Bruce could cost taxpayers
Anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce missed the Aug. 3 city deadline to turn in signatures for his latest ballot initiative aimed at city government. But apparently, he plans to turn them in later this month anyway, a move that would trigger a special election on Dec. 15, about a month after the already-scheduled November mail election. The extra election would cost city taxpayers between $480,000 and $625,000.
Bruce told the Gazette that he did not need to meet the city deadline and that City Clerk Kathryn Young was "utterly incompetent." Bruce wants voters to prevent city enterprises from paying the city a PILT, or payment in lieu of taxes. If his question were to pass, it would further devastate the city budget, which would lose about $27 million a year from Colorado Springs Utilities alone.
Bruce has previously posed essentially the same question to voters. They defeated it soundly in April's municipal election. — JAS
Drummond won't seek a second term
Eric Drummond is on his way out as mayor of Manitou Springs, and City Councilor Marc Snyder indicates he could decide as soon as Thursday to run for the job.
Drummond, ending his first two-year term, announced Tuesday he won't run for re-election in November. Snyder, in his sixth year on Council, says he's "already getting an incredible amount of support and encouragement to go for it. I feel like I'm ready for the job."
The attorney and 15-year Manitou resident says he wouldn't consider running for mayor if Drummond were seeking a second term. "But now that he's made it official, I'm seriously thinking about it," Snyder says. "I've gained a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge and I think I can put it to good use for the town." Another rumored candidate is Rick Barry, who has not previously held elected office.
First appointed to Council in 2007 to fill a vacancy, Drummond ran for mayor and won 75 percent of the vote in November of that year. (Manitou's mayor serves two-year terms, while Councilors have four-year terms.) During his tenure, he pushed city approval for a major expansion to the Cliff House at Pikes Peak. But budget shortages have meant not filling three top positions: city administrator, public works director and code enforcement director.
Drummond e-mailed a lengthy statement calling his service a privilege. The entire statement:
"It has been a privilege being on Council and being Mayor of Manitou Springs. It's taken real dedication and hard work to accomplish what this Council has achieved on behalf of the City the last 18 months. I have been a Co-Chair of the District 14 Mill Levy Override Committee, President of the Economic Development Council, appointed City Council Member and elected Mayor of Manitou Springs November of 2007, in addition to being on the Board of Directors of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Board of Directors of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and a Member of the Colorado Municipal League's Energy Issues Committee (now the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee), volunteering on an almost full time basis since my family and I arrived in town.
"At the end of my term I intend to take a break and spend a few more evenings with my family and maybe catch up on some missed soccer games and school plays. I want to thank my wife, Elizabeth, and my two kids, Natalie and Jordan, for graciously supporting me during my campaign two years ago, through missed parties and basketball games and for being so supportive of my efforts to volunteer on behalf of my community. I am proud to represent my neighbors on this council and my community across the state as Mayor of Manitou Springs and intend to continue helping the town to which I’ve dedicated so much of my time and effort."
Also Tuesday, Manitou's Council failed to approve a replacement for just-resigned member Shannon Solomon, deadlocking 3-3 between activist Matt Carpenter (best-known as a long-distance runner) and bed-and-breakfast owner Karen Cullen. Solomon's position will remain vacant until the election. Another Councilor, Donna Ford, is term-limited. — RR
Care and Share loses leader
It's been a tough year for Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado. First, CEO Nicholas Saccaro left for a new job. Now, interim CEO Alex Edwards is also leaving.
Edwards' last day is Aug. 14. He's moving back to his hometown of Omaha, Neb., to accept a job with Feeding America, the national network that provides free food to Care and Share and other food banks nationwide.
"I'm going to try to take things to the next level and work on fighting hunger from a national level," he says.
Edwards says he's glad to stay in the business he loves, while moving closer to family, especially since he and his wife, KKTV station manager Emily Edwards, are expecting their first child in October. (She's leaving with him, so KKTV is also losing a leader.)
In nearly four years with Care and Share, Edwards has seen food distribution rise from about 6 million pounds a fiscal year to 14.5 million pounds. Care and Share has opened new warehouses in Colorado Springs and Pueblo and expanded its fleet of delivery vehicles. But the past couple months have been disappointing: A two-month drive intended to feed families this summer has raised less than $10,000 of its $100,000 goal.
"The funds are a little short right now," Edwards says, "and food is a little short right now." A yet-to-be-named interim will fill in for Edwards, and a permanent CEO is expected to be hired in September. — JAS
Share the road (or pay)
Attention, motorists: The next time you pass a bicyclist with inches to spare, you could be facing a ticket. Colorado Senate Bill 148 is now in effect, dictating that drivers must stay at least 3 feet away from cyclists. The bill was co-sponsored by state Rep. Michael Merrifield, who is — in case you didn't know — one heck of a cyclist himself.
"[T]he bill codifies the common-sense behavior most drivers already show by giving cyclists a bit of room," Merrifield stated in a release. "In this economy, in this environment, in this state, this new law will perform a valuable service: It will encourage safe bicycling. And given the country's rising obesity rates and a growing interest in clean transportation, anything that encourages people to get on a bike is a positive." — JAS
D-11 releases meal details
Free and reduced-price school breakfasts and lunches help many parents feed their families. But they must meet income requirements that change annually.
Colorado Springs School District 11 just released its income caps for 2009-10: A family of three can make no more than $23,803 a year to qualify their child for free meals, and no more than $33,874 for reduced-price meals. A family of four can make up to $28,665 for free meals and $40,793 for reduced-price meals.
D-11 parents should receive application forms by mail, but additional copies are available in each D-11 school principal's office. Parents can submit an application any time during the school year, which is encouraged if a family's income changes. — JAS
Blue goodbyes at CSPD
Two longtime Colorado Springs cops are kissing their badges goodbye.
Deputy Chief Steve Liebowitz put on the uniform back in 1979, and worked his way up the ranks. He was sworn in as a deputy chief on March 10, 2005.
Also departing is Cmdr. Harry W. Killa II, who's been with the force since 1968, making him one of the longest-serving Colorado Springs police officers in history.
The retirements come even as the police force is facing severe cuts in 2010 that could lead to layoffs of sworn officers. — JAS
Compiled by Ralph Routon and J. Adrian Stanley.