Why hasn't the Vermont Governor responded to an invitation from the Mayor of Winooski?

Mayor Kristine Lott invited Governor Phil Scott and Guard Commanders to the September 7 City Council meeting to discuss protecting the people from the 115-decibel F-35 training flights

Open letter to Vermont Governor Phil Scott

Dear Governor Phil Scott:

In a letter dated July 22, 2021, Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott invited you to attend a Winooski City Council meeting. Also attending the meeting are victims of the F-35 training flights and Vermont Air National Guard Commanders. The meeting is on September 7 at 6 pm. While the commanders are coming, so far, you have not responded to the mayor, and I hope this oversight will be immediately corrected.

The City of Winooski is the most densely populated in Vermont. It is also the state’s most ethnically diverse, with 23% people of color. More than 20 languages are spoken. Nearly 30% of the population is in poverty, the highest percentage in the county. 63% of its 3,259 homes are rental. 98.1% of the 885 children in K-12 are on free or reduced price lunch.

The runway from which F-35 jets take off and land aims directly at the center of Winooski, which is only one mile away.

Under your command, thousands of people in Winooski are being subjected to the 115-decibel F-35 training flights. The F-35s are taking off and landing 300 to 600 times a month, according to figures provided by the Vermont National Guard. The Guard itself stated that it received more than 1,400 noise complaints. Many more responded to online F-35 Report and Complaint Forms, the latest version of this form receiving 466 responses so far. Most describe pain, injury, distress, fear, anxiety, trauma, and suffering. The Air Force itself admitted to hearing damage from repeated exposure to military aircraft at 114 decibels. The Air Force also admitted to impaired learning and degraded cognitive development of children from exposure to aircraft noise at a lower noise level than is produced by the F-35.

The oval-shaped extreme noise contours provided by the Air Force extend over more than half of Winooski. Thus, the F-35 training flights literally target Winooski while they affect none of the wealthy neighborhoods, with their large expensive houses: A repugnant daily display of gratuitous racist and classist violence under your command.

Also under your command, thousands more people are being subjected to high crash risk and catastrophic crash consequences if an F-35 crashes in this densely populated area. PFAS poisoning of the drinking water is yet another severe result of F-35 training in such a populated area. Under your command more than 100,000 Vermonters in cities and towns within 5 miles of the airport are involuntary human shields for nuclear missiles that inevitably target that densely populated area because of the 20 F-35 jets training from there.

You are the responsible public official: The US Constitution says that the authority of training the state national guards is “reserved to the states.” Under the Vermont Constitution, the governor is commander in chief. That means that you have the authority to order a stop to the ill-conceived F-35 training in a populated area.

At town meeting in Winooski on March 2, by a 2 to 1 margin, the voters approved this resolution “Shall the City of Winooski urge the state to halt F-35 training flights in a densely populated area, such as Winooski?” Vermonters have a right to understand how, by ignoring the town meeting vote of the people subjected to this state-sponsored violence, you demonstrate respect for the will of the people.

The Winooski City Council meeting will also provide Vermont National Guard commanders and yourself a chance to explain attitudes toward the rule of law. The US constitution requires the states to conduct the training of their national guards “according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” That discipline includes US laws and ratified treaties that protect civilians. That discipline does not allow routinely hurting civilians for training.

The military’s own regulations, such as Department of Defense Directive 2311.01, adds further protections for civilians. So do Vermont reckless conduct laws. Because, unlike the basing of the F-35, the Guard training with the F-35 is under the authority of the state, federal preemption is inapplicable.

That means that thousands of families in Winooski and the neighboring cities of Burlington, S. Burlington, and the Towns of Williston and Essex are being subjected to pain, injury, distress, fear, and suffering by the state’s military forces under your command. This is happening without the slightest shred of military necessity to conduct the training in a densely populated area. A blatant violation of the military’s most fundamental principles, all under your command.

The Winooski City Council meeting on September 7 will provide the people with the opportunity to verbally petition you, the government official most responsible for the F-35 training flights in a densely populated area. The right to petition, which is provided in the First Amendment, is rendered nugatory if you, the responsible office holder, fail to make yourself available to listen to the petitions of your F-35 victims, such as will happen during public forum at this city council meeting.

Attendance at the meeting is both in person and on Zoom. Noteworthy is that by attending on Zoom you wouldn’t have to position yourself in a location, such as Winooski, where you could personally be exposed to the extreme F-35 noise and crash danger!

You may consider that there is, nevertheless, risk from having to listen to the respectfully spoken words of your constituents. However, you will surely be given ample opportunity to explain why you are committing such serial violence against Vermonters. And to explain your attitude about hurting unarmed civilians in their own homes with the state’s military forces. And to explain why you ignore US constitutional provisions. And why you disparage town meeting democracy. And why you degrade the rule of law. And of course, if you appear, you will be able to tout that, by your presence, you at least uphold the right to petition.

So I respectfully ask, will you respond to the invitation from the mayor? I hope you will at last accept that invitation and decide to attend the September 7 Winooski City Council meeting.

Best regards,

James Marc Leas

Write or call your public servants:

Governor Phil Scott 802-828-3333 Chief of Staff <Jason.Gibbs@vermont.gov>

Vermont National Guard's Complaint Line: 802-660-5379

Add your own report & complaint to the online F-35 Spring-Summer 2021 Report & Complaint Form: https://tinyurl.com/4zjjn39x

See the responses to the F-35 Spring-Summer 2021 Report & Complaint Form (so far 466 responses): https://tinyurl.com/3svacfvx

Senator Patrick Leahy 800-642-3193 Chief of Staff <john_tracy@leahy.senate.gov>

Senator Bernie Sanders 800-339-9834 <Senator@sanders.senate.gov>

Congressman Peter Welch 888-605-7270 Chief of Staff <patrick.satalin@mail.house.gov>

Burlington City Council <citycouncil@burlingtonvt.gov>

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger <mayor@burlingtonvt.gov>

Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott <klott@winooskivt.org>

S. Burlington City Council Chair Helen Riehle <hriehle@sburl.com>

Williston Selectboard Chair Terry Macaig <macaig@msn.com>

VT Senate President Becca Balint <bbalint@leg.state.vt.us>

VT House Speaker Jill Krowinski <jkrowinski@leg.state.vt.us>

Attorney General TJ Donavan <DonovanTJ@gmail.com>

States Attorney Sarah George <Sarah.fair.george@gmail.com>

Vermont’s Federal Prosecutor <usavt.contactus1@usdoj.gov>

Adjutant General Brig Gen Gregory C Knight <gregory.c.knight.mil@mail.mil>

Major J Scott Detweiler <john.s.detweiler.mil@mail.mil>

Wing Commander Col David Shevchik <david.w.shevchik@mail.mil>