Carrier costs city $3.4 million
City Attorney Chris Melcher plans to ask City Councilors on Tuesday for $3.4 million to pay legal settlements related to the case of former police officer and convicted child molester Joshua Carrier.
Carrier was a volunteer and police officer assigned to Horace Mann Middle School in 2010, where he used his authority to molest at least 19 kids. In October, he was convicted on dozens of charges, and though he won't be sentenced until February, he's expected to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Colorado Springs School District 11 is also expected to contribute to the $9.4 million settlement reached by Carrier and his victim's families in September.
Personally, City Councilor Merv Bennett thinks District 11 was ultimately responsible for Carrier, and feels it's appropriate that the district will carry a larger financial burden. But Bennett says the city can also learn from the experience. He hopes Police Chief Pete Carey will scrutinize police officers working in schools who also want to volunteer at those schools in their off-hours. — J. Adrian Stanley
Cops withholding MMJ
When a medical-marijuana patient's acquitted, Amendment 20 is pretty clear on what law enforcement should do with any evidence it's been holding: Give it back.
Leukemia patient Bob Crouse enjoyed just such an acquittal in June, and thus sought to have his 55 plants, and roughly 6.5 pounds of cannabis, returned by the Colorado Springs Police Department. After CSPD declined to do so, citing a concern that it would be distributing an illegal substance, Crouse and attorney Clifton Black won a legal judgment.
Last Friday, the pair again sought return of his meds. Says Black via e-mail: "I got a call about 1:45, 15 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment, and the person from the evidence room was saying that her supervisor said not to return the property.
"And I said, 'Well, we have a court order ... so we are coming over to pick it up.' Conveniently, the supervisor was gone for the day. When we got over there we got a new excuse, that [District Attorney Dan May] said not to release the property. Finally, a Lieutenant asked me and my client to come to [an] interview room where we were informed that the DA might file an appeal."
Interestingly, the police asked the DA to file — a first, confirms police spokeswoman Barbara Miller. She says there's concern that the original ruling judge is in the minority, so a second opinion is sought, for the department's sake, in the next 10 days.
Even with an appeal, however, this may not be over. Amendment 20 says plants "shall not be harmed, neglected, injured, or destroyed while in the possession of state or local law enforcement"; Crouse's are dead, potentially exposing the city to a civil suit, says Black. — Bryce Crawford
Downtown leader exits
Ron Butlin, executive director of the influential Downtown Partnership, abruptly resigned last week.
Butlin said in a press release that he felt a "new era" was opening up for downtown, and that he hoped a new leader would handle "those changes." Mayor Steve Bach has been very involved in proposing changes for downtown, which he views as key to Colorado Springs' economic success, though it was unclear whether those changes were the ones to which Butlin was referring. — J. Adrian Stanley
Gessler investigations afoot
Spending of public money by Secretary of State Scott Gessler has attracted the scrutiny of two government agencies.
According to Colorado Ethics Watch, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission is investigating the alleged misuse of state funds by Gessler. The Ethics Watch complaint that sparked the investigation asks whether Gessler "misrepresented the nature of his visit" when he traveled to Florida in August for the Republican National Lawyers Association.
According to an Ethics Watch press release: "[Gessler] then traveled to the Tampa, Florida area on August 26 to spend the week there during the Republican National Convention, although it is assumed he was not a delegate to that convention. The Secretary of State requested reimbursement for his attendance at these events, certifying that they were not 'personal or political.'"
Meanwhile, as the Denver Post reports, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey has launched a criminal investigation into the spending. — Chet Hardin
More moves at Memorial
The city is one step closer to selecting members for the new Memorial Health System/University of Colorado Health Board.
According to Michael Sullivan, director of city human resources, seven people have been chosen out of 43 by the selection committee and will be presented to the City Council Nov. 13 for consideration. They are: Frank Caris, CEO of dpiX LLC; Dick Celeste, principal of RFC NextAct LLC (and former Colorado College president); Karla Grazier, president and CEO of Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado; Dr. Robin Johnson, contract physician with Memorial; Frederick Michel, chief medical officer and medical director for AspenPointe; Gene Renuart, retired Air Force general; and Michael Welch, vice president of medical and dental with Peak Vista Community Health Centers. — Chet Hardin
City brass gets raises
While Mayor Steve Bach has blamed a tight city budget for the elimination of dozens of positions this year, he's not as conservative with his direct reports.
In October, mayoral assistant Brenda Bonn, who was paid $60,100, received a $3,005 raise. Chief Communications Officer Cindy Aubrey saw her $95,000 salary bumped up by $4,750. And City Attorney Chris Melcher, who already received a $183,736 salary, saw his pay increase by $3,793.
Pete Carey, who was paid $142,697, received an $11,992 raise when he was promoted to police chief. Likewise, Rich Brown, who was paid $147,657, saw a $16,697 bump when named fire chief.
In related news, the Gazette is reporting that former city employee Steve Cox, who was known as Bach's right-hand man, has been paid $37,200 in consultant fees from the city and will get an additional $55,800, for a total of $93,000. — J. Adrian Stanley