Mulling a charter change
After Mayor Steve Bach's Jan. 9 firing of City Council legislative aide George Culpepper, Council appears united in the desire to change the city charter to give it control over its own staff.
The measure could be submitted to voters as early as November. Currently, the charter gives Council control over only the city auditor and the Colorado Springs Utilities CEO.
Bach fired Culpepper after he contacted Alaska Airlines seeking input about rules governing possession of marijuana at the Colorado Springs Airport. Five days after Culpepper's Jan. 3 phone call, the Bach administration announced it would impose "a rule prohibiting the possession of marijuana on certain portions of airport property."
While a clear majority supports the measure, Council appears split on whether to tackle other charter changes by forming a charter review committee. Council has authority to submit ballot measures to voters; the other path to the ballot is through gathering voter signatures. — PZ
Union vs. teacher evals
The Colorado Education Association, a large teachers union, has filed suit to challenge parts of a controversial law.
CEA is targeting parts of Senate Bill 191, signed into law in 2010. It changed the way principals and teachers are evaluated, so that half of the evaluation is now based on the academic performance of students. The law also changed tenure standards, requiring three consecutive years of "effectiveness" to earn tenure and two consecutive years of "ineffectiveness" to lose it.
Since it went into effect, some 100 Denver teachers have lost their jobs, without the due process that CEA argues is still required. A CEA press release stressed that the organization supports the new evaluation system overall.
CEA also states that it is working with state lawmakers to seek a legislative fix to the issue. But the Colorado Department of Education has said that it has urged the Attorney General's office to "vigorously defend this challenge." — JAS
Balink takes GOP gig
El Paso County Treasurer Bob Balink will now also serve as the Colorado Republican Party treasurer. Balink replaces Christine Mastin, who resigned to spend more time on her law practice and with her family.
"I look forward to contributing to the efforts of the Committee as we work to help get our Republican candidates elected and advance our message of fiscal responsibility and opportunity for all," Balink stated in a press release.
Balink served as county clerk and recorder from 2003 to 2010. He made waves in the 2008 presidential election for tactics that many said were aimed at suppressing the liberal vote. Most notably, Balink had letters sent to Colorado College students stating they were not eligible to vote if their parents claimed them as dependents elsewhere. He later retracted that statement, but warned the students they could face negative financial consequences if they voted in Colorado. Some experts said those warnings were erroneous.
Balink has stated that he will not seek another term as county treasurer. Three candidates are running for the office in November. — JAS
Manitou looking east
Manitou Springs has been looking at how to develop the corridor between U.S. Highway 24 and the gateway arch since 2006, when it created the Urban Renewal Authority. Now, plans created by local planning firm NES Inc. will be unveiled at 6 p.m., Feb. 20 at Manitou City Hall.
Says URA board chair Ann Nichols in a press release: "The Urban Renewal Authority board hopes to engage the community in order to get input and direction on the public's preferences for the future vision of the area."
The meeting will include 3D simulations of two land-use models, with "high quality commercial and mixed use development with improvements to infrastructure, public facilities and parking" as the focus.
Currently, east Manitou Avenue is considered a part of "No Man's Land," a stretch of Colorado and Manitou avenues with patchwork governance. The area's infrastructure has long been neglected; its aging motels have morphed into low-income housing; and the area has been a magnet for drug use and prostitution, among other crimes. However, police cooperation and active neighborhood and business groups have had a positive impact.
The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority also plans to redo the roads and infrastructure along the stretch of road in coming years. — BC/JAS