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F-35 opponents flying high on taxpayer’s dime

Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 30, 2019

By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON — Madison taxpayers will pay more than $1,300 to cover the cost of Alder Rebecca Kemble’s impromptu trip to hear the F-35 fighter jets in Vermont, according to records obtained by Empower Wisconsin. 

How much the “fact-finding” mission may cost state taxpayers is yet to be determined. 

Kemple, state Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) and left-wing Madison activist Brandi Grayson led a group last week to the Vermont Air National Guard base in Burlington. The purpose was to get an up-close look — and listen — to the F-35s flying in and out of the base, Kemble said. 

Madison’s Truax Field is one of two sites in the running to base similar aircraft for the United States Air Force. 

Records show Kemble charged $1,313.77 on the city’s credit card, with expenses including airfare, four nights hotel accommodations, meals, and ground transportation. 

It won’t break the bank, but was the trip necessary? Kemble said, absolutely. 

“We all were really trying to understand what are the processes, what are the impacts on the communities,” the alder told Empower Wisconsin Tuesday. 

The group spent four days talking to community leaders and members around Burlington, Kemble said. But they missed an important stop on their itinerary. Vermont Air National Guard officials could not accommodate the Madison contingent because they had requested a tour of the base on short notice. 

Capt. Mike Arbovitch told WKOW 27 News that such tours usually take weeks to plan. Taylor first asked to visit the base two days before arrival. Taylor seems to assume her position in the Wisconsin state Legislature entitled her and her group to get around Air Force protocol, based on her email sent to Air Force officials. 

Taylor’s office did not provide cost information on the trip upon Empower Wisconsin’s request, but Kemble said Taylor “raised money” for the other members of the group to attend. 

The new jets would create dozens of new jobs and expand Wisconsin’s role in military defense. 

Opponents insist the aircraft noise will drive many from Madison’s north side out their homes. Taylor, known for her political grandstanding, told 27 News that residents who live near the Burlington base describe the jet noise as “an all-body experience.” 

But reports show F-35 jets paid at least three unscheduled calls on Madison this past summer, with little complaint from neighbors. 

“This is being over-exaggerated as far as the noise levels,” state Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) told the Associated Press. “This is going to be no different than what the F-16 does.” Truax is already home to F-16 jets.

The AP piece notes the  Netherlands Ministry of Defense conducted a 2016 study comparing the noise from F-35s to F-16s at air bases in Volkel and Leeuwarden. The study found that local residents noted only small differences between the two.

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3 thoughts on “F-35 opponents flying high on taxpayer’s dime

  • An amateur hit job,m it seems. $1,300 for reps to go and do first hand research into the F-35 issue? A proposal that could mean, according to military studies, up to 1,000 Madison households being uninhabitable. Why not compare that to Scott Walker’s excessive use of air travel costing several times that or the WI GOP’s lavish use of private attorneys to defend gerrymandering that would make a Daley Machine Democrat blush? $1,300 to look into an issue that may financially and physically affect thousands of Madisonians? Kudos to the Reps and shame on you. –Tom Kastle

  • We have too much corruption. There are too many lobbyists in our government. A good example of a conflict of interest is the Secretary of Defense who is a former lobbyist for Raytheon. Raytheon makes multiple components of the F-35. Now is the time to talk about how much military we have, how much we spend on war and where we want to spend our money. Most Americans want more money spent on human needs and less on war profiteering.
    [https://www.citizen.org/news/voters-want-leaders-to-put-people-over-the-pentagon-poll-shows/ ]
    Defending our homes and our constitution is important, but we need to spend more money expanding clean energy, upgrading our infrastructure, giving teachers the tools they need, art and music funding, heating and other assistance for the elderly, effectively processing refugees/asylum seekers, helping people deal with substance abuse/trauma/mental health and stopping pollution and protecting our natural world.

    We would need less military if we got rid of the interventionists, the neoconservatives, the neoliberals and abolished the CIA. These people create enemies for Americans in the name of profits.

  • $1,300 to investigate first hand the effects of F-35s on our city? Sure! According to the study by the military up to 1,000 houses might become uninhabitable if F-35s are brought to Madison. Why not compare that to the cost to tax payers for Walker’s flights around the State or the tab for the WI GOP to pay private lawyers to defend gerrymandering that would make a Daley Machine Democrat blush? Sorry. This is an amateur hit piece on conscientious public representatives doing their jobs.

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