Commentary

Eileen Andreoli: The truth about the F-35s

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Eileen Andreoli, of Winooski, a member of SaveOurSkiesVT.org.

In recent stories about the accelerated pace for the basing in Vermont of the under-tested and mechanically flawed F-35s, Gov. Peter Shumlin states, “This initiative will benefit the Vermont National Guard, create jobs, and spur economic development in Chittenden County and surrounding areas.”

Shumlin has repeated these same lies for the last three years. When challenged in 2013 to provide the source for his comments that the F-35s would create jobs, his reply was: “The specific quote you referenced should have referred to the more than one thousand direct and indirect jobs attributable to the air base that I strongly believe will be retained if we are chosen for F-35 basing.”

Retaining jobs does not equal creating jobs! Even after he was challenged on these falsehoods, and despite his excuse that he meant to say “retained” jobs instead of creating them, he is back at it again, repeating the same lies. His continued misrepresentation of the facts must be exposed for the outright lies they are.

The U.S. Air Force states that the F-35 basing will create no new jobs, so where does Shumlin imagine they will come from?

It’s hard to imagine Shumlin truthfully thinking the F-35s sounded anything remotely like “quiet”!

 

The USAF records also state that, instead of spurring economic development, Burlington was the only basing site under consideration that would suffer a net economic decline from loss of property values due to the increased noise impact on Chittenden County communities.

According to the USAF, (There will be a) … “{p}ositive effect for all locations except Burlington, where the potential decrease in property values due to increased noise is not expected to be overcome by the expected increase in positive economic impacts to the community.” (USAF AR00061560)

What politician in their right mind would sacrifice the health of the economic engine of the entire state, especially when Vermont is struggling to keep its head afloat under the weight of massive deficits?

Does Shumlin really believe that welcoming the F-35s, the warplane with the loudest jet engine in military history, to the most densely populated areas of Vermont before it is fully tested for safety and health impacts, will invite folks to relocate here, and help stem the hemorrhaging of people leaving the state?

In the same way that he gets it wrong about jobs and the economy, he is also disingenuous about the noise of the F-35. We all remember Shumlin’s absurd comments when he wore special ear protection while listening to the F-35s undergoing testing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. (As the expression goes, a picture is worth a thousand words!) He said he was “shocked at how quiet” they were. How quiet compared to what? The USAF states the F-35s will generate four times the noise of the extremely loud F-16s that currently inflict intense noise over the unhappy residents around the airport. It’s hard to imagine Shumlin truthfully thinking the F-35s sounded anything remotely like “quiet”!

Can Shumlin ever stop lying about the F35s? Now would be a good time to do so, with Vermonters’ health, safety and economic viability in the crosshairs of this flawed and fraudulent F-35 basing decision.


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