Kahn hosts Como town hall meeting

Residents discussed issues including the proposed minimum wage increase and TCE contamination in Como.

by Roy Aker

 

About 50 community members brought their concerns to a town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis in Minneapolis’ Como neighborhood Saturday.

With the start of the 2014 legislative session Tuesday, Kahn’s constituents brought up issues like the proposed minimum wage increase, TCE pollution in Como and other environmental concerns.

Kahn answered many questions about the proposed minimum wage increase. She said she’s “happy to vote for the strongest minimum wage bill that we have,” but added it’s important to her that a bill include indexing – a mechanism that would allow the minimum wage to increase in tandem with the cost of living.

Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis and Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis, who joined Kahn at the town hall meeting, said they’re in favor of a $9.50 minimum wage.

But to pass the measure, they said, they’ll need the support of other legislators, especially some in rural Minnesota who worry an increased minimum wage would hurt the economy.

Environmental concerns

Barbara Litzburg, a Como resident, said at the meeting that selling her property would be more difficult after the reported trichloroethylene, or TCE, contamination in neighborhood homes.

Residents were notified in November that TCE from a former General Mills site could be seeping into their homes. Extensive exposure to the chemical can have medical effects including birth defects and certain cancers.

Como residents filed two class-action lawsuits in December alleging that TCE has lowered property values and endangered residents’ health.

Two University of Minnesota students were among the meeting attendees, and both brought up other environmental issues.

Mary Webber, a University junior, asked Kahn about the city’s plans for lowering carbon dioxide levels, and how living roofs could combat the rise.

Living roofs provide urban areas with green space, collecting rain water and creating wildlife habitats.

Kahn said tax credits for solar gardens have made it easier to build living roofs in the past, but permits for the credit ran out quickly. She said she’d like to see those tax credits extended in the future.