* Taxpayers for Responsible Planning Co-Chairman Bill Kogerman
Bill Kogerman, 57, is co-chair of Taxpayers for Responsible Planning, a South County anti-airport group seeking to nullify Measure A. The measure, passed by voters in November, calls for construction of a commercial airport at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station after the base closes in 1999. Kogerman, a Laguna Hills business consultant, said his organization has 50,000 of the 76,700 signatures it needs to collect by Oct. 24 to raise the airport issue again on the ballot for March’s presidential primary election. Kogerman, who shares leadership with Bert Hack and Charles McLaughlan, spoke with Times correspondent Russ Loar about the group’s objections to Measure A and what they see as alternatives. Q: Why do you say that voters were misled by the backers of Measure A?
A: The proponents of Measure A . . . were essentially trying to get rid of John Wayne Airport. In their efforts to reach that objective, they saw an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and put Measure A on the ballot. They prevailed by about 2.5% of the 760,000 votes that were cast, which is hardly a mandate, particularly in view of the fact that it cost them $1.2 million to sell the message that we need another commercial airport. What does an airport at El Toro contribute? If you believe the Measure A hype, it delivers 21,000 jobs. But if you believe Federal Aviation Administration studies that say it’s not economically viable, it doesn’t give us anything.
Q: Is the capacity at John Wayne Airport sufficient to meet the county’s needs?
A: John Wayne can physically handle the passenger and cargo demands well into the 21st Century. . . . If required, John Wayne Airport can be expanded, the runway can be extended, and a new runway can be incorporated. . . .
Q: So what was the purpose of Measure A?
A: Measure A was clearly a Newport Beach relief act, notwithstanding the special-interest gains that could be realized by making a commercial airport at El Toro. Obviously, the people of Newport Beach do not want more airplanes flying overhead. But there had to be special interests involved. Nobody puts up that kind of money for no reason at all.
Q: What alternate uses are viable for the Marine base once it closes?
A: What makes sense is for rational business people to sit down and study the issue. There are a host of uses that would generate more and better-paying jobs and have a better impact on the county than a commercial airport. The area could be used for the development of new transportation industries.