Alder Rebecca Kemble
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Kemble’s Blog
Vote on the F-35 Resolution
Last night the Madison Common Council deadlocked 10-10 on the vote to approve an Alternate F-35 resolution that removed this clause from the original:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that based on the significant, negative impacts highlighted in the Draft EIS that will disproportionately impact children and residents with low-incomes and communities of color, and given that there is no guarantee that sound mitigation or abatement will take place and that the City of Madison would have no official role in any potential mitigation program, the Madison Common Council does not support the selection of Truax Field as a preferred location for the 5th Operation Beddown; and
The effect of the Alternate would be that the Council would take no position on the question of supporting or opposing the F-35 beddown at Truax, of which action the Air Force's Draft Environmental Impact Statement states, "impacts to environmental justice associated with the Proposed Action would be considered significant." After hours of impassioned testimony by dozens of people who live in and around the area deemed "unsuitable for residential use" by the Draft EIS, an overwheming majority of which implored us to take a firm stand and reject the F-35 proposal, the Mayor broke the tie by voting in favor of the Alternate.
The final resolution that was passed 16-3-1 abstention was slightly amended, but takes no position on the question. This is the language that passed:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Madison Common Council requests that the Air National Guard to reconsider the selection of Truax Field as a preferred location until and unless the findings of the EIS are shown to misrepresent the significant environmental impacts to those living, working, and visiting the north and east sides of Madison; and,
Alder Abbas and I chose to vote against the final version because we felt that what residents had asked us to do was not accomplished by this language.
Several other elected officials and I wrote this op-ed for the Cap Times explaining why we feel its so important to oppose the F-35s in Madison.
I'd like to share with you the perpared remarks I drafted for my speech supporting the original resolution. You can watch the video of our meeting here. The debate comes in the final 2 hours or so. I added comments in my spoken testimony related to the debate, and I may not have stayed completely on script, but you will get the gist of my testimony by reading below.
A strong community opposition is required to avoid the significant harm this proposal would inflict upon our community. Comments on the draft EIS can be submitted up to Sept. 27 online, via email, or by mail to: Mr. Ramon Ortiz, NGB/A4AM, 3501Fetchet Avenue, Joint Base Andrews MD 20762-5157.
Our colleagues on the County Board see these questions on the top of each meeting agenda:
- Who benefits?
- Who is burdened?
- Who does not have a voice at the table?
I'd like us all to get a mental picture of those categories regarding this question and then ask yourselves, who have you listened and spoke to in forming your opinion on this topic?
The most basic principle of equity is centering the needs and concerns of people most impacted by a particular decision as well as those who bear the weight of historical inequities.
I have spent weeks poring over the EIS, speaking with Air National Guard staff and residents in and around the "unsuitable for residential use" zone, and attending community meetings. At this point the answer is very clear to me: The people who will shoulder the burden of the harmful consequences of the deployment of F-35s are overwhelmingly telling us, their elected representatives, that they simply can't take any more noise pollution than they are already experiencing.
They feel that those who would benefit from this decision are not listening to them and that the F-35s will be shoved down their throats no matter what. They are begging the Air Force and their elected officials to not sacrifice their health, wellbeing, neighborhoods and lifetime investments so that the ANG can test a new, unproven military jet.
Their US and State Senators are lobbying hard to bring the F-35s to Madison, and other political leaders who refuse to take a position on the matter leave themselves open to being used in the propaganda of professional spin doctors as tacitly supporting because they don't oppose.
This is exactly what one BACC board member did when he testified at the Expo Center last week as well as in written comments to us recently. In promoting the F-35s Mike Moore, Badger Air Community Council board member said and wrote: "To my knowledge our local elected officials, the Mayor's office, Dane County Executive's Office, nor the Governor's office are standing in opposition to this basing."
This from an organization whose Executive Director, Chris Arenz, wrote to us, "I understand the concern that has been generated in the community surrounding the airport. I believe the concern is unnecessary."
Those who say the decision on siting the F-35s at Truax has already been made only add to the psychic burden of those living in the "unsuitable for residential use" zone, and pleas to the Air Force for more information and future mitigation strategies leave residents feeling even more abandoned, disregarded, and worthless, as Deborah Lofgren so eloquently stated.
They need us to put our votes where our mouths are, commit to our principles, stand up for them and say NO F-35s in Madison. The cost is too great.
It is possible to successfully resist Air Force initiatives that would be harmful to communities. The people of Southwest Wisconsin did it in the 1990s when they fought against an initiative for low-level flights over the driftless region. They won because their local and congressional leaders took a firm position against the initiative and stood with the residents who would be negatively impacted.
So once again, before you vote I'd like to ask all of you to reflect on these questions:
Who is burdened?
Who does not have a voice at the table?
Who have you listened and spoke to in forming your opinion on this topic?
Whose jobs and families are we prioritizing?
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