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FAA rules on flight-track plan

Winter Storm Seneca on its way; MPR finds twice as many problem priests as previously listed; James Beard chef, restaurant semifinalists named; groundwater tech tested; and more.

Pat Doyle of the Strib says: “The Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday announced that it won’t restrict new takeoff technology to only some of the runways at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to placate homeowners angry about the prospect of more flights over their homes. The FAA said partial use of the technology, which was backed by the Metropolitan Airports Commission, would pose ‘unacceptable safety risks.’ … The FAA plan caused an uproar last year when homeowners in parts of Edina and south Minneapolis learned that more flights could be concentrated over their neighborhoods.” (See correction below.)

Yeah, the storm names are dorky … Nick Wiltgen at writes: “The mild spell is about to come to a cruel and early end for parts of the Midwest as yet another winter storm in this punishing season takes aim. The Weather Channel has now named this storm Winter Storm Seneca, the 19th named winter storm of the 2013-14 season. Strong low pressure will develop over eastern Colorado late Wednesday and will follow a classic winter storm track eastward into Missouri Thursday morning before making a sharp left turn toward Lake Superior by Friday morning.”

For MPR, Paul Huttner is saying: “[A] major winter storm is winding up and aiming for the Upper Midwest Thursday. What we can’t say yet is where the precise storm track will end up. That may make a world of difference in how much snow falls in the Twin Cities. … the GFS snowfall output based on last evening’s (0Z) model run suggesting a good 3 to 6 inches across the metro.” Heck, I remember when it took 12” to be called “major.”

In the Strib, Paul Walsh writes:Things look even more precarious for areas south and southeast of the Twin Cities, which are covered by a blizzard warning. All the commotion is expected to start Thursday morning with heavy snow and strong winds, the NWS said. By Friday morning, the metro area could have from 5 to 9 inches of snow, with a range of 8 to 12 in west-central Wisconsin.” This, of course, means we’re within weeks of talking … flood season.

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In MPR’s ongoing investigation of the archdiocese’s sexual abuse problem, it has a story and database up today: “For the past decade, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has maintained that only 33 clergy members ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors have worked in its churches, schools and hospitals since 1950. Its list grew to 43 this week. An MPR News investigation found allegations of child sexual abuse and other sexual improprieties against 70 clergy members in secret lists, internal church files, court records, private settlements, and police reports.”

It’s award season, in both Hollywood and the restaurant biz. Jennifer Erhlich of MPR reports: “The James Beard Foundation on Wednesday dished out the list of semifinalists for the 2014 Restaurant and Chef Awards and they include  11 Minnesota restaurants and chefs. The foundation received close to 40,000 nomination submissions, open to anyone, for the restaurant and chef awards, according to its website. Then critics, writers and editors chose the semifinalists.” I don’t see a decent hot dago sandwich anywhere on this list.

Very good piece by Dan Haugen for MPR on groundwater out in western Minnesota: “Modern irrigation technology has transformed this region in Stearns, Pope, Douglas and Kandiyohi counties in west central Minnesota, known as the Bonanza Valley. A former glacial river bed north of Willmar, it’s largely covered with thin, sandy soils that don’t retain moisture as well as more fertile farmland elsewhere in the state. … the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has flagged the region as one of three places it is piloting a new approach to groundwater management focused on sustainability.”

The GleanNo doubt there are some arguing they should all be on a minimum wage … Elizabeth Mohr of the PiPress says: “The Oakdale City Council last week approved pay raises for a handful of employees — including a bonus for the city administrator, the county’s highest-paid public employee — and is embarking on a citywide pay study. The city has hired a consultant to analyze the pay structure for all city employees, a process that will take most of the year … it’s a complicated process requiring a significant amount of staff time and several labor unions’ involvement, so they opted to bring in an outside consulting firm.” And the cost of all that is … what?

Really … everybody “calming down” might be a good idea. Updating the Rogers High School tweeting “scandal,” Paul Levy and Paul Walsh of the Strib write: “The county attorney’s office has received the case from police and is now considering what charges — anything from a misdemeanor to a felony or none at all — are warranted. … [Elk River District Superintendent Mark Bezek said], ‘I need everyone to calm down, to de-escalate this a little bit, so we can have some conversations. It’s so hot right now.’ The school board will hold a scheduled meeting Monday, but Bezek said he does not expect the issue to be resolved by then.” I assume someone’s watching the skies for circling attorneys.


Well, this is embarrassing. On Wednesday, I managed to completely — and I do mean completely — misread the story about the FAA and flight patterns over Edina and south Minneapolis.

Pat Hogan of the Metropolitan Airports Commission dropped me a note explaining: “I noticed your MinnPost bit about FAA vs. Edina. Actually, Edina is getting what it wanted: no RNAV departures over their city. In 2012, the FAA proposed RNAV departure procedures all around MSP. Residents and city leaders in Edina and Minneapolis voiced concerns to the Metropolitan Airports Commission board about increased flights on RNAV departure paths (which would have been offset by fewer flights in other areas). The MAC board listened to their concerns and told the FAA it would only support implementation of a part of the FAA’s proposed plan, for departures to the south and west of MSP, where there was significant support for the changes. What happened today is that the FAA issued a letter to the MAC saying that, for safety reasons, they will not implement RNAV procedures on some runways but not others. It’s an all or nothing proposition; therefore, the FAA will not use RNAV departures on any runways at MSP. So for Edina and Minneapolis — as well as for other communities around MSP — that means the status quo for departures will remain in place. So presenting this as FAA vs. Edina really mischaracterizes what has happened. The FAA will not move forward with RNAV departures on any of MSP’s runways. Those who would have benefited from FAA’s proposed RNAV changes will not reap those benefits, and those who would have experienced more overflights over their homes or businesses will not see that increase.”

My apologies to readers, to Hogan, the FAA and, of course, the great and glorious city of Edina.