When the county auditor reported the Great Park Initiative wouldn't raise taxes, disgusted pro-airport shills realized they were in trouble. How would they bash the popular park? How could they get voters back to supporting their unnecessary and ruinously expensive El Toro International Airport?
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Their solution is toxic contamination. El Toro has so much solvents and radioactive junk lying in its soil, they say, that building a park would be crazy. They even commissioned a flimsy study supposedly substantiating their claims.
On Jan. 21, chief pro-airport shill and Newport Beach attorney Barbara Lichman pushed the toxic-contamination angle during a KOCE Real Orange airport debate. Irvine Mayor Larry Agran responded that El Toro may be a mess, but it's the Navy Department's legal responsibility to clean all of it up—no matter what the county builds there. Lichman tried to argue the point, but she's flat wrong and even county El Toro officials know it.
Just ask Gary Simon, head of the county's El Toro program. On July 18, 2001, during a tour of the El Toro base and just one day after a big UC Irvine El Toro debate that also involved Agran and Lichman and the toxic-contamination argument, a reporter asked Simon what he thought of Agran's position.
"No one to date has said, if El Toro becomes a Great Park, how that would change the remediation plan," said Simon. "But I agree with Mayor Agran. The federal government has the responsibility to clean up the entire base."