What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Winton questions flight path "superhighways"

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: September 9, 2013 - 6:22 PM

Mayoral candidate Cam Winton hauled a vacuum out to South Minneapolis Monday to illustrate the noise some homeowners endure from airplanes overhead.

His remarks were targeted toward RNAV, a proposed method for guiding planes at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport that would concentrate air routes to create so-called “superhighways” over some areas.

The airport noise issue has drawn a lot of attention in South Minneapolis lately, with hundreds of residents packing a public forum last month to question their representatives.

The vacuum didn’t work as planned, but Winton pressed on. He questioned whether the new navigation method is necessary, adding that if it is, planners should not consolidate 30 flight tracks into seven.

“One hundred and twenty times per day, you’d have the 70 decibels of a vacuum cleaner going off right over your head,” Winton said. “Imagine how that impacts the concentration of a small child. Imagine how that disrupts your ability to enjoy your backyard. IT would simply be unacceptable.”

Winton said that the airport should be sending more flights off of an underutilized runway, runway 17, that routes planes over the Minnesota River Valley.  

The energy attorney also advocated calculating noise impacts in a simpler way, dumping logarithms in favor of counting the number of times a day a homeowner experiences a certain decibel level.

Among other plans of attack, Winton said he would build “a coalition with the Minnesota congressional delegation to apply pressure to the FAA to say, ‘No, you cannot jam this down our throats. It’s not right. And if you do, our congressional delegation will work with colleagues of theirs in Congress to start cutting funding to the FAA. Because we’re not going to take our tax dollars and pay the FAA to stick it to us.’”

Speaking later, Winton zeroed in on DFLer Mark Andrew for his union support, saying that the former Hennepin County commissioner had “been bought and sold by every union in town.” Campaign finance reports show that Andrew received more money from labor than any other candidate.

 “Mark Andrew has cast his lot with the forces of the status quo,” Winton said. “And Mark Andrew’s campaign finance report reflects that fact. If you look at the union bosses that stand between our city and the necessary changes we need to make as a city, they’ve all contributed to Mark Andrew.”

He cited Andrew’s support from municipal employee unions, saying they would oppose plans to consolidate back-office services – as Winton has proposed.

UPDATE: Andrew's campaign responded to Winton's comments Monday, saying in part, "While other candidates sought both labor and business endorsements, Mark received prominent support from both because of his record of collaboration and results." The campaign said business endorsements means from "individual members of the business community."

They also pointed to a 1995 Star Tribune editorial which praised Andrew for restructuring county government. "The bureaucracy was reshaped; some departments were eliminated and cross-department communication improved," the editorial said.

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