Nor’wood negoatiates to buy government land southwest of downtown

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- If at first you don’t succeed, work out a new deal and continue moving forward.

That might be an apt description of Nor’wood Development Group’s efforts to gain control of land located in the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area owned by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

After an agreement with RBD collapsed last fall due to conflict of interest questions and legal requirements, Nor’wood persuaded the Regional Building board, composed of elected officials, to simply sell the property to Nor’wood without placing it on the open market.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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Colorado marijuana czar and fellow top regulator make leap into consulting

Alicia Wallace (The Cannabist)- Colorado’s marijuana czar and one of its top enforcement chiefs are jumping to the private sector to advise local and state governments hashing out cannabis regulations.

Andrew Freedman, the state’s director of marijuana coordination, Lewis Koski, Colorado Department of Revenue deputy senior director of enforcement, and John Hudak, drug policy expert and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, formed Freedman & Koski LLC.

Click here to read the full story in The Cannabist.

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Pay Colorado’s elected officials and judges their due

Denver Post Editorial Board – Colorado’s elected officials have a complex job to do, and a growing population to serve, but they are paid quite a lot less than their peers in other states. We’ve stood behind the idea of raising their salaries over the years, and applaud a plan that makes use of a recent law to finally pay these public servants what they’re worth.

Yes, money is tight at the state level. And critics of high-dollar salaries for some city and county elected officials across the state are right to question them.

But we would argue that it is highly unfair not to have raised pay for top officials, like the governor and attorney general, since 1999, as is sadly the case.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Denver Post.

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Colorado judges seek steep pay hikes that also would benefit lawmakers

Brian Eason (Denver Post) – Colorado judges are asking for more than double the pay raise of the typical state employee in 2017 — a wish that, if granted, would trigger a ripple effect of pay hikes for the state’s top elected officials.

In the Judicial Branch’s budget presentation recently, Chief Justice Nancy Rice of the Colorado Supreme Court laid out a case for a 3.15 percent raise for judges and certain staff members, on top of the 2.5 percent across-the-board pay hike that Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed in his annual budget.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Denver Post.

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Councilor Tom Strand allowed a city-funded agency to pay for an out-of-state trip

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- Whether it’s having coffee with Sen. Cory Gardner, taking part in the Mayor’s Cup golf tournament or flying to Washington, D.C., with the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, City Council members do so at the expense of taxpayers.

With one exception.

When Councilor Tom Strand tagged along on an RBA regional leaders trip to Columbus, Ohio, in April, his $1,580 tab was later picked up by the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau — an agency Strand is poised to vote to fund as part of the city budget.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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Gov. Hickenlooper solicits money for Democrats from his office

Billie Stanton Anleu (Colorado Springs Gazette)- The Colorado GOP is calling for an ethics investigation into Gov. John Hickenlooper’s video soliciting partisan donations while standing in front of the state seal in his office in the Capitol.

A video since deleted from his Facebook page shows Hickenlooper accepting the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund’s “glass ceiling challenge” and donating $20 to the cause, then challenging Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger and state Rep. Daneya Esgar – all Democrats – to contribute $20 each too.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Gazette.


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Update: Regional Building takes second look at questionable deal

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- A deal reported in this week’s edition of the Independent, “Partnering up,” that would give Nor’wood Development Group control of $2.1 million worth of property in the lower downtown area is undergoing further examination for its legality.

The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department had agreed to pursue a “participation agreement” in which it would place two properties it owns near the Olympic Museum site into a new entity with Nor’wood properties. The new entity, with Nor’wood having a 63-percent stake, would then develop the property and have first right to buy the Regional Building land.

Now, Regional Building Official Roger Lovell tells the Indy the deal is on hold.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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Boulder County’s Elise Jones accused of conflict of interest involving sister’s Eco-Cycle job

John Fyer (Longmont Times Call)- A Boulder County resident filed a state ethics complaint Wednesday alleging County Commissioner Elise Jones violated Colorado’s conflict-of-interest laws in a number of votes that could financially benefit Eco-Cycle, the recycling agency headed by her twin sister, Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones.

Chuck Wibby, who’s been battling Boulder County over subdivision road repaving, filed the complaint with the Independent Ethics Commission, accusing Elise Jones of active participation in several county board meetings — or at least the pertinent portions of those meetings — involving items affecting Eco-Cycle.

Click here to read the full story in the Longmont Times Call.

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Regional Building Department would inspect construction of its business partner

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- The government enterprise charged with monitoring development and construction wants to partner with the region’s largest developer for financial gain.

A pending agreement between the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department and Nor’wood Development Group would create a new entity, to which both stakeholders would transfer land. All the property in question lies within the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area, where the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame is to be built. Nor’wood, the master developer of the urban renewal area, would then have the sole option of developing the land held by the new entity.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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Ethics Watch Comments On IEC Draft Home Rule Position Statement

Today, Colorado Ethics Watch submitted written comments to the Independent Ethics Commission on its draft position statement regarding the application of Article XXIX of the Colorado Constitution, the Ethics in Government Amendment, to home rule cities. Ethics Watch told the IEC that it went too far in requiring home rule cities, such as Denver and Colorado Springs, to enact laws at least as strict as those found in Article XXIX. Ethics Watch agreed with the IEC that in order to opt out of the ethics system set out by the Amendment, a home rule city must have some sort of enforcement authority for its ethics system.

Article XXIX provides that home rule jurisdictions may opt out of the Amendment’s coverage if they enact laws “that address the matters covered by this article.” Last month, the Commission released a draft position statement that would require home rule cities to submit their ethics codes for approval and have laws at least as stringent as those found in Article XXIX if they wished to opt out from Article XXIX and IEC jurisdiction. Ethics Watch disagrees and joins other commenters in arguing that a home rule jurisdiction can have different and even weaker ethics rules so long as they have a gift rule and an enforcement mechanism.

Ethics Watch also urged the Commission not to act until it is at full strength. The empty seat on the Commission happens to be the seat reserved for a representative of local government; Ethics Watch believes the views of the local government commissioner will be very helpful toward resolving this issue.

Ethics Watch submitted two sets of written comments during the discussion phase of this process. Ethics Watch’s comments today are the first submitted since the IEC published a written draft statement.

Click here to read Ethics Watch’s comments.

Click here to read all comments filed with the Commission on this topic.

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