A Message of Hope
A letter from Col. Rosanne Greco (USAF Ret.)
Dear Friends of Save Our Skies VT:
Many of you have worked so hard for so long to stop the basing of the F-35A in our community. I know many of you are discouraged and disillusioned, and have dropped out of the struggle. But, I am writing today to urge you to come back to help…just for a very short period of time, because we are close to the end of the struggle-one way or the other.
First a little background: I don’t think many of you realize how VERY successful we were. We actually changed the Air Force’s position on basing the F-35 here. Based on the overwhelming number of comments in opposition to the basing, all the opposition noise we made, and the threat of a lawsuit, the AF actually had decided to skip Burlington (on two occasions!). In mid-August 2013, the AF decided to delay making any basing choices for the Air Guard bases. They were going to select an active duty Air Force Base (Hill AFB), and then revisit the Guard base decision in a few years. But, a few weeks later, Leahy made a personal phone call to General Welsh (the four-star General in charge of the AF) telling the General that he would not support this.
Despite this, in mid-October 2013, the AF again decided against Burlington. They were going to select McEntire Air Guard Base in South Carolina! This was mostly because they feared being sued. The Air Force lawyers were very concerned that they could not legally support the rationale for basing the F-35A at Burlington. They were also concerned about what would be made public in legal proceedings. But certain folks convinced the AF leadership that we would not sue. Leahy had told the AF that he had heard from thousands of people who supported the basing, and from only a handful who opposed; and he convinced the AF they had nothing to fear from us.
Despite warnings and objections from the AF lawyers, the AF leadership caved to political demands. Imagine their shock when we did sue them! And, now they are very nervous about our lawsuit.
Our ONLY hope to stop the basing is to continue our lawsuit. And, we DO have hope. Recently, the Air Force backed down TWICE in lawsuits against them by the little city (about 5,000 people) of Valparaiso Florida. If they acquiesced to the folks in Florida, there is reason to believe they will also want to avert our lawsuit by dropping plans to base the F-35A here. We are far more vocal than the residents of Valparaiso. Plus, the AF can now legitimately use our lawsuit as a reason to back off of the basing, and rationalize their decision to Leahy.
BUT…and this is the real reason for this letter…the ONLY way this will happen…. and our only realistic hope of stopping the basing…. is by paying our attorney Jim Dumont’s legal fees. Jim has made great legal arguments, and he has been very generous to us in his fees; but he needs to be paid, or he will have to stop working on our behalf. If that happens, then we have truly lost…and the F-35 will come here and destroy our communities.
You are the people who banded together and through your grassroots efforts convinced the AF to try to avoid Burlington as an F35 basing site. Now, we need to finish the job to eliminate it entirely. And to do that, we must raise money for legal costs…or else all that we have worked for, and sweat and cried over will have been for nothing.
In the larger context of lawsuits, the costs for ours are not very much-due in large part to Jim’s generosity toward us. Nonetheless, it would be beyond sadness to think we lost for lack of a few thousand dollars.
Personally, I have been working this issue for a few years-not because the F-35 basing affects me personally, but because as an elected official, I felt I had an obligation to support the people I represented. I also see this as another example of social injustice in our society.
There is another powerful lesson from history: social justice changes happened mainly because people did not give up the fight!
I hate to give up the fight against something as ethically corrupt as this is…. but, if we don’t raise enough money to pay Jim, it is over. Please help today!
Together we can stop this monster from coming to our neighborhoods. But, it will take money to do it. If we all give according to our ability, it would make a huge difference. Please consider donating what you can: $35 or $70, or $135, $350, $3,500, or more. And please get the word out to others you know who oppose this gross injustice. Our fundraising goal for the end of 2014 is $20,000 and with your help we will continue our fight to protect what we love – our homes and community, our health, and the goodness of Vermont. It’s the right thing to do!
We were incredibly successful in the past. Are you able to help again? Please help us – in these last critical efforts to stop the F-35s!
Colonel Rosanne Greco, USAF (Ret.)
PS In case you may have forgotten, your donations are tax-deductible. Make checks payable to “Save Our Skies VT/P&JC” and mail it to:
PO Box 191, Winooski, VT 05404 OR donate online at www.SaveOurSkiesVT.org/donate
Protect what you love – Save Vermont – Stop the F35s!