OFF LIMITS

Don't rain on his parade: Westword's March 29 story on Alvertis Simmons, a Wellington Webb campaigner, prompted several outraged letters and calls from folks defending Simmons's honor. One man, however, phoned in with a reminder of another time that Simmons made the news. During the 1992 presidential campaign, he got into hot water after accosting an eighteen-year-old female student who'd joined a march down Colfax Avenue led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Simmons, one of Jackson's local organizers, apparently didn't like the fact that the woman was carrying a Bush/Quayle campaign poster, so he grabbed it from her and tore it to pieces.

Coverage of the incident in the Rocky Mountain News prompted Jackson to say: "We want to offer our sincerest apologies. We want to be better, not bitter."

To air is human: And apologies keep coming from Ralph Reins, president of Envirotest Systems, who is so very sorry about those delays at his emissions-testing sites. "We apologize to those motorists and we apologize to those legislators and state officials who have supported enhanced emissions testing," he says in one of Envirotest's contrite ads.

"The excessive wait times have been primarily caused by a combination of peak-period demand, as well as mechanical and software problems," Reins continues. "We are taking immediate steps to improve operational performance." Those steps include extending test-site hours as of April 10 and even giving a 30 percent discount to motorists who bring in their cars between 7 and 8:30 a.m. weekdays. The apologies would seem a lot less like hot air if not for the fact that just last month--before the state health department slapped the company with a $58,000 fine and before legislators started contemplating putting the program on hold for a year--Envirotest actually cut back its testing hours.

Quite contrary: For veteran political observers, the Rocky Mountain News's March 30 endorsement of Mary DeGroot recalled the last time the tabloid took such an early stand on the mayor's race. That was back in 1983, when the paper plucked Federico Pena from a crowded pack--including incumbent Bill McNichols, chief challenger Dale Tooley, then-state bureaucrat Webb, then-Denver Water Board head Monte Pascoe (whose strategist, Jim Monaghan, is now working with Webb) and a couple of others. The early endorsement gave the dark-horse Pena publicity and fundraising power, and judging from the polls, it's doing the same for DeGroot. But the paper that giveth also taketh away: Four years after anointing Pena, the News endorsed Don Bain over the incumbent; in 1991, Webb got the nod over Norm Early.

And the hits just keep on coming: Last Tuesday USA Today printed some of the 200 opinions readers had sent in regarding traveling through Denver International Airport. The compliments were far outweighed by complaints, essentially summed up in this from Quentin Steele: "They had the perfect opportunity to reengineer the whole idea of an airport, to make it more convenient. They missed the mark...It's not a very successful airport." On Sunday the New York Times published readers' responses to a considerably more inventive question: Why did so few people boarding Star Trek's Enterprise carry luggage? Replied N. Cialoppi: "All Federation luggage is routinely beamed by Delta travel agents through the baggage facility at the Denver Airport. Any further questions?

 
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