Food lines set marks
El Paso County set a new record in June for families on food stamps, as the recession lingers and drives more to public assistance. In June, 58,185 people relied on food stamps, a new high for the county, as compared to 57,792 in May and 48,845 in June 2009. Two years ago, in June 2008, only 35,331 residents received food stamps.
The total provided via food stamps was $8.3 million in June, actually about $4,800 less than in May. So although enrollment numbers hit an all-time high, county spokesman Dave Rose says, "It looks like food stamp use has sort of leveled out."
All of this year's numbers exceed those of 2009, when the number of residents on food stamps and the dollars doled out increased by 28 percent and 47 percent, respectively, through the year. — PZ
City asking for surplus
City Council agreed Monday to ask voters in the November general election for permission to keep $600,000 in property taxes collected in excess of Taxpayer's Bill of Rights limits in 2009. In an irony that illustrates TABOR's complicated nature, the city's overall revenues were $23.3 million below TABOR's general limits; however, a separate calculation that caps revenues from property taxes was exceeded.
Councilors seem to agree that they should ask to keep the money for a specific purpose, but they're unsure what that may be. They rejected a staff suggestion to use the money for fixing potholes.
"Personally, I don't think potholes are all that jazzy for a ballot question," Vice Mayor Larry Small says.
Council agreed to ask interim City Manager Steve Cox to consult with staff and come back with top-priority areas where the one-time money could be used. — JAS
McInnis caught in plagiarism
The Denver Post, along with other media, reported this week that Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis apparently plagiarized large portions of an essay by Gregory Hobbs, a water expert and now a Colorado Supreme Court justice. Hobbs' piece was written in 1984, more than 20 years before McInnis submitted his articles as part of a $300,000 fellowship for the Hasan Family Foundation.
McInnis has sought to blame a researcher or disregard the controversy — which as of press time had grown to include another, totally separate incident, from the '90s. Tuesday, he told media the accusations were a "non-issue" but released a statement alleging that a water expert, Rolly Fischer, was responsible for the errors in the Hasan essay.
The Hasan family does not seem satisfied, as Seeme Hasan wrote: "[T]here were never discussions nor any knowledge by the Foundation that Mr. McInnis was working with a 'research advisor.' ... The work that the Foundation hired Mr. McInnis to do was to be done solely by Mr. McInnis, and not in concert with anyone else. ... All work was represented to be original and final. We will conduct an independent, internal investigation and if the allegations are proven to be true, we will demand Mr. McInnis return all monies paid to him by the Foundation." — JAS
Strong mayor gets closer
Citizens for Accountable Leadership is on its way to getting its "strong mayor" proposal on the November ballot, having gathered more than half the required 25,000 signatures.
"They're doing well; they're meeting their goals, the signature people are," says developer Chuck Murphy, one of several campaign leaders. The group has 25 paid and volunteer signature-gatherers. Thus far, it's spent about $175,000 to research and support the proposal, which would eliminate the city manager and give the mayoral office executive powers.
According to a July 1 campaign report, the group has raised $58,100.23 and has spent almost all of it — leaving less than $2,000 in its account. — JAS
Polluted ponds, continued
State regulators are still dogging those they believe responsible for dumping solar-cell byproducts into two ponds 35 miles southeast of Colorado Springs ("'Dangerous stuff,'" News, April 29).
Most recently, the state health department's Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division ruled the originator of the metals-laced water, Diamond Wire Material Technologies at 3505 N. Stone Ave., is responsible for the waste, along with a person it hired to dispose of the muck.
Diamond Wire retained its chemist, Shaun MacMillan, to get rid of 10,000 to 100,000 gallons of liquid between spring and fall of 2009. Officials found the liquid contained nickel at concentrations of up to 16,000 times the safe drinking water standard, beryllium at 700 times the standard, copper at 410 times the standard, cadmium at 62 times the standard, and zinc at five times the standard. Surrounding soils also were contaminated.
The state issued a compliance advisory June 16 outlining violations including failure to register as a recycler and failure to get proper certification for the ponds as a disposal site. The state can levy fines up to $10,000 per day for the violations.
The ponds, which were emptied in April, are a few hundred yards from a domestic water well that supplies Cherokee Metropolitan District's 18,000 residents. So far, there's no proof the disposal ponds affected the drinking water. Diamond Wire didn't return a phone call seeking comment. — PZ
Turning blue next week
Wednesday, July 21, Democratic candidates for statewide office will converge on Colorado Springs for a meet-and-greet from 6 to 8 p.m. at Tre Luna Downtown Event Center, 123 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
Joining the party will be Denver Mayor and gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper, Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, Boulder District Attorney and attorney general candidate Stan Garnett, and University of Colorado Regent hopeful Melissa Hart. Local candidates also will be on hand.
To register, send an e-mail to email@example.com. Suggested donation is $10, and space is limited. — PZ
Rocket scientist looks ahead
There's talking about the future, and then there's talking about the future with Lt. Col. Bob Bowman.
On July 29, Bowman will be discussing the future of America as he sees it. According a press release, his Ph.D. in aerodynamics and nuclear engineering, combined with his background as head of Star Wars programs for presidents Ford and Carter and as a fighter pilot in Vietnam, are sure to make his view of the future a bit different from the average citizen's perspective.
The discussion starts at 7 p.m. in Manitou Springs City Hall, 606 Manitou Ave. Tickets are $8 ahead of time (available at Poor Richard's Book Store, 320 N. Tejon St., or Rocky Mountain Solar & Wind Inc., 1075 Ford St.) or $10 at the door. Call 337-0029 for more information. — SW
Compiled by J. Adrian Stanley, Sarah White and Pam Zubeck