All 8 candidates for Congress in Minnesota’s Fifth District have been invited to participate in a Candidates’ Forum and Open House covering Federal Aviation Policy on Thursday, Aug. 24 at Burroughs Community School (50th St. and James Ave S., Minneapolis). The event was organized by the South Metro Airport Action Council (SMAAC).
“The 2006 Candidates’ Forum promises to be a lively exchange, with important implications for the intensely-contested DFL Primary Sept 12 and the General Election Nov. 7.,” said Ron Lischeid, SMAAC’s Event Chair. From 5 to 6:30 p.m, campaigns will meet with voters independently and exchange views. At about 6:30, the candidates will participate in a “panel discussion” of Aviation issues and programs, with questions from the audience allowed. The event will close at 8:30 p.m.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) is surrounded on three sides by the Fifth District, where Rep. Martin Olav Sabo has maintained a local viewpoint on aviation issues for years. Other Minnesota Districts are being impacted by the opening of new Runway 17-35, terminal expansion and realignment, and various procedural changes, at the airport.
Among the issues to be raised by SMAAC for the candidates to consider are:
Safety: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) re-authorization and budget discrepancies. FAA itself claims that funding is insufficient for training controllers to replace retirees or development and deployment of ground safety improvements. Should the FAA be privatized?
Airline bankruptcies: How well have Federal pension assumptions/deferrals; other subsidies, extending or forgiving government loans worked in this age of unprecedented airline bankruptcies since 2001? Is this wise public policy? What would be the economic impact on Minnesota if NWA were forced to liquidate? To merge with another carrier?
Anti-trust: The Justice Department has limited its investigations of fare pricing at hub airports; of airline agreements for co-operative route sharing, mergers, and international exemptions. Are the major airlines re-establishing price-fixing and market cartels under the cover of oil prices and homeland security? Is the Federal Trade Commission diligent about airline executive bonuses, salaries, and stock options or other transactions?
Noise and Pollution: In the last decade, Congress minimized or repealed many requirements for State and local governments, airport managers, air travelers, and airport neighbors to review and amend airport operational plans. Has the rather cozy local arrangement between MAC, airlines, and FAA resulted from inadequate rules or from a lack of compliance and administrative review? Should Congress act to tighten rules for environmental review of airport improvements and operational changes, through more public hearings, better enforcement provisions, and more expert testimony?
SMAAC has asked the Candidates to provide a statement of their positions, views, or concerns for distribution to media and presentation on the SMAAC web-site later. “If this event attracts the attention we expect, the web-site can serve as a bulletin board for aviation positions taken by the Senate candidates and by those running for US Representative in other Congressional Districts.” according to SMAAC.