News briefs from the Front Range

Waller will oppose Bruce

Mark Waller, an attorney and Air Force reserve officer, is gearing up for a Republican primary battle to wrench House District 15 from state Rep. Douglas Bruce who in his first month in office kneecapped a news photographer, was censured for it, refused to honor veterans and was subsequently yanked off the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

Waller, a former deputy district attorney who currently is in private practice in Colorado Springs, spent five months in Iraq in 2006, prosecuting insurgents in Iraqi courts with Iraqi judges. He says that experience helped him recognize the importance of diplomacy.

"I can't say I've ever been a fan of Mr. Bruce's," Waller says. "As far as politics is concerned, we're not that much different. But this is what's important here we have to be able to communicate, we have to be able to get along with the other side.

"I know that's something I can do better; that's the crucial piece of the puzzle. We're all fiscally and socially conservative here in El Paso County, but what it boils down to is being able to effectively communicate those ideas and those ideals and values.

"Listening to the constituents is also important, and not just pushing some sort of agenda."

Bruce, whose district includes much of east-central Colorado Springs, was appointed by the majority of a 66-member vacancy committee in December.

So far this year, Waller notes, Bruce has presented four bills - none of which made out of committee. He announced his intent to vote "no" on any bill that carries a standard emergency clause - which Waller estimates is upward of 80 percent of them.

"That's called focusing on the minor, instead of the major stuff," Waller says.

Waller said he's already received endorsements, including from former state Sen. Ron May, from the local Housing and Building Association and from the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition. His goal is to raise $50,000 for the race; his Web site is markwallerforhd15.org. CD

EDC active despite economy

Clearly, 2008 wont bring a flood of high-paying new jobs to Colorado Springs. The economy stinks, the credit crunch has impacted commercial lending and entreprenuers wont move if they cant sell their houses in other markets.

Mike Kazmierski, president/CEO of Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., says the EDC is pursuing 10-20 leads a month from businesses interested in the Springs.

EDC officials say they are working with six companies for which relocation here is likely to very likely. Several would employ 100 or so, but a data center would have 300 workers, a medical data processing company 250, and a tech support/IT center 1,000.

My hope is that here in the next two or three months, things will start to turn around, says Dave White, EDC executive vice president of marketing.

He thinks a few companies will soon announce their commitments to the Springs, bringing enough new jobs to keep the EDCs statistics from taking a nosedive this year.

Two renewable-energy companies are also said to be considering the old Sanmina-SCI Corp. plant in Fountain for a new manufacturing center. JAS

City's SDS plan favored
Colorado Springs Utilities has cleared another hurdle in its quest to build a water pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir to the city: Its preferred plan to pump water from the Arkansas River tops the list of acceptable plans in a draft environmental impact statement released by the Bureau of Reclamation.

"Operationally, it's much better to come out of a big bucket of water, and Pueblo Dam gives us that," John Fredell, the SDS project director for Utilities, said to the Pueblo Chieftain. "El Paso County residents have paid more than 70 percent of the ad valorem taxes for Pueblo Dam. Our residents should have the ability to use it."

Opponents from Pueblo continue to insist Colorado Springs should take its water from further downstream, east of Fountain Creek's confluence with the river. They add that the draft statement also shows that a pipeline east of the Fountain Creek confluence, while costing more to build, would produce 60 percent more "firm yield" of water.

Utilities officials have indicated that, if the process goes smoothly, they could start construction on a pipeline in 2009, with completion in 2012. RR

Comcast ends Mann's job, but promises few changes

Sandra Mann, a School District 11 board member and longtime media celebrity in the Colorado Springs-Pueblo market, no longer is working as Comcasts local public relations representative.

Cindy Parsons, vice president of public relations for Comcast, says the company eliminated Manns position about a month ago,

Mann served as Comcasts local spokeswoman and developed and hosted various local programs. She was news anchor for KOAA Channels 5/30 from 1977-84 and at KKTV Channel 11 from 1984-96, then director of communications for Pikes Peak Mental Health. She joined Adelphia Communications in 2000 and remained with the cable provider after it sold to Comcast.

Parsons says Comcast will offer Springs cable subscribers local programming on Comcast Entertainment Television (Channel 4), which had been providing largely Denver-based shows and events. Programs for that channel are produced by a Denver-based team.

Comcast has eliminated the local Channel 2, which had been used for Manns programs, other locally produced shows and community events such as political forums.

This was a really a decision made so that our market aligned more consistently with other Comcast markets of the same size, Parsons says.

Mann confirms she has started her own full-service communications consulting firm, called Mannmedia. JAS

Mowle named public trustee

Tom Mowle, just retired as an Air Force Academy political science instructor, has accepted Gov. Bill Ritters appointment as El Paso Countys public trustee, charged with overseeing local property foreclosures.

During his 20-year military career, one highlight for Mowle was working in Baghdad to help prepare for Iraqs 2005 election.

After 1,151 foreclosures in the three months of December through February, Mowle says about 25 new foreclosures are filed locally each business day.

Even without the record-setting foreclosure pace, Mowle takes over amid considerable change. Patricia Thompson, Ritters first appointment, abruptly left in mid-December after nine months. Around that time, the office was switching to new computer systems. New laws governing the foreclosure process kicked in Jan. 1, meaning the office must administer files according to two different procedures for months, if not years.

Mowle sees no potential for hang-ups working with other county elected officials, all of whom are Republicans.

This is absolutely not a partisan position, he says. This is administering state law. AL

Standing up for the little guy (Fort Carson, that is)

From the sounds of the press release, youd think this was a David vs. Goliath story with El Paso County commissioners and the Army in the David camp, and commissioners from sparsely populated Baca County on the side of the big, mean monster.

The battle was the latest in the ongoing Pion Canyon expansion controversy. This time Colorado Counties, Inc., which represents all of the states counties, proposed a package of measures to the National Association of Counties.

The package included two measures that would have directed NACos lobbyists to argue against unnecessary enlargement of military bases or maneuver sites without established proof of need. The Army has said it needs the area for training, but neighboring counties have opposed the expansion, saying it would cripple the ranching industry, expose anthropological and geographically interesting lands to harm, and that the expansion is unnecessary.

The proposals have been postponed for action at NACos annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C., thanks to the efforts of an Army spokesman and El Paso County Commissioner Jim Bensberg. The latter lobbied persuasively against the resolutions in committee, in spite of other Colorado-based commissioners who support efforts to stymie the Armys expansion plans, according to the countys press release.

Also, according to the release, the fight is not over regarding these anti-Fort Carson measures. They will be reconsidered when NACo meets in July at Kansas City.

The press release made no effort to explain why anyone would want to oppose an expansion (unless you count that bit about the proposals being anti-Fort Carson). JAS

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


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