Updated: November 18, 2009 at 12:00 am
A judge has taken the gag off Ron Pace. Look out, Woodmen Hills!
Is one of the ugliest neighborhood fights in the Pikes Peak region about to erupt again?
Not if Larry Bishop, Woodmen Hills Metro District director, can avoid it.
“It’s a brand new start,” Bishop said Wednesday. “I’ve instructed my staff to treat Mr. Pace with the utmost professionalism and respect, as if he was any other citizen.”
But Pace, 45, is not just one of 2,400 homeowners in the Falcon-area Woodmen Hills district.
Pace is the loud, often profane resident who started prying into budgets. He didn’t like the salaries that Bishop and other staff were getting, or the rates being charged for water, so he started aggressively questioning the people in charge. Ultimately, he declared war on the district, launching a recall effort against Jan Pizzi, the board president.
Bishop, Pizzi and others say Pace did more than fight the system. They allege he threatened to “blow people away” with an AK-47. So they sought civil protection orders against him.
The case went to trial July 30 and involved 42 witnesses over 16 days.
On Nov. 9, El Paso County Magistrate Robin Chittum dismissed the complaints against Pace, even though she said people like him “drive me up a wall,” according to a transcript provided by Pace’s attorney.
Chittum described Pace as loud, “in your face” and a “pain in the neck” who makes “inappropriate and irreverent comments.”
She also said a part of her “thanks God” for people like Pace because they are willing to question authority, and will stand up for what they believe in while voicing exactly what is on their minds.
And though Chittum clearly found Pace annoying and abrasive at times, she simply didn’t believe he threatened to hurt anyone. However, she did find him dangerous.
“He is a dangerous man to local government — dangerous because he is curious, intelligent and has a whole lot of free time,” Chittum said. “He’s a major problem to local government and to people who don’t want to be put under a microscope.
“Well, welcome to public service.”
In the wake of the verdict, I expected Pace to talk smack, vow revenge and rant and rave. Far from it.
He ranted a bit but was mostly restrained. Of course, his recall effort against Pizzi failed. And he faces criminal trial next month, accused of violating the protective order. Plus he faces a mountain of bills.
“It cost me $65,000 in legal fees,” Pace said. “They bullied me. They attacked me. Said horrible things about me. What they did to me was wrong.
“I don’t know if you could say it was worth it.”
So what’s next?
“I’m moving as soon as I can get out,” he said. “I should be ready to sell the house by next spring.”
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