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Prosecuting Douglas Bruce, and other exercises in masochism

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Back in 2002 a Westword cover portrayed the ever-irascible Douglas Bruce as a pit bull. The story was about his long-running battle with Denver officials over dilapidated properties, but the image is still apt. Throughout his dueling with tax-and-spenders over the TABOR Amendment, his short but stormy career as a state lawmaker, right up to his current duel with Colorado Springs officials, Bruce has been the kind of iron-jawed beast you don't want to rouse.

And bureaucrats keep poking him with a stick.

The latest tussle stems from efforts by Bruce and another anti-tax crusader to collect petition signatures outside a Costco for Issue 300 (passed last week by Springs voters). The pair were cited for trespassing; Bruce claims he's been singled out for prosecution because of who he is and the issue he was pushing, which will require the city to phase out enterprise fees.

According to this report in the Colorado Springs Gazette, a judge ruled that officials didn't target him. But not before much of the city power structure, including the mayor and the entire city council, had been subpoenaed and had to cool its nicely polished heels waiting in the hall during a six-hour hearing.

A former prosecutor, Bruce has promised to defend himself to the last quibble. His trial promises to be a long exercise in self-flagellation for the city attorney's office and everyone else determined to see him nailed for exercising his God-given right to petition outside a big box store. Of course, Bruce himself is subject to some humiliations along the way, starting with Tuesday's most shocking revelation:

A police officer testified that she had never heard of Douglas Bruce before the day she handed him a ticket in Costco's parking lot.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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