FLORENCE TOWNSHIP WOULD still like to know what might happen in case of a nuclear accident amid its homes and hobby farms. The picturesque community on the Mississippi River bluffs was designated early this year as the likely "alternative site" to Prairie Island for NSP to store casks full of radioactive waste. Last month, the state Environmental Quality Board voted to lift a requirement that NSP designate such a site, but the utility has gone ahead with a license application for the storage site to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission--and that, says Florence Township attorney Carol Overland, means that the battle continues.
Under NRC rules, Overland contends, NSP long ago should have given area governments a copy of its emergency plan for the proposed waste dump. When the document finally arrived in August, local officials were puzzled at its references to local fire departments and ambulances rescuing and transporting any "radiation casualties." That would seem to refer to the Lake City Volunteer Fire Department, whose equipment consists of a pump truck and an aging pickup, and an ambulance that serves mostly the local nursing home. City officials have asked NSP for more information on how to fight radioactive disasters, but thus far to no avail. They've also lodged a protest with the NRC.
THE MINNEAPOLIS CITY Council is getting started on a major zoning-code rewrite that could make life more difficult for group homes and other facilities that house addicts, the mentally ill, ex-cons, and poor people. Under a proposal put together by city staff, most "congregate living" facilities could no longer locate in residential neighborhoods, and some--including apartment hotels--would be eliminated altogether. City Council Member Jim Niland (6th Ward), who's sponsoring the zoning amendment, says it's part of an ongoing effort to "get other parts of the city and the metro area to take their fair share." The only public criticism so far has come from Kirk Hill of the Minnesota Tenants Union, who calls it "a move to tear down even more low-income housing under the guise of fairness and enlightened city planning." The Planning Commission is holding a public hearing on the amendment October 23 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 317 City Hall.
U.S. REP. MARTIN Olav Sabo will be taking the stage at St. Louis Park City Hall (5005 Minnetonka Blvd.) Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. for his first and only debate with challenger Jack Uldrich. An unorthodox Republican who favors gay rights and is pro-choice, Uldrich recently asked voters to pick a Scandinavian middle name for him to match Sabo's; at press time, Sventaag was the clear leader in a field that also included Jan, Thor, Gustav, and Oystein.
IN OTHER DEBATE news, it's not too late to log on to the Internet debate between U.S. Senate candidates. Through next Tuesday, Dean Barkley, Rudy Boschwitz, Paul Wellstone, and several minor-party candidates will be responding to questions from the E-Democracy project, a Minnesota outfit that has made national headlines with its pioneering work in cyberpolitics. Their site is www.e-democracy.org; it offers a gateway to the debate as well as online discussions and a special database on money in Minnesota politics. Non-Web users can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and write "subscribe mn-debate" in the text field. While we're on the topic, it's worth putting in a plug for one of this year's best national political sites: Project VoteSmart (www.vote-smart.org), whose features include a political humor link and voting-record summaries.
SINCE THE FILING of Simon Peter Groebner's story on the unlicensed local micro-broadcaster Beat Radio 97.7 FM (see Music Notes, p. 41), City Pages has learned that the U.S. Attorney's office has initiated a proceeding against Beat Radio. A status conference for interested parties has been set for October 23 at 11 a.m. before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Mason.
Beat Radio operator Alan Freed says he will comply with whatever the court decides. "We just hope they're reasonable," he says. "This just points out the power of big media and the misplaced priorities of the FCC. Ultimately, the listeners are the losers."