Concerns of Boise homeowners and citizens living on the Bench, especially near the airport, are being dismissed by the money interests of the Boise Chamber of Commerce and politicians bent on attracting the F-35 fighter jet. Claims of jobs and economic prosperity seem to trump the health and welfare of those of us who pay taxes and live in Boise.
Gov. Butch Otter got the Legislature to appropriate $100,000 to use against the Boise citizens opposing the noisy F-35. He has been joined by the Chamber of Commerce and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter in efforts to attract the noisy jet.
Even the Statesman joined the cheerleading in an editorial that read, in part, “We understand the apprehension some have about Boise airspace being tapped for a supersonic fighter jet. No one should sugarcoat the reality of winning this mission and the full spectrum of impact, considering everything from the negatives of noise, to the huge positives for our economy. Studies show Gowen Field is responsible for 1,300 ‘direct’ jobs, a total of 2,800 ‘local jobs’ and a total economic impact of $155 million.”
Rather than portray us patriotic citizens as “apprehensive” and obstacles to jobs and economic prosperity, I would like to see state and local government work on behalf of the people, seeking a compromise that would preclude making hundreds of homes “not suitable for habitation,” according to their own projections of noise pollution.
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The F-35 and the selection of its base reeks of pork. If the warplane is needed for the defense of our nation, Mountain Home is the logical home. An alternative flying mission such as C-130 wildfire-fighting MAAFS would be a logical marriage with the National Interagency Fire Center just across the runway in Boise.
The First Amendment rights to petition our government for redress of grievances is endangered when officials fail to publicly notify citizens of the impending visit by military delegations tasked with selecting a base for the F-35. When only those in favor of a decision have access to those making the decision, a good case can be made about being denied a First Amendment constitutional right.
Henry Wiebe is a Boise native and local real estate broker, and his family has owned property on the Boise Bench since 1978.
The Statesman will be running pieces, both pro and con, on the F-35 before the decision is made later this year where to locate them.