Memorial: pay to stay
Fearing a mass exodus in advance of new leadership for Memorial Health System, trustees next week will consider paying top executives to stick around. A lease proposal between the city, which owns Memorial, and the University of Colorado Health System likely will go to voters in August.
James Moore, chairman of Memorial's Board of Trustees, says the retention program would involve nine employees, including CEO Larry McEvoy, Chief Strategic Officer Carm Moceri and CFO Mike Scialdone, all of whom earn hundreds of thousands a year. Moore says they could be tempted to jump ship, leaving Memorial in the lurch. The board, he says, is "trying to assure stability in both governance and executive leadership so it's as healthy and strong as it can be when ... UCH starts operating the health system."
City Councilor Tim Leigh has already openly wished for Memorial's executives to leave. But the trustees have said they "fully support" the senior leadership team, and Moore adds that the situation is complicated. For one thing, the board has learned that to bring in temporary outside help for any top positions could cost three to five times the pay those executives currently earn. Moore says the board hopes to present a plan explaining the cost of retention pay versus alternatives such as hiring temporary consultants. — PZ
YMCA gets pools approval
After hearing citizens' concerns, City Council gave initial 8-0 approval Tuesday to a partnership with the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region to manage five pools and Prospect Lake beach.
In April, the YMCA likely will take over Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center, the Aquatics and Fitness Center at Memorial Park, Portal Pool, Wilson Ranch Pool and Monument Valley Pool. It will not open the now-closed Valley Hi pool.
The YMCA is requesting a $425,000 city subsidy in 2012, more if it loses money, but not expected to exceed $632,350. Any profits would be shared with the city, but officials say profits might go to maintaining facilities or increasing programs.
Councilor Merv Bennett, former CEO of the YMCA, voted yes after flip-flopping on whether to recuse himself. Bennett originally told the Indy he wouldn't vote on the issue because he "couldn't be objective," but reversed himself after City Attorney Chris Melcher said he wasn't legally required to recuse himself.
"I feel I don't have a conflict of interest," Bennett asserted on Monday. "I understand my relationship to the YMCA, as you do, but my responsibility now is not to the YMCA. My responsibility is to the city of Colorado Springs and its citizens."
Councilors Bernie Herpin and Jan Martin want the city-owned pools available to the public (regardless of Y membership) during open swims. Other concerns include continuing the city's Therapeutic Recreation Program, now at Cottonwood, to help injured vets and people with disabilities. Citizens also expressed concerns that the YMCA would force users to sign documents agreeing to uphold Christian values — a requirement at other YMCA facilities.
Dan Dummermuth, YMCA president and CEO, tells the Indy that open swims would be available to the public, but there are no minimum open-swim requirements and the need for programming can cut into those hours. He says the therapeutic program will continue through 2012, perhaps longer with city funding. As for religious concerns, Dummermuth says he'll work with the city and look at other YMCAs to determine what documents are appropriate for city pool users.
"We're a Christian organization," he told Council. "But we're not an organization of Christians." — JAS
Citizens target cameras
Colorado Springs residents showed up en masse Tuesday at City Council to discuss a proposal for 10 surveillance cameras downtown. Most didn't feel the cameras would make downtown safer, and instead would intrude on their privacy and civil liberties. "I don't want a Disneyland for a downtown," said Loring Wirbel, co-chair of the local American Civil Liberties Union.
But Police Chief Pete Carey, Downtown Solutions Team leader Chuck Murphy, and downtown stakeholders and business owners said cameras would fight and deter crime, making people feel safer. Murphy spoke of his concerns about pot-smokers and panhandlers, at one point saying, "We've become very tolerant [of panhandlers] here for some reason." Developer Chris Jenkins added that cameras can fight nuisances like skateboarders in addition to crimes.
Carey conceded that the evidence on cameras' effectiveness is inconclusive. They would cost $163,025 up front, plus $25,000 in annual maintenance. Volunteers would monitor video feeds.
Councilors are expected to vote on appropriating the money in the next few weeks. — JAS
Déjà vu for photo ID law
Colorado's Legislature took one more step this week toward mandating the use of "photographic identification" in elections. The House Appropriations Committee voted 7-6 for a bill removing documents such as a current utility bill from acceptable identification, with local Republican Reps. Bob Gardner and Marsha Looper among the "aye" votes.
Next stop will be a House vote. If it passes there, it will move to the Democrat-controlled Senate. Last year, a similar bill made it through the House to the Senate, only to get quashed in committee. — CH
APWU fighting back
This week, the American Postal Workers Union rolled out new TV ads intended to make people realize what they will lose if the U.S. Postal Service shutters hundreds of mail-processing facilities. According to USPS, Colorado Springs' center processes 1 million pieces of mail daily and employs more than 250 people. Though specific dates have not yet been set for a Springs' workload move to Denver, the Postal Service's moratorium on closing the facility and others across the U.S. ends May 15.
APWU says the slick 30-second advertisements, featuring employees as well as customers, will air on cable networks and NBC Nightly News until mid-May, when massive cuts will begin "unless Congress takes action." — CH
Compiled by Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.