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Accountability in Vermont?

By       Message William Boardman     Permalink
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   Reaction Among Politicians Has Been Timid


From the Congressional level on down there has been bi-partisan reticence about the F-35, though it's mostly Democrats who make vague statements of support without demonstrating any mastery of the details of the problem.  More often than not, elected officials of the two major parties say little more than that they support the Vermont Air National Guard (VTANG) and that they hope any difficulties can be worked out. 


Rep. Kurt Wright, Republican of Burlington told WCAX-TV: "I think it's important to our guard and our economy that they [F-35s] are based here."  This is a commonly repeated opinion that has little evidence to support it.  Even the Air Force says that basing 18 F-35s in Burlington "would not impact regional employment, income, or regional housing market," although that changes with 24 F-35s based in Vermont. 


What the view expressed by Rep. Wright and many others apparently references is their fear that, without the F-35, VTANG will have no mission and dissolve.  No Air Force or Pentagon official has said such a thing, but National Guard generals and commercial supporters of the F-35 base have been using this fear as a tactic at least since 2010, even though there's no evidence to support it. 


Rep. Clement Bissonnette, Democrat of Winooski, like Rep. Cross, captured the VTANG loyalty when he told FOXnews44, "I was proud on 9-11 when our jets took off and protected the east coast."  When asked about jet noise possibly causing hearing loss or other medical problems, Rep. Bissonnette replied, without offering support, "There are people who say that, there's also studies out there that say just the opposite."  The reporter added that


"Representative Cross plans to present a bill asking the state to compensate people who would be impacted by the noise. Representative Bissonnette says there's no money available." 


While this response ignores the bill's content, that includes proposed funding means, it does encapsulate the apparently widespread indifference of Vermont's political leaders to any hardship imposed on their constituents by a warplane that is already 100% over budget, a decade overdue, cannot yet fly safely, and is expected to cost more then $1 trillion over its service lifetime if it ever is deployed. 


   Vermont Progressives Opposed the F-35 Early


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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)

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