That loud scraping sound you heard earlier this week was our village's massive fleet of snowplows doing its usual brilliant job of clearing the roadways following the latest winter storm.
I'm just kidding, of course. Because of budget restrictions, our village road maintenance experts have abandoned the snowplow-and-sand approach and today rely on a much less labor-intensive method of clearing our roadways, a procedure known as Snow Universal Neutralization (SUN).
(The villagers seem very excited by this new approach, especially the guy with the California plates on his SUV and the wide-eyed look on his face Monday morning as he went sliding by me and off the bridge.)
As it turns out, that loud grinding noise we keep hearing is newly elected El Paso County Commissioner Doug "Chewing On Aluminum Foil" Bruce bringing all known functions of local government to a halt.
Bruce was elected county commissioner last November by the same sharp-thinking residents of eastern El Paso County who previously gave us Commissioner Betty Beedy. Betty, as you might recall, vigorously defended the rights of her rural constituents, or as she once called them on a national talk show, "normal, white Americans."
Everyone's an idiot
Bruce, I am proud to report, does not believe in any form of discrimination. He sees a gathering of his fellow human beings and believes every one of them -- regardless of their skin color or religion -- is an idiot.
Fortunately, Bruce, who has a law degree but made his self-proclaimed fortune by buying and renting out rundown apartments, has arrived to protect us.
He recently tried to protect us, for example, from an evil, sinister institution known as the Pikes Peak Library District, which he claimed in a convoluted lawsuit was wasting taxpayer money by purchasing ridiculous things. Such as books.
(A judge eventually laughed at Bruce's lawsuit and dismissed it, but not before the library was forced to spend more than $100,000 in attorney's fees to defend itself against Mr. Happy.)
Anyway, a few weeks ago a snarling Bruce kicked off his term as county commissioner by sternly lecturing his board colleagues on the subject of resolutions, telling them these traditional board activities that recognize and honor citizens for their achievements are a "waste of time" and that he would have nothing to do with them. Then he sat back down on the handful of thumbtacks he likes to keep in his back pocket.
At the next meeting, Bruce arrived two minutes late and missed the pledge of allegiance, which caused him to angrily accuse board Chairman Jim Bensberg of starting the meeting early just to embarrass him. So now, at Bruce's insistence -- and I am not kidding about this -- at every board meeting a computer-projected image of the atomic clock, provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, ticks away on a movie screen.
(According to this unbelievably precise timepiece that is based on the measurement of changes in the energy states of atoms, Bruce irritates the living hell out of someone every millionth of a second. And every hundred-thousandths of a second a tenant in one of Bruce's apartments sees a rat.)
Here now, some actual notes from last Thursday's county commission meeting that I forced myself to attend:
9:06 a.m.: Commissioner Bensberg reads resolution honoring retiring county information technologies worker Laura Lowan. Resolution passes 4-0, with Bruce abstaining.
9:07 a.m.: Lowan poses for traditional going-away photo with county commissioners. Bruce refuses to be in photo, stays at his desk; have no way of knowing for sure, but Bruce appears to be thinking how much fun it would be to stick a small safety pin into a kitten.
9:18 a.m.: Bruce chastises county Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink over proposed tiny pay hike for county election judges; Balink scribbles note to self; from my seat his note appears to say "raise #$%&head's auto registration fee from current $48 to $86,000."
9:34 a.m.: Although it involves no county funds, Bruce makes rattling sound and then sinks fangs into startled county budget worker Nicola Sapp over routine proposal concerning federal student loans at county colleges. Bruce says student loans "contribute to federal debt." (Doug's theory: More education = tenant more likely to know gaping hole in apartment roof is responsibility of landlord.)
9:37 a.m.: Bruce ridicules county planning commission investigator Terry Rorick over claim that a county resident has turned property into a junkyard; not my area of expertise, but owner of rundown properties ticking off county code enforcement folks seems like lousy idea.
9:54 a.m.: Bruce belittles county parks official for submitting written proposal that has phrase "consist of" twice in same sentence; lectures parks official about writing skills and demands that the official remove "redundant words."
Footnote: redundant is defined by Webster's as "using more words than needed." Take, just as a completely random example, the sentence, "Doug Bruce is an enormous, gigantic, colossal, immense, anti-social pain in the ass."
According to grammar experts, that sentence is filled with redundancies and should be shortened to read, simply: "Doug Bruce ... now there's a guy who needs a girlfriend."
Listen to Rich Tosches every Thursday morning on KVUU-FM, 99.9.