A healthy and safe environment for our children and their learning. The economy. Jobs. Affordable housing. Climate change. Protecting our remaining open space. Racial and class justice. Democratic control. Equal rights. The rule of law.
These are hard problems. Many solutions are needed for each. But each and every one of them is made far worse, and solutions to each are sabotaged, by the 115-decibel F-35 training flights in our city.
The F-35 training flights in a city violate federal and state laws and the military’s own regulations.
The F-35 is also deeply unpopular—it was voted down in democratic town meeting votes in Burlington in 2018 by 55% of the voters and in Winooski in 2021 by 67%.
The F-35 was foisted against the will of the people. Foisted by illicit pressure on the Pentagon by a powerful former Vermont Senator.
But we have just begun to fight. We’ve conducted the research. Acquired the facts. Learned the military regulations and the state and federal laws.
Under the US constitution and federal law Vermont has control over the training of its own national guard. That means our state government has the power to put a stop to the F-35 training in our city.
So can our local government: That is because Vermont law delegates to the cities, towns, and villages the power “to regulate the operation and use of vehicles of every kind” to promote “the public health, safety, welfare, and convenience” of the people. Including by adopting and enforcing ordinances.
Our South Burlington City Council can invite and question commanders, consider actions, and adopt and enforce reasonable ordinances consistent with the military’s own regulations and with existing federal and state laws to protect the people of our city.
Our system of government divides powers to prevent abuse of power. Our system was designed to give each level of government authority to check and balance the others to protect the people.
Federal and state governments each has both the authority and the legal obligation to put a stop to the F-35 training at the airport in such a densely populated part of our city. Power is also in the hands of our city council. Not just ours: Burlington, Winooski, Williston, Essex, Colchester, Richmond, and other affected cities and towns have these powers, too. When federal and state governments fail to act, it is up to local governments to use their authority. That is how our federal system was designed to work.
We are not ruled by the military. Just the reverse. Our federal and state constitutions require civilian control of the military. Vermont cities, towns and villages, including South Burlington, have both the power and the obligation to protect our children, our elderly, and everyone between. Maybe it takes a bit of courage. We have it. Let’s use it.
The undisputed facts
Under an FAA program, following routine deployment of the extreme-noise F-16 afterburner in 2008, the airport received more than $50 million in FAA grants to purchase and demolish 200 affordable homes on 44 acres of land in the Chamberlin neighborhood. That land remains vacant of housing.
The Air Force itself says nearly 3000 more affordable homes in South Burlington and neighboring cities and towns are “unsuitable for residential use” because the F-35 is so loud that repeated exposure can cause hearing loss. The Air Force further says that children exposed to such aircraft noise suffer impaired “reading, attention, problem solving, and memory.”
1,300 children live in those 3000 homes.
Our children should all be free to go out to play, to walk to school, and to enjoy the outdoors without risking their hearing and their cognitive development.
Blasting the ears and brains of children with the 115-decibel F-35 hundreds of times a month is not good for them. It is unspeakable child abuse.
Our homes, classrooms and workplaces should all be free of extreme-decibel interruption multiple times a day at the hands of our own government.
Pilots can equally be trained from a runway remote from any populated area.
A critical lack of affordable housing is causing available jobs to be unfilled. This lack of housing is not good for business, workers, or the economy.
F-35 training at BTV is a jobs killer and an environment destroyer. By denying affordable housing on the 44 acres in the Chamberlin neighborhood, the F-35 blocks our economy and it forces development of remaining open land far from the city center. Restoring housing on the 44 acres facing the airport is essential to sustain our economy—unless we are willing to sacrifice our remaining open land and natural resources (along with our children) to keep the F-35 in our city, which we are not.
Once the F-35 departs FAA “grant assurances” thankfully require the airport to sell the 44 acres of airport-owned vacant land for housing. That opens the door to housing hundreds more families in the Chamberlin neighborhood, a part of our city that has walking access to jobs, stores, and public transportation.
Our city council can take action to ensure that the housing built on this publicly owned land is affordable housing. We could even consider putting a higher density of housing across from the parking garage.
The rule of law requires the F-35 to go away
The military’s own regulations prohibit intermingling military forces and populated areas. One of the military’s most fundamental principles is called “Distinction.”
This separation of military forces from populated areas is required:
- To protect civilians from dangerous military operations, including training operations with 115-decibel F-35 jets.
- To remove any military necessity or pretext for Russia or China to target our populated area with their nuclear missiles because of the presence of nuclear capable F-35s.
- To prevent civilians from being used as human shields for the F-35, which is a war crime.
Another of the military’s most fundamental regulations, called “Humanity,” prohibits using a weapon in a manner for which it was not designed that causes “unnecessary suffering.” The F-35 was designed for supersonic flight and high-G maneuvers. Getting in fast, dropping a B61-12 nuclear bomb payload, and getting out fast. The F-35 was not designed for city life.
If the F-35 had been designed for hundreds of training flights each month in a city it would not be so wildly incompatible with stroller-time, nap time, and playground time as to cause suffering and crying for children each time it takes off or lands in a city. It would not be causing panic attacks. It would not cause hearing loss and it would not impair learning, as described by the US Air Force itself.
Enforcing “distinction” and ending “unnecessary suffering” require the immediate relocation of the 115-decibel F-35 away from the Chamberlin neighborhood and away from any populated area.
We have the authority to act: The US constitution and federal law empower the states to conduct the training of their national guard units. They also require the states to conduct that training “according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” That discipline protects civilians from military operations, including training. Vermont law empowers cities, towns, and villages to protect the health, safety, welfare, and convenience” of the people, including by “regulating vehicles of every kind.”
That means our South Burlington City Council has the power to adopt ordinances consistent with federal and state law and the military’s own regulations that prohibit the F-35 training in one of the most densely populated parts of our city to protect health, safety, welfare, and convenience.
As they are illegal and as they damage public health and safety, the F-35 flights must stop now.
If elected I will table city ordinances to enforce the military’s own regulations that protect civilians. I will campaign for those ordinances to be adopted and enforced to abolish the F-35 training at the Burlington airport.
Our natural environment is the foundation of our health and economy. I pledge to work to preserve our water, air, biodiversity, and natural environment, to protect our remaining agricultural land, to restore impaired waterways, to protect wildlife habitat, and to preserve our scenic beauty.
If we build affordable housing in the city center, along our major public transit routes, and on the now-vacant 44 acres in the Chamberlin neighborhood facing the airport we can preserve our remaining open land.
I will work to protect our beautiful scenic views of the Green Mountains, the Adirondacks, and Lake Champlain as well as our trees and meadows.
I support small scale sustainable agriculture in South Burlington.
I support Vermont’s traditional planning that requires building in town centers and preserving open fields and forests around the towns.
I will take vigorous action against climate change, including by supporting conservation, home insulation, solar generation, and free public transportation that everyone will want to use.
I will work to reduce our city’s aviation greenhouse gas emissions, especially by removing the single biggest CO2 emitter in the city, the F-35, from the airport in South Burlington. Ordinances and taxes establishing a reasonable non-discriminatory passenger-mile per gallon standard for all aircraft operating from the airport in South Burlington are appropriate.
I will introduce an ordinance requiring all aircraft taking off from airports in South Burlington, including Vermont Air National Guard aircraft conducting training operations under state authority, to meet the same noise standard as the FAA requires for civilian aircraft.
Reduce/eliminate pesticide use and eliminate PFAS and other toxic chemicals to keep our lakes, rivers, and drinking water safe and our bodies healthy.
Wheeler Nature Park: I will continue to work with four South Burlington neighborhood organizations to stop the 32-house development in the bird-habitat grassland and shrubland portion of our city-owned Wheeler Nature Park. Our appeal of the Act 250 permit is pending in the Environmental Court. Build housing in the city center, not in a nature park!
Justice for all working people
Good paying jobs. A $15 minimum wage—starting now. Medicare for all. Paid family leave. Remove all impediments to union organizing now. A sustainable economy. Vermont-grown businesses. Employee-owned businesses. Cooperatives. Affordable housing.
The people who work in South Burlington should be able to afford to live in South Burlington.
The Air Force says the F-35 disproportionately impacts low income and ethnic minorities. Stop this class and race discrimination by relocating the F-35. Removing the F-35 will not only vastly improve life for the 3000 white and BIPOC working class families living in the extreme F-35 noise zone, it will also require the airport to restore housing on the 44 acres of now vacant land. And the city council can take action so that housing on that publicly-owned land is affordable for working people.
Justice for the Chamberlin Neighborhood
Improve health and safety and stop the military-aircraft-noise destruction of the Chamberlin neighborhood.
The city must use its state and federally delegated authority to protect public health, safety, welfare, and convenience to halt the 115-decibel F-35 training flights in this neighborhood.
Protect the children and adults who live in this treasured section of our city. I will introduce ordinances and build a campaign to put a stop to the dangerous 115-decibel F-35.
The health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the Chamberlin neighborhood must also take precedence over any airport expansion desires.
I participated in and applaud our past efforts that successfully brought the community together to speak up to stop airport expansion into the Chamberlin neighborhood. I will vigorously pursue continuing and increasing that participation so residents have maximum control over decisions affecting their neighborhood.
The City of South Burlington is actually taxing all city residents to fund the extreme F-35 noise. We paid for the demolition of 200 homes facing the airport three times over, and we continue to pay:
- FAA buyout money came from our federal taxes;
- Matching 10% buyout money came from our state taxes; and
- Our South Burlington city property taxes increased to compensate for the loss of property taxes that once were paid by families living in those 200 homes. We will continue to pay this extra tax every year for the military jet noise, no matter where we live in the city until the F-35 goes away and housing is rebuilt on the 44 acres now vacant of housing.
Require all new structures to meet the highest energy efficiency standard and to include solar orientation and solar panels.
Connect neighborhoods with bike and pedestrian paths.
Vastly improve public transit so everyone wants to ride: free, frequent, and on time, covered shelters.
The F-35 is a gas guzzler: It burns 22 gallons a minute in straight and level flight. Its training flights burn as much fuel as all the commercial airliner flights at BTV combined. We can slash BTV airport aviation emissions now by removing the F-35. To do so we can establish a non-discriminatory passenger mile per gallon minimum for all airport aviation, including the F-35.
Public funding of elections. Abolish the money primary. The right to compete equally as a candidate is just as important as the right to vote. Money should not rule.
Ranked choice voting so voters have more choices and more people can be candidates.
Expand our city’s conflict of interest and ethics policy: Mandate recusal on any matter in which a major electioneering donor to or for an elected official has a pecuniary interest. The US Supreme Court unanimously approved this in a 2011 case, and it can be effective to drive corrupting money out of elections.