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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Request to Halt F-35s Goes Forward Without Weinberger's Support

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 10:38 AM

An F-35 - FILE
  • File
  • An F-35
Mayor Miro Weinberger will not give his blessing to a Burlington City Council resolution asking the feds for an alternative plane to the F-35 fighter jets. He announced Wednesday in a press release that he will neither sign nor veto the letter, which will be sent to the U.S. Air Force on April 16 without his support.

A veto "would serve little purpose other than extending the divisive debate indefinitely," Weinberger wrote in a commentary published on VTDigger.org that explained his decision.

It is the first time in Weinberger's six-year tenure as mayor that he has not signed a council resolution, according to the release. Instead, he sent a letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson explaining his decision and voicing his continued support for the jets.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Weinberger Could Veto Burlington City Council Resolution on F-35s

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 2:27 PM

An F-35 - FILE
  • File
  • An F-35
The Burlington City Council passed a resolution on Monday night requesting an aircraft less noisy than the F-35 fighter jets — but it may be premature for opponents of the jets to celebrate.

Mayor Miro Weinberger can sign or veto the resolution, according to Katie Vane, a spokesperson for the mayor. A veto would then require two-thirds of the council to vote to override the decision.

Weinberger needs to "take action or provide a response" by the council meeting on April 16, according to Vane, and he plans to make a decision by then.

On Tuesday, the mayor indicated that he'll be deliberate.

“I will use that time as needed to continue the further work on this issue that I promised, and to make this decision with care," Weinberger said in a statement.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Burlington City Council Could Vote to Request F-35 Cancellation

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 at 11:54 AM

  • Arjan Van De Logt/Dreamstime.com
  • An F-35
The Burlington City Council will take up a resolution Monday that asks the U.S. Air Force to base a safer alternative to the F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport.

The proposed measure comes after 55 percent of Burlingtonians voted on Town Meeting Day to ask the council to "request the cancellation" of the planes and find a less noisy, less risky option.

"The voters asked us to take action, so we're going to take action," said Councilor Joan Shannon (D-South District), who sponsored the resolution.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

F-35 Burlington Ballot Question Spurs Debate, Influx of Ad Spending

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 1:25 PM

Ben Cohen speaking out against the F-35s - FILE: KATIE JICKLING
  • File: Katie Jickling
  • Ben Cohen speaking out against the F-35s
Activists for and against the basing of F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport are gearing up — and opening their wallets — ahead of election day.

Members of Save Our Skies gathered 3,000 signatures on a petition to get a measure about the jets on the ballot and have since spent an estimated $15,000 advocating for a "yes" vote, according to lead organizer Jimmy Leas.

The question asks whether voters will "advise the City Council to: 1) request the cancellation of the planned basing of the F-35 at Burlington International Airport, and 2) request instead low-noise-level equipment with a proven high safety record appropriate for a densely populated area."

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

At Public Meeting, Federal Officials Seek to Calm BTV Airport Uproar

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 10:19 PM

Richard Doucette presents at the Burlington airport. - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Richard Doucette presents at the Burlington airport.
Eight suited officials, including representatives from the Vermont National Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Burlington International Airport, spent two hours Thursday evening answering community questions about noise lines and mitigation, FAA protocol, and home buyout rules.

The officials hoped the question-and-answer session would relieve rising tensions as a controversial home buyout program proceeds around the airport in South Burlington. In September, the airport announced 39 new home buyouts. More than 100 homes have been bought since the program began in 1997.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Airport Director: SoBu Council Resolution Won’t Stop Buyouts

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 9:22 PM

Burlington International Airport - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Burlington International Airport
Burlington International Airport director of aviation Gene Richards says a resolution South Burlington city councilors passed Monday will not stop a controversial home buyout program.

“The airport will continue to administer the program until we bring it to an end,” Richards told Seven Days Tuesday.

The resolution does little more than create anxiety for neighbors who want to sell, he added.

“We’ve had people crying and we’ve had people really stressed out about this,” Richards said. “It’s unfortunate.”

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Vermont Air Guard to Deploy Overseas Before Holidays

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 4:20 PM

Major General Steven Cray announces a deployment to the Middle East. Behind him, from left, are Col. Patrick Guinee, governor-elect Phil Scott and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Major General Steven Cray announces a deployment to the Middle East. Behind him, from left, are Col. Patrick Guinee, governor-elect Phil Scott and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.).
A few hundred members of the Vermont Air National Guard will deploy overseas in the coming weeks on an open-ended mission under the command responsible for Middle East combat operations.

The "short notice" deployment of members of the 158th Fighter Wing will likely last a "few months," Major General Steven Cray said Tuesday. The airmen will report to U.S. Central Command — which is responsible for the Middle East, Northern Africa and Central Asia — and is overseeing the fight against the Islamic State, among other initiatives.

The mission will "bring the fight to our enemies," Cray said.

Vermont officials were recently notified a deploy order could come before Christmas. Confirmation came Monday night, Cray said, and the deployment will happen sometime in the next few weeks.

The 158th Fighter Wing has 1,100 members. Roughly 100 are already deployed overseas on other missions, officials said.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Zuckerman Apologizes for 2013 Remark About Vermont Air Guard

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 12:08 AM

David Zuckerman, left, and Randy Brock at a My NBC5 debate Monday in Burlington - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • David Zuckerman, left, and Randy Brock at a My NBC5 debate Monday in Burlington
Sen. David Zuckerman (P/D-Chittenden), Vermont's Democratic and Progressive nominee for lieutenant governor, apologized Monday night for questioning the role that the Vermont Air National Guard played in the response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. 

"I spoke poorly and I do apologize for that," he said at a Burlington debate hosted by My NBC5.

Zuckerman was responding to a May 2013 video posted to Facebook on Sunday by Nicole Citro, a Republican activist who has led the public push to base F-35 jets at the Air Guard's South Burlington headquarters. The video shows Zuckerman speaking out against the basing, which has since been approved, during a protest on the steps of Burlington City Hall. 

"Some of the people that support F-35s say, 'This is about our safety and our freedom. Look at what they did on 9/11,'" Zuckerman says in the 27-second video. "When I look at what our planes did on 9/11 — they flew over a site that was already devastated by a terrorist action. I don't believe they stopped a single thing from happening. So let's not equate their existence with freedom when they're after the fact—"
According to news stories and the Air Guard's own account, Vermont's F-16s were among the first on the scene after terrorists flew two airliners into New York City's World Trade Center. They patrolled the city's airspace for 122 consecutive days after the attacks, according to a Guard history. 

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Judge Dismisses F-35 Lawsuit, Paving Way for Jets to Arrive

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 9:32 AM

Air Force F-35 fighter, scheduled to replace the Vermont Air National Guard's F-16s.
  • Air Force F-35 fighter, scheduled to replace the Vermont Air National Guard's F-16s.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by opponents of the Air Force's decision to bring a squadron of next-generation F-35 fighter jets to Burlington International Airport.

The 35-page decision by Judge Geoffrey Crawford, released Wednesday, removes one of the last major impediments to delivering 18 F-35s, which are larger and louder than the F-16s currently based at the airport, to the Vermont Air National Guard in 2019.

A group of Winooski and South Burlington residents, along with the city of Winooski, sued after the basing decision, arguing that the Air Force had failed to conduct a thorough review of the environmental impact of the F-35s. They asked Crawford to block the planes and order the Air Force to conduct a new review, known as an environmental impact statement (EIS).

But Crawford was not persuaded.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Vermont’s F-35 Opponents Get Their Day in Court

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 5:25 PM

An F-35 - FILE
  • File
  • An F-35
Opponents of the U.S. Air Force’s decision to base a squadron of next-generation F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport finally got their day in federal court on Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford heard arguments in a lawsuit accusing the Air Force of failing to conduct a proper environmental review before deciding to assign 18 of the F-35s to the Vermont Air National Guard. The planes are scheduled to arrive in 2019.

Opponents of the F-35s, which are louder than the F-16s currently based at the airport, are trying to get that decision set aside and to have a new review, known as an environmental impact statement, conducted. Residents of South Burlington and Winooski, along with the Stop the F-35 Coalition and the city of Winooski, filed the suit.

James Dumont, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said the Air Force left several vital considerations out of its required environmental review. Dumont said the Air Force ignored South Burlington and Winooski land-use regulations, and failed to examine the risk of a serious accident. He said the Air Force didn’t examine either the idea of soundproofing homes in the areas that will be most affected by noise, or buying and demolishing them, which has previously been done in South Burlington.

“There was no informed public in this review,” Dumont said. “The [environmental impact statement] was a sham. It did not present the minimum information … that should be part of the evaluation.”

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