During the past decade I have had the distinct displeasure of debating anti-tax agitator Douglas Bruce numerous times on radio and television, and in person.
And over the past several weeks I have watched as Mr. Bruce has continued his pattern of attacking those with whom he disagrees, as well as intentionally misleading the public with regard to the April 1 ballot proposal to extend the popular Trails, Open Space and Parks tax. He has disparaged City Council candidates who he apparently unsuccessfully tried to manipulate into signing onto his agenda and then went after reporters when they reported the story.
Mr. Bruce, a nonpracticing attorney, author of the 1992 TABOR amendment that restricts government tax and spending, and landlord of marginal properties, perpetually distorts and makes up facts. But what's worse is his mean-spiritedness. Over the past decade, he has done more to harm constructive civic dialogue and progress in our region and in our state -- than any other individual.
Since January 2000, whenever I'm asked to debate Bruce, I respond that I would be delighted to discuss the issue at hand, whether it be the TOPS program, our community's need for public libraries and mass transit, or the importance of keeping Memorial Hospital, Colorado Springs Utilities and our city's other assets. But I will no longer debate Mr. Bruce in person because he is so demeaning. Not just to me, but to everyone who disagrees with him. During a radio debate, he once humiliated a young woman so badly that she terminated all of her civic activities. What a tragic loss for our community.
It's time for us to say, "Enough" to Mr. Bruce's abusive attacks.
Here is a challenge to Mr. Bruce: Anytime during 2003 The Independent will pay your tuition if you attend and fully participate in the Dale Carnegie class, "How to Win Friends & Influence People" as well as an anger management class.
If from these activities Mr. Bruce curbs his tendency to make up facts as well as belittle people he disagrees with, it will be one of the best investments we've ever made.
And here is a public challenge to our community: Whenever you are asked to enter into any public dialogue with Mr. Bruce, follow Nancy Reagan's lead and Just Say No. While Mr. Bruce certainly has a First Amendment right to distort the facts, we also have the same right to shun him until he agrees to act with civility. If Mr. Bruce cannot attract the limelight he so craves, maybe he will get the message that he should stop personally demeaning and belittling those who disagree with his views.
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