SunShare faces suit, county backs tourism proposal, more 


SunShare sued

As it prepares its bid on the city's newest community solar garden program, local solar business SunShare faces a lawsuit.

Nicholas Hellbusch filed suit Sept. 6 seeking a $60,000 annual salary, plus 15 percent to 30 percent of the profits from SunShare's first project at Venetucci Farm, both of which he says he was promised. Hellbusch states he used his own computer to conduct a feasibility study of SunShare, create financial models, do tax research and sales, and develop web content.

The lawsuit says SunShare's owner, Colorado College grad David Amster-Olszewski, instead paid Hellbusch small amounts that totaled $3,787 over a five-month period. After the project was completed, Amster-Olszewski "thanked him for 'volunteering,'" the lawsuit says, and had an intern wipe Hellbusch's computer clean.

Besides suffering financially, Hellbusch contends he suspended work on a master's degree and endured "mental suffering" that required "many medical appointments, including doctor visits and an MRI, and massage therapy." He claims he "was not hired at one business after leaving Defendants' employment," but City Auditor Denny Nester says he hired Hellbusch as a temp worker in February 2012 and for a permanent position in April 2012.

Nester adds that Hellbusch played no role in the Auditor's Office's solar garden analysis that emphasized ratepayer subsidies and might have contributed to a newly elected City Council repealing a 10-megawatt solar garden program in April.

Amster-Olszewski says via email that SunShare employees "thought we were helping Nick get his footing after being unemployed for a long time, by learning about the solar market while he was applying for grad school."

Qualification requirements stated in Springs Utilities' request for proposals for its 2 megawatts of solar gardens don't prevent developers from bidding if they face pending litigation. Awards of contracts are expected next month. — PZ

Awaiting Sen. Herpin

Considering that the recall election of Senate President John Morse created massive legal headaches, it's perhaps unsurprising that no one seems to know exactly when Morse will vacate his seat and his successor will take over.

The Independent asked the office of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder, the Colorado Secretary of State, and even Morse's campaign office when Republican Bernie Herpin would be sworn in. None could provide an exact date.

Clerk's Office spokesperson Ryan Parsell did note, "it won't be until after the canvass on [Sept.] 20th." — JAS

County backs Champs

Joining representatives in Manitou Springs and Monument, El Paso County commissioners have voted unanimously to support the City for Champions proposal for Regional Tourism Act funds. According to a release, the board believes the proposal will bring tourism dollars and create jobs by strengthening the region's competitive edge over other tourist destinations.

The endorsement comes after Colorado Springs City Council on Sept. 9 balked on approving the application in concept. The city is seeking $82.1 million in state sales tax rebates to fund construction of a downtown ballpark/events center, Olympic museum, Air Force Academy visitors center and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs sports medicine center. — PZ

Gessler for guv?

Republican Scott Gessler has planned a "major campaign announcement" for 2 p.m., Wednesday at the Colorado Springs Eagles Lodge, 1830 N. Academy Blvd. That, after his "major campaign announcement" scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday in Denver.

The Denver Post reported Aug. 25 that Gessler could get into a race for the GOP nomination for governor, which already includes former Congressman Tom Tancredo and state Sen. Greg Brophy of Wray.

So if Gessler jumps into the governor's race, who will jump into the Secretary of State race? A few months ago, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams' name was bandied about. Asked by the Indy whether he would run, Williams now says, "I'm being urged by many Coloradans to run and I am weighing their input. I plan to make a formal decision by the end of the month." — PZ

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