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The Dougster’s baaaaack!

Wed, Aug 5, 2009

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Just when you might have thought that Douglas Bruce had retreated quietly from politics, perhaps happily ensconced in some palatial, Mandarin era residence along the Bund in Shanghai, he’s baaaaack!!!

Here’s the scoop, such as it is, on the latest Bruce/city kerfuffle.

The ol’ tax cutter took out petitions during May of this year, intent upon collecting enough signatures from “qualified electors” of Colorado Springs to force council to either approve his latest initiative as written, or let the voters decide its fate.

By Monday afternoon at 5:00 PM, Bruce had not turned in his petitions, thereby missing the deadline for placing the matter on the November coordinated election.

City clerk Kathryn Young released a statement confirming his “failure to perform”, which we included in a brief story. We didn’t hear from the often-irascible Mr. Bruce until after our deadline.

He was not pleased.

According to Bruce, the charter specifically grants him 180 days to collect signatures (true). Ms. Young was/is entirely in error, he claimed.

“I know the law,” Bruce said, “she just made it up.”

And, he continued, he will continue to collect signatures for the proposed initiative which, if passed, would phase out the city’s “payment in lieu of taxes” that it receives every year from Colorado Springs Utilities. It’s a nice little chunk of change-about $30 million annually. The initiative also requires that utilities pass along the savings to its customers.

For those of us who have known Douglas Bruce for the last twenty years, whether as uneasy ally or bitter foe, it’s pretty clear that he does nothing by accident. Had he so desired, he could have had more than enough signatures at the Clerk’s office well before last Monday. His failure to do so may be because of any number of factors, e.g.

-He wants to force a little confrontation with the city, during which he can portray himself as the hapless victim of a scheming bureaucracy, the noble crusader against taxes, and the grand old man of the anti-tax movement, and make Young and/or the city back down, and put the initiative on the November ballot.

-He may want to force the city to hold a special, post November election, as he believes the charter mandates if Young refuses to put the matter on the ballot during November.

-And why would he do that, given that the city would have to shell out $480,000 (Young’s figure, according to Bruce) or $220,000 (Bruce’s estimate) to fund such election? Just maybe, some of his allies (or even the ol’ taxcutter himself) are thinking about putting another initiative on the ballot-maybe one that calls for overturning the USOC deal…

But I dunno. I’m only certain of one thing-politics in our fair city is far more interesting when the ol’ Dougster is on the prowl.

Welcome back from Shanghai, big guy!!

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