It was quite a year in the village. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa received imaginary job offers. Penny Culbreth-Graft, Colorado Springs' ex-city manager and financial witch, I mean wizard, lost her California house to foreclosure. A couple of local developers were hit with a 33-count indictment alleging they did, well, what developers do. The Gazette's circulation, which hit a high of 101,000 in 1996, has dropped somewhat and is now officially Dave and Doris in Calhan.
The big-hearted city and county both ended the always-popular camping nights by homeless people, forcing those less fortunate to look for other outdoor recreational opportunities. A popular one is shivering. And as we prepare to do it all over again, here's one last look back.
Luckily Still Finding Time to Turn Off Old People's Heat
City-owned Colorado Springs Utilities — with a monopoly on our water, sewer, gas and electrical services — prepares to spend $3.25 million this year to market itself, including $752,542 for the public relations team.
Apparently the Offers Were Mailed to the Wrong House
Sheriff Terry Maketa announces he's not running for re-election, opting instead to choose from many job offers he has had in the private and public sectors. Within a few weeks, he rejoins the race.
Wait a Minute. Some of Us Like Hurling Criticism From the Sidelines
Broadmoor president and CEO Steve Bartolin tells City Council: "When the economic climate becomes difficult, some organizations do better than others. By tapping the entrepreneurial survival instincts of those who run these organizations ... we can help our city managers versus hurling criticism from the sidelines."
Boy, You Just Can't Trust Anybody Anymore
Developers Ray Marshall and James Brodie appear in court on a 33-count felony indictment for securities fraud and theft stemming from real estate deals. On an unrelated note, Mayor Lionel Rivera refuses to make direct eye contact with anyone for a month or so.
A Penny Here, A Penny There
The San Diego County Credit Union reclaims City Manager Penny Culbreth-Graft's home in Huntington Beach, Calif., where she was city manager before starting her job here in 2008. Culbreth-Graft and her husband, William Graft, had a first mortgage of $1,141,000, with a second loan from the Huntington Beach City Employees Credit Union for $250,000.
City Council Eyes the Future Through Night-Vision Goggles
The village begins shutting off 8,000 to 10,000 streetlights, a plan leaders say will save $1.2 million in 2010. In 2011, the city will replace all the paved roads with dirt trails. Each family will be issued one horse.
I Hope Fisher DeBerry Doesn't Hear About This
The Air Force Academy sanctions a prayer circle for pagans and earth worshippers. Jesus responds by making the women's basketball team lose a game 349-11.
Homeless Meet at REI to Discuss Options
Our compassionate City Council gives initial approval to an ordinance banning what it calls "camping" on city property, putting an end to homeless camps along creek beds and other areas during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Halt or I'll Throw Up
El Paso County Sheriff's Detective Jerald Day gets drunk, flashes his handgun and threatens officers of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Castle Rock Police Department, as described in El Paso and Douglas counties' records. He's jailed on $300,000 bail.
I Love It When Cinderella Bends Over to Wash the Floor
Boobs become a big topic in the village as a local advertising exec decides puppet cleavage might offend his grandmother. Controversy is over Tony Award-winning musical called Avenue Q appearing in our town, starring female puppet Lucy the Slut. A bus bench ad showing her puppet cleavage is rejected by Lamar Advertising's Jeff Moore, who says: "If I have to explain it to my 4-year-old or my grandmother, we don't put it up."
And Then I Got, Uh, One of Them Rhodes Scholar Things
John Gardner, information systems manager for the county Clerk and Recorder's Office, is promoted to chief deputy despite earlier revelations of Gardner claiming on a job application that he had a degree from Montana State University, while Montana State has no record of such a thing.
2:15 p.m.: Drove to Shady Place, Took Nap
The village police department changes policy on police car use following critical news stories. Under new guidelines, officers must fill out paperwork stating where the car was driven, and for what purpose.
Ooohhhh, the Big Scary City Council Says No Bonuses
Colorado Springs Utilities again mocks its "bosses" — our mayor and City Council — by handing out raises to workers instead of bonuses, following Council's order to halt the bonus program.
And So Is Having a Dolt for a Mayor
Mayor Rivera rejects an offer from animal rights group PETA to put trash cans back in our parks. PETA trash cans would have "eat no meat" ads and a woman in a lettuce bikini. Mayor Einstein says he'd rather have parks filled with garbage, and that the PETA ads are inappropriate and wrong.
Internet photos show El Paso County Sheriff's Office dispatcher Tiffany Huntz naked with heavy rivets through her nipples. She has another piece of shiny hardware piercing her, uh, well, the area that rhymes with the capital of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. (Here many of you are saying, "Good Lord, she pierced her Saskatoon?" and I'd say no and suggest you go look at a map.)
Paging Ben Dover
The stories also detail a prank in which Huntz tricked another female dispatcher into shouting the name of accident victim Fola Seamen over the department radio channel before the woman realized that Fola Seamen sounded a lot like, well ...
Code 8. Code 8. Vagina Ring Snagged on Chair
At the height of the controversy over sheriff's department dispatcher Huntz and her nakedness, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners pass a resolution honoring dispatchers. From Commissioner Amy Lathen: "It is so reassuring to know that in times of distress we can just call and you will be right there." You know, unless the phone cord gets snagged on a nipple ring.
See "Kansas to Host 2022 Olympics" on Page 3
A startling Indy cover story reports that Colorado Springs will convert four community centers into medical methamphetamine dispensaries with on-site meth labs. The paper receives a loud and angry reaction from villagers who are then told that it's April 1 and the story is perhaps a joke.
MHC (Maybe He's Crazy)
Gen. Gene Renuart of NORAD says wind farms pose problems for military radar. From the general: "A formal vetting process is required with the necessary authorities to prevent projects from interfering with the defense of North America, while supporting the expansion of alternative energy sources, such as wind farms." No one knows what Gen. Renuart is talking about and everyone goes on about their business.
Uh, Would That Include Doug Bruce?
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region welcomes a new CEO, Jan McHugh-Smith, who was the boss of the SPCA in San Francisco and came under fire there for saying that the California shelter would continue euthanizing animals with severe health or behavioral issues.
Jerry Forte Pulls Rib Muscle Laughing at Recession
Although the bonus program was officially banished for Colorado Springs Utilities workers, CEO Jerry Forte pulls in a $31,411 bonus this month as a reward for his work in 2009. He gets a second bonus of $39,852, which goes into his retirement account. Forte's salary is $276,750.
Ha. I Get It
In a story about a new state law easing penalties for public urination, the Indy includes this actual sentence: "The bill also creates stiffer penalties for public masturbation."
But We Fixed It
Four months after announcing rampant crime lab mistakes, Colorado Springs law enforcement officials hold a news conference and assure the public that the problem had been solved. "We don't know exactly what the error was ..." says Ian Fitch of the Metro Crime Lab.
And What About Your Tail?
Officials find two ponds in Ellicott containing up to 100,000 gallons of liquid laced with toxic heavy metals. The land is owned by Diamond Wire Material Technologies. A Diamond Wire spokesman denies any wrongdoing and abruptly ends a news conference by waving all five of his hands in the air and leaving the room.
It's Not Like That's Where Our Campaign Contributions Come From
City Council hints that turning off some 8,000 streetlights to save a few bucks was not affecting neighborhoods evenly. City staff admits that streetlights in parts of the Old North End and Broadmoor areas had been spared on the assumption that costs were being covered by citizens.
Especially by Glenn Beck
Ex-Springs School District 11 superintendent Ken Burnley is hired as super of Mat-Su schools in Alaska, according to the Frontiersman newspaper in Wasilla, home of former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Burnley says his top priority would be trying to keep any more Palin kids from getting knocked up.
And Your Little Dog, Too
City Manager Penny Culbreth-Graft orchestrates her own bizarre resignation, only to stomp out of her last City Council meeting claiming she's been wrongfully fired and deserves $105,000 in severance pay. Friends think there are several plausible reasons for her anger. Among them: A house fell on her sister.
Sure, but Their Corrections Are Still Funny
The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations report shows the Gazette's daily home delivery circulation has sunk to 58,710. In 1996, the newspaper had 101,578 subscribers.
Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln...
Despite a skeleton staff and ongoing layoffs and a bankruptcy filing by its parent company, Gazette publisher Steve Pope says things couldn't be better. In a letter to readers, Pope says the company is "strong and ready to meet head-on the challenges of today and the future..."
Now Let's Focus on the Roach Clip Ordinance
Medical marijuana centers will continue to operate in Colorado Springs under a pre-application ordinance passed by City Council. The ordinance requires a $500 application fee for each of the three facets of MMJ production: growing, dispensing and creating edibles. In lieu of cash, the city says it will accept bags of Cheetos and frozen pizzas.
And Do Not Leave Pick-a-Nick Baskets Unattended
In annual bear alert, Division of Wildlife actually says we should install round doorknobs to thwart bears because bears do not have, in technical terms, "thumbs" or "hands," and they find round knobs difficult to use.
Kneel Before Me
Ted Haggard starts new church called St. James. Name is chosen because Our Lady of the Dumb Bastards Who Still Think I'm Not in It for the Money won't fit on sign.
And Last Christmas, He Found Reindeer Tracks on His Roof
The plan to install four traffic cameras at dangerous intersections to hand out tickets to red-light runners stays on the City Council table for further consideration. Police Chief Richard Myers says he doesn't view the cameras as a revenue generator.
Just Makes You Proud to Live Here
The county commissioners' anti-homeless "camping ban" goes into effect. The law is aimed at the homeless who were kicked off city land earlier in the year by a new city ordinance.
All I Have to Fear Is Fear Itself
The Denver Post reports that Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis plagiarized large portions of an essay and submitted it as his own work in a paper, part of a deal that earned him $300,000 from a foundation. McInnis calls it a "non-issue."
McInnis Says, "Mr. Gorbachev Tear Down This Wall"
A day later, McInnis, as politicians do, faces the charges head-on. By that I mean he blames the plagiarism on an 82-year-old man in Glenwood Springs — who responds by calling McInnis a liar.
And I'm Now Banned From Home Depot
Indy writer Bill Forman begins a story like this: "It's Saturday night and I'm watching a bunch of men masturbate. I've never met any of them before, and I'll never see any of them again. At least, that's what I'm hoping." I do not know what the story is about. I make note to avoid handshake with Bill next time I see him.
Our Pal Focus
Focus on the Family's Facebook page attracts 15,000 new fans for a total near 67,000 as the anti-gay organization reaches out beyond more traditional media. From a Focus spokeswoman: "Radio doesn't exactly scream modern." And when we think modern, we surely think Focus on the Family. For example, it recently suggested brand-new ways for woman to walk 10 steps behind man without spilling any water from the bucket she is carrying on her head.
Just Wait 'Til Your Dad Gets Home in 30 Years
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa defends his new rule that inmates can only use postcards for outside written communication. The ACLU gets involved and an inmate argues that postcards make him "afraid to give parenting advice to a spouse for fear their kids will read it first."
Indy writer Bill Forman is done watching men masturbate and turns his attention to music with this awe-inspiring sentence: "From M.I.A.'s postmodern hip-hop to the dubstep dementia of Skream and Spaceape, today's electronic dance innovators still lean heavily on the sounds and vision of their predecessors, be it Detroit techno, German krautrock, Jamaican dub or U.K. garage."
Right Next to a 7-Eleven and Nine Pizza Places
Citing a need for expanded space and a better location, the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council relocates to new headquarters.
Well, That's Reassuring
Jerald Day, the former El Paso County sheriff's detective, pleads not guilty by reason of insanity in a case stemming from a drunken episode in which he waved a gun at police and was eventually taken down by police dogs. He's still working as a civilian in the El Paso County jail.
And We Don't Want Any Irish
According to a new study, the Air Force Academy, long criticized for a Christianity-only mentality, must make improvements in the area of religious tolerance. News of the study reaches the Jewish cadets late, because they've been outside in the rain doing their 5,000 extra daily Jewish push-ups.
They Grow Up So Fast, Thank God
The last of our five children leaves for college, making us empty-nesters. My wife grieves by putting on a naughty nurse uniform, opening a bottle of champagne and showing me the spot in the living room where she'd like to put the stripper pole.
At Least It's Not the Whole State
The Air Force says it wants to fly C-130s and CV-22 Ospreys at altitudes down to 200 feet in an area from the southern Colorado border to Black Forest and Monument Hill, out to Grand Junction, and from La Junta westward to the Utah border.
In response to the Air Force proposal, local activist Bill Sulzman says: "I know this is a military-friendly area, but when is enough enough?" That night, he is awakened by a 4,500-pound Tomahawk cruise missile that the Air Force says accidentally fell down Sulzman's chimney.
Pot Calls Kettle Black
Former Gazette editorial writer and current City Councilman Sean Paige blasts the daily newspaper for "selling out its editorial independence in pursuit of one publisher's personal agenda."
And 99.9 Percent Think Doug Bruce Is a Troll
In a poll commissioned by the Independent, 47.3 percent say things in our village are moving in the wrong direction, 29.3 percent say we're heading in the right direction, and 16.3 percent say they would like to have a marijuana dispensary "close to my house" because of transportation problems caused when "someone stole my skateboard."
From the Book of Genesis 392.000
The Rev. Don Armstrong, accused of stealing $392,000 from Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church while serving as its leader, pleads "no contest" to a third-degree felony theft charge with a deferred sentence.
But Look at That View
The 2010 Quality of Life Indicators report is released this week, and for El Paso County shows an alarming increase in the number of kids living in poverty; salaries and wages having dropped by 10 percent since 2001; and methamphetamine use that's 40 to 50 percent higher than other large Colorado counties.
Moe, Larry and Tom
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and GOP challenger Ken "Can You Spare a" Buck square off in a debate in our village. Onlookers gasp as they realize a cold, hard truth: One of them will likely be sent to Washington. On the governor side, third-party candidate Tom "If You Don't Have a Brain, You Don't Need a Helmet" Tancredo misses his debate after falling off his motorcycle earlier in the week.
Weeeeeee ... weeeeeeeeeeee
American Medical Response, the county's ambulance service, proposes a 5.9 percent rate hike. If you are sick or injured, cost of transportation to a hospital increases to $502.56 from $474.57. If you only have $200, the driver will slow down, stick his head out the window and make a loud siren sound with his mouth.
First, Throw Away Their Tents and Blankets
Our police department prepares to train other cops from around the nation on how to deal effectively and compassionately with homeless people. (On an unrelated note, Focus on the Family plans to host gay and lesbian dances every Friday night.)
Geez, Who's Third?
Forbes magazine ranks Colorado fourth on its "Best States for Business and Careers" list. No one in Colorado is able to buy the actual magazine because it costs $4.50.
Now Eating His Salmon With Lemon and a Fork
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo neuters Emmett the grizzly bear.
Wrong Mayor Question
City Clerk Kathryn Young says the Mayor Project has gathered enough signatures to put a "strong mayor" question on the Nov. 2 ballot. Mayor Lionel Rivera doesn't understand the measure and frantically starts gulping down steroids.
Seeking Clues to Pablo Picasso's Inner Demons, Aisle 12
The Walton Family Foundation, established by Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, gives Colorado College a $10 million matching grant. Under terms of the agreement, each new student arriving at the college will be greeted by an old person.
Focus on the Family says it will sponsor the anti-gay "Day of Dialogue" on April 18 to counter the national gay and lesbian "Day of Silence," in which students nationwide take a vow of silence to bring attention to gay and lesbian bullying. From Focus spokesperson Candi Cushman: "We're trying to raise awareness that more than one side needs to be heard on the issue of homosexuality, and we're helping to ensure Christian students have the chance to express their viewpoint."
Yeah, Sure. Then Explain Those Years in Amarillo
Indy executive editor Ralph Routon begins a column like this: "Let's start with an admission: I don't use marijuana. Never have and probably never will."
Is That a Pen in Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Rich Tosches?
Airline passengers in Colorado Springs and across the nation continue to be angry about having their crotch or groin areas searched by the Transportation Security Administration (motto: "In Some Places They Charge $20 to Touch You Like That ... $40 If You Want 'Long Time.'") Believe me, it's not fun for some of us.
Just in Time for Letters to Santa
Responding to the threat of legal action, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa ends a policy of forcing jail inmates to write letters only on postcards, subjecting them and family members to possible embarrassment. And the change allows inmates to share their holiday "gift" requests to Santa with nobody looking.
Bring 'Em On. We've Got Used Cars to Sell
Fort Carson will welcome an Army Combat Aviation Brigade, according to Mike Kazmierski, CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. Kazmierski says the new unit will bring 2,800 soldiers, their families and support personnel, opening up the possibility for our village of several thousand more lousy jobs.
Because Nobody Wants Stoned, Groggy Altar Boys. Well, Almost Nobody
The Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs asks City Council to include their churches in a proposed 1,000-foot buffer zone around medical marijuana dispensaries. Council says no.