Term limits, one more time
At their 9 a.m. meeting Thursday, El Paso County commissioners will once again take up the term limits question.
Expect a decision on whether to place a measure on the 2012 ballot that would clarify a vote from last November that allowed certain county officials to seek a third term. After voters complained the measure's wording was tricky, commissioners have been discussing whether to let voters revisit the issue.
Two possible measures will be discussed, continuing an unfinished debate from the commissioners' June 30 meeting. The first, proposed by Commission Chair Amy Lathen, would roll back the limit to two four-year terms, but allow current commissioners Sallie Clark and Dennis Hisey to seek third terms next year. The other, proposed by Commissioner Darryl Glenn, would bar Clark and Hisey from third terms.
The meeting will be on the third floor of the County Office Building, 27 E. Vermijo Ave. For updates, check csindy.com. — PZ
Velasquez placed on leave
The city has confirmed that Terri Velasquez, financial and administrative services director, has been placed on a 30-day paid administrative leave by Chief of Staff Steve Cox. Because it is a personnel issue, the city will not say why the move was made.
Velasquez, 47, is among the highest-ranking city employees. She is a Colorado Springs native and has worked for the city since 1987.
Velasquez is the second high-profile employee to be affected by Mayor Steve Bach's new administration. Shortly before Bach took office last month, Sue Skiffington-Blumberg, the city's manager of public communications, was forced to resign by Cox. At the time, Skiffington-Blumberg commented, "I would bet I may be the first, but I won't be the last." — JAS
Another look at Utilities
Three different city boards have already recommended that Colorado Springs Utilities be governed by an independent panel of experts. Now, City Council, acting as the Utilities Board, again has asked a city committee to cover that same ground. But this time, it could lead to a ballot measure down the road.
The Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC) took up a two-fold assignment Wednesday. The first part deals with governance structure and potential alternatives, including board member selection. A recommendation is due to the Utilities Board by Sept. 21.
The second involves a review of the Carver Policy Governance model, a method of oversight that includes monitoring the chief executive officer (Jerry Forte) for carrying out goals and objectives and monitoring for failure to meet those objectives. That recommendation is due Dec. 15.
Any change to the Utilities structure will require voter approval, because the City Charter vests Utilities oversight with City Council.
Three committees have previously recommended the board's governance be changed: the Charter Review Committee in 2004, UPAC in 2007 and the Sustainable Funding Committee in 2009. Some argue that Utilities, valued at nearly $4 billion, should be governed by a professional board with utilities expertise.
No recommendations have been specific, such as addressing how many posts should be elected or appointed, or whether board members should be paid.
Council President Scott Hente says Councilor Val Snider called for UPAC to revisit the issue. "It's a whole new process," Hente says. "New Council wants a new look."
Mayor Steve Bach supports the move by Council, saying in an e-mail statement: "With a new council, a new mayor and a new form of government, it is a fair question to look at everything pertaining to city government, including the enterprises." — PZ
D-11 remembers Burnley
Kenneth Burnley, former Colorado Springs School District 11 superintendent, died unexpectedly on July 2 in Alaska due to complications from knee-replacement surgery.
Burnley, who was 69, led D-11 from 1987 to 2000 before leaving to head Detroit Public Schools. At the time of his death, Burnley was superintendent of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District in Alaska. (He had worked in Fairbanks before coming to D-11.)
Burnley was named National Superintendent of the Year in 1993, and was known for his efforts to help lift the achievement of minority and poor children. But he was unpopular with teachers, whose pay and benefits he cut. Both insiders in the school system and outsiders in the business community questioned his policies and financial priorities.
D-11 Chief Financial Officer Glenn Gustafson describes Burnley as a tough, capable leader. "He [was] without a doubt the best organizational leader I had ever worked for," Gustafson says. "He was a very dynamic and energetic leader, and he was a true leader before it came in style. He was amazing."
Gustafson notes that Burnley, an African-American, was a wonderful role model in the black community at a time when few minorities held powerful positions in the Springs. His tenure at D-11 also was a relative eternity for a superintendent. — JAS
Compiled by J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.