There continues to be questions raised about a Johnstown Civic Group’s plan to bring in refugees and immigrants to the city, that seemingly changed once it became public.
Crispin Havener looks at the documents that continue to become public that show a more in-depth look at how that plan was worked on behind closed doors.
The documents obtained by former Republican Johnstown Mayor Candidate and longtime critic of city governance John Debartola, and pushed by Democrat State Rep. Frank Burns, show how the plan was discussed at Vision Together 2025’s meeting themselves and a closer look at the efforts to make it happen and rally support.
It expands on a memo we previously obtained showing how Vision would promote the project by documenting the immigrant history of Johnstown then working on a public relations campaign to win people over on what the civic non-profit group’s agenda packet called a Human Capitol Project dubbed Back To Our Roots
They also show how board members were planning to meet with the Johnstown Housing Authority, Greater Johnstown School District, as well as healthcare and mental health agencies all items critics of the plan have argued are already stretched too thin for the people already here.
The new documents also show that Vision hired someone to help attract migrants and refugees to Johnstown. Their man for the job told the Tribune Democrat this Weekend he has since left that position.
Also included a confidentiality agreement board members were asked to sign, meeting notes from the days after we first reported on the plan, showing how the board worked to combat the negative publicity of the plan and discussing talking points for board members.
Debartola and Burns both saying that Vision’s comments have them talking out of both sides of their mouth.
“They’re requiring their members to file a confidentiality agreement and sing. Why are they hiring secret employees and not telling anyone about them? They hired someone to help them find everything they need and they aren’t doing that for our own people.”
“In the media they cast this as a humanitarian aid issue, but behind closed doors they refer to them as human capitol. When you refer to them as human capitol it’s dehumanizing, like these people are nothing more than machinery, a cheap labor source, an alternative to paying competitive wages.”
Vision Together 2025 this Month received a $100,000 grant from a private donor at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies to help build capacity to help welcome Ukrainian refugees to the area.