Thursday, January 23, 2014

Opinion: Pitts keeps on ticking in political arena - Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT), Colorado

Well, I guess we will have Bill Pitts to kick around for a bit longer.

Pitts has been defeated for re-election to City Council, removed from the Planning Commission and replaced on the Airport Authority board. Like those Timex watches of old, it seems he takes a beating but keeps on ticking.

He now has his sights set on a seat on the County Commission. Steve Aquafresca is term-limited and unable to run for re-election, Pitts hopes to take his place. This will pit him against political powerhouse Scott McInnis and ex-Mayor Greg Palmer. Each of his opponents has some baggage that may inhibit their campaigns.

McInnis was forced to quit his last run for political office, that being the Colorado governorship. At that time he was accused of publishing articles under his name that were plagiarized from other sources. While he was quick to blame others, the charges were sufficiently damaging; he found it necessary to quit the campaign trail.

While Palmer’s character has not been similarly tarnished, his tenure on the Airport Authority board may soon become a detriment to his race. Previous board members may be shown to be less than vigilant and allowing risky decisions that may now harm airport operations.

Pitts has vowed to run without expenditures and will refuse contributions. While admirable in an age of over expenditure in even the most minor of political campaigns, this hardly seems like the strategy of winning but rather one of grand political gesture.

Pitts and I have disagreed on many of his political stances. Among those are the allocation of $3 million bucks to the Avalon and taking White (Elephant) Hall off the hands of Home Savings. We have agreed on other points including his concerns on what has become a crisis at the Grand Junction Regional Airport. Should he win a commission seat, we will surely find ourselves on different sides of political topics once again.

While we have disagreed, we have managed to maintain a cordial relationship. Pitts is mature enough and wise enough to understand that disagreement does not require hatred. In today’s political atmosphere, there are many who could learn from Pitts’ acceptance of opposing views and engaging those in opposition in dialogue, not vitriol.


That “other shoe” that dropped out at the airport, beginning with the forced resignation of Denny Granum, hit the floor with a loud and resounding thud.

Granum has now been directly tied to those rumors of impropriety by board members via the confiscation of his personal truck by the FBI. The following day, ex-airport head honcho Rex Tippetts suffered embarrassment as the FBI also seized his truck. We await disclosure of the disposition of other trucks which may have been disposed of in questionable fashion.

Heads up for Tippetts: We hear that the Front Range Airport in Adams County is looking for a visionary director who can grow their airport much the same way you have grown Grand Junction Regional Airport in recent years.

While the county has stepped up and acknowledged their responsibility to the airport, the City of Grand Junction seemingly remains clueless. Mayor Sam Susuras has yet to grasp the breadth of the problems occurring as a result of misrepresentation to federal agencies. He fails to comprehend that falsifying the intended use of new buildings to qualify for federal funds that otherwise would be unavailable is, indeed, fraud. Some grant funds are already being returned and there is a very real possibility funds already spent may require repayment. While Mayor Sam accuses the current board of possibly bankrupting the airport, he fails to understand that any looming economic hardship lies at the feet of prior boards.

It is time for the leaders of our city to step up to the plate and face up to their responsibilities at the airport. The first step of that journey would be to replace Susuras with a representative with the capacity to understand the severity of the airport situation. The city and county working cooperatively can hopefully chart a course out of the fiscal wilderness the airport has become.

Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at


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