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Pro-airport forces trailing in money battle

January 30, 2002

Paul Clinton

NEWPORT BEACH -- Airport backers have put their fund-raising effort in

gear but still trail supporters of a March anti-El Toro ballot measure by

a wide margin.

With little more than a month left before the March 5 election, the

Airport Working Group's political action committee has raised $42,219

this year, county records show. The "No on W" committee, led by three

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Orange County supervisors, has not raised $1,000.

The working group filed its first report Monday, the final day of the

second reporting period.

"We put out a fund-raising request [in early January], and you're

starting to see the results come in now," group spokesman Dave Ellis

said. "The community is starting to come together."

In addition to the contributions, the group also reported $12,415 in

expenditures and $26,000 in outstanding debt. The group also has $9,366

cash on hand.

The "No on W" committee didn't raise any money during the filing

period, group spokesman Bruce Nestande said. The period started Jan. 1

and ended Jan. 19.

There are two more filing periods before the election.

The working group's fund-raising efforts compare with the

approximately $280,000 raised by two groups working to pass Measure W,

which would rezone the closed El Toro Marine Corps Air Station from

aviation to open space.

The Committee for Safe and Healthy Communities, the primary group

promoting Measure W, has raised $98,383 for the year so far.

"We needed to start early," said Leonard Kranser, the group's

spokesman. "It takes a long time to get a grass-roots organization to

raise money from a lot of people."

The committee also counts $219,767 in expenditures and $185,542 in

outstanding debt. The group has a $510,455 war chest of cash in the bank,

according to county records.

Also, a group billing itself as "Great Park, Yes! Measure W, Yes!"

raised $59,606 so far this year. The Irvine-based group reported $70,724

in expenditures and $52,679 in debts. The group's cash balance is

$36,607.

The wide fund-raising gap has raised consternation among some airport

supporters, including Costa Mesa Councilman Chris Steel.

"The whole airport is in a little bit of trouble politically and

certainly financially," Steel said. "We don't have the money, and if we

can't get the money privately we can't really put on a campaign. And if

we had a vote today, the Great Park initiative would pass, probably

substantially."

The working group, on Monday, also filed a finance report for the

second half of 2001. During the final six months of the year, the group

raised only $3,824, compared with $14,651 in expenditures.

For all of 2001, the working group raised $46,084 and spent $21,990.

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