New bike event in trouble
Mayor Steve Bach has withdrawn his support for the proposed Tour of Colorado Springs bicycling event this summer, and it likely will be taken off the agenda for City Council next week, Council President Scott Hente says.
"I am not supporting it today," Bach said at the Mayor's Counsel meeting Wednesday morning. He added that when he gave initial approval last week, he didn't understand the proposal that well, and was going on staff recommendations. The mayor said he still hasn't seen the Tour's business plan or paperwork he'd requested.
Bach said he'd feel better if the event had private-sector partners, adding that his office had talked to organizers about perhaps delaying it until 2013, and maybe seeking money from the city's lodging and car rental tax.
Councilor Bernie Herpin said he'd also had reservations about the event getting enough volunteers: "I thought this was all kind of rushed." Hente and Bach said the city will take a closer look at all events that it sponsors. — JAS
County wants pension review
County commissioners are asking for an investigation of the El Paso County Retirement Plan's recent $1.2 million contract with a Denver vendor ("Retirement rumble," News, Feb. 9). In a letter to the Retirement Plan board, County Attorney Bill Louis outlines 13 "serious concerns" surrounding the deal with Buck Consultants, approved late last year without input from county officials in technology, procurement or legal.
Concerns involve security and confidentiality of employee and retiree information, and Buck's limited liability and accountability. The county also complains the contract fails to define specific "deliverables" and tie them to payments. Pension fund executive Howard Miller declines to comment, saying, "Our attorneys will be responding to the county attorney's letter in the next couple of days."
The Retirement Plan board meets at 9 a.m., Monday at East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd. The meeting is open to the public. — PZ
Commissioner targets MMJ
In a Feb. 16 meeting to make slight changes in downtown zoning, the Colorado Springs Planning Commission tried again for stricter restrictions on the location of area medical marijuana centers.
Commissioner Donald Magill advocated moving the buffer zone between centers and other entities such as schools from 400 feet to 1,000 feet, as the group tried to do in September 2010 before being shot down by City Council. Magill's amendment failed, with other commissioners, city planners and staff attorney Marc Smith objecting.
Still, Magill spoke out against MMJ, saying, "We've got the pink elephant out there: 'No, [MMJ] doesn't affect me.' Well it does affect you! We've lost three kids under 20, in the last year, from OD'ing on heroin, which has been the transitional drug from marijuana in high schools — fact! — delivered directly by the cartel."
City Councilor Bernie Herpin, part of the previous Council that passed the original MMJ zoning ordinance, writes: "I do have a concern about the Planning Commission unilaterally proposing a change to an existing ordinance. They should be reviewing changes in zoning, master plans, etc. that come before them and making a recommendation to Council. I do not see their role to 'make law,' or to attempt to make law thinking that a change in council membership would overturn a previous council's decision." — BC
Over the River pushed back
Over the River Corp. announced Tuesday that it's now planning its Arkansas River project for August 2015, a year later than its previous timetable. According to a press release, this change will allow time to develop event management plans (EMPs) and to accommodate the late release of the Bureau of Land Management's Record of Decision. It left only 24 months for installation of the artwork, when 28 months was authorized by the Final Environmental Impact Statement.
"This adjustment will allow the EMPs for the initial project phases to be developed before installation begins so that the public will have time to better understand how traffic, safety and other issues will be addressed," the release says. Fremont County soon will announce whether it will grant Over the River a temporary event permit, a critical step. — EA
Urban Renewal to be checked
Mayor Steve Bach and the Urban Renewal Authority haven't exactly been on the same page lately.
There was the news that the Authority will default on bonds for University Village on North Nevada Avenue, upsetting Bach. Then came an argument between the mayor and an Urban Renewal board member over charges for the Ivywild School project. (Urban Renewal says it was a misunderstanding based on a draft document; the mayor claims his administration got the fees lowered.) Finally, Urban Renewal asked the city for money, a move the mayor found outrageous.
So it isn't surprising that, ordered by Bach, Chief of Staff Laura Neumann will conduct an investigation of the Authority, which says it welcomes the inquiry. — JAS
Interim boss at Chamber-EDC
David Csintyan has assumed the job of interim president/CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, the organization announced Monday. Csintyan had that title with the Chamber before the two groups completed their merger recently.
Doug Quimby, the board chair who previously held the interim role, said in a release that Csintyan will serve "during the process of seating a permanent CEO, a process that is expected to unfold in the next several weeks." Csintyan, who has applied for the permanent position as well, said, "As we move from one business model to another, we all need to be pulling together to ensure continuity of strategy and operations." — RR
Credit-check bill treks ahead
The state Legislature took one step closer Tuesday to forbidding employers from running credit checks on job applicants. A bill, sponsored by Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, would curtail the growing practice of employers using credit checks in routine hiring practices. The bill allows exceptions where finances are critical, such as banks.
Carroll notes that credit checks are becoming widespread, despite no proven correlation between bad credit and job performance. The bill also says a 2011 study indicates at least 20 million people nationally have errors on credit reports.
The Senate passed it on a party-line vote, with Republicans arguing it deprives businesses a useful hiring test. Now it goes to the Republican-controlled House. — CH
Carnivale gets interrupted
Manitou Springs Interim Police Chief Richard Myers wants to clarify: "There was no bomb scare," he says. "There was a suspicious package detected."
An item left on Manitou Avenue during the Carnivale celebration Feb. 18 caused a fright, shutting down a large swath for about two hours while an explosives unit intervened. The package was cleared, the street reopened, and the partying continued. But there's no official word on what the package was, or whether it was put there intentionally to scare people.
Myers says investigators are still trying to determine who put the package there, and whether it was a harmless mistake or vindictive. "We can't rule out that somebody did this deliberately," he says, "and I can't give details about the package." — JAS
Mining Exchange progresses
Developers tend to flirt with downtown Colorado Springs, but there's usually not much action to back it up. Remember Cooper Tower? Pikes Peak Place?
Yet the Mining Exchange Hotel appears nearly complete, from progress made on the 111-year-old building at Pikes Peak and Nevada avenues ("Project projections," News, Feb. 2) to the announcement that it's taking reservations for June 1 and beyond. Learn more at wyndham.com. — JAS
Philharmonic lays out season
The Colorado Springs Philharmonic's 2012-13 season, announced Saturday, will be headlined by Irish flautist Sir James Galway, who will perform on March 13, 2013. The season's repertoire is dominated by well-known composers, as evidenced by pairings like Shostakovich and Schumann, Wagner and Beethoven, Mozart and Prokofiev, Stravinski and Debussy, and a closing performance of Verdi.
Music director Josep Caballé-Domenech will conduct 20 performances, nearly twice as many as this current season, when his schedule was already filled with guest conducting commitments around the world. Find the full schedule, including traditional holiday programming and a Pops series, at csphilharmonic.org. — BF
County drilling rep named
Assistant County Attorney Diana May was chosen this week as El Paso County's designee to interact with state oil and gas regulators. Under a recently established program, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will work with local designees to address any issues involving drilling exploration and production that are specific to localities, county spokesman Dave Rose says.
"When they get a permit requested at the state level, she will be notified," Rose says. "She will be able to express any concerns we have and negotiate with the state to address those concerns specific to El Paso County." — PZ
Compiled by Edie Adelstein, Bryce Crawford, Chet Hardin, Ralph Routon, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.