Monument woman accuses Springs Utilities of defamation

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Drake Power Plant - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Drake Power Plant
Leslie Weise has filed a notice of claim with city-owned Colorado Springs Utilities, alleging defamation of character.

The action stems from Weise's pursuit of an air quality study she contends shows the downtown Drake Power Plant in violation of government standards.

In an email statement, she says:
You are likely aware that sulfur dioxide pollution, caused mostly from coal combustion from power plants such as the Drake Plant in downtown Colorado Springs where over 300,000 people live within a five-mile radius of the plant, is responsible for triggering asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses when people are exposed to levels in the air (in parts per million) that exceed federal NAAQS air quality standards for even a very short duration. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind who has studied this matter, that if the Air Quality Study commissioned by Colorado Springs Utilities showed air quality in compliance with state and federal regulations for safe levels of SO2 pollution, it would already be made public in its entirety. Instead, the City has chosen to attack my credibility and now continues that attack on my professional livelihood, to desperately cover up its misdeeds of its knowledge and concealment of information showing unsafe air quality from the community.
Utilities has denied any violation.

From the notice of claim letter:
Ms. Weise will allege in her federal complaint that the defendants have retaliated against her for having engaged in speech protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. These statements are violative of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and are actionable torts for libel, slander, and libel per se under Colorado law as well. The defendants have knowingly and recklessly made false, retaliatory and defamatory statements about Ms. Weise, a private person, including those constituting defamation per se, with malice and/or reckless disregard for the truth of the statements, by officials and employees of the City of Colorado Springs. City officials; and who have also knowingly made false statements concerning certain statements Ms. Weise made regarding air quality and public safety. The false and defamatory statements done in retaliation for her protected speech have caused harm to Ms. Weise’s professional reputation, and have also caused damages in the forms of emotional distress. The City’s retaliatory and illegal treatment of Ms. Weise is in violation of her First Amendment Constitutional Rights to free speech, intended to prevent her from speaking out about harmful levels of air pollution in Colorado Springs, and to block the public from learning the truth of important air quality information that is in the City’s possession.

As a result, Ms. Weise has suffered emotional, physical and economic damages from the retaliatory, defamatory and other willful and wanton illegal conduct by the City, and she continues to suffer harm knowing that the City’s malicious conduct toward her continues.
Read the letter here:
See related PDF 2017-05-12_Notice_of_Claim.pdf
We've asked Utilities for a comment and will circle back if we hear anything. The city rarely comments on pending litigation, or threatened litigation.

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