Sunday, July 14, 2013

A great letter

There are 3 basic reasons why I believe the F-35 should not be based at VTANG.

1. It is bad for my children's health. 

By now I'm sure you have read the same studies I have: prolonged exposure to loud noises (even in short bursts) leads to cognitive and hearing impairment, decreased learning, increased stress and a whole host of health problems. The job of our armed forces is to protect the most vulnerable among us, not damage them. By basing these warplanes at VTANG, you are doing damage to my children's well-being, intentionally or not. As a parent, it is my duty to protect the health and safety of my children above all else. 

2. It runs contrary to the American Dream. 

My wife and I saved for 9 years to put the down payment on a house that will fall within the proposed "unfit for residential use" noise contours should the F-35 be based at VTANG. We are a hard-working family that just barely gets by. If we are smart with our money, each month we pay our bills, make sure our girls are well-fed, service our debts, and maybe have a few dollars left over to invest in our modest home in the hopes that by slowly, steadily fixing up our house it will become an asset that we can eventually use to afford college for our girls and retirement. It is a long-term plan. 

We have entered into an unofficial contract with the rest of American society: work hard, play by the rules, spend your weekends replacing water-heaters and refinishing floors, and after a long while you will have something called equity which is the middle-class equivalent of a savings account. For us, there is no do-over. No pot of money that we can draw on if our home value does not increase. 

I cannot for the life of me understand why the Air Force would want to embed a plane in the middle of a densely-populated area and risk ruining property values of one of the last places in Chittenden County, Vermont where working families like mine can still afford to buy. Why would you do this to us? Does "mission" really require destroying the financial hopes and dreams of families like mine?

3. It is not good for the Air Force. 

I assume that, like any other organization, the Air Force simply wants to successfully do its job with a minimum of interference and harassment. Public opposition to the VTANG bed-down is not sentimental and will not go away: we're talking about the health and safety of our families. Why spend your precious time, energy and resources defending a war plane that so many people do not want in their community? I'm sure you will have a more receptive audience in a community whose livelihoods will not be put at risk by this giant noise machine.

Send these warplanes to a community that wants them.

Seth Gillim
Winooski, VT 

Monday, July 8, 2013

A non-public press event with a public entity and no questions please.

The Guard is looking to disseminate some propaganda without the dissenting public interfering. I love the "This is not a press conference or interview but an informational session" meaning we'll do the talking you take notes?
 
Dear Vermont Press Association Member,

Below is the official invitation to the roundtable for media members sponsored by the Vermont Air National Guard for this Thursday.

Please note the change of location. It has been moved to 141 Shamrock Road in South Burlington, which is on the backside of the Burlington International Airport. (You can approach from South Burlington on Airport Parkway, or from Colchester near St. Michael’s College -- cross the Lime Kiln Bridge and you will hit Shamrock.)

They are looking for reservations by the close of business Tuesday afternoon. Either 338-3324 or 338-3478

Thanks

Mike Donoghue
Vermont Press Association


Good Morning,

The Senior Leadership and Public Affairs Team would like to take this opportunity to invite members of the media to a Media Round Table here at the Army Aviation Support Facility at 141 Shamrock Road South Burlington, VT on July 11th, 2013 at 1100am.

The intent is to provide you the opportunity to sit down with subject matter experts and have an open dialogue and spend some time clarifying the issues at hand as they relate to the F35 and associated subjects. This is not a press conference or interview but an informational session.

The Public Affairs Team and I hope you take this opportunity to attend this
round table please RSVP no later than C.O.B. 9JULY2013 to CPT Chris Gookin
or Capt Dyana Allen at 802-338-3324/3478 respectively.

V/R

CPT Chris Gookin, MS
State Public Affairs Officer
802-338-3324 (O)
802-338-0929 (BB)
christopher.j.gookin.mil@mail.mil
christopher.gookin@us.army.mil


UPDATE: USAF answers questions!

Oops! In my previous post I said that the USAF had not responded to any of the concerns/questions posed by last year's city council. They did! And here are their responses. All emphasis mine.

Q: How many minutes or hours of noise? (response #NS-13, page NS-32)

A: “Audibility is dependent on many factors, including but not limited to the location of the receiver relative to the source and the receiver’s ambient noise level. Audibility is not typically studied in EISs. The Time Above (TA) metric quantified the amount of time the noise level would be equal to or greater than the selected threshold Maximum Sound Level (Lmax) but the DoD noise model used for this EIS is not yet capable of estimating TA. The EIS provides Maximum Sound Level (Lmax) data for the F-35 and F-16; Table BR3.2-1 as an example.”

Comment: The six minute a day argument is bubkiss. They have no idea.


Q: Will quieter commercial aircraft reduce noise? (response #NS-30, page NS-37)

A: “The noise modeling does take into consideration the data from the quieter commercial aircraft and this is reflected in the noise contours generated from the modeling. The noise environment near the Burlington airfield is and would be dominated by military aircraft such that reducing the contribution of the civilian aircraft would have no effect on the overall noise level with regard to DNL.”

Comment: It's not the airport noise that's the problem, it's the military. The pro folks are fond of pointing out that VTANG flights only represent 5% of traffic. Be that as it may, that 5% of traffic is 100% of the problem.

Q: How much louder? (response #NS-46, page NS-40)

A: Table 6.7 in the Executive Summary shows the F-35A would be between 17 dB and 20 dB greater in SEL and between 21 dB and 25 dB greater in Lmax than the F-16 during takeoff and arrival, directly over the receiver at an altitude of 1,000 ft and at an altitude of 1,500 ft over the receiver on a downwind leg of a local pattern operation. As explained in Appendix C, Section C1.1, a change in (single-event) sound level of 10 dB is usually perceived by the average person as a doubling (or halving) of the sound’s loudness. Concur regarding sound pressure doubling with every 3 dB change and by a factor of 10 for every 10 dB change. The Executive Summary Table 6.7 was slightly revised in terms of footnoting and column headers.”

Comment: 10 dB is a doubling so 20-25 more dB is more than 4 times as loud.

Q: Will Burlington AGS close without F-35? (response #PA-16, page PA-47)

A: “The beddown of the F-35A at Burlington AGS would represent a continuation of the 158 FW’s current mission as described in Section BR1.0. Section 2.2.5 in Chapter 2 of the EIS defines the No-Action Alternative which for this EIS reflects the status quo where no F-35A operational basing would occur at any of the bases. At each location, including Burlington AGS, there are ongoing and currently planned activities that have been approved by the Air Force/Air National Guard and supported by existing NEPA documentation and as such are considered as part of the No-Action Alternative. Therefore, if there is no F-35A operational basing at Burlington AGS the current mission would continue.” 

Comment: The entire green ribbon, Save the VTANG argument just got 100% shut down by the USAF. The USAF says the base stays open  regardless of whether they get the F-35.

Q: How often afterburners used? (response #PA-27, page PA-49)

A: It is anticipated that the F-35A would use afterburners about 5 percent of the time on takeoffs. The 90 percent refers to F-16s. All base-specific sections at Table 3.2-1 were updated to include a footnote about this fact.”

Comment: That's what they said about the F-16 before re-configuring the fuel tanks! Experts agree that the F-35 will need afterburner most of the time because of it's poor design.

Q: How many jobs come with the F-35s? (response #SO-5, page SO-62)

A: “…under ANG Scenario 1 there would be no net change in the number of military personnel… Under Scenario 2 there would be an increase of 266 military personnel primarily comprised of part-time traditional guardsmen who typically hold full-time position in the local area. Any increases in secondary employment as a result of the increase in personnel would be minor and would be met by the local labor force.”

Comment: I think Peter Shumlin is lying about over coming his dyslexia and learning to read. I don't think he can read because if he could he wouldn't be talking about the thousands of jobs that the F-35 will bring to F-35. At best, it will bring 266 part time jobs. Why don't our politicians believe the USAF?


Q: Disclose to buyers..”not suitable for residential use”? (response #SO-18, p S-66)

A: “HUD, FHA, and VA mortgage policies generally prohibit guaranteeing mortgage loans for new homes located within noise zones of 75 dB DNL or greater or within clear zones. These same mortgage policies make availability of federally guaranteed mortgage loans discretionary for new homes located within noise zones of 65 to 75 dB DNL. The term “new home” includes new construction, existing homes that are less than one year old, and existing homes that have been substantially remodeled. HUD, FHA or VA mortgage policies may also impose conditions on mortgage loan guaranteed (such as written acknowledgement of noise conditions) for existing homes located in the 75 dB DNL or greater noise zone or within clear zones.”

Comment: The door is open to requiring disclosure.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

South Burlington City Councilor Chris Shaw Chafes at the Rough Cloth of Democracy

All four of the women who addressed the South Burlington city council where soft spoken, polite and brief. 3 of them were elderly. All of them came to the meeting to request a 48 hour delay for the July 8th special meeting that will almost certainly include a vote on a City Council Statement supporting bringing the F-35 warplane to South Burlington.

These women were petitioning for a delay because they wanted citizens to have the opportunity to attend another public meeting, this one regarding the effects of aircraft noise on the health of children, before making up their minds on the F-35 basing. This July 9th public meeting will feature doctors and researchers sharing their knowledge of the health effects of airplane noise on children’s physical and mental health and learning ability.

It is important to mention that the express purpose of the July 8th city council meeting is reverse the stance taken by last year’s city council to NOT support the F-35 basing. Several new councilors were seated in the last election, an election characterized by super PACS and campaign budgets 20 times that of previous elections. 2 councilors were unseated and replaced by pro-F-35 councilors. The special meeting was called by the city council in response to a single request by one individual, Bill Cimmonetti, a prominent member of the Vermont GOP, who asked the council to re-consider last year’s vote.

As is protocol, it wasn’t until the end of the regular city council meeting that the council discussed the request to delay the hearing. Helen Rhiele and Rosanne Greco supported the request to delay the meeting. Chris Shaw and Pam McKenzie disagreed!

What follows is a nearly complete transcription of the conversation that occurred. I have included the portion that is the most relevant and it is complete to the best of my ability to hear the conversation. Please watch the video if you think I’m making this dismissive, partisan, authoritarian, anti-democratic spewing of condescending bullshit up.

(Video here: http://www.cctv.org/watch-tv/programs/south-burlington-city-council-227 the women speak right after the pledge and the transcripted conversation begins at minute 168)

Shaw: I’d like to have the meeting on July 8th I think that it’s rather interesting that YOU’RE asking for more information a year plus after…

Greco: No, more information came out…

Shaw: I understand, I understand but it just seems rather ironic that YOU are asking for a wait and see.

Greco: No, no, that’s not it at all…

Shaw: You’re waiting for more information, that’s what you said

Greco: No no no no, I’m waiting for the Air Force to respond back on whether they will attend…

Shaw: No, no, regardless of the Air Force coming or not you are telling me there is going to be new information detailed at a meeting the next night…

Greco: There is, that’s correct.

Shaw: …which I feel is a little spurious to begin with because I think I’ve seen as much information as they’ve thrown out there.

Greco: You haven’t.

Shaw: Pshhh…how do you know what I’ve seen? Anyhow, what I do find ironic is that suddenly now we need more information is the cry before we can discuss the matter and take any votes on the matter when a year ago we didn’t need any information to discuss the matter and vote on the matter. I find it really ironic that you’re taking that position now

Greco: Wait a minute, hold on hold on. We had 4 city council meetings last year on the F-35…this (public meeting) has nothing to do with that.

Shaw: Ok

Greco: More information has recently become available. There are going to be doctor’s there to present that information along with statements from the researchers who discovered that information that was not included in last year’s EIS and was not included in the revised one. The Air Force is probably not even aware of this (information) but we are going to make them aware of it. New information is coming out. If you are going to have a hearing, it makes sense to have the information before you have the hearing. Bill Cimmonetti came before us and asked the council to re-consider and this council decided to hold a hearing based on his request.

McKenzie: A public meeting…

Greco: A public meeting, right. You had 4 individuals come tonight requesting a delay of a few days, 48 hours, I don’t see a difference in that.

McKenzie: I agree with Mr. Shaw. I do not want to delay the meeting.

Greco: So you are going to have a public hearing…

McKenzie: We are going to continue with the public hearing.

Greco…before you have the information that has recently come to light?

McKenzie: (nodding) We are going to have the public hearing on the date that we set.

Greco: Wait a minute, tell me the difference between Mr. Cimmonetti asking the council to do something and you approved it and 4 people asking you to delay something? He asked you told a meeting and re-consider. 4 people asked you to delay it by 48 hours and you are going to say no to those 4 citizens. Tell me the difference between those 4 citizens and Mr. Cimmonetti?

McKenzie: I don’t have to justify my reasons.

Greco: I am asking you a question.

McKenzie: And I don’t have to justify my reason to you. I agree with Chris.

Greco: I think you need to justify it to the residents of South Burlington, not me.

McKenzie: I am not inclined to delay the meeting.

Greco: Why?

McKenzie: (repeats) I am not inclined to delay the meeting.

Greco: That’s not a real reason.

McKenzie: I would entertain a motion to adjourn and go into public session.

Greco: Frankly, this is disgraceful. Are you doing this because of political motivations, you just don’t want to know the information?

McKenzie: No, and you’re out of order.

Shaw: Rosanne, let me just point out that of all the 4 people that all came from Pillsbury Manor (an elderly housing complex near the airport) when Pat Nowak (city councilor not in attendance at this meeting) was down there in her campaign, campaigning at Pillsbury Manor, the first person who spoke at the microphone made it impossible for Pat Nowak to discuss any other campaign issues other than the F-35 and the other 3 people were probably in attendance as well. It was an embarrassment in the campaign because of…

Greco: What does that have to do with this?

Shaw: You talk about the need to have a discussion about the F-35’s and the discussion is one sided. It’s a shout down from the We Don’t Want It F-35 side and I can’t see that Tuesday on July whatever it is, 9th, is going to offer anymore “information” (he uses air quotes around information and is beginning to shout, point and use exaggerated arm gestures)

Greco: It will.

Shaw: …than a shout down from what I witnessed during the campaign from the 4 people who sat here tonight and asked us to delay it for another 48 hours the same people who put speakers on the green in downtown Burlington and decided it was going to be a wonderful effort to crank them up to 120 decibels.

Greco: The seniors at Pillsbury Manor put speakers…?

Shaw: No. The same group of organized folks who are not in favor if the F-35’s, all right? It doesn’t seem like it’s very much information sharing as much as still fighting the battles of the anti-Vietnam war effort.

Greco: Then you are going to have to call me liar.

Shaw: I’m not calling anyone a liar.

Greco: You are going to have to because I am telling you, new information is going to be presented …

Shaw: I have no doubt you are going to couch information in different terms.

Greco: You are saying that I am going to couch something?

Shaw: You are going to have experts testify and you’re going to talk about score cards that weren’t publically available…

Greco: Absolutely not.

Shaw: …and there’s going to be a wonderful effort to, I dunno, it’s not really germane to the subject.

Greco: It is absolutely germane to the subject if you are…

Shaw: If you are anti-F-35 yes, you are correct.

Greco: No. Even if you are for it would you not want to know what scientists have discovered about the health effects on children from aircraft noise?

Shaw: Wasn’t that on the back page of The Other Paper?

Greco: There were some things that were on there…

Shaw: Oh, oh so I’m sorry that’s not enough?

Greco: What’s not enough?

Shaw: You’ve got to have MORE information?

Greco: Yes! Asolutely!

Shaw: You have an information overload for people. The EIS is report is how long? How long it the EIS report?

Greco: You’re not concerned about learning the information…

Shaw: You’re talking about a public that’s got that ability, to digest that information?

Greco: 1,500 children, that’s how many children that are in the noise zone and according to the new research they will be physiologically and cognitively affected by this noise and you don’t want to know that?

Shaw: Have you experts come Monday night.

Greco: They cannot come Monday night.

Shaw: Alright.

Greco: I gotta tell ya, this is a disgrace. You are doing things for political reasons. You are sacrificing children for some political ideology.

Shaw: You are scoring political points now by doing the loud, y’know, stand and…

Greco: I had absolutely nothing to do with that. I am trying to get the people of South Burlington and the communities that are going to be affected aware of new scientific research that comes out and overwhelmingly says harm is going to be done to children by aircraft noise…

McKenzie: Then they can attend the meeting on Tuesday. I’m going to entertain motion to adjourn this council meeting and move into executive session discuss the appointments…

Greco: I’m embarrassed to be part of this council.

McKenzie: That’s your right.

Shaw: I move that we adjourn…

Do not let the feeble and fragmented arguments Shaw presents overshadow the ominous undertones of this dialogue, i.e. do not dismiss him as the idiot he appears to be. What is both ominous and serious is the distinct tang of both authoritarianism and corruption wafting off Chris Shaw. Chris Shaw is one scary individual.

For one, Shaw seems to believe that people seeking office should be allowed to simply disgorge propaganda into the gullets of a quiet and passive public during campaign events.

“the first person who spoke at the microphone made it impossible for Pat Nowak to discuss any other campaign issues other than the F-35… It was an embarrassment in the campaign”

How dare these citizens dominate Pat Nowak’s campaign event with their concerns about the F-35 when they are elderly and also women! How embarrassing for a wanna-be political figure to have their potential constituency make their own priorities known! And then to have them re-appear to advocate for their issue at a city council meeting! Shaw seems chaffed by the rough cloth of democracy, perhaps longing for the velvety smoothness of dictatorship.

Shaw and his angry pointy finger went on to speak of “the 4 people who sat here tonight” and how they were no doubt part of the larger THEM, the troublesome THEM that endlessly conspires to insert their values into the conversation. The Nowak-Shaw-McKenzie amalgam (Nawzie?) evidently thinks this democracy stuff is for the birds. In Nawzieland, we may accept propaganda or reject it but we have no right to ascertain positions beyond what is offered in high rent, full page finery. Their true positions will reveal themselves with each passing city council meeting as they subvert the greater good in front of your very eyes! Ta da! Shaw is taking a page out of the “I don’t have to justify my reasons” McKenzie LLC playbook!

For 2, in addition to not wanting to know what we think about issues, Shaw thinks we are just too dumb to understand the facts about the F-35 basing.

“You have an information overload for people. The EIS is report is how long? How long it the EIS report? You’re talking about a public that’s got that ability, to digest that information?”

Well, yes and no, Chris.

Yes, because a whole bunch of people who have managed to penetrate the acronym rich miasma of militarese are crawling up the establishments collective ass making all sorts of trouble on a daily basis e.g. that sound truck that evidently disturbs your caviar dreams to no end. Citizen advocacy on this issue has been both unprecedented and effective in bringing to light the deep offenses of the F-35 program and its fundamental incompatibility with residential life.

But also, no, because that’s YOUR JOB. That is what our city councilors are supposed to use their big brains and the resources at their disposal to do. They are supposed to analyze and vet these complex questions, translate them into English and inform the public so that the public can decide. You seem to think you have a much easier job. You seem to think your job is to take talking points and marching orders from real estate moguls and men in uniform. You think your constituents can’t understand terms like “average of $32,000 decline in home value” or “lower educational attainment of children” or “much higher crash rate” or “pay cuts, benefit cuts and layoffs for military families to pay for expensive weapon systems”? Of course they can understand, but your leash holders don’t want things explained in terms that people can understand without taking on the task like part time job. You want us to blindly buy what you’re selling, put our “Save the Guard!” magnetic ribbon sticker on our car and then run along and let the adults talk.

“Oh, oh so I’m sorry that’s not enough? You’ve got to have MORE information?”

Chris Shaw thinks all you need is one full page ad in the Other Paper to deliberate the pros and cons of exposing your children to levels of noise which have been shown to make them deaf, sick and stupid. Because remember, pssshhh…you don’t know what he’s seen.

For 3, Shaw dabbles in a bit of revisionist history regarding what the city went through to come to the conclusion to not support the F-35 basing last year.

“what I do find ironic is that suddenly now we need more information is the cry before we can discuss the matter and take any votes on the matter when a year ago we didn’t need any information to discuss the matter and vote on the matter.”

This is a flat out lie. Last year’s decision was undertaken with seriousness, patience and more than due diligence. The city councils statement of non-support was provisional and simply said that the city council could not support the basing until several questions were answered and more information was provided. That the USAF chose to never address a single question or concern from that document is on them and them alone. Chris Shaw is a lying liar that lies.

The news about the F-35’s impact on our community has become worse in the past year. More homes and more people will be affected than we originally thought, there will be more pernicious and profound impacts than we originally thought, and we’re aware of deeper corruption in the process than we were last year. If the South Burlington city council reverses its stance on the F-35, it will be because real estate interests and military interests juked the stats and bought an election. Full stop.

Like Rosanne Greco, I am ashamed that our city council has become a flimsy proxy for the rich and powerful, using their position to enable the extraction of wealth and health from so many working people who have little but their homes and nowhere to go if these ear splitting and dangerous POS planes make their way here. This is similar to way that our VTANG has become a flimsy proxy for voracious weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin who will happily grind our loved ones, our economy, and our ethical standing in the world into the dust in pursuit of blood and treasure.

In closing, let me tell you that The Nawzie has called another special meeting of the city council! It is…wait for it… on the evening of July 9th at the same time as the public meeting concerning children’s health! What could keep your elected representatives away from such an important event? Chris Shaw’s basement is flooded and he wants to have a meeting about that. At his house. I. SHIT. YOU. NOT.

Buying the vote and selling out the people

Please attend this important public hearing on Monday.

The South Burlington City Council is poised to overturn the previous Council decision opposing the F-35 basing at the Burlington airport. With the backing of 18% of registered voters and 20 times the normal campaign expenditure, newly elected pro-F-35 Councilors Nowak and Shaw will now do their duty to their financiers, the regional commercial interests aligned with the military industrial complex. With this naked corruption of the democratic process, a small minority of people who stand to economically benefit from pork barrel programs like the F-35, cash in at the expense of many thousands of residents, children, and workers who will be seriously harmed by the environmental impact of the basing.

We urge F-35 opponents to attend the South Burlington City Council public hearing on the F-35 basing.

Monday, July 8 at 6:00 PM.

Chamberlin School

262 White Street

South Burlington


Please bring signs expressing your opposition to the F-35 and your outrage over the corruption of the democratic process taking place before our eyes in South Burlington. If you would like us to provide a sign for you please email rj.1618@yahoo.com by 8:00 PM on July 6.

Monday, June 24, 2013

F-35 Noise Blast Demonstration

By Chris Hurd

What: F-35 Noise Blast Demonstration at Takeoff

When: Tomorrow Tuesday June 25th, 2013 at 11am and 12:45pm

Where: Southern End of Church Street in front of Burlington City Hall/Mayor Miro Weinberger's Office at 11am and Governor Peter Shumlin's Office on State Street in Montpelier same day at 12:45 in front of the entrance of the pavilion building.

Why: we are Demonstrating F-35 Takeoff Noise

Let me first say we don't want to do this and we apologize upfront to all Vermonters. We don't want to expose ANYONE to the staggering noise generated by an F-35 Warplane. We don't believe in it. Unfortunately,we are forced into doing this demonstration so that you can hear for yourself with 2,200 lbs of extremely sophisticated audio equipment the actual colossal noise generated by an F-35 and so minimized by all our Vermont political, business and military leaders.

No elected Vermont political leaders have met with affected homeowners/concerned citizens. Those most affected demand a public hearing with our elected political leaders. They cannot keep running from the facts and only offering their half truths.

Instead of meeting with affected citizens, elected Vermont political leaders continue making joint public statements distorting the information provided in the Air Force Environmental Impact Statements about the F-35 sound level and its damaging effects. Instead of representing the people, they have chosen rather to issue joint press statements, to cower, hunker down and circle their wagons tighter around themselves.

We want to get the truth out about what the Air Force says about the F-35 sound levels and its impacts on our most vulnerable - OUR CHILDREN.

We want our elected officials to convene and attend public hearings where affected citizens can talk directly to our elected leaders. Ask Questions. Demand real complete answers. Imagine these leaders actually leading instead of issuing joint press releases, avoiding the recent list of BFP questions that went unanswered.

The Air Force report says that people on the ground will be exposed to 115 dB maximum sound level when the F-35 takes off and reaches an altitude of 1000 feet with afterburner off. The Air Force report says the F-16 exposes people to 94 dB maximum sound level. The Air Force says the 21 dB difference means the F-35 is more than 4 times louder than the F-16.

We will be playing a recording of the sound of the F-35 taking off from its Lockheed Martin facility in Dallas Texas and our amplifier and speakers set to provide those sound levels at 115 dB when a listener is about 50 feet away.

The World Health Organization say that this is more than loud enough to cause cognitive impairment in half the children who are exposed to sound levels this loud 260 days a year, year after year. One single event or exposure to this extreme level of sound/noise may not produce any human damage because the damaging effects are CUMULATIVE - NOT SINGLE EVENT!!

We are just playing these accurate high sound levels for just for one day and two events only.

We are using our free speech rights to demonstrate what our Vermont political, business and military leaders say is fine for the people of Winooski, Burlington, Williston, and South Burlington. We are demonstrating a noise level our elected political leaders are trying to bob and weave around until it is too late and the decision will have been made.

These political leaders are attempting to run away from the facts provided by the Air Force in its reports.

These leaders are also running away from the idea of a public hearing where grossly affected citizens can hold them accountable.

We are trying to catch up with them at their offices and do the only thing we can do when faced with elected political leaders who have their fingers in their ears. Bring the noise to them in Vermont!

We will be re-creating the noise the Air Force says the F-35 will make when flying over Winooski at 115 decibels.

We are not making any more noise than Governor Shumlin was exposed to when he said “I’m shocked how quiet the F-35 is” when he heard the planes last December at Eglin Air Force Base in Valparaiso, Florida.

We are not making any more noise than Mayor Miro Weinberger said he was exposed to and "was not appreciably louder than the F-16."

Let's hear it for ourselves Vermont.

We, the citizens of Vermont, demand that our elected political leaders work to protect our citizens and children from the damaging health effects of this noise repeated day after day. Protect thousands of Vermonters, including children, from cognitive impairment, hypertension, hearing loss, and heart disease, all damaging effects of high level noise produced by the F-35 and verified and revealed in the Air Force's own documents on a cumulative basis.

The damaging affect will happen whether you support the F-35 or not. It can happen to anyone or anyone’s children. It is NOT selective.

Our elected political leaders are in office to represent all of us, not just commercial developers interested in making money by driving out homeowners from land around the airport entrance.

We want our elected political leaders to face the facts provided by the Air Force in its report that the F-35 will be intensely damaging to Vermont and Vermonters. We want Vermont and Vermonters protected!

We want our elected political leaders to hold a public hearing, to meet with affected citizens, and to discuss the threat posed by the F-35 basing in Vermont to children, homeowners, renters, immigrant communities, and entire towns.

We want our elected political leaders to do their jobs to listen to Vermonters and to protect us.

We want our elected political leaders to stop running away from doing their jobs.

We want our elected political leaders to stop putting their fingers in their ears regarding F-35 noise and to stop putting their fingers in their ears regarding the demand of their constituents to meet.

When elected political leaders put their fingers in their ears to block out the voices of their constituents and to avoid meeting with constituents–except for a certain commercial real estate developer who took them on a private plane ride–the constituents just have to get louder. So be it.

We want Governor Shumlin to know that we are all Jerry Dodges. There are at least 8000 Jerry Dodges living in Winooski, Burlington, Williston, and South Burlington who will be taken advantage of by our Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, Congressman Welch, Mayor Miro Weinberger and Mayor Michael O'Brien, big commercial developers advocating for the F-35 basing here including Lang McLaughry Real Estate, Coldwell Banker Hickok and Boardman Realty, and Pomerleau Real Estate all joined in support of basing F-35's in Burlington Vermont in full page ads in the BFP last fall. They are looking at the land near the airport entrance on which is sitting tiny, affordable homes, a once thriving community. They want that land for their commercial development. They have all but abandoned these homeowners being so adversely affected by their support of F-35 Warplanes over homeowners. The motivation is money. Naked unmitigated greed.

At Eglin Air Force base last December while on a political junket paid for by lobbyists called the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC), while wearing noise protection Governor Shumlin exclaimed, "I'm shocked at how quiet the F-35 is".

We want our elected political leaders to stop following those with the money and start listening to the people who elected them. People before planes. Principles before politics. Protect Vermont!

And, if it takes simulating the sound of the F-35 to get their attention, then so be it. We are called to do this.

We know these powerful Vermont voices are still not listening to our most vulnerable and those most impacted by their callousness. Their ears remain closed and their minds remain closed.

We are all pieces on their chessboard. The personal plights of these homeowners and children matter not to these political, business and military leaders. They remain star struck with profits in their eyes.

This demonstration is one of the ways to continue our important grass roots voice in opposition and to give voice to those so severely in harms way of the F-35 basing in Vermont.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

“I wish it wasn’t true, but unfortunately that is the way it is. The numbers were fudged for Burlington to come out on top.”

By James Leas

The Burlington scoring sheet has two serious errors: First, the Air Force answered "no" to the crash zone question, "Is there incompatible development in clear zones and/or accident potential zones?" Second, the Air Force answered "no" to the noise zone question, "Is there incompatible development in noise contours above 65 dB DNL?

Regarding the noise zone question, the Air Force argues that the FAA funding for voluntary sale of homes to Burlington meant there would be no homes in the F-16 noise zone, so the "no" answer was correct. That argument assumes (a) that all the homes in the 65 dB DNL noise zone had been identified and (b) that everyone in that noise zone would sell so their homes could be demolished. Neither of these assumptions was correct. Furthermore, the F-35 noise was known to be much louder than the F-16 and therefore would extend much further and include many more homes. 200 homes were identified for purchase in the FAA buyout program. The Air Force now says that 20 times as many homes--nearly 4000 homes-- are in the F-35 noise zone. Yet Burlington got the full points for a "no" answer to this question.

Regarding the crash zone question, the Air Force has not even tried to give an excuse. Even for the F-16, the clear zones and/or accident potential zones include more than 1400 homes. 32 commercial buildings stand in the clear zone. The same crash zones apply for the F-35. Yet Burlington got the full points for a "no" answer to this question. Not even a hint of an argument regarding the FAA buyout can be applied to the crash zone question.

As it reported on April 14, the Boston Globe interviewed a Pentagon insider who told the Globe that "the base selection process was deliberately 'fudged' so Leahy's home state would win." The Globe also reported that the Pentagon whistle blower further said "Unfortunately Burlington was selected even before the scoring process began.” He or she also said, “I wish it wasn’t true, but unfortunately that is the way it is. The numbers were fudged for Burlington to come out on top.” Finally, the Pentagon insider said, "If the scoring had been done correctly Burlington would not have been rated higher” [than the other National Guard locations under consideration by the Air Force]. The Burlington scoring sheet provides a factual basis supporting these statements.

The Air Force base selection process is grossly illegitimate. But the illegitimate process is essential for certain Vermont real estate developers to personally gain from the displacement of the 200 families from their affordable homes. Sickeningly, our Congressional delegation, Governor, and Burlington Mayor are doing all they can to facilitate the abuse being heaped on the remaining ones of those 200 families and that will be heaped on 4000 more families upon whom they are attempting to inflict F-35 noise and crash risk.

(posted as a comment here)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sequestration Is Broken: Cuts Funding for Children, Veterans, and Seniors While Protecting Wasteful Weapons Systems

By Rosanne Greco 
(for The Rutland Herald)

Some deficit hawks have cheered sequestration, arguing that imposing blind, across-the-board spending cuts is the only way to reduce the deficit at a time when Washington is broken.  But once you look closely at how the cuts are being applied, it’s clear that sequestration itself is broken. 

The system was supposed to cut all programs equally.  But instead it’s crippling or shutting down critical services for our children, veterans, and seniors, while leaving failing, unnecessary programs untouched.  Why?  Because those wasteful programs have powerful advocates in Washington that have rigged sequestration so not a penny is removed from their pet projects.  Programs to help the needy and voiceless haven’t fared as well. 

The “dishonor roll” of worthy programs gutted or shut down by sequestration grows longer every day. Head Start programs have been forced to shorten school years, furlough teachers, reduce enrollments and even shut down.[1]  Low-income parents are finding it more difficult to support their families because sequestration cut their child-care programs.[2] 

Fifty-five thousand veterans are losing employment aid[3] and many homeless veterans are losing access to shelters.[4]  Many veterans have lost wages because of the massive furloughing of government employees – 44% of DoD civilian staff are veterans.[5]  We’ve even furloughed National Guard members, who support our troops and help us during natural disasters.[6]  You can’t turn on the evening news without seeing the potential consequences of cutbacks to disaster relief capabilities.

Thousands of seniors have had to skip meals due to cuts to Meals on Wheels.[7]  And for many of these seniors that can’t get outside their home and live alone without nearby family, they’ve lost their only regular human contact. 

But what’s even more outrageous is how policy makers leave these citizens on the chopping block yet refuse to cut the fat when it comes to programs favored by the powerful and well connected.  A prime example is the military’s new F-35 stealth warplane.  The F-35 is a poster child for out-of-control government programs.  It’s the most expensive defense program in history, expected to cost approximately $1.5 trillion.  It has run 70% over budget and is now seven years late.[8]  It has run into problem after problem with its design – system failures that could cause the pilot to lose control[9] or the engine to catch on fire[10], “catastrophic” cracks in the engine turbines[11], and endless glitches in its complicated software. 

The plane is named the “Lightning” but it can’t even fly within 35 miles of lightning because it might explode.[12]  Yet despite all its fatal flaws, this failing program is being protected by a Congress that doesn’t think twice about cutting education for our young or support systems for our elderly.

Even worse, the F-35 is, according to most experts, unneeded.  Our current fighter jets are faster and more maneuverable than the overweight F-35, which some experts call a dogfight “disaster.”[13]  Its limited weapons capability in stealth mode makes it an ineffective bomber.[14]  Its short range makes it unsuitable to patrol the wide distances in the Pacific region[15] where President Obama recently proposed a strategic shift.  And it’s not heavily armored enough to withstand enemy fire when providing close-in cover for troops on the ground.[16]  Recent design changes made to cut weight have actually made it 25% more vulnerable to fire.[17]  Defense analysts have said that the F-35 “can’t turn, can’t climb, and can’t run” and won’t even be able to match today’s Russian fighter jets.[18] 

Communities don’t want the F-35 either, largely because it is so loud that it will make large residential areas surrounding airports or military bases uninhabitable.  The F-35 is 400% louder than an F-16.  Residents near the Burlington Air National Guard Station  where F-16s are based, must routinely pause their conversations or turn up their TVs when they’re taking off.  They’re used to that and accept it as part of living near the airport.  But an F-35 takeoff will be like a freight train running through their front doors. 

The FAA says over 3,000 homes in the Burlington area will be rendered unfit for residential use by F-35 noise alone.  And that’s not to mention the expanded crash zones for the F-35 that will threaten the lives of thousands of residents near the airport. 

With the world’s strongest air force already flying, why squander billions on a fighter jet we don’t need and our communities don’t want?  Neither Congress nor Pentagon leaders have effectively answered this question.  Defense expert Winslow Wheeler has said “the Pentagon’s current management is hooked on the airplane and refuses to admit it is a failure.”[19]  Top Pentagon officials have vowed to protect the plane from sequestration cuts[20] and have found ways to do so with Congress’s tacit approval.[21] 

This is a perfect example of how sequestration is broken – programs to educate our kids, house homeless veterans, and feed ailing seniors get the axe, while a trillion-dollar military failure gets full funding.  I understand that we need to cut the budget, but this is not what fiscal responsibility looks like.  No Vermont child should be shut out of Head Start before we cut military pork like the F-35.

Sincerely,
Colonel Rosanne M. Greco, USAF (ret)

Col. Greco worked on arms control and nuclear non-proliferation at the Pentagon, and on peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs at the United Nations. She is now a City Councilor in South Burlington, Vermont.



Winslow Wheeler: 5 Part Series on F-35 pricing

Part 1: The New Era of Good F-35 Feelings
Part 2: Alphabet Soup: PAUCs, APUCs, URFs, Cost Variances and Other Pricing Dodges
Part 3: The Deadly Empirical Data
Part 4: Different Planes, Common Problems
Part 5: On Final Approach to Fighter Fiscal Sanity

"American taxpayers, the U.S. military services, and foreign purchasers — all of whom have been promised F-35 aircraft for as little as $85 million each — are in for a rude awakening. When real F-35 purchase prices unfold in the future, they may be as much as they are today—averaging more than $200 million per aircraft. It remains inevitable that as actual costs sink in, fewer aircraft will be purchased. This toxic stew of the F-35’s high cost, abetted by concurrent production, lagging performance and continuing design problems, has put U.S. and allied air power into a dive. The dive will steepen so long as F-35 production at the currently-projected rates continues."