Written by Tom DeWeese
Immediate Action Needed To Drive Home A Victory!
Those who are working to enforce Agenda21 operate from a three-pronged attack; Social Justice, which dictates that â€•communityâ€– needs take precedent over â€•individualâ€– wants; Public/Private Partnerships, a dangerous melding of private corporations with government resulting in government-sanctioned monopolies; and Environmental control, which translates into the proposition that all actions by man lead to environmental Armageddon and therefore must be tightly regulated by a central force of power.
One major target in the crosshairs of this attack is private property ownership and control by individuals. Across the nation reports are pouring in of government land grabs that lock away private land in the name of protecting a sucker fish, or a spotted owl, or a historic site. The results are destroyed industries such as timber, ranching or mining. Valuable and desperately needed natural resources are put out of reach for use.
Much closer to the average homeowner, property rights are being violated as restrictions are put on a homeowner’s ability to add on to the house or make improvements. In some extreme cases, access roads to houses are disallowed; even normal repairs are interpreted as new building and are banned. There are new building restrictions that dictate the kinds of materials that may be used for building and repairs. Now private homes are being invaded by electric companies, replacing, without permission, electric meters to comply with new regulations. Homeowners are losing their ability to even control their own thermostat.
In some communities, to meet arbitrary energy restrictions, local government is forcing homeowners to install new energy efficient appliances and windows,and even new roofs, on occasion. There are reports of inspectors actually entering homes and systematically removing incandescent light bulbs and replacing them with the new green models, without the knowledge and against the will of the property owner. Repairmen are instructed to lower temperatures on water heaters as they repair them, and so forth.
In short, private property rights, meaning the control of property by the owner is fast disappearing. While Agenda 21/Sustainable Development-inspired legislation gives lip-service to private property ownership, the language usually says something like, â€•balance the rights of individuals and property owners with the needs of the community.â€– That line is, in fact, a direct quote from the â€•Growth Policyâ€– for Great Falls, Montana. Such wording is nearly universal in comprehensive development plans across the nation.
That mindset is growing in local government regulations as Agenda 21 practices are enforced. The promoters understand that their policies are literally ripping apart private ownership of property, but they lack the intestinal fortitude to be honest about their actions. So they acknowledge â€•property rights,â€– and hope we don’t question how private control of ones own property is â€•balancedâ€– with the â€•needsâ€– of the â€•community. How is that done? Who stands for the rights of the individual property owner or private business as government makes the rules to decide the â€•needsâ€– of the community?
To defend such a policy, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) and planning professionals such as the American Planning Association (APA) which contract with local governments to create such rules, come armed with an arsenal of experts ready to defend the anti-property rights policies whenever challenged. So, if a property owner appears before the County Commissioners to complain that a certain regulation has damaged his property rights, or perhaps has damaged his ability to conduct business, for example, the NGOs immediately jump into action to defend the policy. They bring in a battery of â€•expertsâ€– with officials titles to write official sounding reports that serve to overwhelm the elected officials and cut off any honest debate. A local citizen simply has no chance to fight back against this heavily-funded, powerfully-connected onslaught.
Obviously, if Agenda 21 and its mindset of government control is to be reigned in, clearly, something needs to be done to provide a strong voice for protection and defense of the property owners. Such a plan of action has now been developed by County Commissioner Cornel Rasor of Bonner County, Idaho. He calls it a Property Rights Council.
Rasor, Chairman of his County Commission, has been an opponent of Agenda 21 and a proponent of property rights for many years. After being elected to the County Commission several years ago he recognized the threat centralized control of development posed to private property and set out to develop a strategy to protect constituents’ property rights and their right to control their own property. As a result, the concept he created is a â€•Property Rights Councilâ€– (PRC) as an official arm of the county government. It now exists in Bonner County, complete with a full time director on the County payroll.
Key to the success of a Property Rights Council is the proper definition of property rights. Scott Bauer, county attorney for Bonner County, Idaho and one of the driving forces to get it established, explained their approach in defining property rights this way: â€•Practically speaking for each PRC case -file we translate the expression p”roperty right”with the expression c”ontrol right.” We take a property right to be a right to control some asset, resource, or physical thing. A PRC case is analyzed in terms of whether the proposal advances public control or private control (code for public/socialized property or private property).
Property controlled by a ‘public entity’ is property controlled by an entity that utilizes a measure of socially sanctioned coercion to control the private assets in its possession and to take those assets from private individuals or groups without their full/complete consent. Applying this to land-use controls, new proposed zoning (anti- development or anti-use controls) socialize preexisting privately controlled real property and place it coercively into public control. Using this framework the PRC looks for the mix of public/private control over an asset or assets and promotes more private control and less public.
Further, Bauer explains that the root property rights philosophy used in the PRC is based on John Locke’s theories of natural property rights. This is the same root used by America’s founding fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson, when they created the US constitution. So using such definition as the basis of PRC policy is right in line with imposing Constitutional law through PRC decisions.
Here’s how the Property Rights Council works, as both a protector for property owners and as an official advocate for private property rights: A PRC is a citizen’s council of between 7 – 9 citizen volunteers, vetted and approved by the County Commission and assigned the task of researching and offering free market recommendations to resolve property rights conflicts.
The mission of the PRC is to review county government activities and inter-governmental activities to determine whether the activities may cause adverse impact to private property rights. The PRC then is charged with supplying to county officials an opinion on that impact. The review includes study of county, state and federal regulations to assure County Commissioners are aware of their impact on property rights and help them prepare proper action that, at all times, assures protection of private property rights in the legal framework of local government. In short, the PRC does the research and provides free market solutions to elected officials that don’t normally have the time or education to do so.
The PRC will also be charged with training county employees to look for property rights violations as they go about their daily tasks in running county government. This could impact the permit process; the way inspectors treat property owners; elimination of invasive or unnecessary regulations; and over-zealous ticket writers.
Perhaps of most importance, the PRC provides the framework for countering the Sustainablist’s legal assault. Specifically, the PRC will interface with a network of free market think tanks which can and will provide legal opinions, reports, and even lawyers to substantiate the property rights legal position. They provide expertise, credibility and a legal force to counter the massive force of the Sustainablists that now overwhelm county officials when a property rights question is at issue. There is a nation-wide network of free market think tanks through the State Policy Network (SPN).There are other such think tanks available in every state. So, when a constituent comes before the Commission with a complaint, now he will not be alone. He will benefit from the PRC’s efforts to protect his rights.
The PRC will deal with issues ranging from wetlands regulations that usurp private property rights; watershed overlays; and zoning. The process can be used to determine the damage caused by such federal regulations as Endangered Species, Conservation Easements, EPA regulations on water and energy use, etc. Decisions made by one PRC could have far reaching effect on those made by other PRCs across the nation. A national database can be established of pending and resolved issues, providing guidance to other PRCs. It will be a precedent-setting decision-making body that could mark the beginning of the restoration of property rights for all Americans.
To assure the PRC contains the proper members (those who advocate and support private property rights) it will be vitally important that the County Commission submit applicants to intense scrutiny as to their ideas and philosophy. PRC members can request the dismissal of another PRC member for cause. The public can request a PRC member be removed for cause. There will be term limits for each member to assure constant movement in the council. The members of the Council will be volunteers.
Commissioner Rasor and Bonner County attorney Scott Bauer are succeeding, under great pressure and criticism, to establish a Property Rights Council to protect citizens and their property from the massive force of the planners who are implementing Sustainable Development across the nation. Their goal now is to help others establish such councils in every community, in every state.
Contact Karen and get started in the battle to secure private property rights as the first step to countering the massive fire power of the vast network of planning advocates, self-appointed stakeholders, and NGOs that have invaded communities across the nation to enforce top-down control over every aspect of your life and property. Property Rights Councils can and will be the ultimate weapon to defeat Agenda 21 and restore freedom.
Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence. Go to americanpolicy.org for more information