The league of Women Voters have named Ms. Gerry Sell, Minneapolis, to moderate the Candidates Forum on Federal Aviation Issues, it was announced today. Candidates for the Fifth Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Martin Sabo will deal with aviation/airport topics Thursday at the South Metro Airport Action Council (SMAAC) event. Eight of the nine candidates who filed had accepted the group's invitation as of Monday: Keith Ellison, DFL; Mike Erlandson, DFL; Alan Fine, IR.; Gregg Iverson, DFL; Tammy Lee, Independent; Paul Ostrow; DFL; Jay Pond, Green; and Ember Reichgott Junge, DFL.
The Candidates‚ Forum will be held at Burroughs School (W, 50th Street at James Avenue S) August 24th. Voters and candidates can meet individually from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM and a moderated discussion and question and answer session will start at 6:30. SMAAC says that concentrating flight operations at a few major hub airports, a Federal policy, led to problems at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).
Hub expansion at MSP, more gates per runway and more flights per hour, increased noise exposure, pollution, and fares, but decreased airline competition, contrary to goals set by the Legislature in 1996. Security lines are long at busy hours, and people connecting at MSP were screened elsewhere. SMAAC is concerned that higher operational rates, more airliners flying closer together and taxiing further and faster, are a safety risk at MSP given the collision there (May 2005) and incidents at other busy hubs.
In some neighborhoods, interest in the Forum was heightened by the certification of a class in the lawsuit over noise mitigation at MSP being brought against the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) by homeowners. "The class action holds MAC accountable for delays and omissions in the sound insulation program." according to Jim Spensley, SMAAC President. "Already facts about MSP operations have come out that bolster the homeowners‚ case and bear on the Forum issues as well."