How the F Was Won

Jeffrey Metzger made the anti-airport measure fly

"A month before the election, Shepard was saying they would win by a landslide, but only if they didn't go against law enforcement," said a Measure F activist.

So how to explain Measure F's success in North County? Kogerman said, in hindsight, including the jails "turned out to be not as big a concern as I thought it would be." But Kogerman also said he didn't know whether including jails in Measure F "was something that substantially aided the campaign or not." Kogerman also said he "had no idea" whether the North County mailings had anything to do with the win. (Shepard was unavailable for comment for this story.)

In fact, both the final election results and the polling conducted during the campaign showed the fallacy in that argument.

Metzger knew all that was nonsense. He knew the key to winning was getting North County support. To do that, Metzger helped Agran and Dornan set up a separate financing source—the Citizens for Safe and Healthy Communities Fund. The fund raised a phenomenal $700,000 to pay for the North County mailings. Dornan ran the fund, but immediately following the election, Metzger signed a fund letter asking for further donations, explaining that advocacy of an initiative to build a county park at El Toro was the next logical step in the battle to kill the airport.

When they saw the letter, insiders say, Kogerman and other TRP members exploded. On March 10, top CSHC officials—all Kogerman loyalists—signed an accusatory e-mail denouncing the fund. "[I]t seems that someone tries to claim more credit than they deserve, or to take advantage of the outcome," read the letter, identifying Dornan, Agran and Metzger as the guilty parties. The letter further referred to the fund as having "diverted money from the main CSHC campaign." In addition, the fund "is not expected to pay for the legal defense of our Committee and the initiative."

Metzger said the e-mail offended him, casting doubt on the thousands of people who contributed to Dornan's legitimate political-action committee. "I find it offensive that any group would attempt to discourage anyone from contributing," he said. "The election has been won. We should finish the job by killing the airport. That requires everyone to work together. An e-mail such as this will only discourage people from joining the process."

The inclusion of Agran in the denunciation is understandable. Agran stands for everything Kogerman despises: liberalism and slow-growth politics. Kogerman—whose group has diverted its attention from purely airport politics to side with the developers of the Dana Point Headlands—fought Agran's influence over anti-airport politics from the day the Marines first announced they'd close El Toro.

With Metzger gone, Kogerman is once again on top. To make matters worse, the threat of a counter initiative looms for the November general election, when turnout is traditionally higher than in primary races. The pro-airport crew's idea is that they could scrounge enough votes from that higher turnout to tip Measure F off the books. It's not likely that could happen, but preventing it will require the same attention to North County cities that Metzger's presence ensured.

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