Thursday, September 21, 2017

Utilities Board agrees to add more solar after colorful public comment

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 2:58 PM

  • Amy Gray
On September 20, the Colorado Springs Utilities Board, which has the same members as City Council, heard a proposal to build enough solar panels to produce 70 megawatts of electricity. By the end of the meeting, they decided to go with 100 megawatts instead — enough to power about 28,000 homes for a year.

The new infrastructure will cost $3 million, according to the Gazette, paid for by a rate hike starting in 2019 that'll add an average of 70 cents to monthly residential electric bills. When it's up and running, the percentage of CSU's energy portfolio that comes from renewable sources will have nearly doubled.

Many who showed for public comment urged the board to move more aggressively on renewables and shutter the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant sooner than 2035. Some referenced Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which recently ravaged Florida and Texas, respectively, as examples of a dangerously changing climate caused by fossil fuel emissions. Board member Andy Pico denied that those storms were out of the ordinary and insisted that global warming isn't happening. He and Don Knight opposed the investment in solar. The rest of them were open to continuing discussions about a more sustainable energy future for Colorado Springs, provided it's not too expensive.

The board may have been moved by this, shall we say, unusual, use of the public comment period. Watch below as members of and COS CAN act out the existential battle between coal and solar. The theatrics start a little more than four minutes into this video.

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Is the Colorado River a person? A green group is asking for that designation.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 2:46 PM

Homestake Reservoir in Eagle County, which lies within the Colorado River Watershed, supplies much of Colorado Springs Utilities' water. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Homestake Reservoir in Eagle County, which lies within the Colorado River Watershed, supplies much of Colorado Springs Utilities' water.
The Colorado River, which originates in Colorado, provides water to seven states and Mexico, and it should have rights of its own, according to a soon-to-be-filed federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks status for the river as a person.

Colorado Springs has a huge stake in the Colorado River, as its Homestake Reservoir is located in the Colorado River Basin and supplies a significant amount of water to the city.

Here's a release about the lawsuit:
In a first-in-the-nation lawsuit filed in federal court, the Colorado River is asking for judicial recognition of itself as a “person,” with rights of its own to exist and flourish. The lawsuit, filed against the Governor of Colorado, seeks a recognition that the State of Colorado can be held liable for violating those rights held by the River.

The Plaintiff in the lawsuit is the Colorado River itself, with the organization Deep Green Resistance - a national organization committed to protecting the planet through direction action - filing as a “next friend” on behalf of the River. The River and the organization are represented in the lawsuit by Jason Flores Williams, a noted civil rights lawyer and lead attorney in a recent class-action case filed on behalf of Denver’s homeless population.

While this is the first action brought in the United States which seeks such recognition for an ecosystem, such actions and laws are becoming more common in other countries. In 2008, the country of Ecuador adopted the world’s first national constitution which recognized rights for ecosystems and nature; over three dozen U.S. municipalities, including the City of Pittsburgh, have adopted similar laws; and courts in India and Colombia have recently recognized that rivers, glaciers, and other ecosystems may be treated as “persons” under those legal systems.

Serving as an advisor to the lawsuit is the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a nonprofit public interest law firm which has previously assisted U.S. municipalities and the Ecuadorian government to codify legally enforceable rights for ecosystems and nature into law.

Attorney Flores-Williams explained that “current environmental law is simply incapable of stopping the widescale environmental destruction that we’re experiencing. We’re bringing this lawsuit to even the odds – corporations today claim rights and powers that routinely overwhelm the efforts of people to protect the environment. Our judicial system recognizes corporations as “persons,” so why shouldn’t it recognize the natural systems upon which we all depend as having rights as well? I believe that future generations will look back at this lawsuit as the first wave of a series of efforts to free nature and our communities from a system of law which currently guarantees their destruction.”

Deanna Meyer, a member of Deep Green Resistance and one of the “next friends” in the lawsuit, affirmed Flores-Williams’ sentiments, declaring that “without the recognition that the Colorado River possesses certain rights of its own, it will always be subject to widescale exploitation without any real consequences. I’m proud to stand with the other “next friends” in this lawsuit to enforce and defend the rights of the Colorado, and we’re calling on groups across the country to do the same to protect the last remaining wild places in this country and beyond.”

The lawsuit seeks recognition by the Court that the Colorado River Ecosystem possesses the rights to exist, flourish, regenerate, and restoration, and to recognize that the State of Colorado may be held liable for violating those rights in a future action. The complaint will be filed in the US District Court of Colorado on Tuesday.  

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Protected bike lanes take time to adjust to, as early grievances attest

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 8:53 AM

Cyclists are singing the praises of a new striping scheme on Weber Street — some Indy employees are among those already enjoying the protected lanes — but some motorists are bamboozled and pretty upset.

We're getting phone calls here at the Indy from people who call it wacky and the dumbest thing they've ever seen.

Weber, formerly a four-lane street, has been striped to be only two lanes. The other two lanes are now occupied with parking, roughly eight feet from the curb, with bike lanes bordering the curb line. City officials say this design is to protect cyclists and promote the use of bicycles.

Courtesy a Bike Colorado Springs representative, the following graphics show the intent of the new striping plan:
  • Courtesy Bike Colorado Springs

  • Courtesy Bike Colorado Springs

But despite those best of intentions, some early feedback has been bumpy, to say the least. Consider this post from Facebook Thursday morning:
Anyone see the new street layout on the recently resurfaced Weber Street in downtown Colorado Springs? This is the stupidest thing I think I've ever seen!!
The bike lane is now closest to the curb, then the parallel parking spaces - which are about 8' from the curb (where the right lane used to be), then the single drive lane. If there is only one car parked it looks as if it's in the middle of the right lane - only there is no right lane!
How long until someone who's not paying attention (or drunk) runs into a car in the "right lane" that they don't realize is actually parked there? Or until a cyclist t-bones a car turning into a driveway because they didn't see it from the bike lane?
And this:
I also commented on this road, yesterday. I thought I was behind two cars waiting on a light for a few seconds, but turned out they were parked. Crazy indeed.
Another said, "Someone's going to get hit."

Well, no sooner did I read those posts than I saw evidence of just such a mishap:

This car was trying to turn into a private parking lot and nearly struck a cyclist, exactly what naysayers about Weber Street's new striping plan predicted. The cyclist appeared to be knocked to the ground just prior to this photo being shot. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • This car was trying to turn into a private parking lot and nearly struck a cyclist, exactly what naysayers about Weber Street's new striping plan predicted. The cyclist appeared to be knocked to the ground just prior to this photo being shot.

Hunter Greeno was the cyclist involved in the accident this morning, and he tells the Indy he's not a fan of the new striping on Weber. A regular bicycle commuter, Greeno suffered a cut on his arm and a bruise on his leg from the "near miss," as he calls it, that put him down. He was able to make it to work on time despite the collision, he reports, though he had to walk the rest of the way.

Greeno also says he wants to lodge his opposition to the striping.

Here's a KKTV report on the confusion caused by the new striping.

For those wondering if this is just some wacky experiment, it might help to know that protected bike lanes are growing in number around the country, with 292 protected lanes (up from 78 in 2011) in use in the U.S. as of the summer of 2016, according to People for Bikes. View their Protected Bike Lanes 101 page for more.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Final drainage report filed for Colorado Springs subdivision

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 4:20 PM

Archer Park's drainage plan has gotten a lot of attention from neighbors, who doubt a detention pond will perform as predicted. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Archer Park's drainage plan has gotten a lot of attention from neighbors, who doubt a detention pond will perform as predicted.
A new drainage report for a controversial subdivision in the Broadmoor area isn't passing muster with the neighbors, one of which already has filed a lawsuit against the city over the City Council's approval of the development.

Archer Park, a 4.7-acre tract for which seven high-end homes are planned, drew a lot of criticism from neighbors when the developer, Richard Delesk, proposed dumping stormwater runoff into their streets, and in at least one case, onto a neighbor's property. (News, Aug. 9, 2017)

Now, the developer's consultant, Altitude Land Consultants, has filed its latest iteration of a drainage report — Council approved the subdivision without having a final drainage plan — and the neighbors aren't happy.

Neighbor Bill Kosar wrote a letter to the city saying that while the latest report is more thorough, "it creates major new problems which need to be addressed before it is accepted." Notably, the plan calls for discharge that Kosar says will flood El Encanto Street in major storms.
Read his entire letter here:
In addition, neighbor Michael Roslin wrote to city officials calling the revised drainage plan a "huge departure" from the original version.

"It appears to merely shift the flow of water or burden of engineering this project correctly, creating more unanswered questions and potential problems for the El Encanto neighborhood," he wrote. "It leans toward a zero sum proposition where certain properties are less burdened while others may be severely impacted.... I strongly believe that the radical change in drainage plans confirms what many of my neighbors have been concerned about. This entire project is poorly conceived for many reasons but not the least of which is that it is not scaled correctly given the parameters of the physical site."

Bette Ann Albert, who with her husband, Dr. James Albert, filed suit in July to try to overturn the Council's June action, says via email the couple has "grave concerns" about the new drainage design changing historic flows.

Neighbors have until Sept. 22 to comment on the drainage report, which can be read in full here:
Meantime, the city filed its answer to the Albert lawsuit on Aug. 22, essentially denying the city has done anything wrong.

To comment on the Archer Park drainage plan, email one or all of the following:

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Pete Lee has plenty of support for Senate run

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 1:55 PM

  • Casey Bradley Gent
  • Rep. Pete Lee
Term-limited state Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, recently announced that he will run for the state Senate District 11 seat being vacated by Sen. Michael Merrifield in 2018.

Lee is a popular Democratic legislator, who has focused on business and criminal justice issues. I wrote about his latter passion here.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lee is already piling up the endorsements, as he details in the following release:

Rep. Pete Lee Announces Broad
Bi-Partisan Support for Senate Run

Colorado Springs — Representative Pete Lee, a former small business owner, corporate executive and justice reform advocate is running for the State Senate in Colorado Springs. He has seen an outpouring of bipartisan support in just his first week campaigning. Elected officials from both parties, as well as unaffiliated voters are supporting Lee. City Council President Richard Skorman, City Councilors Jill Gaebler and Yolanda Avila, as well as HD 17 State Representative Tony Exum all endorse Representative Lee.

Senate District 11 incumbent, Michael Merrifield said, “I wholeheartedly support Pete Lee’s candidacy for Senate District 11. Having worked with Pete for over 10 years, I know he is a hardworking and effective legislator who will passionately and conscientiously represent the people of our community. I am most proud of our joint sponsorship of the Justice Reinvestment Crime Prevention bill, HB17-1326, which will significantly impact SD-11. I urge all of my constituents to support Pete as my successor in Senate District 11.”

City Councilor Jill Gaebler, in endorsing Lee’s candidacy, said, “ I am supporting Pete Lee for State Senate because he understands local issues and consistently works across party lines for the benefit of the entire community.”

Representative Lee, a forty two year resident of Colorado Springs, has spent his career finding common-sense bipartisan solutions that improve the lives of his constituents, and that’s why folks from across the political spectrum have enthusiastically announced their support for his campaign.

Pete has successfully sponsored scores of bills during his time in the State House, but knows there is a lot more work to be done and thus is looking forward to continuing that work on behalf of his constituents as a State Senator.

Many other community and business leaders have announced their proud support of Rep. Lee’s grassroots campaign for State Senate, including former Colorado Springs Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace, former City Councilor Jan Martin, D-11 School Board members Nora Brown, LuAnn Long and Jim Mason, former D-11 School Board members Bob Null and Jan Tanner, former Manitou Springs Mayor, State Representative, and County Commissioner Marcy Morrison, as well as community leaders Mary Ellen McNally, Rosemary Harris Lytle, Mike McDivitt, Jody Alyn, Dave Anderson, Alan and Jane Higbie, Mike and Amanda Bristol, Henry Allen, Mike Callicrate, and Chuck Murphy.

Visit to learn more.

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New GOP chairman in El Paso County has "a vision"

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 1:12 PM

Josh Hosler is the new chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party, and issued this statement on Sept. 19 after he was installed on Monday, Sept. 18. Read our story about the selection here.

I’d like to thank our Executive Committee members, elected officials, precinct leaders, and everyone who came out to last night’s meeting and encouraged me to take on the duties of Chairman. I have had the opportunity over the past few years to get to know the Republicans of El Paso County. I know that the passion for freedom and liberty runs deep in this community and I am so thankful to be a part of it.

I am focused and I have a vision that will lead us to victory. As a Marine, you are taught to never ever give up on the mission. I will bring this same commitment to my position as the El Paso County Republican Chair.

I plan to work together with past chairs and volunteers to make this transition as seamless as possible. In advance, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation for your patience and support over the next few weeks.

I will be choosing a Vice-Chair in the near future. I will look for a candidate who is willing to help unite the Party and work together as a team to help win the elections in 2018. As we all know, all successful campaigns trails lead through El Paso County. Working together, we can ensure stronger legislative majorities at the State Capitol and return fiscal sanity and common-sense governance to the Governor’s Mansion.

Please join me in thanking our former Chairman Trevor Dierdorff for his service and hard work. I would also like to thank our Secretary Kit Roupe and Treasurer Linda Potter for their tireless work the last few months. Without them, we would not have had such a successful past six months.

Again, thank you to everyone that supported me as Vice-Chairman, I plan to work just as hard for you as your Chairman.

God Bless,

Joshua Hosler

Chairman, El Paso County Republican Party 

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5 terms The Broadmoor agreed to in the city's study of selling Rosemont Reservoir

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 9:14 AM

Rosemont Reservoir is among the assets evaluated in a study of whether the city should sell the system to The Broadmoor. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Rosemont Reservoir is among the assets evaluated in a study of whether the city should sell the system to The Broadmoor.
In the latest issue of the Independent, we explore the status of talks between city-owned Colorado Springs Utilities and The Broadmoor over the resort's possible purchase of the city's Rosemont Reservoir water system.

Besides lots of appraisal information, we report some of the conditions the city imposed on The Broadmoor before undertaking an exhaustive analysis of such a deal.

Among those terms, The Broadmoor agreed to:

• Purchase the system for a "sum mutually agreed upon" that "shall not be less than the fair market value."

• Operate and maintain the system and assume responsibility for obtaining needed approvals, easements, licenses and permits for the system from the city, Colorado Springs Utilities and the U.S. Forest Service.

• Grant Utilities all necessary easements for its water system infrastructure on lands sold to The Broadmoor as part of the deal.

• Acknowledge that some components of the system need "significant infrastructure improvements or replacement" for which The Broadmoor would be responsible.

• Use the water to irrigate its golf courses and deliver any excess to Utilities; the resort would be barred from selling water to a third party, although the entire system could be sold to a buyer taking ownership of the hotel.
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Pikes Peak Environmental Forum to host first luncheon of the season

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 8:38 AM

The Pikes Peak Environmental Forum invites the public to explore environmental issues through the lens of Daphne Greenwood, a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs economics professor.

The luncheon will kick off a series of speakers from various
professional backgrounds. In the first lecture, Greenwood will tackle problems at the vanguard of environmental science, from climate change to water shortages. She will relay how economics can lead to improvements in these areas.

Greenwood, who’s been studying environmental economics over the past ten years, says economics and the environment aren’t opposing forces or even overlapping topics. In fact, she says the two have a strong connection and directly affect one another.

However, there needs to be shift in thinking in the economic realm.

“Some of these environmental services are becoming scarce, but we can’t use regular economic mechanisms to deal with it,” she said. “The traditions we are operating in are changing a lot, so we have to really re-think some of the economics to match with that.”

The PPEF began as a tool for professionals in Colorado Springs to delve into environmental issues that might affect businesses. In the past few years, it has morphed into more of a community discussion. PPEF Coordinator, Michele Mukatis, says all are invited to the event, which will take place Friday, Sept. 22, from 12-2 p.m. at the Margarita at Pine Creek. Bring plenty of questions.

If informative, groundbreaking research isn’t enough of a reason to attend, the event is also a substantial networking opportunity.

To RSVP, send an email to For those who do not have email, call 231-6265. Be sure to call in advance.

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Local churches plan fourth annual all-city volunteer day

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 8:37 AM


With all the political and religious divisiveness currently drawing lines in our country, it's refreshing to see those of different denominations coming together for a single purpose. On SERVE Day, Sept. 30, 25 Colorado Springs churches representing nearly every corner of the city are going to participate in CityServe 2017, "for the sake of mobilizing the faith community toward tangible acts of service to address some of the city's most pressing needs."

These needs could include everything from trail work and outdoor litter patrol to community service projects at community centers and schools. There will be 80 project locations around the city that volunteers can choose from. Those interested in lending their time can view the projects and sign up online.

In addition, multiple events will be held in conjunction with City Serve, including a leadership dinner with Mayor Suthers on the 27th (for local senior pastors and clergy); an ecumenical worship service (Sept. 29, 6:30 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, 219 E. Bijou St.); a SERVE Day celebration at the Switchbacks FC home game (Sept. 30, 6 p.m., Switchbacks Stadium, 6303 Barnes Road); and church commissioning and celebrations at various locations on Oct. 1.

See the highlights from last year's CityServe event in the video below:

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Monday, September 18, 2017

UPDATE: MRFF calls out chaplain who says not all religions need constitutional protection

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 10:01 AM

Weinstein: Still battling Christian control of the military. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Weinstein: Still battling Christian control of the military.

According to Stars and Stripes, the Air Force is standing behind Capt. Sonny Hernandez who says anyone serving in the military who doesn't adhere to Christianity is serving Satan.

—ORIGINAL POST 10:01 a.m. MONDAY, SEPT. 18, 2017—-

Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has complained for years that fundamental Christianity has taken over the military in violation of the Constitution.

Now, Newsweek reports, and other major news cites are following suit, that a chaplain who says Christians "serve Satan" if they support troops' right to practice other faiths.

Here's the first part of the Newsweek story:
A U.S. Air Force chaplain who ministers to thousands of men and women at an Ohio base is asserting that Christians in the U.S. Armed Forces “serve Satan” and are “grossly in error” if they support service members' right to practice other faiths.

In an article posted on three days ago, Captain Sonny Hernandez, an Air Force Reserve chaplain for the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, criticized Christian service members who rely on the Constitution “and not Christ.”

He wrote: “Counterfeit Christians in the Armed forces will appeal to the Constitution, and not Christ, and they have no local church home—which means they have no accountability for their souls (Heb. 13:17). This is why so many professing Christian service members will say: We ‘support everyone’s right’ to practice their faith regardless if they worship a god different from ours because the Constitution protects this right.”

Hernandez continued: “Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other anti-Christian worldviews to practice their religions—because the language in the Constitution permits—are grossly in error, and deceived.”

MRFF, Newsweek reports, has asked the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office to investigate Hernandez, noting "many complaints" about his commentary over the last several years.

In a statement, MRFF said Hernandez "blatantly and indisputably advocates the subordinating of the U.S. Constitution to his personal Christian ideology and violated his Oath of Office as a commissioned officer, as well as Title 18, U.S. Code § 2387’s criminal prohibitions against counseling or urging insubordination, disloyalty, or ‘refusal of duty’ to other military members."

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UCCS to spend $6 million on promotion and branding

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 9:56 AM

Apparently, 50 percent growth over 10 years isn't enough for UCCS. - COURTESY UCCS
  • Courtesy UCCS
  • Apparently, 50 percent growth over 10 years isn't enough for UCCS.

Enrollment has exploded at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs over the last decade, to more than 12,400 students. But that's not enough, apparently.

While some faculty members voiced needs for basic support during that spring's selection process of a new chancellor — Dr. Venkat Reddy was chosen — UCCS will spend $6 million over the next five years on promotion and building its brand.

The UCCS campus has responded to enrollment growth by spreading out and up. - COURTESY UCCS
  • Courtesy UCCS
  • The UCCS campus has responded to enrollment growth by spreading out and up.

Here's the announcement from UCCS via Communique, the official news publication for faculty and staff:
UCCS named Karsh Hagan, Denver, its agency of record to facilitate marketing, media, and advertising services, agency and university officials announced Sept. 14.

UCCS selected Karsh Hagan after a six-month competitive request for proposal process. UCCS is the third University of Colorado campus that has committed to a long-term partnership with Karsh Hagan. The $6 million, five-year contract between UCCS and Karsh Hagan and resulting campaigns will identify, strengthen, and elevate what is possible for the UCCS brand.

Karsh Hagan will provide strategic advertising, marketing, media placement, and design services for campaigns to help increase enrollment, improve visibility and public perception, and attract top-tier students. The brand and resulting campaigns will showcase UCCS’ academic excellence and establish a strong reputation in southern Colorado and beyond.

“Karsh Hagan’s experience with higher education and other University of Colorado campuses was certainly a determining factor in our decision,” Greg Hoye, director, University-Wide Marketing, said. “But, the main differential, is Karsh Hagan fully understands that all of the University of Colorado campuses are different. We are confident they will give us our own identity while creating the synergy that we believe is crucial to our brand and future success.”

A Colorado-based agency and one of the region’s largest, Karsh Hagan’s successful history with higher education spans three decades, including successfully launching a fundraising campaign for Regis University that generated more than $80 million and completing a compelling new brand for the 50th Anniversary of Colorado Mountain College to better identify with its communities and student population. In the last five years, Karsh Hagan has worked with 38 entities in the CU system, spanning across all of the CU campuses. In just two years, Karsh Hagan was able to create a 70 percent increase in awareness of business leaders and influences for CU Denver. CU Boulder media campaigns helped increase undergraduate applications and enrollments.

“Karsh Hagan is proud to add UCCS to our platform of CU campuses,” Kathy Hagan, co-CEO, Karsh Hagan, said. “We have the right team to bring this university to the forefront. UCCS has nationally ranked programs and an innovative campus that we will promote locally as well as nationally. We are ready to help expand their student potential and further establish their great community connections.”

Not everyone is applauding the contract. Professor of geography Tom Huber, who's been with UCCS since 1981 and also served as dean of the Graduate School and associate vice chancellor of research, is incensed.

"I have never before responded like this to a Communique article," he begins in his online post. "But this is the most egregious and obscene waste of money I have ever heard about at UCCS. We have instructors in LAS [College of Letters, Arts & Sciences] who don’t get paid enough to buy groceries, and we are spending over $1 million a year on this? We really need to get the campus priorities focused on our mission — the education of our students!"

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

UPDATE: Springs to make bid for Amazon second headquarters

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 4:29 PM

The mountains form a backdrop for Colorado Springs, which might be an ideal setting for Amazon. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • The mountains form a backdrop for Colorado Springs, which might be an ideal setting for Amazon.

UPDATE: The city's economic development officer Bob Cope tells the Indy this via email:

Since the release of the Amazon RFP on September 7th, City Economic Development staff has been in discussions with the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC and other community economic development partners regarding developing an appropriate strategy and response.

Colorado Springs offers an extremely attractive location for businesses, especially those in the tech sector. Our concentration of highly-educated individuals in both the military and professional sectors, combined with our local educational institutions provide excellent resources in terms of staffing. Our continued presence on lists such as U.S. News and World Report’s Best Places to Live lists speak to the quality of life we offer employees. Add to that our identity as Olympic City USA, and you have an extremely attractive option as a headquartering location.

Additional information will be available in the days ahead as the strategy unfolds.
——————-ORIGINAL POST 4:20 P.M. THURSDAY, SEPT. 14, 2017—————-

Several cities are falling all over one another to land Amazon's second headquarters in North America, and Colorado Springs is trying to elbow its way to the table, apparently.

We just received this statement from the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC:
Following Amazon’s recent announcement to develop a second North American headquarters, the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC is in the process of developing Colorado Springs’ response to the project’s request for proposals.

“We are currently exploring site options, incentives and other factors, as well as coordinating with the State of Colorado and the City of Colorado Springs, to create a competitive response to Amazon’s RFP,” said Hannah Parsons, chief economic development officer for the Chamber & EDC.

According to the RFP, Amazon’s decision drivers include the availability of existing buildings or facilities, a greenfield site, utility infrastructure, opportunities for renovation or redevelopment, labor force and incentives, among others. Complete details are available at Amazon’s RFP site. Responses are due Oct. 19, 2017.
Ahem. Let's review the following designations for Colorado Springs that might catch Amazon's eye:
• Number 1 American city for Human Capital and Lifestyle, 2017. fDi Intelligence.
• Top 10 or hottest real estate markets to watch in 2017, 2017. Trulia.
• No. 2 for most desirable places to live, 2017. U.S. News & World Report.
• No. 2 Best City for Veterans, 2016.
• Top 10 Best Big Cities for Active Families, 2016. Outside.

It's also worth noting that the Banning Lewis Ranch on the city's east side has lots of greenfields that could be a future site of the on-line giant.

We also asked the city of Colorado Springs what the city is doing on this front, city spokeswoman Jamie Fabos told us via email, "I know we are in possession of their RFP.
Bob Cope [economic development officer] is handling, and I am happy to ask him for details."

We'll circle back when we hear more.
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Douglas Bruce announces "anti" campaigns on four ballot measures

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 12:46 PM

Media gather to hear Douglas Bruce, right, hammer four revenue measures on the Nov. 7 ballot. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Media gather to hear Douglas Bruce, right, hammer four revenue measures on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Douglas Bruce held court today, Sept. 14, with the media outside Pioneers Museum to announce opposition to four ballot measures proposed by Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado Springs School District 11 and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority.

He also announced that he and former City Councilor Helen Collins have filed a campaign finance violation complaint with the Secretary of State's Office alleging D-11 illegally spent taxpayer money on a promotional card for its $42 million mill levy override question.

D-11 Public Information Officer Devra Ashby tells the Independent the district designed and printed 1,750 copies of the card at a cost of $312.49. "The card was printed before the Board of Education approved the ballot language and set the question," she says.

"We understand that the district is not permitted to spend taxpayer funds on 'promotion' of election questions," Ashby says via email. "However, we believe that the information on this document is factual and is important to the education of the measure as opposed to the 'promotion' of the measure. We continue to believe that voters have a right to be well informed and educated about factual matters."

She also noted the card, which has been distributed at meetings and from a counter at the central office, doesn't say anything about how voters should vote.

"Manipulating elections by misuse of public funds is a serious offense," Bruce and Collins say in their complaint.

At the news conference, Bruce also hammered the city for its stormwater measure, saying, "I have never seen such a dishonest ballot title as this one." He contends the city is playing a bait and switch game on voters by saying the $17 million to be raised through stormwater fees would fund drainage projects while plans call for using the money for police and fire.

Mayor John Suthers has said by funding stormwater through fees, $17 million would be freed up to spend on police and fire and other needs.

Bruce is the author of the statewide and city Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which limits how much new revenue governments can generate from year to year. He served in the State House and as a county commissioner, but was convicted of tax evasion in 2011 and did prison time following a judge's ruling that he violated probation. He was released several months ago.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Strawberry Fields planning continues, so does lawsuit

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 5:03 PM

John Spengler holds a sign saying not to trust the Palmer Land Trust. - PHOTOS BY PAM ZUBECK
  • Photos by Pam Zubeck
  • John Spengler holds a sign saying not to trust the Palmer Land Trust.
The third public meeting, held Sept. 12 at Cheyenne Mountain High School, for how The Broadmoor will develop Strawberry Fields open space drew dozens of people.

During the two-hour meeting, they were told that contractor N.E.S., Inc., is trying to map out where trails will be placed through the 189-acre open space acquired last year from the city, a highly controversial land swap that gave the city nearly 500 acres of trail easements and wilderness property. (Blog, May 24, 2016)

About 40 to 50 people showed up for the third planning session for Strawberry Fields open space.
  • About 40 to 50 people showed up for the third planning session for Strawberry Fields open space.

It wasn't a friendly crowd.

Many questions poured out, most notably from City Council President Richard Skorman. Skorman had served as president of Save Cheyenne, a nonprofit formed amid the land swap debate in 2016, but when he was elected to Council in April, he resigned from the group.

Still, Skorman obviously is passionate about the idea of the property falling into private hands and told N.E.S. personnel "it seems backwards" to determine trail locations before a development plan is unveiled. That development plan would use only about 8.5 acres on the open space's north end for a stable and pavilion for Broadmoor guests.

His comments drew enthusiastic applause from many who attended.

Skorman also has said the North Cheyenne Cañon master plan should include Strawberry Fields and be completed before any development takes place.

When Skorman asked how many would like to see a master plan developed first before talking about trails, more than half of the hands shot up.

Other questions included which trails would be used by Broadmoor horses, how the trails will be maintained whether an archeologist has been consulted and who's responsible for fire mitigation.

In answer to that last question, Tim Siebert, principal of N.E.S., said, "I'm assuming The Broadmoor is responsible."

John Spengler stood off to the side, holding a sign that read, "Don't trust Palmer Land Distrust." The Palmer Land Trust holds a conservation easement on Strawberry Fields. That means except for the 8.5 acres of developed area, the remainder is to be kept open for public use under conditions monitored by the trust.

Asked about the sign, Spengler told the Independent, "In November, the Palmer Land Trust told us they wouldn't proceed with the conservation easement until the litigation was done. One month later, they renegged on that."

Not true, says the trust's director Rebecca Jewett.

"That is a misunderstanding. We never said we would wait till the litigation is over," she says in an interview. "We said from the beginning we needed to go do the due diligence. We're not a party to the litigation, so we've been watching it, and if that goes in the direction that impacts the project, we will do what needs to be done. The easement itself was never contingent on the resolution of the litigation.

"We have always maintained our neutral stance on the exchange itself, and our goal has always been with the easement to assure public access," she adds. "There are so many avenues this could go down, I find it hard to speculate on the easement [if Save Cheyenne prevails]. If something undid the easement legally, I don't know what that would look like. We would work to ensure public access on that property. From our perspective, our goal has always been, regardless of land ownership, we want to assure public access."

Jewett also said the conservation easement requires The Broadmoor to go through a planning process and engage the public in that process, while reporting to the trust as things unfold. There also are timelines stated in the easement "to ensure what the public was told and promised will be delivered within a time frame," she says.

Meantime, the litigation continues.

On July 31, The Broadmoor and city filed a motion asking the Court of Appeals to dismiss the case because it's moot. After the District Court dismissed Save Cheyenne's lawsuit challenging the legality of the land swap, the motion states:

Save Cheyenne did not take an emergency appeal. Nor did it seek a
stay of the impending transaction from the district court or this Court. Instead, Save Cheyenne held off filing its notice of appeal until early January, three weeks after the district court’s ruling.

By then, the land exchange had closed. As part of the closing, and as required by the resolution, the Broadmoor conveyed a conservation easement covering Strawberry Fields to the Palmer Land Trust—an easement that ensures Strawberry Fields will be preserved and enhanced as parkland for the public to freely use and enjoy in perpetuity.

That the land exchange has already closed raises a threshold justiciability question: Is this case now moot? The answer is yes, for two reasons. First, this Court has held that when, as here, a plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent an event that has already occurred, the plaintiff’s case is moot. Second, rescinding the land exchange this late in the day would flunk the Colorado Supreme Court’s three-factor balancing test from DeVilbiss v. Zoning Board of Adjustment....
In response, Save Cheyenne filed a pleading saying the motion was an "end run" on the appellate process:
This closing took place in the face of a recorded lis pendens [pending legal action] filed in the real property records of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder. That lis pendens was noted by the title insurance company that closed the transaction as an exception to its policy of title insurance. Of course, a lis pendens was not even necessary in this case; both the City and the Broadmoor were parties to the litigation; they knew that Save Cheyenne had raised substantial questions about whether Colorado Springs had the authority to convey Strawberry Fields and that the case was within the appeal period. Heedless of the risk, they chose to close anyway. It is true that the Palmer Land Trust took a conservation easement over Strawberry Fields; however, that entity is bound by the lis pendens and only took the easement to protect the public from the consequences of the fact that their public park had been conveyed into private hands.

The Motion to Dismiss is an improper use of motion practice before this Court and a blatant effort to deprive Save Cheyenne of its appeal rights while introducing a litany of “facts” that are not in the appellate record. In the applicable precedent cases, some cited by Defendants and some not, when appellees have moved to dismiss an appeal as “moot,” they have also sought a remand to the trial court so that it may engage in fact-finding regarding matters that arose following the judgment that the appellees contended made the case “moot.” In this case, Appellees would much prefer to try their case before an appellate court through the use of ex parte affidavits, doling out selective “facts” about matters exclusively outside of Save Cheyenne’s knowledge and control and in the absence of discovery, cross-examination, or basic due process at an evidentiary hearing. This effort to end run the appellate process should not be rewarded by the Court and it constitutes grounds to deny the Motion to Dismiss on its own.

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Joanna Bean, former Gazette editor, promoted at UCCS

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 3:31 PM

Joanna Bean: In charge of UCCS alumni relations. - COURTESY UCCS
  • Courtesy UCCS
  • Joanna Bean: In charge of UCCS alumni relations.
Joanna Bean has been promoted to director of alumni relations and the Annual Fund at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Bean previously served as assistant director of University Communications and Media Relations, a post she held from Jan. 18, 2016, to Sept. 11, 2017, when she moved to alumni relations.

Bean was a longtime journalist at the Gazette, starting as a reporter in 1990 and rising through the ranks to editor in September 2014.

In her new UCCS role, she'll report to the vice chancellor for University Advancement and serve as a member of that team. She'll manage all aspects of the Alumni and Friends Association and the Annual Fund.

Her annual salary is $77,000.

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