Mankato Press
Don’t Privatize Air Traffic Control
March 11, 2017
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  • Thumbs down to a new push to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system.

    There has always been some push to put the system in private hands, but supporters of the idea feel they may have a better shot at accomplishing it under the new Trump administration.

    Their argument that a private business would bring more efficiency and save some federal dollars is correct. But there’s a lot more involved than that.

    Most of the small to mid-sized airports in the country, including in Mankato and the region, are lobbying against privatization. That’s because those communities would be harmed. Unlike major airports with commercial airlines that generate a lot of revenue, smaller airports provide vital but less financially lucrative services. Under a privatized system all but the major airports would see reductions in the services they provide and higher costs for what they do offer.

    The Mankato airport, for example, is extremely busy with a growing number of business planes landing and taking off and with many flights from Northstar Aviation, which provides training for the aviation school at Minnesota State University. That traffic brings revenue, but not the kind of profit a private business would demand.

    The government oversees much of the air system in the nation because it is vitally important, not just to cities with major airports but to smaller communities that need some federal subsidy to maintain those services.

    Wacky winter

    Thumbs down to the recent weather lots of us secretly love but nonetheless worry about.

    It’s no secret that we’ve had a wacky winter with little snow and lots of skyrocketing temperatures for this time of year. It was in the Top 10 or higher for the warmest February on record across the state. This is actually part of a longer-term warming trend that has been going on for decades, weather experts say, but this year’s winter has made it even clearer that global warming is not a myth.

    With that climate change, scientists say, comes more drastic weather — torrential downpours, bigger storms, more tornadoes — a dangerous mix of elements coming at us more often. We’ve seen that firsthand. Waseca is still recovering from September’s flooding. And on Monday the state saw its earliest tornadoes in recorded history.

    So as many of us enjoy milder winter weather, we need to keep in mind that it isn’t necessarily a good thing.

    Madelia aid, at long last

    Thumbs up, on the basis of “better late than never,” to the belated approval of state assistance to Madelia, more than a year after its downtown was ravaged by a fire.

    Some $1.7 million was attached to a wetland restoration bill that was sent this week to Gov. Mark Dayton, who signed it into law on Friday. A sales tax exemption that had been part of the tax bill vetoed last year by the governor is expected to be included in this session’s overall tax bill as well.

    Rep. Tony Cornish, the Vernon Center Republican who represents Madelia, said he believes the end product will be remembered more than the “kerfluffle” that resulted in almost a year’s delay in the assistance. Perhaps. But the failure last year to pass a bonding bill — which was to have contained much of the aid approved this week — or a competently-written tax bill, and the months-long standoff over a possible special session should be remembered by the voters.

    Late is better than never, but done right and on time is better still.