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Local ICE office gaining support

Twelve local legislators have joined the effort to bring an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to Colorado Springs.

The ICE endeavor, which has been in the works for 20 months, would bring federal officials to Colorado Springs to apprehend undocumented people in the region. The El Paso County jail currently serves as the regions holding cell, with as many as 100 undocumented immigrants behind bars at any given time.

The state representatives which include usual anti-immigrant suspects Sen. Dave Schultheis and Rep. Kent Lambert wrote to U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn and Sens. Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard to push the plan along.

The two local Democrats in the state Legislature, Sen. John Morse and Rep. Michael Merrifield, also signed on.

The Department of Homeland Security received funding last August to research the cost and need of a local ICE office. NZ

No pay raise for Council

Underneath the races for mayor and City Council that dominated the city election buildup, voters approved four out of five ballot issues defeating the only one that generated any controversy.

That was the proposal to increase the pay for the mayor and Council from $6,250 to $12,000 a year. But despite the fact it has lost before, this time the margin was only 53 to 47 percent, with 31,580 voting no and 27,750 voting yes.

"That indicates a lot of people don't mind the idea," says Councilor Larry Small, who was elected to a second term.

The closeness of the vote could lead to another such proposal in a future election with an effective date of several years afterward, so that voters wouldn't be turned off by giving the raise to a sitting Council.

Among the other measures, voters approved revising term limits for the mayor to make them the same as for the rest of Council. Other media reports incorrectly suggested the mayor did not previously have term limits. RR

Buffer zone around Fort Carson completed

El Paso County officials have finalized the Fort Carson buffer-zone plan, creating an open-space barrier around the military base to preclude residential development. The county had negotiated with the federal government and a developer in Rancho Colorado for months, eventually handing the developer $2.1 million to stop building on the outskirts of the base.

While county commissioners pegged the land purchase as vital to the military's health, the people of Rancho Colorado, a tiny, dusty community south of Colorado Springs, see it differently. At least 90 families in Rancho live without access to a water pipeline. Many of them rely on water delivery, and a few fill up at a restricted pump in Fountain.

Some families had hoped to hook on to a water pipeline controlled by the developer. But now that the developer can't build in the buffer zone, their water prospects look dim at best. NZ

Like Boulder, kind of

Only a politician would try to find similarities between Colorado Springs and Boulder, but U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Boulder, tried his best last Tuesday at The Broadmoor during a Congressional Update luncheon.

Udall, his party's likely 2008 nominee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Wayne Allard, shared the podium with Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs.

To lots of laughter, Udall discussed the similarities of Colorado Springs and Boulder, saying "both have incredible backdrops, are the home to world-class athletes, high-tech and aerospace companies, as well as numerous nonprofits.

"The only major difference," he added, "is that Boulder has its own foreign policy."

Udall vowed to help obtain federal funds to expand Fort Carson's Gate 19 and Gate 20. He also pledged to help the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs raise funds to launch the nation's first doctoral program in homeland security.

For his part, Lamborn outlined his efforts to expand Douglas Bruce's TABOR provisions nationwide. He pledged to work to establish a veterans' cemetery and a federal courthouse in Colorado Springs. Lamborn also said he wanted "to eliminate the estate tax I mean the death tax." Udall favors keeping the estate tax, but would allow the first $10 million of an estate to remain untaxed.

On Pion Canyon expansion, Lamborn said he has no doubt that after environmental impact studies, he will support expanding the military training grounds. Udall, while supportive of the concept, said more work would be needed to ensure that people in the Pion Canyon area are fully brought into the process. JW

St. Pat's meeting likely

A meeting between leaders for the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission and Mayor Lionel Rivera could happen by mid-April.

At the private session, which could include City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher, City Manager Lorne Kramer and Colorado Springs police Chief Richard Myers, participants will discuss the treatment and arrest of seven peace marchers at the St. Patrick's Day parade.

"I want to talk about, 'Can we be in communication when we do events so we don't have overreactions?'" says Jim White, acting director of the peace commission.

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs police's internal affairs unit is investigating police actions. The seven marchers are expected in court on April 10.

Eric Verlo, a member of the peace commission who was at the center of the St. Patricks controversy, has said he wants the meeting to be public, in a town hall style. Asked if hed support a public meeting, Rivera answered, My preference would be for the two groups to meet. MdY

Dobson: Not yet on Gingrich bandwagon

Focus on the Family sulked last week after a U.S. News and World Report story detailed founder James Dobson's take on two Republican presidential contenders. In the Web article, the head of the Christian ministry appeared to plug former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, calling him "the brightest guy out there." He also characterized former Sen. Fred Thompson as not Christian enough for the evangelical right.

A subsequent Focus press release denied that Dobson's comments endorsed Gingrich or disparaged Thompson. Dobson, it read, "expressed concern about the former speaker's past moral failures," notably the extramarital affair he was having as he pursued former president Bill Clinton's impeachment for the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

While Dobson will likely work to impact the 2008 presidential election, he probably won't speak to the mainstream media again anytime soon. The press release ended with this huffy gem: "Never in the 30-year history of this ministry has there been more misreporting and outright distortion of his beliefs and teachings. It is apparent that those who represent a liberal worldview seek to marginalize him and confuse our friends." " NZ

Compiled by Ralph Routon, John Weiss, Michael de Yoanna and Naomi Zeveloff.

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