Leaders going to Washington this weekend
Colorado College's student Democrats have spent weeks knocking on doors to register new voters in what they call "dorm storms," culminating with last Friday's CC Votes Early rally. After listening to speakers, students climbed aboard a bus downtown to vote, armed with new voting guides and informational pamphlets.
Alex Truax, head of the CC Democrats, and fellow student Ben Quam say the club's main goal involves much more than one rally; they will continue educating students on ballot initiatives and will host events Tuesday including rides to and from the polls. "We want to maximize turnout and really get everyone's voices heard," says Truax.
Truax and Quam were pushed into action two years ago after current County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink published false information telling students they could not vote here if their parents claimed them as dependents. Balink later admitted his mistake. Truax and Quam helped organize a rally that attracted hundreds, and state Rep. Michael Merrifield, now running for county commissioner, remembers students "lined up and stayed in that ballot area for six hours so they could have the right to vote."
Merrifield knows firsthand the importance. He won his first state House seat in 2002 by a mere 112 votes after helping register 180 new Democrats at CC. According to Truax, the CC Democrats have registered 163 students in recent weeks, and campus student groups have worked to register about 500 new voters. — LB
Power move at Utilities
Trading one chief's hat for another, Bruce McCormick will give up his water services officer job to take over energy at Colorado Springs Utilities, the city-owned agency announced Tuesday. His pay will increase to $245,000 from $232,378.
Chief water officer since 2006, McCormick, who's also been filling in for former energy services chief Tom Black since he left in January, was chosen after an "exhaustive" nationwide search, Utilities says in a release. McCormick started at Utilities in 1988 and has a civil engineering degree from Montana State University.
McCormick's biggest chore has been ushering the Southern Delivery System water pipeline through the permitting process. In 2009, the federal government and Pueblo County sanctioned the project, with construction to begin soon. — PZ
Rubbish moving out
Last week, Rubbish Gallery announced it will be closing at its location in the Bijou Street alley. Rubbish's landlord, Saks Building, LLC, decided not to renew its lease, forcing the five-year-old indie art haunt to vacate the space by the end of October. Rubbish owner Jon Lindstrom says he was given no reason behind the nonrenewal, and says he's "really disappointed and just scrambling to figure out what to do and how to keep it going."
Lindstrom, along with former Rubbish co-owner Lorelei Beckstrom, both say Saks was a good landlord and gave them very reasonable rates for downtown. Calls to Saks were not returned. Lindstrom says he still plans on hosting the gallery's annual "small art and oddities" sale in December, but is looking for a venue. — EA
Early voting ends Friday for the Nov. 2 election, and as of Wednesday morning, 5,883 people had voted early, and 57,300 had returned their mail ballots.
To vote early, go to one of three locations between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Thursday or Friday: Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave.; Powers Branch, 5650 Industrial Place; and Chapel Hills Mall, 1710 Briargate Blvd., #350 (north side between JCPenney and Burlington Coat Factory).
Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The county has 370,338 registered voters, down from 374,581 in 2008. — PZ
Watchdog files complaint
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington this week filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service, asking for an investigation into whether voter guide and legislative scorecards issued by the Springs-based Pray in Jesus Name Project violate federal tax laws.
CREW alleges the project put out voter guides for all 50 states, rating politicians as "anti-Jesus" or "faith-friendly," and is attempting to use churches to advance a political agenda. Churches that distribute the guides, CREW says, risk their nonprofit status, which limits political activity.
Gordon James Klingenschmitt, Pray in Jesus Name Project leader and former Navy chaplain, says churches have First Amendment rights and attempts to curtail them would violate the Constitution. He says he doesn't know how many or which churches locally might be circulating the guides. — PZ
Corral Bluffs gets addition
Open-space lovers have yet another reason to celebrate. With Trails, Open Space and Parks sales tax money, Colorado Springs will purchase the 74-acre Anderson property in El Paso County, to serve as an entryway to the Corral Bluffs Open Space and allow for construction of a "rim trail" to circle the top of the canyon at Corral Bluffs.
Council voted 6-3 to approve the $185,652 purchase, despite objections that city tax money should not buy county land and that the land was overpriced. Corral Bluffs, a rugged 520-acre plot purchased via TOPS in 2008, is expected to serve city and county residents. — JAS
Remodel contract done
GE Johnson Construction Co. of Colorado Springs was awarded a $559,500 El Paso County contract Tuesday to oversee and manage renovation of the Corporate Ridge buildings on Garden of the Gods Road. A dozen firms bid on the project, which will allow the county to move various county offices into the newly purchased building, but Johnson prevailed.
The job is expected to top $8 million in construction costs, and Johnson's fees could go up based on the amount of work to be done, says deputy county administrator Monnie Gore. The buildings, which cost $22 million, will house the departments of human services and health plus the treasurer and assessor offices, among others. The county will, in turn, sell existing buildings and remodel others to house additional county functions. For example, the downtown County Administration Building will be used by the Sheriff's Office. The total remodel and retro-fit work is tagged at $19.7 million.
Commissioner Amy Lathen wanted to be sure no undocumented workers would be hired for the Corporate Ridge project. Gore says the contract and state law prohibit that. — PZ
City buys mountain lots
Development in Summit County has a direct impact on water users in Colorado Springs. That's because every time houses are built in the Blue River Watershed, they interfere with Colorado Springs Utilities' ability to collect water it owns. Erosion and damage caused by development further complicates things.
"The development is causing water diversion not germaine [sic] to the system flows, causing sediment to collect in our intakes and hampering our ability to collect all water rights," Utilities spokeswoman Patrice Quintero says in an e-mail.
City Council recently authorized paying $374,000 for five tracts that would have caused further flow problems. Earlier this year, the city paid $630,000 for nine properties. Quintero says several properties were bought at prices below appraised value. She says the program could continue depending on analysis of the watershed.
Quintero adds that if the city set out to replace the water system yield associated with city's water rights in the area along with the required infrastructure, it would spend up to $4 million. — PZ
Compiled by Edie Adelstein, Leah Barker, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.