News briefs from the Front Range

Whoops! No record after all
If you've read a newspaper, watched the TV news or listened to radio lately, there's a good chance you heard the grim news: Colorado Springs had a record number of homicides for the year of 2007.

As it turns out, that's not true. Actually, 2007 only tied the 1991 record of 28 homicides. But the media's not behind the false information; it came from the Colorado Springs police.

Confusion resulted from 1991 homicide records failing to include the killing of a woman late that year whose body wasn't found until early 1992. Police spokesman Skip Arms said the record wasn't in error (though the press release was) because records tally homicide investigations, not homicides. That means that at least one record was set in 2007: for 28 homicide investigations. JAS

Getting greener; lights, that is
Sick of sitting at red lights? The city hears your cursing.

Springs government officials recently released a 35-page report featuring 23 tips from 15 national experts on how to improve local traffic-signal timing. Believe it or not, about 90 percent of the Springs' traffic signals are synchronized, but experts say Colorado Springs has very balanced light timing meaning that traffic in each direction gets fairly equal green time. That sounds like a good thing, but the city says the "balance" is cutting down on efficiency. The city is already testing two suggestions from the report: longer signal lengths and left-turn lead lags. It plans to test more ideas over the next few years.

In the meantime, the city says commuters in a hurry will get more "green time" if they travel main roads, stick to the speed limit (as signals are timed to benefit law-abiding drivers), avoid peak times, use suggested detours around construction, limit turns and travel Platte Avenue and Academy Boulevard instead of Cimarron Street, Research Parkway, Woodmen Road or Powers Boulevard. JAS

Coffman: In with the old ballots
Secretary of State Mike Coffman announced Dec. 26 he wants the General Assembly to approve paper ballots in the state's polling places for the 2008 election. Coffman, who recently de-certified many of Colorado's pricey electronic voting machines and optical scan devices, said he would not support the proposed all mail-ballot election that has the backing of most county clerks.

"Today, voters in general elections have the ability to either vote by absentee ballot or in person at a polling place," Coffman stated in a press release. "I think these choices ought to be preserved."

In mid-December, Coffman de-certified thousands of the state's electronic voting and counting machines, saying they didn't meet standards for security and accuracy. Despite an independent testing board's recommendation that all the state's machines be de-certified, Coffman did approve machines made by Premier Election Solutions.

Later it was revealed Premier was, until recently, represented by Phase Line Strategies, the same political consulting firm that is boosting (free of charge) Coffman's bid for Tom Tancredo's old 6th Congressional District seat. Both Coffman and Phase Line representatives have denied any wrongdoing.

A paper-ballot election may prove difficult for the more than 50 counties (El Paso and Teller not included) that have had machines de-certified. Coffman concedes some electronic voting machines must be made available to disabled voters, saying some machines may be modified. JAS

Lamborn criticized for Turkish stance
The Colorado chair of an Armenian association is accusing U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of "caving in" to pressure from Turkish government lobbyists when he withdrew his support from a congressional resolution calling the mass killings of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 a genocide.

Lamborn was in a group of more than a dozen legislators who withdrew support from the measure in October as President George Bush and others said it would unnecessarily damage U.S. relations with Turkey, complicating the war in Iraq.

Pamela Brown of the Armenian Assembly of America says the war implications do not justify the change in support, particularly given that, following withdrawal of the resolution, Turkey has gone on to mount its own attacks on Kurds in Iraq over U.S. opposition.

"Genocide is genocide," Brown says. "It's important to stand up for truth."

Lamborn did not respond to a call for comment. AL

Local nonprofit CEO retiring
Jane Hammoud, executive director of Pikes Peak Partnership for eight years, has informed the organization's board she will retire at the end of May. Hammoud, in a letter to the board, said after 30 years of nonprofit leadership roles, she would develop a part-time consulting practice in board governance.

Pikes Peak Partnership is a family of agencies that share staff and administrative resources in serving permanently and temporarily disabled people. In heading the partnership, Hammoud also has served as executive director of three affiliated agencies: Multiple Sclerosis Alliance of Southern Colorado, Mental Health America of the Pikes Peak Region and Disability Services Inc. She says she feels she's achieved her goals by reorganizing the system of agency relationships, developing new programs and strengthening others, and cultivating more collaboration among the partner agencies.

The partnership's board president, James Humphrey of Centura Health, will lead a search for Hammoud's replacement. RR

Compiled by Anthony Lane, Ralph Routon and J. Adrian Stanley.


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