Fired city finance director Terri Velasquez is on the warpath against Colorado Springs government. The law firm representing her, Frank and Finger, has filed a claim notifying the city of its intent to file a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages for wrongful termination.
Velasquez says she was targeted after exposing city financial misdeeds, including the alleged misuse of El Pomar Foundation grant funds for the U.S. Olympic Committee retention deal; an overpayment of compensation to now-city chief of staff Steve Cox; and alleged attempts to avoid Taxpayer's Bill of Rights requirements. Velasquez also alleges gender discrimination and states that Cox lacked the City Charter authority to fire her, so the mayor should've had to do the deed.
"Ms. Velasquez was targeted because she is a strong female and did not fit the stereotype of a weak and compliant female that Mr. Cox and perhaps the Mayor wanted in a team of workers," the claim states, adding that Velasquez won't seek as much money if the city reinstates her. The city had not responded to the claims as of press time. — JAS
City Attorney retiring
City Attorney Patricia Kelly, the subject of scrutiny for months, has announced her retirement effective Sept. 30. Kelly worked for the city for 25 years and in her current position since the mid-1990s, supervising a staff of 50.
Kelly was criticized for missteps in handling the 2011 municipal election, and for creating possible ballot questions last month that offended Mayor Steve Bach. In the city release, however, Bach "recognizes Ms. Kelly for over 25 years of dedicated service to the City and Ms. Kelly extends her best wishes to the Mayor, the City Council, and all employees of the City municipal government, Colorado Springs Utilities, and Memorial Health System."
It's not clear whether Kelly was asked to step down or chose to retire on her own. Kelly was not quoted in the brief release and could not be reached for comment. Her departure comes amid litigation over Banning Lewis Ranch, which will determine what kind of control the city has of land that may be used for oil and gas drilling.
The mayor hopes to find a replacement before Kelly's departure. Applications are currently being accepted. — JAS
Calling for more deputies
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is asking county commissioners to fund more than 100 new employees for the jail, patrol and the courthouse, among other duties.
The request came last week as part of commissioners' budget hearings. Revenues are expected to be flat, at around $93 million annually, from 2012 to 2015 and will require dipping into reserves unless there are dramatic spending cuts. The county faces a 6.5 percent decline in 2012 property tax revenue due to declining property values. It will be partially offset by a slight increase in sales tax, officials predict.
The sheriff is asking for nearly $12.8 million in new money to fund the additional employees and higher costs of inmate food and medical treatment, gasoline, investigation costs and equipment.
A second round of requests will be heard at 9:30 a.m. today (Thursday) at the County Office Building, 27 E. Vermijo Ave., from Public Health and administration. — PZ
CSU power to the people
The final public meeting for the city's Electric Integrated Resource Plan will be Tuesday at Leon Young Service Center, 1521 S. Hancock Expressway. After an open house from 4:30 to 6 p.m., a question-answer session starts at 6. The plan will help establish Utilities' sources of power — coal, wind, solar, hydro — for the next 20 years, although the plan is revisited in a cursory fashion every two years.
"It's basically looking at where we're going to derive our electricity from in the future, and how will we diversify the portfolio and maintain reliability and cost balance," Utilities spokesman Steve Berry says.
Seven portfolios are under consideration. The Utilities Policy Advisory Committee will consider the EIRP on Wednesday, Sept. 7, and recommend a plan to the Utilities Board on Sept. 21. — PZ
GOP squabbling continues
The El Paso County Republican Party's executive committee will meet on Sept. 12. Or not. It depends on who you ask.
Monday, party secretary Sarah Anderson sent out the call for a meeting. Tuesday, party chair Eli Bremer sent e-mails stating the call was sent incorrectly, and there will be no meeting. Bremer plans to be in Moscow on Sept. 8, competing in the world championship of modern pentathlon. He likely won't be back by the 12th.
Wednesday, vice-chairman David Williams sent a letter to central and executive committees of the party stating that, according to his reading of the bylaws, the meeting was called properly and will happen. He said the meeting was scheduled at the May meeting, and nowhere in the bylaws is the chair granted unilateral authority to cancel a meeting.
"I can appreciate Mr. Bremer's busy schedule," he wrote, "but proper communication of his schedule was not given to the Executive Committee or the Secretary, otherwise September 12 would not have even been an option."
Bremer has responded, restating there will be no meeting. Read more about it on the IndyBlog at csindy.com. — CH
County gets a move on
Three El Paso County offices will move in coming weeks to the new Citizens Service Center, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road. Two of them, the assessor and the treasurer, will return to five days a week, after being open for four the past few years to save money.
The clerk and recorder's elections department will move from Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., and reopen Tuesday on the second floor of the service center. Election services will continue at branch offices in Centennial Hall, at 5650 Industrial Place and at 8830 N. Union Blvd. A week later, other clerk functions will move, and in early October, the motor vehicle department will move to CSC but maintain a presence downtown, says clerk's spokeswoman Alissa Vander Veen.
The assessor's office will close Sept. 15-19, reopening at CSC on Tuesday, Sept. 20. Phone numbers will not change. The treasurer's office will close Monday, Sept. 19, and reopen the next day at CSC with a new phone number: 520-7900.
Public Health also will move in September, but details haven't been announced. The Department of Human Services already has relocated. — PZ
Compiled by Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.