Are you ‘plush enough’ for airport work?

The Denali package? Really?

Damn! I wish they’d had that on the trucks I rode in for two post-high school summers back when I was planting signs, putting in cattle guards and pounding spikes into wooden bridge decks for Art Garber at the Mesa County Road Department. Or drove during that summer between college terms spent working for Ron Tipping at Corn Construction paving the road up the Grand Mesa.

“Work trucks” seem to have come a long way since those supposedly good old days when men were men and kids learning to be men endured rubber mats, stiff vinyl bench seats, manual transmissions, “armstrong steering” and “climate control” activated by rolling windows up or down, opening or closing a vent, or firing up an anemic but noisy heater.

Those were all features on the old GMC flatbed we used to stick into compound low and let idle, driverless, down irrigation rows while bucking bales of alfalfa for my grandfather and uncle out on 21 Road. I think Mom’s cattleman brother ordered it from the Fuoco’s back in 1953 with the “BS” package, which did include an AM radio.

Out at The Airport Formerly Known As Walker Field, the Airport Authority board (Motto: “It’s not our fault”) last week sold back to Fuoco Motors for $147,000 three highest-of-the-high-end 2014 GMC Denali pickups found to be “impractical for everyday use.”

They may spend the money for something a little more useful. Assuming, I guess, they find that needed new mower in Sonoma Red Metallic.

The Denali package offered by GMC is a dream most often realized by upper income “ladies who lunch” and image-conscious docs, lawyers and real estate agents whose bank accounts can’t quite stretch to Escalade range. Out in the oil and gas fields and on construction sites, it’s seen occasionally on a “boss’s truck.” With 4WD, it makes a comfy “mall crawler.”

The rest of us make do with cloth or vinyl instead of plush heated and cooled perforated leather. (We boomers still mourn all those Naugas that were sacrificed for Naugahyde upholstery in the 1960s and 1970s.) We struggle on, somehow, without heated steering wheels, built-in navigation (perhaps to avoid bumping into that inconspicuous black “wildlife” fence?) or 8-inch video screens to keep us entertained and informed.

“The 2015 Sierra 2500 Denali HD lets you set your information your way, and delivers the data you need at a glance,” according to GMC’s website. It’s a feature called, ironically, “IntelliLink.”

Is one of the data choices “common sense?”

Apparently not.

■ ■ ■

“Don’t you wish you had a job like mine? All you have to do is think up a certain number of words! Plus, you can repeat words! And they don’t even have to be true.”

­— Dave Barry, columnist

It’s time for a few catch-up mea culpas.

Yes, despite last week’s column which confused national and state political realities, I do know the Colorado House is not controlled by Republicans but by Democrats. But it’s still clear GOP lawmakers, party leaders and candidates see no political upside to helping Gov. John Hickenlooper broker compromise legislation to avert the impending multimillion-dollar ballot battle over local control of some oil and gas activities.

Apologies also for, a few weeks back, tarring write-in sheriff candidate Benita Phillips with the label of Democrat. A longtime Republican, she remains unencumbered by any professional law enforcement experience. I’ll continue to expect nurses at my doctors’ offices and in hospitals and hope actual cops keep me safe and toeing a straighter and narrower line than, to belabor the obvious, Steve King.

My column on the Grand Junction City Council’s consideration of expanding the city sale tax to include food prompted a response from city communications manager Sam Rainguet. She’s right and I was wrong. Most local governments do tax food.

A good many don’t, including Collbran, DeBeque, Fruita, Palisade, Grand Junction (at least for now) and Mesa County. I’ll be flabbergasted if Grand Junction voters ever approve a food tax. But if they do, here’s a new motto.

“Grand Junction: Still no recreation center (or downtown splash pad) … but we do have a food tax.”

 

 

Jim Spehar makes do with a couple of “lightly optioned” vehicles now in their fifth decade, both capable of making it to the Fruita City Market. Comments to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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Hi Jim:

Enjoyed your column on the airport trucks.  Like you, I wonder what was going on there and cannot imagine any of these being a work vehicle.  I believe we’ll all learn the truth in due time.

But as an airport tenant and attendee at every board meeting, I think you missed an opportunity to clarify something.  Those 2014 trucks were acquired in the fall of 2013.  As you may recall, the FBI search occurred in November and Rex Tippetts, the former airport manager, was fired the following month.  The truck purchase occurred during the Tippetts era when there was little to no oversight as to his conduct.  Specifically, I never heard any board discussion about such a purchase nor did I see it described in any agenda or minutes.  He apparently had a free hand to do this under financial protocols in effect at the time.

The current board, in contrast, is very involved and motivated to close all of these loose cannon options and has been doing so regularly.  They are successfully facing numerous challenges inherited from the past.  Although the pace is slower than many of us would prefer, this airport board is focused on the job, dealing with problems not of their creation, developing improved checks and balances and thus deserves to be differentiated from those which preceded it.

Bill Marvel

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