Columns » Public Eye

History's repeat performances

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Things change, but they always seem to stay the same. It's an old adage, but a good one, and sometimes it's fun to take a look back and see just how true that is.

Let's go, for example, all the way to 2000. Right about this time back then, we were talking about license plates, Betty Beedy and, of course, Douglas Bruce.

At the time, then-Gov. Bill Owens was in a huff because the Legislature had failed to approve a special license plate to honor the victims of the deadly shooting at Columbine High School, which had occurred just the year before.

The plates were controversial because plenty of people thought the proposed "Respect Life" message was a thinly disguised campaign by the anti-abortion folks to get a special plate.

Owens retaliated by vetoing another special plate that would have raised money for programs that encourage neutering and spaying cats and dogs. He said he "found it odd that household pets would be deemed worthy of a license plate, but not the victims of the Columbine tragedy."

Eventually the "Respect Life" plates were adopted and now they are the most popular special license plate among the more than 100 that have been OK'd since 1989, which is the year this whole phenomenon started.

This year alone, now-Gov. Bill Ritter approved six new plates for members of the Coast Guard and Air Force Reserve, Italian-Americans, Korean War vets, retirees and people who support sharing the road with bicyclists.

Now we've got plates for Masons, former prisoners of war, greyhound lovers, raptor lovers, survivors of Pearl Harbor, Vietnam vets, horseless carriages, Always Buy Colorado fans, Colorado pioneers, and separate ones for alumni of Metro State College, the University of Colorado, Colorado College, University of Denver and Colorado State University.

There still is no special plate for spayed and neutered "household pets."

Nor are there any plates for members of the Fully Informed Jury Association, which the aforementioned Bruce supported briefly back in 2000 at least long enough to get himself out of jury duty.

At the time, Bruce was running for the state Senate. When his number came up for jury duty threatening to keep him inside a courtroom instead of out campaigning he responded by going to the courthouse and handing out about 150 leaflets promoting the notion of jury nullification. That is, jurists need only follow their conscience and not the law when deciding a case. And if they don't happen to agree with the law that someone is accused of breaking, they should issue a verdict of "not guilty."

Needless to say, the lawyers weren't too pleased. Bruce was dismissed, along with 50 others who might have been contaminated by the literature.

The lawyers weren't the only unhappy souls. Potential jurors reported they were "furious" about the waste of time and insult to their intelligence.

As we all know, they're hardly the last ones to report feeling that way about Bruce, who three years ago replaced Tom Huffman to represent eastern Colorado Springs and El Paso County on the Board of County Commissioners.

Huffman replaced Betty Beedy, who at this time seven years ago still was an elected official. The unforgettable Beedy was known for sticking her foot far, far down her throat on a regular basis, including on national TV when she implied to a black interviewer that only white people are "normal."

But in June 2000, Beedy found herself in the unlikely circumstance of being interviewed on KILO-FM 94.3 about her son, masturbation, devil music and definitely not knowing what it's like to do shots of Jagermeister with the drummer from Blink 182.

It was about the only time we felt sorry for Beedy, who was tossed out of office later that year.

Oh how we pine, sometimes, for those halcyon days of old.

degette@csindy.com

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