Burns applauds Tedesco resignation from Vision 2025

Says group’s CEO misled public, more transparency needed

EBENSBURG, Sept. 20 – Calling it a victory for truth and a lesson in not taking the public for granted, state Rep. Frank Burns today applauded Mike Tedesco’s resignation as CEO of Vision Together 2025, saying it offers the nonprofit corporation the opportunity for a fresh philosophical start.

Burns, D-Cambria, said Tedesco had zero credibility left once it was revealed and confirmed – through emails Burns obtained from the state Department of Human Services – that the organization’s Afghan refugee recruitment plan was far more advanced than Tedesco was telling the media.
"Tedesco’s public pronouncements did not mesh with what he was saying in private — or with the reality of how far advanced Vision's refugee recruitment effort actually was,” Burns said. “This duplicity undercut not only his credibility with the public; it tarnished Vision’s credibility as well.

“The best course of action for Vision now is to begin with a clean slate — and with a commitment to truly treat the public as an equal partner, instead of as an obstacle to be kept ignorant, manipulated and lied to."

Burns began asking questions about Vision 2025’s plan to resettle Afghan refugees in Cambria County after news of the plan leaked out late last year. Instead of generating answers, his calls for openness and transparency were met with hostility and accusations in the press, often from Tedesco.

Burns’ subsequent Right-to-Know request with the state Department of Human Services yielded emails from Tedesco, who wrote in early November that “we may be only a few weeks away from accepting our first families into Johnstown” – a direct contradiction of the nonprofit corporation’s public statements that their plan was only in the preliminary stage.

“If I hadn’t filed that request, it’s highly likely that Vision’s elaborate ‘Human Capital Plan’ to bring in at least 100 Afghan families would have been quietly implemented, with the public kept in the dark,” Burns said. “I only wanted answers, not a fight – but I’m not one to back down or be intimidated when it comes to fighting for the people I represent.”

Burns said he hopes Vision 2025 has learned a valuable lesson regarding the importance of full transparency and upfront honesty when it comes to charting something as important as Cambria County’s future.

“The big take-away from this debacle is that no organization should be playing ‘hide-and-seek’ with the public when it comes to the scope, impact and cost of the projects it is developing and promoting,” Burns said. “They need to be upfront and open about their plans and the potential impacts on our community, housing and schools -- that’s how you build true consensus and public support.”