Clerk: Law's not my problem
This has been a very bad week for City Clerk Kathryn Young.
Young publicly said that it's illegal for city candidates to accept corporate contributions, after a story in the Gazette questioned the practice. OK.
The problem, however, is that Young had never said that before — and, in fact, some current candidates say she told them the opposite was true last month. Indeed, city candidates have been accepting corporate contributions for years, believing mistakenly that it was legal because of election paperwork that suggests it is.
But Young hasn't exactly issued an apology for the little mix-up. In fact, she came out swinging on Tuesday, telling attendees at a press conference that it was up to candidates to know election laws, and that she wasn't responsible for auditing campaign finance forms.
Self-funded mayoral candidate Brian Bahr recently filed a complaint against opponents Steve Bach and Richard Skorman, both of whom accepted corporate contributions, believing they were legal. Young says she plans to forward his complaint to the state government.
Bach could not immediately be reached for comment. But Skorman, who accepted in-kind contributions from his own business and has squared his filings with state campaign finance law, says he was disappointed to see Bahr had filed the complaint. He says he was at a meeting held last month by Young to explain campaign finance laws to candidates, and that there, Young said accepting corporate contributions was OK.
"She's running a local election, and in many cases there's new candidates who are in the race who have not had this experience before, and that's why she held a workshop in how to run a campaign that abides by the law," he says. "And I would hope that in the future this doesn't happen, and if I'm mayor, I would assure that it wouldn't." — JAS
Local GOP gets face-lift
Three youngsters (relatively speaking) have been elected to lead the El Paso County Republican Party, with the new chair vowing to take the party in a "new direction."
Eli Bremer, 32, son of former County Commissioner Duncan Bremer, is the chair. An Air Force Academy grad and Olympic pentathlete, Bremer says he's been in politics since before he could vote, even working on his dad's 1994 commissioner campaign. He defeated Lana Fore-Warkocz, publisher of the Constitutionalist Today newspaper and website.
Vice chair is David Williams, 24, who as a UCCS student ran briefly for a commissioner seat last year. He put down a challenge by former county chair Greg Garcia. Meanwhile, Sarah Anderson, just 22, defeated longtime Republican operative Holly Williams, wife of Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams, for secretary.
"The Central Committee wanted to see a new generation move our party forward," Bremer says. "I don't think anyone expected the oldest officer would be 32 years old." He says the new officers will work with "mentors" so that the party has the benefit of both youthful energy and experience. Bremer says he has a vision that he's not yet ready to share.
"It's not a drastic change," he says, "but a change in the overall direction of the party, in how it's run, that people will be happy with." — PZ
Telford to Care and Share
After a tumultuous couple years, Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado has selected veteran nonprofit leader Lynne Telford as its new executive director.
Care and Share, the main provider of food for the hungry in the southern half of Colorado, lost CEO Nicholas Saccaro in May 2009 when he accepted a job in Denver. In March 2010, the organization hired Deborah Tuck as its new leader. But by December, Tuck was gone, with Care and Share saying it needed "a new direction."
Telford has been vice president and chief operating officer of Pikes Peak United Way, and she previously led the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. She takes over her new job March 14.
"I wasn't looking for a job — I really enjoy what I've been doing at Pikes Peak United Way — but when I heard about the opening I was really excited to work on such a fundamental human need as food," Telford says.
Telford concedes that Care and Share has been through a lot, but she says she believes the organization is strong, and doesn't need overhauling.
"Leadership transitions are difficult, but the staff, and the board, and the volunteers there are amazing," she says, "and they really have been pulling together to make sure the core needs of the organization are met." — JAS
Urban League names hire
The Urban League of the Pikes Peak Region has hired Diane Allen-Philips as its president and CEO. Allen-Philips joined the organization's staff in 2008 and began serving as interim president and CEO in September 2009.
She holds an Executive Master's of Business Administration Degree from Colorado Technical University and a bachelor's degree in Environmental Design from Illinois State University.
The Urban League assists minorities through "education, empowerment and advocacy." — JAS
Hick: doing the math
Gov. John Hickenlooper presented his 2011-12 budget Tuesday, and as anticipated, there were deep cuts made to education. From K-through-12, the spending plan will cut $375 million, at a cost of about $500 in spending per pupil. K-12 spending is currently $5.4 billion.
According to the Denver Post, Hickenlooper stated he regretted making this cut, saying to media: "There's nothing I've ever grappled with as long and hard as that ... my son is in public school."
In higher education, Hickenlooper's cuts amount to $36 million, reducing state spending on college kids by $877 per student.
In total, the governor recommended $570 million in cuts. According to media reports, lawmakers' response was mixed. Democrats on the Joint Budget Committee, reported the Huffington Post, pushed back against the proposal, calling on the governor to seek ways to increase revenue by raising taxes to reduce the cuts. The Legislature will have the final decision on the spending plan, which will be made in April. — CH
Not yet on Copper Ridge
The debate over whether El Paso County will give tax money to developers of the Copper Ridge retail development in north El Paso County has been postponed until March 3.
Copper Ridge developer Gary Erickson already has obtained tax financing from the city of Colorado Springs, which will help fund an extension of Powers Boulevard to Interstate 25, and a new interchange there. But the county's participation is essential for the project to move forward, officials have said.
Some county commissioners have expressed reservations, saying they question the upscale project's viability and whether the county will sacrifice tax money that will merely be drawn away from existing shopping areas ("For the love of a road," News, Feb. 3). The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Commissioners Hearing Room, County Office Building, 27 E. Vermijo Ave. — PZ
Secure Communities at CJC
For an undocumented immigrant, getting booked into El Paso County jail is now one big step closer to deportation.
The county's Criminal Justice Center will be one of three state jails to implement the new Secure Communities Program, which forwards an inmate's fingerprints to a federal database. If that inmate is in the country illegally, then he or she will be flagged for transfer to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.
El Paso County jail already has a relationship with ICE. In 2008, Sheriff Terry Maketa signed an intra-agency agreement to hold ICE detainees while they are going through an administrative hearing process. The jail charges $62.40 per detainee per day. The Secure Communities program is in 35 states, and will eventually be adopted statewide in Colorado. According to the Denver Post, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is looking for nationwide implementation by 2013. — CH
Gov comes to town
Last week, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper toured Fort Carson and met with reporters to promote economic development.
"I think we should reflect on how fortunate we are to have Fort Carson," the governor said, noting that Carson accounts for billions in direct and indirect economic impact. Hickenlooper said he'll visit all 64 counties in the next couple of months.
Meanwhile, the Air Force Academy held its National Prayer Luncheon that same day, Thursday, after a federal judge ruled the plaintiffs in a First Amendment lawsuit didn't have standing to sue. The issue arose when AFA staff saw the luncheon as mandatory, although the Academy later said it was sponsored by the chaplains, not AFA leaders. Keynote speaker was Marine 1st Lt. Clebe McClary, who openly champions his Christian faith in military terms. — PZ
SDS goes to court
For the first time, Colorado Springs Utilities is in court over acquisition of two easements for its Southern Delivery System pipeline. The actions seek court guidance on how much to pay and to whom, because one tract is held by an estate and the other has liens against it.
"We didn't have anyone to deal with," Utilities spokeswoman Janet Rummel says of the land held by an estate on behalf of William and Mary Spencer. A court judgment on "who gets the money" is necessary for the other parcel, which had been owned by Appletree 220 LLC, she says. The estate tract is in Pueblo County, the other in El Paso County.
The 62-mile pipeline project from Pueblo Reservoir has hit opposition as the city tries to acquire property and easements from homeowners in Pueblo West. Last month, Utilities officials asked permission to begin condemnation actions in court against several owners who wanted more money, but City Council told them to keep trying to reach an agreement. — PZ
Peterson adding facility
Peterson Air Force Base broke ground this week on a new Total Force Integration C-130 squadron operations facility.
The $5.6 million, 12,500-square-foot facility will be the centerpiece of the Air Force Reserve Command and Air Mobility Command's new total force campus, the base said in a news release. The facility will be used by the 52nd Airlift Squadron and the Air Force Reserve's 731st Airlift Squadron, and will be done in 2012. — PZ
Compiled by Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.