16,000 signatures vs. Morse
It appears state Senate President John Morse will face a recall election, opponents having turned in 16,000-plus signatures to Secretary of State Scott Gessler — more than twice the 7,178 needed.
The recall push officially comes as a reaction to Morse's advocacy for the state's new gun control laws, most notably a limit on ammunition magazines and a requirement for background checks. Petition-gatherers, however, have been filmed using other rationales, including a claim that Morse wants to repeal the state's Make My Day law.
Morse, a former police chief, notes that's not true, adding that his legislative aim was to stop or slow mass shootings, like the ones in Aurora and Newtown, Conn.
"There were 20 6-year-olds that were shot in the face," he says. "I mean, their little bodies were carried out with their Power Rangers T-shirts covered by a sheet. There are people who think we should do nothing about this, but I'm not one of them."
Gessler is required to throw out invalid signatures, or those from people who don't live in Morse's district.
While Morse has said in the past that he would not step down from his seat to avoid the recall, he was more evasive on that point Monday, saying only that he wouldn't resign "now."— JAS
City fleet will go private
Citing potential savings of $666,666 a year, the city of Colorado Springs announced Monday it would outsource its fleet department, where 59 employees currently maintain more than 4,500 vehicles and pieces of equipment.
The city withheld the name of the contractor, chosen through a request-for-proposals process that started in November, but said in a press release the contractor has "indicated that there is desire to hire the majority of the City's Fleet staff." The release didn't address the question of whether the contractor will do business with local vendors for parts and supplies.
The new contract will become effective Jan. 1. — PZ
Broadmoor takes step back
The Broadmoor hotel has indefinitely delayed two public meetings set for this week, saying it needs more time to further analyze the impact of closing a 3,000-foot stretch of Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard that runs through the resort's golf courses.
The Broadmoor wants to close the road to enable extension of the course in order to qualify for national and international golf championships; residents have protested, some saying it would eliminate a crucial route in case of evacuation from a wildland fire. Broadmoor President and CEO Steve Bartolin has assured residents that the resort is "committed to not reducing evacuation capacity." — PZ
Ethics rules change
Due process will be expanded under changes to the city ethics investigation process, which was unanimously approved by City Council last week.
Those accused of ethics violations will be given the evidence against them and an opportunity to address the Independent Ethics Commission, appointed by Council, about that evidence and the allegations. Once the matter is forwarded to Council, it may dismiss the case, or file ethics charges. If the accused wants a hearing, Council can elect to hear the matter or appoint an attorney to do so. The attorney would forward a recommendation to Council.
Once a finding of a violation occurs, Council can impose a monetary fine, if the accused person benefitted financially, equal to double the amount of the financial gain; censure if the accused is a Council member; or remove someone from his or her position, unless the person reports to the mayor. In that case, Council can only recommend removal to the mayor.
Assistant City Attorney Tracy Lessig tells Council the new process will be used in current cases, one of which involves former Councilor Tim Leigh. — PZ
County's Reid switches hats
Jim Reid, longtime El Paso County deputy fire marshal/director of emergency management, has switched roles. As of April 23, he assumed the job of executive director of public services, which bumped his annual salary to $119,000 from $97,625.
"This was a good opportunity for Jim," county spokesman Dave Rose says. "He will continue to be the Sheriff's rep on [the Emergency Services Agency], so we won't lose that experience, and the county is already making good use of his experience in emergency management as he builds the plan for response to flash flooding."
Reid was pivotal in the county's handling of the Waldo Canyon Fire last summer. He will now oversee highways, facilities, fleet, engineering, flood mitigation and stormwater management, and more. — PZ
GOP hires Cole
Danny Cole, campaign manager for Springs City Council President Keith King, has been hired as director of operations for the El Paso County Republican Party.
Cole's hiring will probably take him out of the running to replace Council Administrator Aimee Cox, who's been hired by Mayor Steve Bach in the economic vitality department. Cole reportedly had his eye on Cox's Council job.
Cole has been active in party politics for years and most recently worked on King's campaign against four other candidates in the city's District 3, which covers the west and southwest portions of the city, including downtown.
In a news release, the GOP noted Cole's columns for the Gazette "have wowed Republican audiences."
"Cole will focus his considerable talents on connecting and coordinating with volunteers," the release said. — PZ