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December 1, 2003 // UPDATED 11:07 am - April 30, 2007
By: Skyway News editorial staff
Skyway News editorial staff

Government related news going on in, and about the Downtown Minneapolis Area.

Fire Department to run ads on engines The Minneapolis Fire Department will earn $50,000 for the first-ever ads on its engines.

For a department charged with putting out fires, the client seems appropriate: the Quit Plan smoking-cessation program.

Quit Plan's logo and brief message will be visible to anyone driving behind the truck. It will appear on the canvas flap covering the fire hose not the truck itself, said Kristi Rollwagen, a Fire Department spokesperson. "It was just a preference by the chief," she said.

The ads raise the question: Is it the camel's nose under the fire hose? With city departments facing tight budgets, ad money looks increasingly attractive.

The Fire Department's five-year plan, approved earlier this year, identified ways to raise revenue, such as charging fees to respond to neighboring communities or hosting charitable gambling. It also listed "sponsorships of rigs for a fee."

Rollwagen said Quit Plan's $50,000 "isn't a whole heck of a lot of money," paying for roughly one full-time firefighter.

However, the deal offered an opportunity to enter a partnership that fit the Fire Department's mission, she said. Careless smoking is the state's single biggest cause of fires. Smoking leads to heart attacks and pulmonary problems that generate a significant number of fire crews' emergency medical calls.

"We are grateful for any money we get right now, in the tough budget times," Rollwagen said. "It seemed to be a good public safety partnership for us as well. We don't know if we will go down this path again. We don't know if we will expand on this -- any kind of advertising on our fire trucks -- by any means.

"We chose Quit Plan because it seemed an easy way to test the waters."

Quit Plan refers to a series of stop-smoking efforts funded by the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco. The deal allows Quit Plan to put its message on six of the city's busiest fire engines.

Details are not final, but initial plans would include engines at Downtown Station 1, 530 S. 3rd St.;

Loring Park Station 6, 121 E. 15th St.; and Southwest Station 8, 2749 Blaisdell Ave.

The $50,000 also pays the Fire Department to include Quit Plan in its twice-a-year literature drops, Rollwagen said.

The City Council approved the deal Oct. 24. -- Scott Russell

City Council actions 11/21/03 meeting. Absent: Barbara Johnson (4th Ward) Downtown Circulator: The Council passed a series of resolutions, including an 11-1 vote to approve a plan with the Metropolitan Council to run and fund the Downtown Circulator bus, which will get light rail transit users up and down Nicollet Mall and Hennepin Avenue beginning in April. Barret Lane (13th Ward) voted no. Bridge Place: Council voted 12-0 to deny an appeal by George Carlson, who sought to reverse Planning Commission approval of conditional-use permits, variance and site plan review for Bridge Place development, 220 S. 2nd St. and 225 S. 1st St. Sheehy: Council voted 10-1 to confirm the Mayor and Executive Committee's appointment of Lee Sheehy as executive director of the Community Planning and Economic Development Department. Natalie Johnson Lee (5th Ward) voted no. (Johnson Lee said she did not have a complaint with Sheehy, but with the search process.) Limited English: Council voted 12-0 to direct the City Coordinator to form an interdepartmental task force to ensure limited-English-speaking residents have meaningful access to city programs and services. Homeland security: Council voted 12-0 to accept an $800,000 federal grant to provide "heavy collapse rescue response to Weapons of Mass Destruction incidents." Warehouse LRT: Council voted 12-0 to receive and file plans for site improvements and police parking at 16 N. 5th St., a parcel next to the Warehouse District LRT station. The parcel has vacant space next to the Light Rail Transit Traction Power Station. The action included a requirement to begin redevelopment plans by June 2005. Guthrie ramp: Council voted 12-0 for a resolution to exercise its Port Authority powers and authorize tax-exempt bonds to build the new riverfront Guthrie parking ramp. Condos: Council voted 12-0 to add the Industrial Overlay District to existing zoning to allow Rex II LLC and Steve Frenz to continue with Phase II of a housing development at 526 N. 4th St. -- Scott Russell