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Sierra Club dog-and-pony show against SFO runways

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  • 7/2 SF Chronicle
    Published Monday, July 2, 2001, in the San Francisco Chronicle (PM Edition) SFO expansion protested Sierra Club stages dog-and-pony show Steve Rubenstein,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2001
      Published Monday, July 2, 2001, in the San Francisco Chronicle
      (PM Edition)

      SFO expansion protested
      Sierra Club stages 'dog-and-pony show'

      Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer

      Four dogs and a pony showed up in Oakland this morning to weigh in
      thoughtfully on the touchy issue of runway expansion at the San
      Francisco International Airport.

      The dogs and pony were against the new runways, their owners said.

      The animals themselves declined comment.

      The obliging creatures were part of a "dog-and-pony show" protest
      organized by the Sierra Club. They paraded in front of the state
      building at 15th and Clay streets, while inside, transportation
      experts were holding a public forum on the controversial plan to fill
      in two square miles of San Francisco Bay for new runways.

      At the forum, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, told the audience
      of about 100 people that SFO is a "gateway that has become a
      bottleneck," and that delays there cost the Bay Area $100 million a
      year in lost productivity.

      "New runways may be required," she said.

      Federal Aviation Administration regional administrator William
      Withycomb called SFO the fifth-worst airport in the nation with
      regard to delays, and added that "part of the answer lies in building
      additional runways."

      And SFO Director John Martin told the forum he was committed to
      [a] "very, very inclusive process" that included input from
      environmental leaders -- but presented studies saying that
      alternatives to runways expansion are "not feasible alternatives."

      The two-hour forum was the latest in a series being conducted around
      the Bay Area by SFO planners to air their runway proposals and hear
      public concerns.

      Airport officials hope to have a decision by the end of the year.

      Outside with the critters, Sierra Club spokesman John Golinger
      maintained that remarks such as Martin's prove the forum was a sham
      and that public officials have already made up their minds.

      "It's disappointing to see SFO management wasting valuable time and
      taxpayer money on this kind of dog-and-pony show," he said.

      "Runway expansion would damage wildlife and create enormous
      pollution," said Marilyn Claessens, who was handling one of the
      protesting dogs, a Doberman named Emma. At that moment, Emma was busy
      sniffing the pony, a Shetland named Arnold that Golinger had rented
      for $200 from an outfit that does kids' birthday parties.

      The dogs roomed with people who came to protest, so they were free.

      Parting with $200 of precious club funds on pony rental was
      warranted, Golinger said, because "these circumstances require
      extraordinary action."

      "Besides, we got a discount on the pony, because its owner agrees
      with our cause," he said.

      E-mail Steve Rubenstein at srubenstein@...
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