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Mystery surrounds LAX e-mail

May 12, 2002

The rumors morphed into fact in an e-mail that Westchester activist Denny Schneider sent to about 250 people on Friday referencing Galanter's warning. Schneider wrote: “Ruth Galanter alerted us yesterday that (Hahn's airport plan) calls for at least a 10 million passenger increase and eliminates the City Council-approved park in the Manchester Square Area!”

There's just one problem: Galanter conceded that she doesn't know the source of the information. Two constituents, she said in an interview, called her office claiming to have overheard somebody (whom the constituents could not identify) make the statements at a cocktail party.

“It's very unofficial,” Galanter said. “I can't tell you it's true.”

Sources close to Hahn said the rumor is absolutely not true.

“The (plan) that the (airport) department is working on is designed for 78 million annual passengers as per the pledge that the mayor made during his campaign for office and nothing has changed since that time,” said Ted Stein, president of the Board of Airport Commissioners.

Some Galanter supporters speculated that she sent out the e-mail to try to rally people to protest a plan to move her to a district in the San Fernando Valley, where she would no longer represent communities around LAX. A key council committee is scheduled to vote on the redistricting plan next week, which Galanter and Schneider noted in their e-mails.

Schneider said he was “disappointed” that Galanter's information didn't come from more concrete sources.

“I assumed it was based upon her position” as chairwoman of the council committee that oversees LAX, Schneider said.

Still, Schneider said Hahn is partly to blame for rumors abounding because he has LAX staff members developing his airport plan behind closed doors and with no public input.

Hahn has said only that he will constrain LAX to its current theoretical capacity and wants an airport modernization that focuses on safety and security and includes a central reception area away from the airfield where people will check in for flights before being transported to the terminals. Many observers believe that a likely site for the reception area is the Manchester Square neighborhood east of the airport, which LAX is buying up at a cost of at least $315 million.

The City Council designated it open space last year at the urging of Galanter and other airport expansion opponents.

By Ian Gregor. Copyright © 2002 The Copley Press Inc.


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