Unnamed Pro-SMO Groups Alleged To Be “Push-Polling”

Saturday, 22 Feb 2014, 7:15:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

On the heels of a federal court dismissing a Santa Monica lawsuit seeking ownership of the local airport, a local grass roots organization issued Friday a press release claiming unnamed pro-airport advocates engaged in “push-polling” techniques in an attempt to have a measure placed on the ballot.

According to a statement released by Airport2Park.org, the alleged campaign would support a ballot measure to block City Hall from challenging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about noise, pollution, or safety issues at Santa Monica Airport (SMO).

The unnamed group may also be seeking City Hall to keep SMO open in perpetuity. As reported in the Santa Monica Mirror, an Instrument of Transfer gave City Hall ownership of SMO in 1948 with the requirement it be operated in perpetuity. Any decision to shut down SMO, it could be inferred, may result in the federal government reclaiming the ownerships stake it had in the airport prior to 1948 and possible seek legal action against Santa Monica.

Airport2Park.org’s released statement claims former Santa Monica mayor Michael Feinstein was approached by a pollster seeking a ballot measure to restrict City Hall’s possible pursuit to shut down SMO.

“This week I received a push poll in support of a potential measure that would prevent Santa Monica from changing SMO from aviation uses to a public park,” the statement quoted Feinstein as saying. “The measure would also permanently prevent the City from any further legal efforts to regain control of the land.”

According to Airport2Park.org, Feinstein stated the call came from a 719 area code and a group who identified itself as Insight Research.

The Mirror confirmed with Feinstein he received a phone call from someone claiming to be from Insight Research.

The alleged ballot measure would, if approved, “require the city to continue to operate the airport, prohibit new park uses there, and forbid the city from filing any lawsuits against the FAA,” Airport2Park’s statement said.

The American Assoc. for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) defines a push poll “as a form of negative campaigning that is disguised as a political poll.”

“‘Push polls’ are actually political telemarketing – telephone calls disguised as research that aim to persuade large numbers of voters and affect election outcomes, rather than measure opinions,” the AAPOR’s website stated.

A resident group founded in 2013, Airport2Park hopes City Hall will shut down SMO after an agreement with the FAA expires in July 2015 and convert the airport into a park.

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