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SOUTH BEACH: EL TORO

Supervisor Accuses Airport Planner Over Letter

July 11, 1998|LORENZA MUNOZ

In yet another testy exchange between some members of the Board of Supervisors, and county staff, Supervisor Tom Wilson fired off an angry letter Friday to the county's chief El Toro airport planner, accusing her of withholding information.

The letter, sent to El Toro planning manager Courtney Wiercioch, blasts county staff for failing to inform the supervisor--whose district includes South County--of a recent letter from the nation's largest pilots union that criticized the county's takeoff and landing proposals.

Wilson said he was unaware of the Air Line Pilots Assn. letter until a constituent informed him last week. Wilson was further angered when county staff included a letter from Newport Beach Councilman John W. Hedges--who is pro-airport--as a response to the pilots association letter.

Hedges, who ran against Wilson and lost in this year's primary, is also an airline pilot and a member of the association.

"The fact that, once again, elected representatives of the public are not being provided essential information upfront on the most critical project in county history is greatly disturbing and merits close scrutiny," Wilson wrote. "It borders on being disingenuous that such information is seemingly withheld from an elected supervisor when airport proponents are apparently kept more up-to-speed and have better access to these types of documents."

Wilson has often criticized county staff about being kept out of the loop.

Last December, he proposed that oversight for airport planning be turned over to the Board of Supervisors instead of the chief executive's office, but that was defeated on a 3-2 vote.

Ellen Cox Call, spokeswoman for the county's El Toro project, said she could not confirm how Hedges had received the ALPA letter. Wiercioch was unavailable for comment.

Call said that county officials sent a copy of the letter to the Board of Supervisors a day after they received it.

Wilson and Wiercioch plan to meet next week to discuss the matter, Call said.

Hedges did not return calls.

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