In Colorado, gambling is big business.
During fiscal year 2006, which ended on June 30, Colorado casinos paid $106.1 million in state taxes on a record $765.4 million in adjusted gross proceeds, total revenue less player winnings.
Powerball, Lotto and scratch games generated $113.7 million last year.
Twenty-five years ago, as one downtown businessman pointed out recently, “you could have rolled a bowling ball down Tejon Street at 10 o’clock on Saturday night, and not hit a thing.”
But, as any downtown visitor can attest, things have changed.
Downtown is no longer just a place for specialty retail outlets and government offices, it’s the epicenter of Colorado Springs nightlife — which has recently sprung to the forefront because of an assault at one of the area’s trendiest nightclubs.
For sheer weirdness, it’s hard to imagine a Colorado political season as wacky as this one.
Consider the following:
The GOP nominated a respected, amiable two-term congressman, Bob Beauprez, as their gubernatorial candidate. Nothing in Beauprez’ history suggested that he’d be anything other than a competent contender. In fact, just a few months ago, the Democrats were in despair because popular Denver mayor, John Hickenlooper, had declined to run, ceding the nomination by default to the little-known Denver district attorney, Bill Ritter.
Let us consider the delicious absurdity of the ongoing saga of … Tejon Street striping!
In case you’ve missed it, let me bring you up to date.
El Paso County, for reasons best known only to our august county commissioners, ripped down an unprepossessing office building on South Tejon and erected a parking garage on the site. Upon completion, the city re-striped the formerly four-lane street to two-lanes, and added bicycle lanes.
The battle to keep Colorado’s Public Employee Retirement Association pension fund solvent isn’t an isolated problem.
In common with other private and public pension plans, the fund’s ratio between active workers and retirees is one of the causes for concern.
During the last legislative session, lawmakers “fixed” the state’s Public Employees Retirement Association pension fund, principally by diverting 0.5 percent of employee raises to PERA for the next six years and introducing a “rule of 85” for retirement eligibility.
But an analysis of PERA’s finances indicates that its unfunded liability, far from decreasing in future years, could easily increase. And, questions exist concerning mortality assumptions by PERA’s actuaries and about PERA’s projected rates of return on its investment portfolio that raise red flags about the long-term solvency of the pension plan.
“The kudos keep on coming!”
Such was the subscript of a giddy, triumphal e-mail from Dave White at the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., giving your columnist (and hundreds of other recipients) the good news — Forbes magazine had just ranked Colorado fifth in business climate.
Coming on the heels of Money magazine’s No. 1 ranking of our fair city, that’s great news for the EDC folks.
Art museums are often perceived as elitist guardians of high culture, or as forbiddingly didactic educational institutions or as contemptuous of the beliefs and values of the very visitors whom they seek to attract.
Not in Colorado Springs.
“For many museums, I think that’s in the past,” said Michael De Marsche, CEO of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. “I know that we’re completely focused on the quality of the experience that our members and visitors have — that they should expect and get the very best.”
The City of Colorado Springs intends to establish a “Solicitation Exclusion Zone,” which would include most of downtown, according to Police Commander Kurt Pillard, who heads the Gold Hill Division, which includes downtown.
Pillard said that individuals who have been convicted of aggressive panhandling will be barred from the zone for a year. Such individuals, once identified, would be subject to immediate arrest if found within the boundaries of the zone.
All through the 1990s, the Colorado Springs economy boomed, as did Denver’s, as did the nation’s. But, like a man starving in the midst of plenty, city government couldn’t benefit from the boom — the Bruce amendments simply deprived it of the resources needed to cope with growth. Urgently needed reconstructive work was postponed, and decaying infrastructure was patched, rather than replaced.Continue reading …