Bruce cited for trespassing
Douglas Bruce's crusade against the city's stormwater enterprise has landed him in a legal puddle. The 59-year-old former state legislator was ticketed for trespassing last Saturday, Aug. 15, while collecting signatures for his latest ballot measure outside the Costco at 5885 Barnes Road.
Bruce, outraged that Colorado Springs imposed fees back in January 2007 to fund stormwater improvements without asking voter approval, wants to phase them out. He views the payments as a violation of the TABOR amendment he authored, which requires voter approval of new taxes. His latest far-ranging measure is similar to the one that voters defeated last year.
Bruce says police have been called in the past when he's collected signatures outside Costco. Even though the city's since made its trespassing policy more restrictive, Bruce maintains he still has "a right to be at a public-access property." — AL
Poore to try, try again
Michael Poore, deputy superintendent of Colorado Springs School District 11, is hoping the third time is a charm.
Poore confirms he is applying for superintendent of Pueblo City Schools, a position vacated recently when John Covington left for Kansas City, Mo. Poore was a finalist for D-11 superintendent earlier this year but lost out to Nicholas Gledich. Later, he sought the top spot at Falcon School District 49, but lost to Brad Schoeppey. Both hires were out-of-state applicants.
Poore says he loves his D-11 position. But, he says, he's ready for a new challenge, and for him that means leading a district. He says he spent a lot of time considering whether to pursue the Pueblo job, discussing the matter with his wife and two teenage sons. Ultimately, he says, he felt certain he could make a commitment to the Pueblo community, and that he has a lot to offer that district.
"Everything they say they want in a superintendent, it seems like I might be a good match," he says. PCS will make a decision as soon as early fall. — JAS
Chavez misses deadline
As threatened by CEO Lawrence Hernandez, the Cesar Chavez Charter School Network has neglected to meet its deadline to turn over documents to auditors hired by the Colorado Department of Education.
Chavez schools, located in Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Denver, are being investigated by the state after claims of systemized cheating on state tests and financial mismanagement. Earlier this month, Hernandez sent an aggressive letter to state Education Commissioner Dwight Jones stating, among other things, that Chavez would not meet state deadlines for turning over evidence. Chavez missed the first state deadline on Aug. 12.
CDE spokesman Mark Stevens says Chavez will not suffer penalties for missing the deadline, but that the state expects the information "soon."
"We do expect them to cooperate, and we do expect the data will be coming," Stevens says. — JAS
Proposal for water-storage land not so sweet
Just as City Council finalized the U.S. Olympic Committee retention deal last week, developers Jim and Mark Morley offered to donate $12 million to the project. They asked city-owned Colorado Springs Utilities to pay them $38.8 million (with $12 million going to the USOC project) for a piece of land, which they said Utilities needs for a water-storage reservoir, and they claimed to be offering it at a discounted price.
What a deal.
Mmmm ... maybe not. Utilities officials recommended Wednesday to the CSU board (which is also the City Council) that the city should not accept the Morleys' offer. In a presentation at the board's regular meeting, officials concluded that the Morleys' price was too high, even though the property east of Pueblo might be useful for capturing and storing water.
"We don't need this property right now," Utilities CEO Jerry Forte said. "It's not something we can justify."
Utilities would have to spend $38.8 million for the land, then pay to build the reservoirs for treated water now being lost. With the reservoirs, the Morleys said, Utilities could store that water and sell it to downstream users. But Utilities says it is already recovering and selling 82 percent of that water. Besides, the lost water's current value is relatively low, costing Utilities a total of $260,000 from 2004 to 2008, spokesperson Janet Rummel says, including water, operations, staff time and a lease option.
Also, the Morleys said they already had secured all necessary permits for their parcel of about 1,000 acres. But Kim Headley, Pueblo County's planning director, says the Morleys only have a permit to excavate dirt and gravel, but no permit for a reservoir or anything else. — JAS
No quorum, no meeting
(Revised Friday, Aug. 22)As county business slows down in the summer months, county commissioners cut their twice-weekly meeting schedule in half, meeting only on Thursdays.
But on Thursday, Aug. 20, as it happened, “summer travel and scheduling conflicts” kept the board from having the minimum three members present, according to a county press release. Four commissioners were at different events, which meant no meeting this week.
All agenda items from Aug. 20 were moved to Aug. 27. The commissioners get back to their twice-weekly meeting schedule beginning Tuesday, Sept. 1. — AL
Lambert gets budget nod
Despite difficult economic conditions in Colorado throughout the past year, meetings of the Legislature's bipartisan Joint Budget Committee always went smoothly, according to Sen. Abel Tapia, a Pueblo Democrat and one of the committee's six members: "I don't know that we could have had a better JBC."
But the powerful committee will have a new blend this year with the appointment of arch-conservative Colorado Springs Rep. Kent Lambert to replace Rep. Don Marostica, a moderate who left to become the state's economic development director.
Tapia stopped short of predictions about having Lambert on the committee, saying, "I'm trying to keep a positive tone here. I told him I was very happy to meet him."
Lambert will be one of two Republicans on the committee, which seemed to make some conservatives gleeful.
"Rep. Lambert will be no one's patsy on the CO. Joint Budget Committee," read a Twitter post by state Sen. Dave Schultheis. "His intelligence will surpass the rest by miles." — AL
Frustration at farmers market
Last summer, Carol Oberg was a regular at the Memorial Park farmers market, showing up once or twice each week to stock up on locally grown fruits and vegetables. "It used to be a really enjoyable experience," she says.
That changed this summer when the city, concerned about the fruit-and-veggie crowd mixing with users of the new skate park, moved the market to a long, thin parking lot a few hundred yards west. The move created, in Oberg's words, a parking "fiasco," with shoppers now waiting for limited parking spots far away, then returning to their cars precariously balancing cantaloupes and boxes of peaches.
"I would say we are not enjoying the market," Oberg says.
Frank Schmidt, who runs the Memorial Park market as well as markets in Old Colorado City and at Doherty High School, says he's heard a chorus of such complaints from shoppers and vendors.
"You can see a little old lady carrying a watermelon for a block and a half," he says. "It's just terrible."
The market, which runs through early October on Mondays and Thursdays, starts early and wraps up by 2 p.m. each afternoon, and Schmidt says he's never seen skate-park crowds during those times. Kurt Schroeder, a parks and rec manager, wrote an e-mail to one frustrated shopper saying the city is aware of concerns and might reassess the location for next year. — AL
Compiled by Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.