Alabama: Good ole boys come poaching

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From the plains east of Colorado Springs, Schriever Air Force Base exerts a lot of military power.

Schriever is the home of the 50th Space Wing, the Space Innovation and Development Center, the Missile Defense Agency’s Joint National Integration Center, 310th Space Group and numerous tenant organizations.

The Missile Defense Agency and the Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center are housed at Schriever, but answer to MDA headquarters in Huntsville, Ala. The MDA has a local annual revenue impact in the $500 million range and employs a work force of about 1,600, according to Brian Binn, president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Division.

Alabama congressional folks have been, and are being, aggressive in their mission to grow the military presence in Alabama — specifically Huntsville.

In an e-mail to staffers for U.S. Sens. Mike Bennett and Mark Udall and U.S Reps. Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, Binn wrote: “The Alabama delegation, as well as the close ties that MDA leadership has with Huntsville, should be an area of concern, or at least an area of interest. With looming budget cuts, there could very well be an initiative to consolidate additional MDA functions at Huntsville, pulling from our operations in the Pikes Peak region.”

Denver politicos need to understand the military presence in Colorado Springs is not a southern Colorado issue that needs support from only the Springs’ and Pueblo’s chosen ones. The powerful throughout this state need to defend our military assets from predators such as the Alabama delegation.

To help Gov. Bill Ritter’s office in all things military, state officials are talking about forming a Governors Military Council, which could be paid for by the Federal Office of Economic Adjustment. That needs to be done post-haste.

Colorado’s delegation needs to flex its muscles by meeting with the MDA leadership and expressing the state’s determination to keep all the assets of MDA here. As Binn noted in his e-mail, “Be assured that the Alabama delegation does this routinely.”

Colorado needs to pay for a military-affairs lobbyist in D.C. It would be a great investment in the future.

“We (Colorado) are losing the battle, no doubt about it,” said Larry Fortner, chairman of the Defense Mission Task Force, which grew out of the 1995 base realignment and closure process.

After Ritter signed House Bill 1317, which basically does not allow Colorado to sell land in the Pinon Canyon region to the Army, state politicians need to kiss and make up with the Department of Defense. That would be a $5.6 billion kiss, representing the economic impact the DoD industry has on Colorado.

Unlucky to be so lucky

At the Economic Development Corp.’s annual golf tournament on Monday, Randy Slaybaugh, branch manager of the local Land Title office, shot a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th hole at Pine Creek golf club.

Holes-in-one are not a common occurrence and are considered pretty lucky. This was also a contest hole. A hole-in-one got the golfer a $10,000 prize.

The unlucky part is that Land Title was the sponsor of the contest, and the hole-in-one insurance company’s contract states that officers of the company could not win the prize money — too bad for Slaybaugh. He should have hit the ace on the fourth hole. He would have won a BMW from Phil Winslow.

Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at Lon.Matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.