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News briefs from the Front Range

Rayburn indicates he'll likely run against Lamborn

Bentley Rayburn, the retired Air Force major general who ran a surprising third in the 2006 Republican primary for the 5th District congressional seat, has told the Denver Post he'll probably run again in 2008.

"It's probably a pretty for-sure thing," Rayburn told the Post. "You'll probably be hearing some official indications of our candidacy here pretty soon."

That means Rep. Doug Lamborn, who prevailed last year and replaced retiring Rep. Joel Hefley, now apparently will face his two strongest challengers again. Jeff Crank, who was second in 2006 and lost a runoff to Lamborn, already has indicated that he will try again in 2008.

David Wasserman, a nonpartisan congressional elections analyst, told the Post that a three-way race with Crank and Rayburn was the best scenario for Lamborn to win re-election.

"Unless Republicans really coalesce around [Crank or Rayburn], it's unlikely they'll meet the threshold needed to beat Doug Lamborn," Wasserman said.

Rayburn said he expects only one serious challenger to Lamborn will remain in the race by the time of the primary next August. RR

County attorney ousted by commissioners

El Paso County attorney Jay Lauer was placed on paid administrative leave this week as county commissioners seek a "different direction" from their legal counsel, according to Board Chairman Dennis Hisey.

Lauer, who had been an assistant county attorney, took over as head of the county attorney's office earlier this year, following Bill Louis' promotion to deputy county administrator for external operations. Louis will resume his role as county attorney until a permanent replacement is hired, Hisey says.

Lauer, reached at his home Tuesday, declined to comment. Hisey says four of the county's five commissioners were involved in discussions leading to Lauer being placed on leave Monday afternoon.

"We think it's going to be permanent," Hisey says, either with Lauer's resignation or his official termination. Hisey adds that no wrongdoing or particular event is tied to the decision.

Lauer's departure comes after the county eliminated two human-resources positions and contracted out those services. Eight county positions have been eliminated this year with the reported goal of cutting spending.

Douglas Bruce, the only commissioner opposed to hiring Lauer in March, says he did not meet with other commissioners when they discussed Lauer's removal because he believed they were improperly meeting in executive session without announcing the reason.

Lauer actually defended the commissioners' right to have a "secret meeting at which they discussed how to fire him," Bruce says. AL

Springs leads worst-traffic list

We're still No. 1 but this isn't a ranking for Colorado Springs to include in its Chamber of Commerce list of accolades.

Once again, as in the past few years, Colorado Springs ranks No. 1 for traffic problems among smaller urban areas (less than 500,000), according to the 2007 Urban Mobility Report issued this week by the Texas Transportation Institute. Charleston, S.C., was second, followed by Bakersfield, Calif.

In its category, the Springs received the worst-possible ratings in five categories: delay per traveler, travel time index, total delay and two comparisons from 1982 to 2005. Local drivers' total congestion cost jumped from $97 million in 2004 to $131 million in 2005. This area had 7.3 million person-hours of total traffic delays in 2005, more than twice the average for comparable markets.

The only other city with the worst-possible grades in all categories was San Diego, which topped the list for areas of 1 million to 3 million. Jacksonville, Fla., had the worst ratings for cities of 500,000 to 1 million.

For the largest urban areas of 3 million-plus, New York took No. 1 for worst traffic, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago. RR

City gets first E-85 pump

The city of Colorado Springs hopes to protect its budget and the environment by expanding its use of alternative fuels, particularly E-85, in city vehicles.

Alternative fuels are cheaper for the city than gasoline, and the city has already used about a million gallons of biodiesel in its 92 flex-fuel vehicles. That biodiesel has kept an estimated 2,500 tons of carbon-monoxide emissions out of the environment.

Wednesday, the city installed its first E-85 fuel pump at 404 W. Fontanero St. City spokeswoman Becky Farrar says the city will probably still use some other biodiesels (and plenty of gasoline), but the emphasis will now be on E-85.

Why switch? "Right now, ethanol is cheaper than other biodiesel," she says.

Farrar says the city aggressively seeks out ways to save money on fuel. Aside from using alternatives, the city also cuts costs by buying fuel in advance, avoiding price hikes. JAS

Destiny fulfilled at UCCS?

For his first curatorial effort at the Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Manifest: Colonial Tendencies of the West, Christopher Lynn brought in world-class contemporary artworks, stripped the gallery space down to the bare, clean concrete, and developed a high-concept show that is both beautiful and substantial.

Is it a complete success? Visit and click on "Web extra" to find out. EA

Compiled by Edie Adelstein, Anthony Lane, Ralph Routon and J. Adrian Stanley.

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