against CU alleging the firing was motivated by politically incorrect statements the Boulder campus professor made in an op-ed about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. MdY

County commission's TV time changes

Attention, concerned citizens and Douglas Bruce fans: El Paso Countys Board of Commissioners meetings can still be watched on TV, once a week.

Since commissioners only meet on Thursdays during the summer months, replays of meetings will be shown at 7 p.m. Fridays on Comcasts Pikes Peak Library District Channel 17, until Sept. 10. At that point, commissioners resume meeting on Mondays and Thursdays, and each meeting will be telecast at 7 p.m. the day of the meeting.

Cant wait to watch it on TV? The meetings are broadcast live at www.elpasoco.com. Or you can attend the meetings at 9 a.m. in the third-floor hearing room at 27 E. Vermijo Ave. JAS

Memorial gets more wired

Memorial Health Systems has been named one of the Most Improved in a survey that annually identifies the Most Wired hospitals and health systems in the country. The survey appears in the July issue of Hospital & Health Networks magazine.

Memorial was not named one of the Top 100 most wired in the survey, though the Denver Health and Hospital Authority and Fort Collins Poudre Valley Health System did receive that honor.

According to the article, technology-savvy hospitals are safer for patients. The nations 100 Most Wired Hospitals and Health Systems have better outcomes than other hospitals on four key measures: mortality rates, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Qualitys patient safety measures, the Joint Commissions Core Measures and average length of stay, the article states. JAS

Colorado minimum wage better than federal

If you flip burgers for a living, you probably didn't reap any extra cash when the federal minimum wage rose from $5.15 an hour to $5.85 an hour this week.

That's because Colorado voters last year approved Amendment 42, which already set the state minimum at $6.85.

Though the federal minimum is set to climb three years in a row, it will probably never make a difference to Colorado workers, says Heather McGregor, a deputy communications director for the nonpartisan Bell Policy Center.

That's because Colorado law requires the minimum wage be adjusted each year for inflation (and inflation doesn't go down). Based on McGregor's calculations, when the federal minimum wage climbs to its highest point in 2009, of $7.25 an hour, Coloradans will be earning at least $7.31.

As the federal minimum stagnates in 2010 and beyond, McGregor predicts raises for Coloradans: $7.54 in 2010 and $7.79 in 2011. Next year, the state minimum could hit about $7.08. By contrast, the federal minimum will rise to $6.55. MdY

Springs to host Dems in '08

It's absolutely official: Colorado Springs will host the 2008 state Democratic convention, about three months prior to Denver welcoming the National Democratic Convention.

Jay Fawcett, a Democrat who lost to Doug Lamborn for the area's 5th District congressional seat in last year's election, was among those to lobby in support.

In a letter, Fawcett told Democratic committee members that bringing the convention here would "end once and for all the assumption that El Paso County and Colorado Springs are impregnable Republican strongholds."

The committee, meeting last weekend in Pueblo, decided on Colorado Springs, as had been expected since last month when a selection committee chose the city over Broomfield. Instead, Republicans will hold their convention there in 2008.

The state Democratic convention will take place May 17, 2008, at World Arena and could pump $1 million into the local economy. MdY

Compiled by J. Adrian Stanley and Michael de Yoanna.

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