County Commissioner Doug Bruce didn't conceal his glee Tuesday when a municipal court referee ordered the Colorado Springs Police Department to drop abandoned car charges against him and release his busted-up old Honda from the city's impound lot without charge.
He stepped into the hallway, raised his arms into the air and bellowed, "Yes!"
This isn't normal behavior for elected public officials, said Bob Loevy, a political science professor at Colorado College.
"He seems to delight in pushing the law to the limit," Loevy said. He added that most politicians "bend over backwards to respond as any ordinary citizen might," by quietly settling parking violations.
Bruce, a former landlord who wrote Colorado's 1992 Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, also has locked horns with the city in the past over his personal rental properties, deemed eyesores by neighbors.
After the police impounded his car on May 20 as abandoned for more than 72 hours, he accused Colorado Springs officials of stealing his car in an act of political revenge and refused to pay the mounting impound fee, which had risen above $400. He threatened to sue if the city auctioned the vehicle.
When Colorado Springs Municipal Court Referee Til Zeller decided to return Bruce's vehicle free of charge on Tuesday, he made no reference to these claims.
He simply found that Parking Enforcement Officer Laura Hogan hadn't made enough of an effort to contact Bruce beyond leaving a bright orange violation sticker on his driver's side window.
"The citizens of this community deserve justice as well as fair play," Zeller said. "I think that was probably left out here."
"I didn't feel it was necessary to physically call him," Hogan responded, adding that she followed police procedures. "It's not like I was out to get Doug Bruce."
"Talk about idiotic," Bruce said about Hogan's claim that she didn't know who he was. Bruce aggressively questioned Hogan during the hearing and at one point told her to stop chewing gum.
Police officers immediately questioned whether Zeller's ruling had set a new precedent regarding whether they need to make additional contact attempts, said Pete Carey, CSPD Division Commander for Bruce's neighborhood.
"This has an impact on how we do business," he said.
-- Dan Wilcock