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HE'S LEFT A TRAIL OF ANGRY CREDITORS AND ONCE SUED THE STATE AFTER FALLING OFF A BRIDGE. DAVID SHORTRIDGE SAYS HE'S A NATURAL CANDIDATE FOR THE RTD BOARD.

Shortridge insists he's the man for the job. He sits on all of DRCOG's transportation committees. He served a two-year stint as Nederland's commissioner of economic development. He's a member of groups like the Boulder County Consortium of Cities, the Boulder County Aging Advisory Council and the Colorado Association of Ski Towns.

And because Shortridge is legally blind, he says, he must rely on RTD to get around.

"I'm in a unique situation that allows me, on an everyday basis, to interact with and listen to the users of RTD public transportation," says Shortridge, who suffers from a condition called retinitis pigmentosa. Caldara, meanwhile, "doesn't to my knowledge have any background in transportation issues."

The son of a retired U.S. Air Force officer, Shortridge has lived in Colorado for the past 25 years. He describes himself as a retired stockbroker with years of experience at Paine Webber and other firms on Denver's 17th Street. Once widowed and once divorced, he has four children and three grandchildren. He notes that he works as a volunteer probation officer and serves as a deacon and Sunday-school teacher at Nederland Presbyterian Church.

Court records paint a somewhat different picture, however. On loan applications in the early 1980s, Shortridge said he had spent the previous twenty years working in "accounting" at a Boulder firm he founded called Bhort-Carney. Today he says Bhort-Carney was a business he founded on the side to deal in rare stamps and other "philatelic properties." On other occasions, Shortridge said that his only income came from monthly Social Security Disability checks. In 1982, for instance, he asked a judge to allow him to litigate a civil case without paying any court fees because he couldn't afford them. "Because of my poverty," Shortridge wrote, "I am unable to pay the costs of the proceeding."

In 1992 Shortridge filed as a candidate for the Colorado House of Representatives but was later disqualified on a technicality by the secretary of state. Nederland resident John Lewis says that indicates "without a doubt" that Shortridge has political ambitions beyond the RTD--and that he would use his position as a director as a "stepping stone" to higher political office. "He does nothing except support himself," Lewis says.

Shortridge, however, complains that Lewis has been gunning for him since last spring, when Lewis ran unsuccessfully for the Nederland town council. At a candidates' forum held for the benefit of voters in March, Shortridge says, he publicized Lewis's conviction and prison sentence for the attempted sale of cocaine in 1978. Shortridge says he read a statement at the forum, calling Lewis a "sociopath" who "treats this town as his personal, private prison yard."

Shortly afterward, Lewis and David Clyne, a former Nederland town administrator, both accused Shortridge of making harassing, late-night phone calls to their homes. Every Saturday for several weeks, both claim, their telephones rang after midnight. When they answered, they encountered silence on the other end of the line.

On May 8, after the caller rang again, both men asked the telephone company to trace the calls. US West investigated and, according to Nederland marshal Hugh Pitzer, determined that the calls that evening had come from David Shortridge's home.

Shortridge, Pitzer says, admitted he'd phoned the men that night but said he'd had normal conversations with both. Pitzer forwarded the case to the Boulder County district attorney, who declined to press charges.

Clyne and Lewis then complained to the town trustees, who eventually hired a special prosecutor to look into the matter. The prosecutor, Louisville attorney Curt Rautenstraus, recommended that the town drop the case, saying that the controversy "may relate to a longstanding dispute between the parties."

Today, Shortridge calls Lewis and Clyne's accusations about the phone calls "outright lies." Lewis, he says, hates him because of his harangue at the candidates' forum last spring. And he says Clyne, an attorney, is out to get him because Shortridge filed a complaint against him with the grievance committee of the Colorado Supreme Court. Rautenstraus's finding, Shortridge says, proves the whole imbroglio was trumped up by Clyne and Lewis merely because of the grudges they hold against him. "It's over with," Shortridge says.

Clyne, meanwhile, says the only reason criminal charges weren't brought against Shortridge is that he is a member of the Nederland town council. "He's managed to abuse his powers in office to avoid prosecution," Clyne says.

The phone-call brouhaha is just the latest in a long series of legal entanglements involving David Shortridge over the past decade and a half. Since 1980, records in the county and district courts in Boulder show, Shortridge has been a plaintiff or a defendant in civil litigation at least twelve times.

Several of the suits stemmed from Shortridge's failure to pay his bills. In 1986, for example, Avco Boulder Industrial Bank sued Shortridge for $4,900 he owed on a revolving loan account. Rather than repay the debt, Shortridge countersued the bank for $20,000, alleging "contract fraud and misrepresentation." A judge threw out Shortridge's claim and ordered him to pay Avco its money plus interest and court costs.

In 1991, Olde Discount Corporation, a Detroit-based stock brokerage, sued Shortridge after he placed an order for 1,000 shares in a company called CTA. The transaction was worth about $4,200, but Shortridge, according to court papers, failed to pay for the shares, and the company was forced to sell out the entire order at a loss. Olde Discount demanded that Shortridge make up the difference.

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