Written by Jim Simpson
James Simpson, DC Independent Examiner
Last February I wrote about how one brave county was taking the leadin fighting Agenda 21– the United Nations “Agenda for the 21st Century.” The government of Carroll County, Maryland, was the first governmental organization to revoke membership in ICLEI, the U.N. sponsored organization created to insinuate Agenda 21 “Sustainable Development” concepts (also known as “Smart Growth,” “Walkable Communities” and a host of other positive-sounding misnomers) into local government planning and zoning ordinances.
ICLEI is the acronym for the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives – Local Governments for Sustainability.
The County also abolished their “Office of Sustainability” and the commissioners undertook the arduous task of expunging the many references to “Sustainable Development” that were embedded, like metastasized cancer cells, throughout the County master plan.
This series of actions enraged local leftists, who used the left-sympathizing local newspaper as a platform to launch endless, dishonest, ad-hominem attacks so venomous that one letter to the editor complained “I’ve lived in Carroll County all my life and can’t recall when I have ever seen such nastiness directed toward and elected official!” Paraphrasing the McCarthy hearings he asked, “Have you no shame, you group of haters?” But the hypocritical Left is fine with such tactics, so the attacks continue unabated. If this is what they are willing to do when their power remains relatively contained within the rule of law, what would they do with unchecked power? I think we already know.
As has been described elsewhere, ICLEI has partnership relationships with about 600 local governments nationwide.
Or rather, had relationships.
As a direct result of Carroll County’s actions, eighteen other countiesthroughout the United States have been inspired to revoke their membership in ICLEI. As of October, this now includes two counties in Washington and – are you ready – onein Massachusetts. Counting cities, 54 governmental entities have dropped out, about 10 percent of the totalU.S.membership. This is a significant development, and may amount to a quiet revolution.
More to be done
However, this is just the beginning. Agenda 21 has found its way into planning prerogatives at all levels of government and much more needs to be done to rid ourselves of this malevolent scheme. Maryland is an object lesson.
Maryland is one of the bluest states, and has been promoting the Left’s “green” agenda with a vengeance for years. Maryland’s hard-left, open bordersGovernor Martin O’Malley signed an executive order in December implementing PlanMaryland, a statewide planning document that mandates “smart” growth planning throughout the state. This at least partially negates the County’s efforts against Agenda 21.
While this document may not directly force smart growth, the state will arm-twist counties into it using regulatory overreach and the power of the purse. As Governor O’Malley smugly toldthe counties at a meeting this summer, “This is not going to prevent the counties from making stupid land-use decisions. They’re still free to do that, but we’re not going to subsidize it.” Of course, since the people of Maryland are the source of state revenues, it is particularly galling and stupid for the Governor to assert the money is his to “subsidize” anything.
But the truth never stopped this Governor. He has even gone so far as to redefine economic success with bizarre new statistical measureshe calls “socially and academically acceptable alternatives…” One is the Happy Planet Index, which rates Mexico, Cuba and even Haiti as “happier” than the United States – although in fairness it must be admitted that they do not specify whether the Haitians’ “happiness” is pre or post-earthquake. The US rates down somewhere along with the Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia.
This kind of inverted logic is embedded in PlanMaryland, a fact the Carroll County Commissioners demonstrated this past October in a five-hour conference:PlanMaryland: at the Crossroads. This conference is worth watching in its entirety for the wealth of information it contains and the approach used in illustrating PlanMaryland’s questionable legality, flawed premises, logic, and erroneous conclusions. The county website also provides the PowerPoints that accompanied each speaker’s presentation.
Carroll County was joined by 18 other counties in expressing serious concerns with PlanMaryland. There are a total of 23 counties plus Baltimore City in Maryland, so the vast majority expressed opposition. Carroll County proposed a resolution, reasonably requesting a one-year delay to further flesh out the Plan and make necessary changes. The resolution was signed by ten counties and another eight counties, as well as the Democrat-controlled Maryland Association of Counties, sent lettersarguing for delay. Given the fact that this Plan was to be implemented by executive order, without legislative review, even the Maryland Senate got involved, holding a hearing on the Plan.
With typical arrogant disregard, the Governor signed the executive order on December 19th. Merry Christmas! Still, by raising extensive serious, legitimate concerns with the Plan, the Carroll County Commissioners were able to delay implementation and force the governor to explicitly recognize County supremacy in planning priorities. We will see moving forward if the governor honors that written pledge.
The commissioners have charted a path away from Agenda 21, and while the scope for action is limited within a state such as Maryland, their activities thus far are an object lesson for others that can be effectively utilized nationwide by those interested in the future of our America. There is little time to waste