Council takes on mayor
Colorado Springs City Council made several changes to Mayor Steve Bach's budget at its Nov. 3 markup session, a meeting that produced some friction.
Some Councilors, including President Scott Hente and President Pro Tem Jan Martin, felt the mayor and interim Police Chief Pete Carey overstepped in eliminating the city's red-light camera program. The program was created by city ordinance, and legally can only be undone by another Council-approved ordinance. However, the chief and mayor declared the program "over" without asking Council.
Carey says the move was viewed as legal by City Attorney Chris Melcher, apparently due to some glitch in the ordinance's language.
Council also nixed Bach's "contingency fund," $1.5 million that the mayor wanted to control without Council approval.
Otherwise, with six first-year members, Council was hesitant. Many proposed revisions were discussed and postponed. This frustrated Lisa Czelatdko, who proposed everything from a streetlight fee to Fourth of July fireworks and $200,000 extra for City Council's budget. All those motions, and many others by her, failed.
When the streetlight fee was put off, Czelatdko said, "Another conversation? When are we gonna have it?"
Council eventually will send an amended budget back to the mayor. Bach can veto the changes, though Council can add them back in with six votes. The tug-of-war schedule is tight, with a completed budget due in December. — JAS
BLM says yes to Christo
Over the River, the ambitious project by artists Christo and his late wife Jeanne-Claude, has won approval from the Bureau of Land Management, which gave its "record of decision" Monday. BLM approved the artists' original plans, allowing Christo to suspend 5.9 miles of fabric over eight areas across 42 miles of the Arkansas River between Salida and Cañon City.
A few local hurdles remain, but the BLM decision was critical to the project happening as planned in August 2014. "We are very, very elated, happy and invigorated," Christo told the Pueblo Chieftain.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude started work in the early 1990s on Over the River, though they've paused to handle other projects, such as The Gates in New York City's Central Park. Jeanne-Claude died two years ago. The project could produce up to $120 million in economic impact and bring 400,000 visitors to the region, according to a Department of the Interior release. — EA
Cardboard city coming to CC
On Sunday, you may be surprised to see a "cardboard city" at Colorado College.
No, our local college kids are not that poor. Nor has CC let the city's homeless population take up residence on its lawn. It's symbolic, meant to bring attention to the plight of the homeless locally.
CC has long reached out to the needy with its on-campus soup kitchen. With its cardboard city, it seeks to further educate the public. CC, partnering with the Interfaith Hospitality Network, plans to feature speeches by city outreach workers, plus bluegrass music and short films, starting at noon Sunday at Worner Quad, adjacent to the Worner Campus Center, 902 N. Cascade Ave.
Next week, the college will show two related films. Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County will look at children living in city motels, showing at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 15 in Sacred Grounds, underneath Shove Memorial Chapel, 1010 N. Nevada Ave. (The Independent wrote about the subject locally in the March 31 cover story "Just passing through.") Colfax Ave, with snapshots of life on Denver's Colfax Avenue, will be shown at 9 p.m., Nov. 17, also in Sacred Grounds. — JAS
Utilities, New Life partner
Colorado Springs Utilities and New Life Church have hooked up to provide guidance on household budgeting with a free class, "Winning With Money: How to Get Ahead in Hard Times," at 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10 at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave. Conducting the class is financial author, money coach and New Life minister Amie Streater, who promises tips on managing finances for short- and long-term goals. Utilities officials will outline ways to save on energy and water bills.
Utilities spokeswoman Patrice Lehermeier says the unlikely pairing of the city-owned Utilities and New Life came about because New Life is one of 11 agencies helping with Utilities' Project COPE, which provides utilities payment assistance to families and individuals struggling with finances due to personal crisis or emergency. Lehermeier says Streater's message won't include any religious overtones. — PZ
Norquist divides local GOP
El Paso County's Republican Party may not hate itself, but it apparently hates parts of itself. Liberty folks hate Karl Rove, and came out to show it at the Lincoln Day Dinner in June. Now, another faction is calling for a boycott of Grover Norquist, anti-tax nerd to the D.C. stars, speaking at the party's Reagan Gala on Saturday night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
In an e-mail to county GOP members, the anonymous "Madison Hamilton" said: "Norquist is no friend of Israel or our party. It is a shame that Chairman Eli Bremer would sully the name of one of our great republican presidents by hosting this person."
Bremer issued his own e-mail, blasting the "cowardly attacks." — CH
TESSA sees money in solar
TESSA, the local nonprofit known for helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, is looking to assist the community (and its bottom line) in a new way: by going solar.
According to spokesperson Sarah Rice, TESSA is launching its "Give Light to Save Lives" campaign in an effort to secure solar energy through SunShare, a company leasing solar panels to locals (see "Garden city," News, Sept. 29).
Here's how it works: People or entities who are already customers of SunShare refer a friend, if that friend ends up purchasing a panel, SunShare will donate $100 to either TESSA or Manitou Springs High School, depending on the customer's preference. It costs about $500 to lease a panel, and TESSA is also taking direct donations.
Rice notes that money saved on TESSA's electric bill will go to helping local women and children. She adds in a release, "For many women, one month of shelter is the difference between life and death. This is one way to give women that chance."
Contact Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 785-6818 to learn more. — JAS
Compiled by Edie Adelstein, Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.