Guest Opinions

Best time to voice opposition will be during Air Force visit in coming weeks

Monty Mericle
Monty Mericle

The city of Boise and supporters of the effort to station F-35 aircraft at the Boise Airport have targeted May and June as peak months to schedule their pro-F-35 public relations and marketing activities. Armed with $100,000 in taxpayer money, they are spreading their inflated economic and jobs-benefit justification while ignoring the negative impacts on citizens.

With the Air Force F-35 Scoring and Validation Team scheduled to visit Boise during the next two months, supporters are attempting to bolster the perception of Boise’s “unprecedented community support” by scheduling F-35 events that target their base of support from businesses and developers who hope to make money from the F-35s, while suppressing the voice of opponents, mainly the residents who will bear the burden imposed by the noise and pollution.

Pro-F-35 events include panel presentations to Realtors, businessmen, developers and groups who expect to profit from the F-35 mission. Each of these events is restricted or closed to the public and will feature only pro-F-35 panelists, with no panelists representing any opposing views.

At the same time, Boise and the Idaho Air National Guard have declined to meet with the residents of the Vista Neighborhood Association for a panel discussion of both the pros and cons of the F-35 basing proposal. While both the city and IANG originally accepted the invitation, they withdrew when informed that the panel would include experts in economics, children’s learning, health and the environment.

One of the key factors evaluated by the Air Force team is to gauge the strength and commitment of the support or opposition to F-35s in the community, which is why Boise is scheduling multiple positive events now. Yet elected officials are reassuring F-35 opponents that the proper time to voice their concerns is after the Air Force teams have completed their visit and when an Environmental Impact Study is performed for the locations already selected. Telling opponents that they should wait until the EIS is an attempt to silence opposition during the critical selection visit.

Advice from opponents in the Burlington, Vt., F-35 basing battle is to target the visit by the Air Force Scoring and Validation Team; don’t wait until the EIS comment period. Their efforts to oppose the F-35 were ineffective in large part because they waited until the EIS to make comments, which was too late.

If Treasure Valley residents ignore this issue, we will wind up like residents surrounding Luke AFB in Phoenix, who are now actually experiencing F-35 activity. As quoted in a May 3 Statesman letter to the editor, “The F-35 decibels of 105 to 112 cause pain, hearing loss and stress. As F-35s scream overhead, residents who are outside visiting, gardening or enjoying their patios hold their ears to block the pain and run for their homes. Long-term residents who have long supported the ‘sound of freedom’ of the F-16s are joining the outcry.”

Monty Mericle was born in the Treasure Valley and has lived here all his life. A licensed electrical engineer, he was the sponsor of the “SaveOurValleyNow” website from 2009 until 2012, providing facts about the effects of bringing F-35s to the Boise Valley.