Term limits to hit the fan
Darryl Glenn, who will take a seat next week as an El Paso County commissioner, lobbied state lawmakers Wednesday to propose allowing citizens to petition county government. Under the state constitution, residents can't petition county measures onto the ballot as they can at the state and local levels, except to raise the county's sales tax.
"There's a fundamental right," Glenn said during a meeting of county commissioners with legislators. "A lot of ideas come from people and interest groups and should be allowed to advance."
After the meeting, Glenn said his first move upon taking office will be to refer a new term-limits measure to the November ballot. Voters approved measures two months ago that added a term for commissioners and other elected county officials, but many afterward cried foul, saying they actually meant to impose more stringent limits on officeholders, and that the way the measure was written was misleading.
If other commissioners don't go along with his suggestion, Glenn says, a change in the state constitution to allow county petitioning becomes more urgent. — PZ
McNally wins Divine Award
Relentless volunteer Mary Ellen McNally has been chosen as recipient of Citizens Project's seventh annual Divine Award, which recognizes individuals who work to bring equal rights to the local community.
And no one was more surprised by the honor than McNally.
"It was total shock, believe me, because I nominated someone," McNally says with a laugh. "And so when they said they're calling about Divine Award, I said, 'Oh, are you calling about [my nominee]?' And they said, 'No, you won it.'"
McNally has been elected to office twice locally, earning seats on Colorado Springs City Council and the School District 11 Board of Education. She has served on and led countless boards over the course of three decades, including the board of Citizens Project.
"One of my areas of interest is equality and justice for everyone, and I have a gay son so I got involved with Citizens Project around [the time of 1992 anti-gay] Amendment 2," she says. "... I will say it's gotten a lot better in Colorado Springs. I think people are much more open-minded and much more accepting, but I think that means we just have to keep working."
The award will be presented at a ceremony Feb. 3. For more information, call 520-9899 or visit citizensproject.org. — JAS
Johnny's to revive the Hogan
"When the bank got in our strike range, we decided to pull the trigger."
That's how Johnny Nolan of SouthSide Johnny's restaurant and bar sums up the decision to purchase the former Navajo Hogan Roadhouse building at 2817 N. Nevada Ave. Nolan says that by as soon as April or May, he and his three partners — including Concept Restaurants' Dave Lux — should be ready to open the doors of Johnny's Navajo Hogan, a concept similar to SouthSide Johnny's that pays tribute by its name to the Hogan's history.
The building, notable for its dual-domed roof, was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. — MS
Ritter OKs jail initiative
In one of his last acts as governor, Bill Ritter approved bringing the federal program Secure Communities to Colorado jails.
Colorado is the 36th state to employ the program, which uses fingerprints to check the immigration status of anyone being booked. Illegal immigrants are then referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation.
Immigrant rights groups say Secure Communities leads to racial profiling, discourages minority groups from cooperating with police, and prevents victims of crimes (particularly domestic abuse) from reporting them for fear the perpetrator may be deported.
At an event Tuesday, Ritter was quoted by the Denver Post as saying: "The federal government has utilized Secure Communities as one way of attempting to figure out what law violators there are that are illegal immigrants and make an effort to prioritize those in that group who represent the worst of the offenders."
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition issued a release condemning the action, saying, "[T]he program functions as an overbroad immigration dragnet that undercuts community policing efforts, destroys families, and drives victims and witnesses of crime underground." — JAS
Space group gets new space
The Space Foundation, founded here in March 1983, will get new digs under an arrangement brokered by the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. No public money is involved in providing a 45,000-square-foot building at 4425 ArrowsWest Drive, off Garden of the Gods Road, to keep the foundation in town.
Spokeswoman Janet Stevens says the new building is about 3.5 times larger than the foundation's current 310 S. 14th St. site, which will be sold. The move will happen this summer.
"We've always wanted to stay here," Stevens says, "and this cements our ability to stay."
Omaha, Neb., had tried to lure the foundation, which holds a symposium there annually. Its biggest event, however, the National Space Symposium, is staged at The Broadmoor each April. — PZ
Give! 2010 surpasses goal
With a late surge of contributions that averaged about $20,000 a day, the Give! 2010 campaign reached its goal — even before adding in matching funds and challenge grants for its 40 nonprofits.
Some checks dated Dec. 31 still were arriving by mail Tuesday, but the total from individual and corporate donors had reached $335,567.44 — beyond the second annual campaign's overall goal of $333,333.34.
Indy associate publisher Carrie Simison-Bitz, who coordinated the campaign effort, says the additional grants and matching funds will be totaled in the next week, hopefully bringing the final amount to $400,000. That would be more than double the $198,000 raised in 2009, when the goal was $150,000. — RR
Tancredo on the radio
Tom Tancredo, former U.S. congressman and failed third-party candidate for Colorado governor, now has his own radio show.
Tancredo, known for his fierce — and often inflammatory — opposition to immigration, will host Tea Party Radio with Tom Tancredo, which started Jan. 3 on KVOR-AM 740. The show will run on weeknights from 10 to midnight.
Tancredo says he hopes his show will be a call to action for fiscal conservatives. — JAS
Compiled by Matthew Schniper, J. Adrian Stanley, Ralph Routon and Pam Zubeck.