North Country News
12:30 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

City Council Postpones Discussion on F-35

Burlington City Hall
Burlington City Hall
Credit WAMC/Pat Bradley

The latest controversy over the potential basing of F-35 fighter jets at the Burlington International Airport isn’t over the plane. It’s about why the Burlington City Council has cancelled a review of the matter.

The city of Burlington is the landlord of the Burlington International Airport, which is actually located in the municipality of South Burlington. South Burlington has passed a resolution supporting basing the F-35 fighter jets at the National Guard base at the airport, while neighboring Winooski has gone on record opposing the idea.
The Burlington City Council had scheduled a public forum and Council deliberation of two resolutions regarding the F-35 next Monday. But they were pulled from the agenda Thursday after city attorney Eileen Blackwood announced the city does not have the routine public officials liability insurance for the airport that it normally has for all other city business. City Council President Joan Shannon.

Attorney Blackwood, who did not return calls in time for this broadcast, wrote: “...not having that insurance in place exposes Burlington taxpayers to financial risk...(and)....it would be imprudent for the City to proceed with action concerning these issues until that insurance coverage has been obtained.”  Shannon decided the best course of action was to postpone those agenda items.

The postponement is rankling opponents of basing the fighter jet in Burlington. Progressive Ward 3 Councillor Vince Brennan explains that the two resolutions would prohibit basing the F-35 at the airport.

Outspoken opponent Jimmy Leas of the Stop the F-35 Coalition says it would be better if the City Council votes before the Air Force makes a final decision.

Green Ribbons for the F-35s is a group supporting basing the planes at the airport. Creator Nicole Citro says the city must complete its due diligence regarding its insurance, and adds that any resolution action is moot.

Progressive Councilor Vince Brennan planned to meet with Council President Joan Shannon Friday to express his discontent over the decision to postpone action on the F-35s.

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