Burns: Fresh documents show Vision 2025’s ‘Human Capital’ refugee plan, long tentacles into other projects

EBENSBURG, March 16 – After analyzing a trove of new documents that include an elaborate “Human Capital Plan” crafted and put in motion by Vision Together 2025, state Rep. Frank Burns feels his call for public hearings on the nonprofit corporation’s refugee recruitment plan was warranted.

Burns, D-Cambria, said the information obtained and forwarded to him and other state elected officials by citizen-journalist John DeBartola includes Vision Together 2025 meeting agendas and minutes, providing an insider’s view of the extent of the group’s plans and operations.

Key among those, Burns said, is the highly evolved Human Capital Project, where as far back as November 2021, Vision President Mike Tedesco briefed his board on a communications plan he had developed, writing, “The timeframe of the campaign would depend on when the refugees would arrive.”

Concurrently, Burns said, the Human Capital Plan included:

  • The Vision 2025 Executive Committee meeting with the Johnstown Housing Authority on Nov. 15 “to learn more about JHA’s housing units, HUD guidelines, Section 8 housing and voucher system.
  • Ethan Imhoff, then working as executive director of the Cambria County Planning Commission, bringing the Vision board “up to date on recent conversations and connections made to consider an initiative to encourage immigrants to relocate to Johnstown” – with a notation that, “The Vision Executive Committee is in agreement that this would be good for the city.”
  • The scheduling of addition meetings “to discuss in more detail capacity and potential impact this may have on the Greater Johnstown School District, the healthcare and mental health systems and other health and human service agencies, all of which are currently stretched very thin.”

Burns said these revelations contradict a lot of the things Vision has previously said regarding its refugee initiative – starting with statements that refugees weren’t the recruitment target and that they would be self-sufficient, taking unfilled jobs upon arriving.

“They told us these people are going to come here, buy homes and pay taxes – so why is Vision talking to the Johnstown Housing Authority about Section 8 and housing vouchers?” Burns said.

“The big picture that’s coming into focus shows that Vision was preparing to foist this onto an unsuspecting public. That’s certain to backfire in Cambria County.”

Burns said the documents include Tedesco unveiling to his board “a public relations campaign designed to slowly introduce the public to Vision Together 2025’s Human Capital Project”  - with a Phase 1 that calls for production of videos, use of social media, and writing feature articles to appear in the Tribune-Democrat; and a Phase 2 that includes a press release that “needs to be transparent – explaining the project, number of families, government involvement, funding, etc.”

Burns said he finds the Phase 1 priorities interesting, since the articles of incorporation for Vision Together 2025, Inc. – detailed in a separate document being distributed – say, “The Corporation shall not engage, not shall any of its funds, property, or income be used in carrying on propaganda …”

“No propaganda? They have an organized effort at propaganda,” Burns said. “Their problem is that as more information becomes available, everyone is seeing how they didn’t just put the cart before the horse – the put the horse at the finish line a mile away from the cart.”

Burns said the documents released by DeBartola show Vision’s behind-the-scenes work and planning in other areas, including disbursement of American Rescue Plan Act funds, contacting and meeting with U.S. representatives, working with a consultant on a 10-year real estate project in downtown Johnstown, and federal Build Back Better funding.

“Clearly, the public deserves more detail on all of those initiatives, too,” Burns said. “If this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s been going on behind the scenes, then Vision’s credibility is on course to sink faster than the Titanic.”