The new falcon herald logo.
Feature Articles

Douglas Bruce – the first 90 days

Douglas Bruce was sworn into office as the El Paso county commissioner for District 2 on Jan. 11. Bruce is no stranger to controversy and headlines; after all, he did author the TABOR Amendment, and being an elected official has only enhanced that.In his first three months, he has been accused of obstructing county government, wasting time during The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners meetings, being argumentative and questioning even the most trivial procedural matters of county government. Bruce sees it differently. “I promised my constituents I would fight for my reform agenda and make county government work for them, and that is what I am doing and will continue to do,” Bruce said.What has surprised Bruce the most since becoming a county commissioner? “That county finances are a mess,” he said. “The BOCC approved, four to one, $78,000 for cell phones for the welfare department employees. They rarely leave town for business so why not have a basket of a dozen that can be signed out when needed?” asked Bruce.”Another example, the county has approved $300,000 to Pikes Peak Workforce Center to pay people to learn how to hold jobs and an additional $50,000 for gasoline coupons for jobseekers when they go out to look for a job. I voted no on all these handouts. Pikes Peak Workforce is a federally funded program that’s administered by the county. It provides adults and youth with job training and helps them gain employment and provides numerous services to businesses. Nevertheless, Bruce believes it is simply government run amok, and, even though the money comes from the federal government it is still the American taxpayer footing the bill.Another issue Bruce is bringing to the forefront is the way the county handles contracts for services. “Procurement doesn’t always put things out for bids,” Bruce said. “It’s called “piggybacking.” For example, the copier system was piggybacked on a contract bid from the Denver Public Schools. It means that local copier companies cannot bid to provide services to the county,” Bruce said. “Just one copier for the El Paso County Human Services Department costs $67,000 a year to lease when we could buy it for $220,000, including the service contract, and it would last approximately 10 years.” Commissioner Williams agreed with Bruce that the BOCC should look at local bidding for services.On the issue of growth, Bruce has publicly stated that he will not vote in favor of developers after July 11 who wants to build new neighborhoods or other construction, unless they are willing to pay upfront fees to help offset the cost of public services, such as roads or schools. “I am not anti growth but believe it must pay its own way,” Bruce said. “School District 49 thinks I’m the enemy but I’m actually trying to help the district with its overcrowding by requiring the development companies to build the schools for them.” While Bruce doesn’t have a dollar amount for the proposed fees, he did ask the county staff to propose a list of fees before his July 11 deadline. However, the proposal is unlikely to go anywhere as the other board members voiced concern that it would be double taxation on the property owners.Perhaps the most controversial issue on Bruce’s agenda is the proposed razing of the Atrium Building downtown, replacing it with a parking lot to accommodate the new courthouse. Bruce said the building’s assessed value is undervalued at more than $2.2 million. He toured the 42,000 square-foot building, which currently houses the probation department, county maintenance and a few other programs. “It was all updated in the 1980s and is hardly an eyesore or a hazard,” Bruce said. “The slanted glass panes leak, and it needs a few mechanical upgrades, but surely demolishing it for a 450-space parking lot is a total waste of taxpayers’ money.” Bruce believes that by repairing the Atrium Building and keeping the probation department there, and decreasing the size of the court complex, they wouldn’t need the extra parking, and they would save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.The new courthouse complex as well as the new jail is being built using money raised through Certificates of Participation (COPs). Bruce believes the previous county commissioners’ approval of the $156 million in debt was illegal and used to avoid the TABOR voter approval requirement. “The county sets up a dummy corporation under county control then the dummy corporation borrows the money, not the county,” Bruce said. “By inserting a clause that says they don’t have to pay back the money they borrowed and are free to stop repayment at anytime, it skirts the voter requirement law. COPs also mean we pay higher interest costs and default insurance.”Bruce also is working to end the practice of “executive sessions.” He said the law allows for them but doesn’t require it. Executive sessions are usually used by government entities to discuss personnel issues, contract negotiations and any issue involving litigation. “I believe everything should be handled in the public,” Bruce said. “Executive sessions are, in general, abused. The county should air its dirty laundry, so I refuse to attend close door sessions.” However, it is a well-established practice to keep personnel issues from the public for individual privacy issues, and litigation could Bruce is also working with the El Paso County Sheriffs Department to identify an area near Falcon for a new substation. “We are hoping to get a land owner to donate an acre or so of land and a donation from a builder to build a garage type building,” Bruce said. A new substation could enhance response times.Controversy not withstanding, Bruce’s tenure as a county commissioner will surely bring attention to District 2. Good or bad attention depends on whom you ask, but a change could be in the making.To contact Douglas Bruce you can email him at: or, or visit his Web site at

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Weather Cams by StratusIQ

Search Advertisers