Orange County Supervisor Marian Bergeson on Thursday denounced the flurry of last-minute Measure S campaign mailers, accusing both sides of conjuring up "misleading" images of prisons and planes flying overhead to sway voters before Tuesday's election.
The passage of Measure S would repeal a proposal to develop a commercial airport at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station when the military abandons the base by 1999. The complex debate has left many voters confused or undecided, leading both sides to use scare tactics with just days to go before the crucial vote, critics have contended.
"Hopefully, most people will just throw these things away," said Bergeson, whose district includes the base. "These are misleading exaggerations."
Yes on Measure S mailers sent to Orange County voters in recent days contend opponents are trying to build an international airport at El Toro that would serve 55 million passengers each year. A map depicts flight paths striped across the county in an effort to jar voters in the north and south who have been previously unaffected by base flights, critics say.
"No one I know is suggesting an airport like that," Bergeson said.
Bill Kogerman, co-chairman of Taxpayers for Responsible Planning, the group responsible for putting Measure S on the ballot, defended the map as accurate based on projections for an airport at El Toro.
The No on Measure S campaign, meanwhile, tells voters that prisons housing rapists and murderers are destined for El Toro if an airport is voted down. Their flier begins: "Meet your new neighbor" and opens up to a picture of a burly, tattooed prisoner behind bars.
But Bergeson said the mailer leaves out the fact that there is no groundswell of support for a prison at El Toro.
"The prison one is highly deceptive," Bergeson said of the flier.
Bruce Nestande, a former county supervisor who is leading the No on Measure S campaign, defended the mailer, noting that the county's Sheriff's and Probation departments and the state Department of Corrections have standing requests to house more than 11,000 individuals.
"There is a great demand for prison space, and not having an airport at El Toro would make it easier," he said.
Courtney Wiercioch, a county manager overseeing the El Toro reuse plan, stressed that a study is ongoing.