Columns » As the Village Turns

As the Village Turns

Let the fun begin


Douglas Bruce, with his mother Marjorie at his side, at - the swearing in ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 11. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • Douglas Bruce, with his mother Marjorie at his side, at the swearing in ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

El Paso County, a proud land of some 550,000 people, held a grand ceremony on Tuesday to administer the solemn oath of office to the three new members of the Board of Commissioners. If you missed this majestic ceremony -- a quick count revealed that about 549,900 of you fall into that category -- you missed an important and unforgettable coronation.

The event began with a plume of white smoke rising from the County Administration building in downtown Colorado Springs, just like the one that signals the election of a new pope. No one seemed to know who was in charge of this smoke plume, but it is worth noting that the Independent newspaper rack outside the front door was empty and Commissioner Jim Bensberg arrived at the ceremony five minutes late -- smelling like a campfire.

Anyway, the gathering was a who's who of county powerbrokers. The exception was a brief period of "who's that?" when newly elected Commissioner Dennis Hisey walked into the county auditorium. (An informal poll of the crowd inside the revealed that 30 percent of the crowd believed Hisey was former mayor Bob Isaac, and a whopping 70 percent thought he was an usher.)

I staple, therefore I am

Seriously, Commissioner Hassy ... Hessey ... Hisey represents Fountain-Security, which are either towns in El Paso County or the new commissioner's weird pledge to keep terrorists away from the Uncle Wilber water attraction in Acacia Park.

Speaking of the city, Colorado Springs was also represented, more or less, with a short list of dignitaries that included City Councilwoman Margaret Radford. She lost in August in her bid for one of the county commission seats, accomplishing what many believed to be an impossible feat: somehow finding a way to alienate more voters than Doug "Fingernails On a Chalkboard" Bruce.

Even village paper clip salesman, main Gazette editorial writer and esteemed philosopher Ed Bircham ("I think I sold a stapler today, therefore I am") was there, hoping the ceremony would start on time so he could make it to his 10 a.m. meeting of Haters Anonymous.

At 8:20 a.m., as the clocked ticked toward the big moment, the sun suddenly disappeared and our village became cloaked in a thick, dark, menacing, bone-chilling fog -- which is nature's way of signaling the arrival of newly elected Commissioner Bruce.

Moments later, county spokesperson Ann Ervin walked onto the auditorium stage, went to the microphone and counted out loud to 20. I believe she was checking the auditorium's sound system, although it's also possible she was guessing the number of really stupid things Bruce would say at the first commission meeting later in the day.

In addition to Bruce and Hively ... Hiney ... uh, Commissioner Hisey, also taking a seat on the stage was former city councilwoman and the third new county commissioner, Sallie Clark.

Clark has had a much-publicized, angry, long-running feud with city fire Chief Manny Navarro, but the two have settled their issues and ended the years of bitterness. And so Tuesday morning Clark stood proudly at the podium and began reciting the oath of office, which I'm sure she would have finished if she hadn't suddenly been attacked by a Dalmation named Smoky.

Bruce was the first of the three new commissioners to be sworn in, being accorded that honor by virtue of having attempted to close down more public libraries with frivolous, self-serving lawsuits than either Clark or Hiess ... Hivesy ... that Dennis guy.

And at 8:42 a.m., anti-tax crusader and slum ... uh, low-income rental property owner Bruce became our newest county commissioner. He took the oath with his mother at his side and his hand on a Bible that he actually -- I am not kidding -- brought with him.

(In the Bruce edition of the Bible, seven of the Ten Commandments have been deleted, Moses loses his damage deposit when he burns the bush and Mary and Joseph are hit with a $500 manger-rental surcharge for having pets.)

Theologians disagree

Here now, an excerpt from the big moment when Bruce became our county commissioner. (For more on this subject, go to

"I, Douglas Edward Bruce, do solemnly swear, in the presence of the ever-loving God, that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Colorado."

Theologians disagreed on whether God was actually in the county auditorium at the time of the swearing-in. However, they did agree unanimously on this: Whether God was in the room or not, Bruce's election is a clear sign that the savior has a pretty wacky sense of humor.

Moments later, after Clark and that other guy took the same oath, the whole thing was over.

And, in his very first interview as a county commissioner, Bruce had this to say:

"I need an assistant in my office, but the other commissioners on the present board are trying to prevent me from having one. I need someone to answer the phones and keep an eye on my office when I go to the bathroom, but they're already trying to block me from doing that!"

Then he was off for his first official meeting with his colleagues.

Speaking purely in selfish terms, this is going to be fun.


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