City helps clean up
After a June 6 hailstorm, Mayor Steve Bach called a news conference to talk about immediate impacts and long-term solutions. He hopes to put more dollars into stormwater maintenance and upgrades.
Bach says the city might have a $7 million surplus by the end of 2012, and he hopes to use it for stormwater. Bach says the city and Utilities should produce $15 to $20 million annually for stormwater.
Meanwhile, residents of hard-hit homes and properties continue to clean up, and the city is partnering with Waste Management and Waste Connections of Colorado. The companies will discount rates to county residents needing storm-related debris hauled away— $20 for loads up to 5 cubic yards until June 15. No roofing materials or appliances will be accepted.
To qualify, citizens need vouchers that can be picked up with proof of residence at the county Department of Transportation, any fire station or police substation, Fire Department headquarters, Police Operations Center, City Hall and the City Administration Building. — JAS
Looper's son outed
There's a lot of collateral damage during election season. In the case of state Rep. Marsha Looper, it's her son.
Looper, in a tight, nasty primary in House District 19 against Majority Leader Amy Stephens, helped kill the civil unions bill in the Legislature. In the days before that outcome, she called civil unions a "dangerous step of redefining marriage."
As many later learned, Looper's son is gay. But Stephens didn't publicize Looper's son's orientation. Looper's own campaign manager, Lana Fore-Warkocz, forwarded an e-mail trumpeting her boss' vote: "God is truly to be praised for Marsha Looper because she also has a homosexual son." The outing has received national attention, especially among media catering to a homosexual audience.
Looper isn't pleased, writing in a press release: "I am disappointed that my campaign manager forwarded an email that would include any member of my family in a policy discussion." — CH
Daly, group seek reform
Thanks to Republicans like former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo and Sen. John McCain, most Americans view the conservative stance on immigration to be militant. Some conservatives are looking to change that.
The newly formed Evangelical Immigration Table, to which Focus on the Family president Jim Daly of Colorado Springs is a signatory, is calling for immigration reform that "establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents."
A statement from the EIT's website: "Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America. Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each other's positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at a tragic human cost." — CH
Zubeck second in nation
Independent senior reporter Pam Zubeck has added another honor to her journalism career. Zubeck took second place in the Association of Alternative Newsmedia's national contest in the short-form (fewer than 1,500 words) news category, announced last weekend at AAN's convention in Detroit.
Zubeck won second in one of the most popular categories of the contest, which attracted more than 1,000 entries. Her entry included three news stories from 2011: "Benefit of the doubt," May 19; "Shaking the foundation at AFA," Sept. 22; and "Wedding bell blues," Oct. 13. Also in the contest, the Indy placed third in the Format Buster / Innovation category for newspapers of up to 50,000 circulation for the "WeBrand the Springs" contest in response to the city's branding efforts. — RR
Homeless total grows
Ever since Tent City was dismantled in early 2010, it's been a lot easier to put homeless people out of mind. Those canvas rooftops no longer stare drivers down in the area of Interstate 25 and Cimarron Street.
Police intervention has nudged many into programs and shelters. The homeless still have an obvious presence in shopping centers and commercial areas, where they crowd curbs and street corners with ragged cardboard signs.
Despite appearances, the homeless population in Colorado Springs has continued to increase. According to an annual federal survey, there are 1,127 homeless people in the county. Since 2006, the count has only been higher in 2009 and 2010. — JAS
Cash flows in
Campaign finance reports filed last week show Sallie Clark as the leading fund-raiser among county commissioner candidates. Seeking her third term, she hauled in $22,249. Her primary opponent, Karen Magistrelli, raised just $8,900.
Dennis Hisey, also seeking a third term, reported $11,654 in contributions, nearly twice that of GOP foe Auddie Cox, who drew $6,330 in contributions. Commissioner Amy Lathen, seeking her second term with no primary opponent, raised $13,365. — PZ
Primary ballots on par
Ballots for local primaries are returning at the usual pace, says Alissa Vander Veen, chief deputy with El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's office. As of Monday, she says 11,539 ballots had been returned of the roughly 203,000 sent to county voters.
Of those 8,696 were Republican, 2,833 Democrats, and 10 from the American Constitution Party. In the 2010 primary, about 12,000 ballots had been returned at a similar time. Vander Veen says the clerk's office generally sees an early response, then a lull until the big wave comes in the last few days. The primary election ends on June 26. — CH
Numbers out for Medicaid
Last week the Independent explored a program ("The gift of health?" News) that offered Medicaid to very poor adults without children.
At the time of the writing, officials were surprised that relatively few people had applied for the program, but they weren't sure just how few. Since then, the numbers have been released. Park, Teller, Elbert, and El Paso County combined have 800 people enrolled in the program thus far. More are in the process of being approved, but applications still are needed to fill the state's 10,000 slots.
So far, Denver County is leading in enrollment with 1,700 participants. — JAS
Compiled by Chet Hardin, Ralph Routon, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.