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Norris-Penrose deal off, balloons fly away, Bach opposes drainage measure, and more


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Norris-Penrose deal off

The Broadmoor has backed out of a deal with the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation to buy the Norris-Penrose Event Center, Steve Bartolin, hotel president and CEO, confirms to the Indy.

Bartolin wouldn't specify why the Broadmoor decided against the acquisition, but he said it was not due to the lawsuit in which the rodeo is currently snagged ("A major hitch," News, July 23). While rumors have floated that a settlement has been reached, court records show the suit as open.

Robert Norris, a former board member and major donor to the rodeo, sued the rodeo claiming that it failed to pay back a $1 million loan he provided to finish improvements to the event center. The Independent called Norris to ask if a settlement was imminent, but could not reach him by deadline. — JAS

Schools initiative coming

The Colorado Secretary of State's Office has verified that petitions for Initiative 124, "School Board Open Meetings," is sufficient, meaning it will appear on the November ballot.

The measure seeks to create more transparency in schools by requiring an open meeting if "members of a board of education, school administration personnel, or a combination thereof" are discussing a collective bargaining agreement, such as teachers' salaries, with an employee group, such as a teachers union. Republicans have long sought to open such meetings.

Supporters of the initiative note that such negotiations determine the spending of huge amounts of public money. Detractors say negotiations can be delicate and shouldn't be tried in the press.

Two other initiatives have also been confirmed for the ballot. Initiative 5, "Definition of a Person and Child," otherwise known as the Personhood question, seeks legal rights for fetuses. Initiative 135, "Horse Racetrack Limited Gaming Proceeds for K-12 Education," which would allow slot machines, card games, roulette and craps at horse tracks and use the revenues to fund K-12 education. — JAS

Balloons flying away

Labor Day weekend: That's the last time the Colorado Springs Balloon Classic will launch from Memorial Park, organizers said on the Classic's website last week, blaming "politics within the city" and "increasingly rigid special events procedures."

Classic officials refused to give interviews, but added in a news release that this, its 38th year, will be its last here due to "an onerous 2015 LART (city sponsorship) application." The Lodgers and Auto Rental Tax Committee has adopted a program in which special events must document their economic impact in order to win funds.

Councilor Jan Martin, a LART Committee member, says via email, "We were surprised and so sorry to hear the news ... that the iconic Balloon Classic doesn't plan to return next year."

Last year, Classic organizers and the city tussled over some charges before the city backed down. Martin noted that this year, the city is providing the Classic with $32,000 for police and fire services and $12,000 for barricades. Regardless, the Classic's statement says it won't apply for 2015 funds and plans to organize events in other cities.PZ

Drainage-measure drama

After two years of study, a ballot measure that would impose fees for flood control appeared poised for the Nov. 4 ballot after the Colorado Springs City Council approved an agreement Aug. 12 to cooperate with regional governments.

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners was expected to refer the measure to voters on Tuesday but hadn't acted as of the Indy's press time. The measure would assess $7.70 a month on the typical residential homeowner and raise about $39 million a year for projects, maintenance and emergencies.

Last week, Springs Mayor Steve Bach said he opposed the Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority and called the fee a tax. Bach has proposed funding stormwater problems as part of the city's infrastructure needs, including roads, with either a debt measure or a sales tax increase.

County Commissioner Amy Lathen says polling shows the mayor's stance won't influence voters one way or another. — PZ

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