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Veteran policeman wins judgment


CSPD lawsuit resolved

Finally, with 17 years of service on the Colorado Springs police force, Lance Lazoff will get his promotion to sergeant now.

Lazoff, snubbed despite being qualified for 16 sergeant positions starting in 2004 under former Chief Luis Velez, prevailed in a consent decree issued Monday by the U.S. Justice Department that ended his retaliation lawsuit against the CSPD. The decree now goes to U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer for approval.

Lazoff, backed by the Justice Department, had accused the CSPD of blocking any promotion for him after he supported a complaint filed by his wife Sandra, as part of a group charging the department with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lazoff has been a national- and state-level SWAT instructor and had served as acting sergeant within his unit on numerous occasions. The decree orders the CSPD to make him a sergeant immediately and grants him retroactive pay and benefits. The department's supervisors also will have to go through ADA awareness training. RR

Fire chief retiring

After 14 years leading the Colorado Springs Fire Department, Chief Manuel Navarro has announced he will call it quits Oct. 10. Navarro, a firefighter for 42 years, came to Colorado Springs in 1994 from Oakland, Calif. His retirement comes following a year of ups and downs for him and the department.

The department was largely praised for how its firefighters handled a Jan. 16, 2007, fire at Castle West Apartments that killed two people. But Navarro and other department officials were criticized later in the year, after the Gazette reported they were golfing during work hours.

City leaders hope to select a new fire chief before October. AL

Memorial manual: not so fast

Apparently the message didn't come across clearly enough, despite City Council repeatedly expressing frustrations recently with city-owned Memorial Health System.

Memorial presented the draft of a new governance manual to the city's elected leaders Monday, and the councilors' response was clear: They didn't like it.

The intent was to update Memorial's old bylaws, supposedly also dealing with matters of recent concern such as bidding for contracts and the chief executive officer's powers. But the Council didn't see enough progress in the draft manual, and there was also negative reaction leveled at Memorial for bringing it before an informal meeting.

Vice Mayor Larry Small, an outspoken critic of the system's management, questioned whether Memorial would pay attention to the manual because, he said, the hospital hasn't been following its existing bylaws. Small and Mayor Lionel Rivera zeroed in on continuing lack of restrictions for the CEO, which has led to several embarrassing and costly situations involving recently retired CEO Dick Eitel. They want new CEO Larry McEvoy to have limits similar to those in place at other city-run enterprises.

Council will revisit the manual on Aug. 1 during an annual joint meeting with the Memorial Health System board. RR

City tries to deal with cats

An overabundance of stray cats in Colorado Springs has the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region stretched to its limits, prompting development of a new strategy for dealing with the problem. The plan, submitted Monday to City Council, consists of three parts: a system for trapping, neutering and returning feral cats; education programs about spaying and neutering; and a requirement for cat owners to license their cats, as dog owners have done for years.

"What we're doing now isn't working," says Wes Metzler, Humane Society executive director. "It's time to do something different."

Goals include increasing the percentage of lost cats recovered by their owners, reducing the risk of disease transmission between feral and domestic cats, and reducing the number of cats euthanized each year. Currently, an average of 13 cats are put to sleep every day, according to Metzler.

Metzler emphasized he is not asking for any additional city funding. The plan requires changes in certain ordinances, which would include a law requiring all cats be registered. The proposed fee would be $12 for animals that have been spayed or neutered and $25 for those that have not. MA

New buildings postponed

Those impressive plans for two high-rise buildings in the same downtown block have been put off for now, the Gazette reported Wednesday.

Developers of the 22-story Cooper Tower, planned for the southeast corner of Nevada Avenue and Kiowa Street, say they've had trouble obtaining financing. Pikes Peak Place, at the northwest corner of Weber Street and Pikes Peak Avenue, has been plagued by the sagging economy and rising costs. Nor'wood officials told the Gazette they would be working on a new timeline for Pikes Peak Place. RR

Bruce says he's been cleared

A Sunday press release from Rep. Douglas Bruce starts out in a straightforward manner: State Representative Douglas Bruce announced today that he has received a letter from the Speaker of the House of Representatives clearing Bruce of a sexual harassment charge filed during the closing days of the session.

The next eight paragraphs are then mostly direct quotes of Bruce condemning the charge as a ridiculous and politically motivated portion of a long string of calculated political efforts to drive me from office.

He closes saying Donald M. Waller, his Republican opponent running for House District 15 in the Aug. 12 primary election, has emphasized the charges.

The sentence might be considered part of Bruces own calculated political effort. Mark Waller actually has gone by his middle name Mark his whole life, and he suggests Bruce has made an issue of his name to confuse voters. AL

Compiled by Mike Alberti, Anthony Lane and Ralph Routon.

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