Leaving the truth behind 

Talk about giving Douglas Bruce a pass! In a classic example of "lets give our favorite politician the kid-glove treatment," this Mondays Gazette published a lengthy story about blighted and boarded-up properties in Colorado Springs. They just sit there, year after year; the owners refuse to fix them and the city claims it doesnt have the enforcement power to do anything about them.

In the story, the Gazette focused on three particularly offensive properties. The paper ran photos of the boarded-up homes and talked to neighbors who have had to endure living next to them. Read one description:

"Arlene Gress and her neighbors have looked at a ... charred shell at 1326-28 W. Kiowa St. since Dec. 1, 1992, when a 3-year-old boy died in a fire at the fourplex.

"The heavily damaged structure was bought for $9,500 two months later. Over the years, it has been the target of condemnation and demolition efforts by authorities, but it survives and sits, boarded up, empty and for sale."

Lots of details there, with one glaring omission: Just who owns the property? Gee, now that someone asked, it happens to be Mr. Bruce, the elected county commissioner who also got a rare break last week when a court referee waived him from having to pay $650 to get his beat-up old car out of the impound lot.

As for the house on Kiowa Street, several years ago the city indeed did want to demolish it after Bruce promised, and then failed, to fix it up. City officials even wanted to charge Bruce for the demolition, but he marched off to court, stopped the city and then left the house to rot.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the unidentified owners of the other two properties featured in the Gazette are Joseph P. OBrien, who owns an eyesore at 715 N. 24th St., and Josephine A. Trujillo, who owns a blighted property at 431 Locust Drive. All county property information can be accessed at http://land.elpasoco.com , which is county assessor John Basss excellent site.

By the way, such eyesores dont just bug the neighbors; being in such close proximity to them actually brings down their property values as well.

In the latest news from elephant central at El Paso County Republican headquarters, party vice chairman George Culpepper resigned this month -- barely five months after winning the second-in-command seat.

Culpepper is best known for his antics battling what he called a decidedly "leftist bent" while attending Metro State College in Denver, and for running the Pete Coors for Senate campaign in El Paso County. Before his sudden departure, he also was working for state Rep. Dave Schultheis, who no one ever has accused of being a liberal, even as a joke.

No clear word on why Culpepper up and booked back to Anchorage, Alaska, from whence he originated. His departure note to GOP chair Terry Kunkel and other Republican leaders gives no real reason, though Culpepper does take the opportunity to take a swipe at his "enemies." Heres an excerpt from his letter, which can be read in full online at csindy.com by clicking on the Public Eye column link:

"It is with my deepest regret that I resign ... effective July 19, 2005. I have worked hard for your needs and concerns and I assure you, I will continue working hard for the Republican Party.

"While this is a small good-bye, it is not good-bye forever. I am confident the Republican Party will gain control of both Chambers in the State Capitol and retain the Governors mansion as well as the Executive Branch in 2006.

"We must start now by addressing the actions of Senator [Ken] Salazar, Speaker [Andrew] Romanoff and Senate President [Joan] Fitzgerald and I sincerely hope your next Vice-Chairman will continue this message. After all, they are not our constituents, but our enemies. We also must bring the message forward on the affects [sic] of Referendums C and D and the 'raising taxes' message. These referendums must be defeated.

"Someday I will return, but until then I ask all of you to stay the course and remember we are and will always be the Party of the People."

Jeez, George doesn't mince words. They'd be a bit more forceful, however, if they were coming from someone who wasn't talking about a state and a leadership position that he is abandoning.

-- degette@csindy.com


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