Political Mercenary

Rise of GOP strategist signals transformation of anti-airport coalition

During the fight, elected city and county officials came and went, but legal and consultant contracts stacked up. The fight over the airport became a job creator-a way of life for the men in gray suits who slash at one another in boardrooms with computerized PowerPoint Presentations and consultant reports.

Today pro-airport forces pay a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., local attorneys, two PR firms, strategists like consultant Dave Ellis and Newport Beach bureaucrats, and run their new "Airport Task Force" out of Royce Multimedia Inc.'s Irvine office. (Peggy Ducy, Newport Beach deputy city manager, even has an office there.) Nelson Communications, which once spun the airport for the county, has moved on, but 10 Civic Center Plaza now employs an attorney for round-the-clock spin.

South of the 55 freeway, anti-airport forces also field a strike force composed of local attorneys, two PR firms, and planning and engineer firms-all directed by former Inglewood City Manager Paul Eckles, whose contract was recently extended.

Airport boosters have long said El Toro International Airport would create new jobs. It's apparent that it already has.

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