“This proposal is projected to create only 64 jobs, while making 132 homes uninhabitable, gutting property values, disrupting the education and development of our children and leaving thousands of people needing to move or bear what the military calls unlivable noise conditions… We call on our elected leaders to have the moral courage to speak out and join us in protecting the well-being of our local economy, environment and, most importantly, our community.”
~From the Northside Planning Council position statement on F-35s at Truax
The following statement from NPC was sent to the City of Madison Alders and Mayor, and to the Dane County Board of Supervisors and County Executive.
The Northside Planning Council opposes the placement of F-35s at Truax Field
NPC’s mission is “to improve the quality of life and foster equity on the Northside through community organizing and economic development.” As a job creator, a business incubator, and a driver of economic development on the Northside, we know there are countless constructive ways to foster economic development that create prosperity and wellness for everyone. This proposal is antithetical to that mission.
We created the above graphic to help capture the benefits and harms of this proposal. It seems clear to us that it will create more harm than good, but we are genuinely curious about what unspoken benefits our City, County and business leaders see that we don’t in justifying their support for or silence on this proposal.
We’d like to deconstruct some myths around this issue.
Myth: Truax will close without F-35s and we will lose the 1500+ jobs that the base supports.
In a September 13 Wisconsin State Journal article, “What happens if Truax Field doesn’t get the F-35?” Mitchell Schmidt writes: “Ann Stefanek, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Air Force, said it’s speculative to assume Truax’s mission would be in jeopardy without the F-35s. ‘That’s a leap, that’s making two and three assumptions together,’ Stefanek said.”
The article continues, “The nearly 1,100-page environmental impact statement [published by the Air Force] on the addition of F-35 jets at Truax says there would be no significant socioeconomic impacts if the base proceeds with its existing fleet and ‘the minor economic benefit of additional based personnel and construction activity would not occur.’” Per Air Force officials, if and when the F-16s are phased out, the base’s mission would likely just be repurposed to other work.
Finally, base closure is a lengthy Congressional process; bases slated for closure can be on the list for more than 10 years without any change. Truax isn’t even on that list yet nor is it at risk of being placed on that list, according to official statements.
We are disappointed that the proponents of this proposal continue to use imminent base closure and catastrophic job loss as a scare tactic in this conversation, even after it has been thoroughly debunked.
Myth: Opposing the F-35s is unpatriotic.
We are disturbed at the implication that not supporting the F-35 beddown at Truax is not patriotic. Truax sits in a densely populated area where vulnerable families and children live, and the jets will have dubious economic benefits and very clear harms. At NPC, we strive every day to make this community and our country a safer, healthier, more vibrant place. NPC has spent years on commercial district revitalization in an effort to make our Northside economy stronger and help our businesses thrive. We advocate for vulnerable families, we help coordinate and enhance service delivery while also working to address the systemic root causes of the challenges they face. We care deeply about the welfare of our neighbors and about improving the quality of life in our community, about ensuring that everyone has a level playing field from which to pursue the American Dream. We believe that to love this country is to care for the people and the communities that make it up.
We are not in a place to question whether the military needs these planes. But why can’t they be located at a more rural base, where the impacts to human beings are minimal? Of the five sites on the short-list for the F-35s, Madison will face the most severe adverse effects.
Myth: The F-35s will contribute substantially to the regional economy.
We support job creation. In fact, the Northside Planning Council has created over 150 jobs in the last 5 years through FEED Kitchens and MarketReady, while improving the quality of life for our neighbors. This proposal is projected to create only 64 jobs, while making 132 homes uninhabitable, gutting property values, disrupting the education and development of our children and leaving thousands of people needing to move or bear what the military calls unlivable noise conditions.
Furthermore, it’s troubling that no one has done an economic impact assessment of this proposal. What will it do to area businesses – health and wellness providers, financial planners, restaurants – and their workers? What about future development on tracts of land that will be made uninhabitable (according to the Air Force EIS)? What about the long-term economic loss of children who aren’t able to concentrate enough in school to get a solid education, children who are already grappling with adverse experiences, disabilities, and trauma? What about the immediate loss of some of the last affordable homes in a City that is facing a critical housing shortage? What about the instability created for so many working class families who would be displaced and need to rely on local programs to help them find new housing? The economic harms will cost far more than the economic benefit that 64 jobs will bring.
There are countless routes to economic development that are not inherently destructive, that lift us all up together and not at the cost of the most vulnerable people in our community. That is the work NPC does every day. Economic development should not be a zero sum game, and we should be suspicious of those who tell us that it is.
There is often a misunderstanding about the nature of institutional racism. It is insidious and ubiquitous, but is often too subtle for those not impacted to see it. It happens in situations where large, powerful institutions sacrifice the housing, stability, health and opportunity of people of color and low-income residents for economic benefit. Let us be clear: the unquestioning embrace of this proposal – and the silence around it – is a case of institutional racism.
Now is the opportunity for our leaders to walk the walk, to make good on those campaign platforms of racial equity, affordable housing and climate change. Here’s a chance to make those high-minded ideals real.
Stand up for what’s right
NPC is aware that taking this stand is controversial. As a scrappy and often cash-strapped nonprofit, we know there are potential consequences for standing up in the face of institutional power. We risk our financial support from the business community. We risk our City and County funding contracts, and we risk having the door closed and access denied to us on future issues that are central to our efficacy. We know this, and still we speak out. Why? Because we cannot abdicate our mission, vision and values for the Northside.
We call on our elected leaders to have the moral courage to speak out and join us in protecting the well-being of our local economy, environment and, most importantly, our community.
Tuesday, Sept. 17
Madison Common Council will consider the draft resolution opposing F-35s at Truax
- Read the draft resolution
- Contact the Mayor and email@example.com to support the resolution
- Attend tonight’s meeting to share testimony:
6:30pm, City County Building, Room 201
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Comment on the Environmental Impact Statement – due Sept. 27
- Read the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
- How to make your response count
- Copy Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin on your comment
Additional information coming soon