Noted: City and Ultra fight over SDS 

Ultra, city battle on SDS

Colorado Springs City Council was slated Tuesday to consider giving city-owned Colorado Springs Utilities authority to take Ultra Resources to court. Utilities needs to access 8,300 acres of Ultra-owned city property to conduct geo-technical testing and to engineer the pipeline and the northernmost pump station for the Southern Delivery System, which will deliver water to the Springs and project partners Pueblo West, Fountain and Security.

When Ultra wouldn't let the city onto the property, Utilities sought permission to go to court to avoid delays, which cost money, says Utilities spokeswoman Janet Rummel. She says the city sees such an action as a last resort: "We're just trying to have that option to take this to court if needed, but again, we're hopeful we'll reach agreement with them."

An agreement, it turns out, is likely by Thursday, according to Doug Selvius, vice president for exploration for Ultra Petroleum, Ultra Resources' parent. "We should have all of our issues, which are relatively minor, ironed out by then," Selvius says in an e-mail. — PZ

Anti-Looper efforts hit low

The heated state House District 19 primary threatens to take political attacks into abysmal depths. The website looperscooper.com hit the scene with its tagline, "Cleaning up the crap that comes out of Marsha Looper's mouth."

Rep. Looper is running against current House Majority Leader Amy Stephens of Monument, in a race matching two incumbents because of redistricting. The site aims to dispel alleged myths and untruths from the Looper campaign.

For a few days, the site appeared to be the work of an anonymous Looper critic; now it claims to be the product of a registered 527 called The Truth Squad. According to its state filing, The Truth Squad was registered by Donald Alberts of Colorado Springs. Rep. Bob Gardner's name is also listed on the filing.

"It's 100 percent false and lies," says Lana Fore-Warkocz from the Looper campaign.

This is the second 527 to take aim at Looper. The first was Colorado Liberty Alliance, which has published a website called looperforamnesty.com, attacking Looper's stance on immigration. Stephens' campaign has denied involvement in either site. — CH

USOC developer acquitted

After a week of deliberations, a jury acquitted Ray Marshall on Monday afternoon of all charges in connection with allegations he bilked millions from unsuspecting investors. Marshall and business partner James Brodie were indicted in November 2009 on 33 counts of fraud that allegedly occurred between September 2006 and March 2007.

After District Judge Barney Iuppa ruled in Marshall's favor by excluding certain evidence, Marshall was tried on 14 counts of securities fraud, two counts of theft and one count of conspiracy to commit theft. Brodie hasn't yet been tried.

The duo's LandCo Equity Partners was chosen by the city to handle a deal in which the city paid more than $30 million for a new headquarters and training center improvements for the U.S. Olympic Committee. The acquittal wasn't related to that deal, but Marshall has since been charged in a separate case with multiple counts alleging he diverted city and El Pomar Foundation money from the USOC deal to his own use. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 31. — PZ

Affordable housing lacking

There aren't enough affordable rentals to house Colorado's poor, the Colorado Division of Housing says. Its new Housing Mismatch and Rent Burden Report says that for every 100 Colorado households making less than $20,000, there are just 50 affordable rentals.

For every 100 families earning less than $15,000, only 45 affordable rentals exist. The numbers swiftly improve with increased income: For every 100 households that bring in $35,000, there are 107 rentals.

The study deemed housing affordable if it ate up no more than 30 percent of renters' income. Rates vary across the state, and Colorado Springs scores well as one of the state's least "rent-burdened" cities, at 47 percent of households. By comparison, 56 percent of Boulder households are deemed "rent-burdened." — JAS

First Pres breaks away

First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs, the Springs' largest downtown church and one of the nation's largest Presbyterian congregations, voted Sunday to sever ties with the country's largest Presbyterian denomination, Presbyterian Church (USA).

Alison Murray, leader of staff at First Pres, believes that the congregation made "a sincere and thoughtful decision and is looking toward the future." At issue, in part, was PC (USA)'s decision last May to allow homosexuals to serve in leadership roles within the church. According to the church's website, the congregation voted by a huge margin to align itself with a new denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians.

Pastor Jim Singleton, who wrote the post, noted that the process isn't over: "Now that we know the results of this meeting, Pueblo Presbytery will vote to accept these results on June 16, 2012. We will continue to keep you apprised over these next few weeks." — CH

March for women

Thousands are expected to march Saturday in Denver in support of women's access to health care, including birth control, inspired in part by the backlash following radio personality Rush Limbaugh's personal attacks against activist and law student Sandra Fluke.

The We Are Women March has been organized through social media in a grassroots effort. Three leaders — Pat Hansen, Kristie Wheeler and Meg Fossinger — come from Colorado Springs. According to the organizers, more than 1,000 separate provisions were presented in state legislatures last year, trying to limit women's family-planning options or access to health care. More than 130 became law.

For info on the event, search "We Are Women March" on Facebook. — CH

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

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