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Monkey Business

Douglas Bruce on the hotseat

Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.George Washington (from state of Colorado – the Colorado Department of Transportation – paid Praco Advertising $21,000 to come up with a name and logo for the Colorado Springs Interstate 25 widening project. The creative minds at Praco (a Colorado Springs public relations agency) christened the project, COSMIX, and part of the $21,000 they charged the state for that brilliant name included plenty of rules about how, when, where and why the media and others can use the high-priced logo. The Gazette broke the story on Jan. 19, and the outrage from the citizens of this fine county was relayed in numerous e-mails to the newspaper.The state could have saved $21,000 if someone would have simply dubbed the product, the Springs I 25 project. What a concept. And what a waste.And “they” (our fearless leaders) scratch their heads and whine because Doug Bruce introduced the Tabor Amendment and last fall ran a successful campaign for county commissioner in the Republican primary against City Council member, Margaret Radford.Bruce stands for no government waste, less government in our faces and controlled taxes. Hmmm … you were shocked that the people elected him.Now that Bruce is in office, his commissioner colleagues and others, who don’t have many original ideas of their own, seem determined to render him powerless. He hasn’t been in office one month as of this writing, and his rivals are already talking about a recall. Not a real show of support or respect for the people who elected him, do you think?Apparently, the will of the voters is worthless. Because … the witch-hunt has begun.The new Bruce era will undoubtedly feed a media frenzy for the next four years. They’d be hard-pressed to admit it, but publishers and editors are stimulated and spurred on by the possibilities. Think about it. Front-page news: Douglas Bruce leans into a right hook thrown by Sally Clark. Bruce counters with a left jab and Williams, Hisey and Bensberg jump in and go for his midsection. Terry Harris steps in and calls the November 2004 election a technical knock out!Whatever, it’s a reporter’s heyday, everyday in El Paso County. Bruce’s term is in its infancy, but you can’t turn on the nightly news or pick up a newspaper without hearing or reading something about him. Slice headlines Jan. 19: “Love him or hate him.” CBS affiliate Channel 11 nightly news on Jan. 18: It’s all about Douglas Bruce and the controversy over his salary. (Bruce promised voters he would turn his $63,000 annual commissioner salary over to a charitable organization. County attorney argues that it’s illegal to do so and blasts Bruce’s choice of charitable organizations – Active Citizens Together – his own 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization.) Gazette editorial on Jan. 19: “Bruce’s debut as commissioner doesn’t bode well” (this, too, about the salary issue). And that’s only three days worth of news.Douglas Bruce has made it to the Monkey Chronicles, too. But here’s the deal:Bruce and I have agreed to disagree. We are worlds apart when it comes to social issues. However, I can’t think of any other politician in this county or state (maybe State Treasurer Mike Coffman or Manitou Mayor Marcy Morrison) besides Bruce who has thrown out some innovative ideas in the last 25 years (since I’ve lived here). Too many of them are in the hands of special interest groups. Too many have their own agenda that has nothing to do with “of the people, by the people and for the people.”Here’s something else. Bruce is available. Hello. He calls me back. When he says he will do something, he does it. He doesn’t pressure me to follow his beliefs either. He has shown up for meetings in Falcon – he is having a town meeting in February – a rarity these days.Bruce wants a volunteer to help him return calls and respond to his constituents in a timely manner, but his fellow county commissioners drew up a waiver defining “volunteer rules” specific to Douglas Bruce. His volunteer must sign an agreement that lists eight rules he or she must follow if volunteering for Bruce. The waiver refers to the volunteer position as a “citizen assistant.” The following is rule No. 3 (in a nutshell – some nut wrote it): “as a citizen assistant, I shall not be authorized to use county resources (including but not limited to support personnel, computer and Internet systems, telefax services, office space, office furnishings and photocopying services.”) Therefore, Bruce’s volunteer can never accompany him to his office – unless, of course, the citizen assistant doesn’t sit down, touch anything, or have eye-to-eye contact with a county employee.Other Bruce ideas: Bruce wants to redirect some significant county dollars for road funding from the city back to the county. And he doesn’t like the county selling the Penrose Equestrian Center for $1 when records show it’s worth about $5.2 million.Here’s the bottom line: Bruce was elected by the people. The Bruce naysayer lost – concede to that fact, will ya? Take off your gloves. This isn’t a one-man show – Bruce isn’t alone in this ring. Open yourself up to new ideas, and quit insulting the voters in eastern El Paso County.Sell Penrose Equestrian and give Falcon the money to incorporate – we need it so we can have our freedom and a little control. We need more money for our roads, too. Allow every county commissioner a volunteer, so the rest of them can be more responsive to their constituents. Your resources are our resources, so I say let the volunteer use what is available to everyone. It’s not about you – it’s about us, and don’t forget it!

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