O'Hare Expansion Opponents Planning Public Relations Blitz

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert McCoppin Daily Herald Staff Writer

Since Wood Dale Alderman Dan Shawke put up a sign in his yard protesting O'Hare expansion, people ask him about it, and some have taken extra signs from him.

Multiply that effect by 183,000 households within five miles of the airport for an idea of what expansion opponents hope to do in coming months.

Residents near O'Hare can expect to see a lot more signs, letters, billboards and commercials with the same message, as part of a $1.2 million, four-month public relations blitz.

The Suburban O'Hare Commission, leader of the anti-expansion movement, Thursday announced the campaign to defeat Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's expansion proposal and instead promote building a new airport in rural Peotone south of Chicago.

At a meeting of trustees from its 10 member municipalities, suburban leaders planned to build a groundswell of public opinion against constructing four new east-west runways and removing three existing runways.

"This battle has been fought before, and it's been won before," said commission attorney Joseph Karaganis, referring to prior O'Hare expansion proposals by the late Mayor Richard J. Daley.

The campaign will have three prongs: grass roots, including direct mail and shows of force at public hearings; public relations, including billboards and television commercials; and lobbying influential officials.

The plan also includes circulating a petition to get an advisory referendum on the ballot in all 10 municipalities, asking whether voters support or oppose Daley's new plan.

Rod McCulloch, a pollster who conducted a poll for expansion opponents, was hired to conduct the public relations assault. …