Representative Frank Burns says he has discovered emails that contradict the public message that Vision Together 2025 had about resettling Afghan Refugees in Johnstown. Burns said he was shocked by what he found using a Right To Know request dealing with the relocation or recruitment of refugees. Included in the documents was correspondence between Vision 2025 CEO and President Mike Tedesco and Frank Butcher, who is the Program Advisor of the Refugee Unit within the State Department of Human Services. In one email dated November 5th, 2021, Tedesco told Butcher: “We may be only a few weeks away from accepting our first families to Johnstown.”
Burns said in a statement: “As a State Representative who is accountable to the people, I set out to independently gauge the depth and process of Vision’s plan. I suspected Vision was bypassing Elected Officials and the Public by going directly to the Department of Human Services, and that certainly appears to be the case.” Burns also said in February Tedesco introduced Laquan Marshall of Johnstown Capital Partners to Butcher as a local Property Owner with several housing units for placing newcomers, and questioned whether other property owners were introduced as potential landlords as well.
Tedesco said he has spoken with other landlords. He also said: “Where Refugees choose to live is not a Legislative decision, and therefore Frank has no authority as to where they choose to live.” He added that he has invited Burns to discuss the future of Johnstown with Vision 2025, but he has declined.