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For Fridley Health Fair, Cancer Cluster Facebook Group's Invite Is Up in Air

State and city agencies can't agree on what role the Fridley Cancer Cluster Facebook group will be allowed to play at next Wednesday's "health fair."

Debate is raging about whether to allow members of the to set up camp at a public "health fair" scheduled for next Wednesday in which Fridley residents will be able to pose questions about the city’s water testing, Superfund sites and cancer rates.

During the fair, , officials from the City of Fridley, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be available to speak one-on-one with members of the public. Officials from the Anoka County Public Health, the American Lung Association, the Mercy and Unity Hospitals Wellness Program, and the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute have also been invited to set up tables at the fair.

Cluster Group Too?
But city and state officials cannot agree on whether to allow members of the Facebook group to set up a booth and answer questions.

“I feel this is our opportunity with the Department of Health and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to explain our side of things to the general public, and I’m not sure that having the Cancer Cluster group there fulfills that goal,” Fridley City Manager Bill Burns said. “I think the city should avoid any kind of back-and-forth argumentation with that group and that’s not the purpose of our health fair—I don’t want to compete with them.”

Burns told Pam Reynolds, a Cancer Cluster group member, that she could not represent the group at the health fair.

The MPCA hasn’t taken as hard a line against the Cancer Cluster group’s official attendance. Spokesman Sam Brungardt said he thought it could be acceptable to have Jason McCarty, the group’s founder, or an “appointed representative” manning a table. (McCarty will be out of town that day.)

Politics
But Brungardt said the MPCA would also not allow Reynolds to represent the Cancer Cluster group at the fair because she's "running for office."

Reynolds, twice an unsuccesful candidate for mayor of Fridley, did not file as a candidate for mayor this year. She said in an email Thursday that she tells past supporters, "'Hey you can always write me in.' ... It doesn't mean I'm running a campaign."

The health fair is no place for electoral politics, according to MPCA's Brungart. “The purpose of the health fair is to have Fridley residents’ questions answered by officials,” he said. “Its purpose is not for providing a forum for people running for office.”

The General Public
Burns, the Fridley city manager, said Mayor Scott Lund and most city council members will likely be in attendance at the health fair, but noted that if the MPCA or MDH decide to allow Cancer Cluster members to set up a table at the fair, he would “consider our options”—repeating that the fair is designed “for the general public.”

Reynolds said that even if she were an official candidate, she did not think that fact should preclude her participation in the health fair as a member of the Fridley Cancer Cluster.

"Funny the mayor is allowed to participate in his various community involvements without being accused of using them to launch his campaign or further his political aspirations," she said.

McCarty, the Cancer Cluster Facebook group founder, agreed with this sentiment.

"If the mayor has a table, wouldn't it be fair to also let Pam have one?" he said.

Reynolds said she will be in attendance at the health fair, though not in an official capacity, and she believes the Facebook Cancer Cluster group will make another attempt for a table at the fair.

Capitol Idea
Brungardt said the idea for the fair came out of and the discussion at that meeting about the need to better educate citizens about how city, county and state agencies address public health concerns.

“Coming out of that legislative meeting, there were some suggestions about a need to make ourselves available to the public if people had questions about cancer or the drinking water in Fridley,” Brungardt said.

jeff loven August 23, 2012 at 07:36 AM
Here's a Facebook message I received from CA from someone active with combatting pollution and trying to work thru government agencies and polluters. I'm not sure what to make of this statement so I brought it to the Healthfare and showed it to a few of the folks there. I guess at the Boise Cascade/onan site (nearest my house)--the Cummins people pay a lab to do the monitoring and that lab reports to MPCA. Probably silly to think there would be any reason for a large company to pay off a lab and/or government officials. "You get your home tested and ASAP!!! Screw them! They function on bribes, payoffs, trades and all without regard for you, your family or anyone but themselves for that matter.... Test test test!! Look up www.BasicLab.com and locate the AFFORDABLE test you need. They are one of (3) testing facilities we've found who's not influenced by the owners of this country."
G San August 24, 2012 at 04:52 AM
I was not able to make the Health Fair on Wednesday, but I would love to hear the outcome. Could someone drop a line and update on fair?
G San August 24, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Jeff, I believe Erin Brockovich said her people would be conducting some testing, you should consider talking to her to see if she could test your property. I would be careful about hiring a testing firm from here in Minnesota, the State and Industry have most testing firms here tied up.
jeff loven August 24, 2012 at 07:18 AM
The Brokovich people have our case . I was only able to visit a couple of the tables at the fair but was somewhat impressed with their presentation. I asked difficult questions without being difficult . The MPCA staffers for the Cummins superfund site showed me where they drilled for testing-ie the company that Cummins (or whoever is the superfund site tenants) hired. The MPCA actually does not do the testing--the lab the companies hire do the testing and that lab gives their results to the MPCA. So "X" company hires/pays "X" company to say it's okay to the feds. I actually showed these guys the note from CA where someone told me agencies involved act on bribes/etc and another guy was sorta listening in and he grabbed a book from behind the display table that resembled a phone book with the test results from the lab. If I had time I would've scrutinized the phone book prop but I was late for work. I asked if there could be testing done on areas where people actually live and they said there didn't need to be any testing because the plume was contained . I should tell you that city workers from St Louis Park <the EPA tested 41 homes in St Louis Pk in 2008 and found them contaminated with TCE vapor intrusion and fitted those homes with remediation sysytem at no cost to the owners> have told me that there CAN be vapor migration from a plume and that you do not have to be directly over it to be affected and have vapor intrusion.
jeff loven August 24, 2012 at 07:23 AM
Test your homes. The downside is that if an exposure is found in many homes you will see a mass exodus of homeowners leaving the city and property values plummet (can they actually go any lower?). Most people will not want to pay their property tax if their property is contaminated and this would be a huge problem for the city of Fridley and other agencies...

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