Open letter to Vermont candidates for US Congress, US Senate, and statewide office
Letter requests answers regarding F-35 training in Vermont cities
Dear Vermont candidates for US Congress, US Senate, Governor, and Lt. Governor,
I am seeking responses from all Vermont candidates for the US Congress, the US Senate, Governor, and Lt. Governor to the six Yes/No type questions below about Vermont Air National Guard F-35 training flights from the Burlington airport, amidst the state's most densely populated cities and towns. There is also room to add your comments.
Your responses will be published on CancelF35.substack.com, distributed to local news media, and posted widely on social media and Front Porch Forum.
CancelF35.substack.com is a news report about the F-35 training in Vermont cities. It published 87 articles since launching in October 2020. Nearly 300 Vermonters subscribe.
Thanks for reading Cancel the F-35! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.
Please respond to the questions by Saturday April 30 so there is time for voters to consider your position well in advance of ballots mailed to voters on June 25, the primary vote on August 9, and the general election on November 8. Please send your responses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is information about the F-35 training in Vermont cities that you may find useful.
Vermonters suffering on a mass scale
News articles on VTDigger, in Seven Days and on TV, hundreds of reports and complaints submitted online, and the 12 minute film, "Jet Line, Voicemails from the Flight Path" show that Vermont’s state-sponsored 115-decibel F-35 training flights in cities cause pain, injury, distress, and suffering on a mass scale in the cities of Burlington, South Burlington, and Winooski, and in many nearby towns.
A town meeting resolution in Burlington in 2018 requesting "cancellation of the planned basing of the F-35 at BTV," won with over 55% of the vote. By a 2:1 margin in 2021 Winooski voters adopted a town meeting resolution "urging the state to halt F-35 training flights in a densely populated area, such as Winooski."
Constitution, US law, and the military’s own regulations violated
The US Constitution requires the states to conduct the training of their state national guard units “according to the discipline prescribed by Congress." Congress set that discipline to be the same as US military regulations (32 USC 501). In multiple ways, those Department of Defense (DoD) regulations require commanders to protect civilians during armed conflict and during training (DoD Directive 2311.01). By conducting the F-35 training in cities, state officials blatantly violate the discipline prescribed by Congress and those DoD regulations. Here is how:
DoD regulations expressly require commanders to “distinguish” (separate) military operations from populated areas. The regulations prohibit using a weapon in a manner for which it was not designed that cause unnecessary suffering--like using the 115-decibel F-35 for routine training in cities full of children. They require a “military necessity” for any military operation, not mere convenience. The prohibition of “human shielding” is glaringly violated by basing F-35s in cities, where their presence draws targeting by foreign nuclear missiles. The regulations require “feasible precautions” to be taken before launching the military operation--not conducting the 115 decibel training hundreds of times a month for 40 or 50 years before the 2,963 homes in the F-35 noise target zone are sound insulated.
The F-35: Climate catastrophe on steroids
Each F-35 burns 22 gallons of fuel per minute in straight and level flight. Hundreds of F-35 flights each month accelerate global warming and demolish Vermont’s climate goals.
Race and class injustice
The US Air Force wrote that low income and minority Vermonters are “disproportionately impacted” by the F-35. The City of Winooski is just 1760 yards in direct line from one end of the runway at Burlington International Airport (BTV). More than half the city is within the US Air Force designated 5.2 mile by 1.2 mile oval-shaped F-35 noise target zone centered on the runway.
Winooski is largely a working-class city. The most densely populated in Vermont. With the state’s most ethnic diversity. 23% of its residents are people of color, nearly four times the ratio for Vermont as a whole. 22% are foreign born and more than 20 languages spoken, while for Vermont fewer than 5% are foreign born. Nearly 30% of Winooski’s population lives in poverty, triple Vermont’s 10% poverty rate. 63% of Winooski’s 3,259 homes are rental, close to double the rate for Vermont. In Winooski 17% of people under 65 have a disability, while for Vermont 11% have one. 97.9% of the 774 children in Winooski’s K‑12 public schools are on free or reduced-price lunch, while for the state 38% of the children are.
But it’s not just Winooski that state officials target with brutal assault. The F-35 flight path crosses low over working class parts of the City of Burlington, including the densely populated Chase Street area, East Avenue, and parts of Old and New North End wards. Immediately adjacent both sides of the runway is the Chamberlin School neighborhood of more than 1000 small affordable working class homes in the City of South Burlington. The Chamberlin School is located just 800 yards from the runway, with its 552 pre-K to 5th graders. On takeoff or landing in the direction opposite to Winooski, the runway aims at working-class homes, and at pre-schools, industrial parks, and stores in the Town of Williston. In all, the Air Force said that 6,663 black, brown, immigrant, and white working-class people live within the noise target zone.
The state has the power
State law is not preempted: the FAA expressly disclaims authority to regulate military aircraft noise. A federal appeals court held that while the FAA has authority to regulate the noise of civilian aircraft, the FAA does not have the authority to regulate the noise of military aircraft. State reckless conduct laws that are consistent with the military regulations that protect civilians are just not being enforced against the state officials responsible.
Your voice can make a difference
As a current elected official or as a candidate for Congress, the Senate, Governor or Lt. Governor your words and action can make a difference. Pain, injury, distress, and suffering; democratic votes; the constitution; federal and state laws; the military’s own regulations; the rule of law, and human rights all demand that you speak out and take action to protect Vermonters. The state has both constitutional authority and obligation to enforce the discipline prescribed by Congress, and halt F-35 training flights in Vermont cities.
Voters in Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski, Williston, and other nearby towns need to know your answers to the following questions well in advance of the voting:
1. Do you think the routine F-35 training flights should continue or should they stop from the runway at Burlington airport, in Vermont's most densely populated cities, where the US Air Force said 2,963 affordable homes and 6,663 people are blasted with the 115-decibel noise hundreds of times a month?
Continue F-35 flights in cities ___
Stop F-35 flights in cities ___
2. Are you concerned that the Air Force said that low income and minority populations in Vermont are "disproportionately impacted" by the F-35?
Yes ___ No ___
3. Do you think action is needed to protect the health and safety of the public from the F-35 in cities?
Yes ___ No ___
4. Are you concerned that each F-35 burns 22 gallons of fuel per minute, accelerating global warming?
Yes ___ No ___
5. If elected, will you speak and act to terminate the state's F-35 training operations in any densely populated area?
Yes ___ No ___
6. During your election campaign will you speak out and campaign in favor of halting F-35 training flights from the BTV airport?
Yes ___ No ___
Please provide any further comments on the F-35 issue.
James Marc Leas
Write or call your public servants and local news media:
Call or email your favorite local news media reporter
Governor Phil Scott 802-828-3333 Chief of Staff <Jason.Gibbs@vermont.gov>
Vermont National Guard's Complaint Line: 802-660-5379 (Note: the Vermont Guard told a reporter that it received over 1400 noise complaints. But the Guard won’t release what people said).
Instead or in addition, submit your report & complaint to the online F-35 Fall 2021-Winter 2022 Report & Complaint Form: https://tinyurl.com/5d89ckj9
See all the graphs and in-your-own words statements on the F-35 Spring-Summer 2021 Report & Complaint Form (513 responses): https://tinyurl.com/3svacfvx.
See links to the graphs and in-your-own words statements on all four versions of the F-35 Report & Complaint Form since Spring 2020, with a total of 1670 responses from 658 different people.
Senator Patrick Leahy 800-642-3193 Chief of Staff <email@example.com>
Senator Bernie Sanders 800-339-9834 <Senator@sanders.senate.gov>
Congressman Peter Welch 888-605-7270 Chief of Staff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Burlington City Council <email@example.com>
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott <email@example.com>
S. Burlington City Council Chair Helen Riehle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Williston Selectboard Chair Terry Macaig <email@example.com>
VT Senate President Becca Balint <firstname.lastname@example.org>
VT House Speaker Jill Krowinski <email@example.com>
Attorney General TJ Donavan <DonovanTJ@gmail.com>
States Attorney Sarah George <Sarah.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Vermont’s Federal Prosecutor <email@example.com>
Adjutant General Brig Gen Gregory C Knight <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Major J Scott Detweiler <email@example.com>
Wing Commander Col David Shevchik firstname.lastname@example.org
Vermont National Guard Inspector General Lt. Col. Edward J Soychak <email@example.com>
US Air Force Inspector General Lt. Col. Pamela D. Koppelmann <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall <Frank.Kendall@us.af.mil>