When a television news story recently aired showing District Attorney John Newsome drinking about a gallon of beer in an afternoon and evening before driving a county-owned vehicle, the response was loud but restrained.
Yes, many suggested, thats a troubling revelation about the countys chief prosecuting attorney. But what difference could it make, given that Newsome was running unopposed to lead the office for another four years?
Well, it appears the report could have Newsome fighting for his job. Dan May, who lost in a bruising primary race against Newsome four years ago, announced Friday he will try to collect the 1,000 signatures needed so his name will also appear on the Aug. 12 Republican primary ballot.
May was smiling and relaxed as spoke at Colorado College to dozens of friends, supporters and colleagues about a decision he says he only made after hearing widespread concern about trust in the D.A.s office and the morale of those inside it. He was a prosecutor in the 4th Judicial District for 22 years before he lost the competition to Newsome, and he was Jeanne Smiths choice to head the office when she left the post in 2004.
After losing the election, May went to work as chief deputy district attorney for Arapahoe, Douglas, Lincoln and Elbert counties.
Roger Miller, a friend and neighbor who attended Fridays announcement, said he called May immediately after seeing the KOAA report and said, You need to run.
Newsome has apologized for the behavior shown on television but has insisted he was not drinking during work hours since he has an irregular schedule. He also said he believes he was able to drive safely. AL
D-11: See you in court
Colorado Springs School District 11 has filed a lawsuit against the Colorado State Board of Education and Hope Online Learning Academy Co-Op in state district court. At issue: local control.
D-11 board members were peeved when the state dismissed their recommendation to boot Hope out. They say the co-op began operating without district knowledge or approval in 2005. D-11 says a 2007 state law that requires districts to oversee learning centers is also intended to give districts the power to close those centers if they don't meet standards. The state board, which saved Hope on a partisan vote (Republicans voted to keep it), disagrees.
Among Hope's problems: In addition to abysmally low CSAP test scores, it has tangled finances including a multi-million dollar overbilling to the state based on bogus student counts.
A district press release states: "District 11 is also very concerned about a combination of laws that forces it to close its own schools based on low CSAP scores but does not allow it to reject even lower performing third party charter schools." JAS
Cheyenne faces nuisance case
The Colorado Springs Police Department has filed a public nuisance case against the owner of South Nevada Avenue's Cheyenne Motel, citing 526 calls for service to the police and 136 calls for service to city code enforcement since Jan. 1, 2006. Complaints include everything from assaults to dilapidated conditions.
A letter sent May 12 said the police department would work with the motel to come up with a plan for crime prevention, and code enforcement would provide the owners with specific upgrades to bring the building into compliance. If the Cheyenne's owner does not comply, the city attorney will be instructed to pursue "public nuisance actions."
"In addition to ridding a neighborhood of a cancer, it's also going to free up some resources," City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher says. "We have all these police resources that are being wasted down there."
The actions are part of a larger plan to clean up and redevelop much of South Nevada. JAS
City rated bike-friendly
The weather can be tricky and distances daunting, but Colorado Springs bicyclists have a new reason to be proud: Their city was just named a "bicycle friendly community."
The silver-level rating comes from the League of American Bicyclists, making Colorado Springs one of seven Colorado communities to win the distinction. Denver, as it happens, only holds a bronze rating.
Among the city's bike-friendly amenities reflected in the rating are nearly 70 miles of bike lanes on roads, local single-track trails for mountain bikes, bike racks on buses and a velodrome. Information about the rating and other bike-friendly communities can be found at bikeleague.org. AL
Cimarron bridge delayed
The partial opening of the Cimarron Street bridge will be delayed because bridge deck concrete does not yet meet strength requirements, the city announced Wednesday. Three lanes on the bridge will open May 22, instead of May 15 as originally planned.
"We set a very aggressive schedule for this project and when we lost some time this winter due to bad weather, it put us right up against our opening date," Public Works Director Ron Mitchell stated in a press release. "With the deck taking longer than we'd hoped to reach required strength, we have to postpone ... This is a 50-year investment. Another week is inconvenient, but reasonable." JAS
County judge gets nod in 4th District
Longtime El Paso County Court Judge Barney Iuppa got the nod this week to become the newest judge in the 4th Judicial District, which covers El Paso and Teller counties.
Iuppa has seen courts from all different sides, having served in the public defender's office and as district attorney (1985-89). He will make $118,972 in his new position, which is provisional for two years before voters get to decide if he should be retained in 2010. After that, he'll be in for a six-year term.
Gov. Bill Ritter announced Iuppa's appointment and also that of Magistrate Ann Marie Rotolo to serve as a county court judge. AL
Police spokesman promoted
The police department soon will have a new public voice. Lt. Skip Arms, spokesman for the Colorado Springs police, has been promoted to commander of the Information Services Division, which was formed in mid-2007.
Arms will oversee dispatch, data entry, planning and grants, records and identification, and he'll serve as liaison to the city information technology department.
"It's obviously a huge learning curve," he says. "Technology, and the ability to leverage technology to let us do our jobs better with limited resources, is certainly something that many police agencies are challenged by."
Arms will begin his new job in July, and will have time to train with his predecessor, retiring commander Robert Kean. Until then, Arms will be training his replacement, who will be announced next week. JAS
Grace case going to trial
The dispute between the Episcopal Diocese and breakaway congregants over who owns Grace Church will have to be settled at trial, a judge ruled this week. District Court Judge Larry Schwartz ruled the matter could not be settled based on the law alone.
The Rev. Don Armstrong and other church leaders voted last year to leave the American Episcopal Church in favor of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a mission of the conservative Church of Nigeria. The move prompted a lawsuit when stayed firmly planted in the $17 million church.
A Grace official told the Denver Post he expects a trial to begin early next year.
Compiled by Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.