February 11, 2006
California's Oceanside Municipal Airport is an on- and off-ramp to the National Airspace System and, as such, is a crucial tool for the city of Oceanside's economic well-being. By mounting an education campaign, AOPA wants to make sure Oceanside voters and public officials understand that message.
"Keeping airports open is the single biggest issue for our members," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "It's also vitally important to the city of Oceanside, but not all the voters and officials understand why. So we've undertaken an education campaign using advertising and direct mail to explain why the airport is important and what steps voters can take.
"In addition," Cebula continued, "we've conveyed that message to city officials, most recently in a letter to Deputy Mayor Shari Mackin, answering some of her public criticism of AOPA."
In the letter, AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn called Mackin's accusations "a total and complete mischaracterization of AOPA's involvement in Oceanside politics.
"[AOPA] has made the conscious decision to not attack specific candidates seeking re-election next Tuesday," Dunn's letter continued. "Rather, we have decided to educate the voters on important issues that will have a direct impact on them."
In face-to-face and written communications, AOPA has repeatedly tried to make city officials understand the nature of the obligations Oceanside has to the federal government regarding Oceanside Municipal. In his letter to Mackin, Dunn wrote that "some members of the council continue to ignore existing federal laws governing the continued operation of the airport as an airport in perpetuity. The FAA will surely meet any action by the council, which sets a date to close the airport, with legal action." And, as Dunn noted, that will mean significant legal expenses - in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars - which the taxpayers will have to shoulder.
In his letter, Dunn also addressed Mackin's accusations about an "outside" group getting involved in Oceanside city politics, noting that just like the city council members, AOPA has local constituents - the more than 800 association members who live in Oceanside and use Oceanside Municipal Airport.
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