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'SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT' THE EVIL FACING AMERICA

SC County should protect property rights
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Righting a wrong on property rights

Kelo backlash puts property rights measures on the ballots

Topping 2006 ballots: eminent domain

Court Ruling Fuels Dispute in West Over Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is a government tool to be used sparingly

Eminent domain battle now on national stage

Will the Government Take Your Home?

 

 

 

Eminent domain battle now on national stage

 

The Sentinel

Edison, NJ

August 8, 2006

 

by Greg Bean Coda

 

Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider and the members of his "Schneider Team" should be so proud - they've gone from being villains on a local and regional level to villains of national renown.

 

If you read a daily newspaper, chances are that last Sunday you noticed that a Long Branch family, the Hoaglands, were featured on the cover of Parade magazine, along with the headline "Will the Government Take Your Home?" Also featured on the cover were a poster urging a halt to eminent domain abuse and a photo kicker stating, "A family fights back."

 

The three-page story that accompanied the cover photo chronicled the battle that the Hoaglands, and others around the country where local governments are taking property by eminent domain for redevelopment, have undertaken to save their properties.

 

It even included a take-out box outlining what you can do if the government says it wants to take your property for redevelopment, and discussed the national backlash that resulted from last year's decision by the United States Supreme Court in the Kelo v. City of New London (Connecticut) case. In that case, the court ruled that local governments do have the power to seize homes and turn the property over to private developers, on the theory that the new developments will bring in more tax dollars.

 

The Hoaglands are members of MTOTSA (Marine and Ocean Terraces and Seaview Avenue), the group of homeowners who stand to lose their properties to eminent domain, so a developer can build 185 expensive condominiums. Their story has gone from creating outrage around New Jersey and the region, to creating outrage on the national stage in the pages of publications like The New York Times and now Parade magazine, the largest circulation publication (35 million weekly) in the entire United States.

 

Long Branch has truly become the national poster child for eminent domain abuse, its sad story shared with what Parade magazine claims were likely 78 million readers last Sunday alone.

 

Over the last two years, Greater Media Newspapers - in particular the Atlanticville and reporter Christine Varno - have written dozens, if not hundreds, of stories about the eminent domain battles in Long Branch. We were on the story long before any other publication in our area, and we have stayed on it week after week because we believed, and still believe, that this conflict playing out in our backyards has significant implications for every homeowner - not only in New Jersey, but in every other state in our nation - who goes to sleep at night under the mistaken impression that his home is safe from the whim of a government that might decide that a new Starbucks or Pump 'n Munch franchise is a better use for the property.

 

The national spotlight now being trained on Long Branch proves that we were right, and I expect other national publications will pick up the story in the very near future.

 

Parade magazine used one of our photographs by staff photographer Miguel Juarez, but did not mention the body of work we have published on the eminent domain controversy in Long Branch. So last week, before the Parade article was published, I asked Sean Flynn, the author of the article, what had drawn his attention to that community.

 

Initially, he said, his interest was piqued because the eminent do-main dispute in Long Branch was brought to his attention by someone at the Institute for Justice, a national nonprofit organization that has taken the issue on as a crusade. He visited the city in early June.

 

"It's a beautiful, beautiful place but the tension between the city's need to redevelop and the people's rights to live in their homes was dramatic," he said. "In my mind, what is going on in Long Branch really crystallized the issue. I certainly wouldn't say those properties are blighted ... the shabbiest part was the 'Stop Eminent Domain Abuse' signs."

 

Will the national attention help the MTOTSA families save their homes? Flynn doesn't know.

 

"I don't know if it will do them any good," he said. "You look back at the Kelo case, and it didn't do those people any good."

 

But Kelo did start a national backlash, and Flynn agrees the Long Branch dispute is serious fuel for the fire.

 

On July 30, Adam Liptak, writing for The New York Times, discussed that very subject, the national "tidal wave of outrage" generated by the Kelo case.

 

"Sometimes," he wrote, "Supreme Court cases have a way of highlighting issues that had been absent from the national agenda, and the cases can provoke reactions that have a far greater impact than the ruling itself."

 

He quotes Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Texas, who said, "I always tell my students that one of the best things you can do is lose a case in the Supreme Court."

 

And later, he quotes Dana Berlinger, from the Institute for Justice, who said, "The decision brought to light this incredible rift between what lawyers and cities thought was the law and what the American people thought was the law. This is certainly the situation of losing the battle and winning the war."

 

In other words, the Kelo decision didn't help the people who lost their property in Connecticut, but it may wind up saving the properties of thousands.

 

By extension, the national outrage generated by the coverage of the Long Branch battle may be too late to save the MTOTSA members' homes, but it may steer the country's course when it comes to future cases of eminent domain abuse.

 

That, in reality, will be the "Schneider Team's" legacy. To go down in American history as the leaders of the community that caused a nation to say, "Enough is enough."

 

Gregory Bean is executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers. You can reach him at gbean@gmnews.com.

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Will the Government Take Your Home?

Across the country, Americans fight to protect their property.

By Sean Flynn

Published: August 6, 2006

Parade.com

Joy and Carl Gamble bought an English stucco house in Norwood, Ohio, in 1969. They raised two children there and worked seven days a week in their small grocery store to pay off the mortgage. “ We had the house fixed up just the way we liked it,” Carl says. “When we retired, we planned to sit down and enjoy it.”

But now the Gambles live in their daughter’s basement. Their house stands vacant in the weedy field that was their neighborhood—seized by the city and transferred to a developer who wants to build shops, offices and condominiums.

In Long Branch, N.J., Denise Hoagland, 39, has an endless view of the Atlantic Ocean from the cottage she and her husband, Lee, bought 13 years ago. Their garden blooms with so many flowers that their three daughters call home “the place where the butterflies fly.” But Long Branch wants to take their home and about 35 other properties so a developer can build luxury condos. “It’s theft,” Denise says. “It’s legalized theft.”

Technically, it is a forced sale, because the government has to pay for the property. And it is legal: In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state and local governments can seize homes to make way for private development. The decision in Kelo v. City of New London triggered a sort of government land-grab.

In the one year since Kelo, more than 5,700 homes, businesses and even churches were threatened with seizure for private development, according to the nonprofit Institute for Justice (IJ), and at least 350 were condemned or authorized for condemnation. By comparison, about 10,000 were similarly threatened or taken over from 1998 through 2002.

Government always has had the power to force the sale of private property for public use—a process known as eminent domain. But what is “public use”?

Historically, it meant highways, railroads, schools and sweeping urban-renewal projects, such as the redevelopment of the Baltimore waterfront. But Kelo made clear that middle-class homes could be replaced with malls, offices, luxury homes—anything that might increase tax revenue.

“It’s a blatant example of reverse Robin Hood—taking homes from the poor and the middle-income and giving them to the rich,” says Scott Bullock, the IJ attorney who argued (and lost) Kelo.

“The fact is, a shopping mall does usually produce more taxes than a house,” says IJ attorney Dana Berliner. “An office building does produce more taxes than a church. But if that’s the rule—that anyone’s home can be taken away from them because something else will produce more taxes—then no one’s home is safe.”

But Kelo also has sparked a backlash. In the past year, more than two dozen states introduced or passed legislation and constitutional amendments to stop what critics call “eminent domain abuse.” Even the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill aimed to restrict eminent domain. Residents also are fighting back through courts of law and public opinion.

In Norwood, the Gambles and two other property owners represented by IJ brought their case to the Ohio Supreme Court. (At press time, the court had yet to rule.) [See editor’s note below.] In Long Branch, two dozen residents, also working with IJ, are suing to stop their neighborhood from being replaced with 185 condominiums. And in Lakewood, Ohio, my hometown, the people of Scenic Park waged such a successful public campaign three years ago that voters spared their homes from being taken.

In each city, the process unfolded almost identically: A private developer, with the government’s backing, wanted a big piece of property—cliff-side homes with valley views in Lakewood, ocean-front cottages in Long Branch—and tried to negotiate deals with each owner. When some refused to sell, the cities threatened to invoke eminent domain to clear the holdouts.

In order to do that, however, city officials first needed to declare the neighborhoods “blighted.” But the legal designation of “blight” bears little resemblance to a commonsense definition. In Lakewood, for example, Scenic Park is a charming neighborhood of older, well-kept homes. But because they lack such modern touches as attached two-car garages and central air-conditioning, the city deemed them blighted—a standard by which more than 80 percent of Lakewood, even the former mayor’s home, would likewise be blighted.

“We always bit on the word ‘blight,’” says Julie Wiltse, 63, who helped neighbors distribute 20,000 fliers and sponsor a series of blight events: a Blighted Block Party, a Blighted Chili Cook-off, even a Blighted Groundhog Day (which predicted four more months of blight). TV cameras and newspaper reporters loved that stuff.

“We were very successful in explaining to the community, ‘If we’re blighted, you’re blighted,’” Wiltse says.

Likewise, the Hoaglands’ neighborhood  in Long Branch isn’t “blighted” in any meaningful way. With one or two exceptions, it’s a few blocks of low-key bungalows where families have lived side-by-side for decades, even generations. The shabbiest touches, ironically, are the posters in nearly every home’s windows with the words “eminent domain abuse” inside a red-slashed circle and the several homes that have been bought by the developer and boarded up. What the area doesn’t have, however, are the $500,000 condos or the restaurants with $12 hamburgers that were built immediately south of the neighborhood.

“When they want to revitalize,” says William Giordano, 41, whose great-grandfather built his house, “suddenly we’re not good enough to live here.”

The city has put prices on the houses it wants to take: $400,000 for the Hoaglands’ house, $374,000 for Lori Ann Vendetti’s, $410,000 for the home her parents built across the street and $325,000 for Anna DeFaria’s tiny gray cottage. Those might sound like hefty sums, but not on the Jersey shore. “ I can’t get anything in Long Branch for three and a quarter,” DeFaria says, “let alone an ocean view.”

But what’s money? “The memories are here,” says Lori Ann Vendetti. “They can come in with a million dollars, two million—we won’t take it. A lot of people think we’re bluffing, that everyone has a price. The Vendettis don’t have a price.”

Neither do the Gambles. Most of the properties that the Gambles and their Norwood neighbors owned—6 9 out of 75—were sold to the developer, who was required by the city to pay at least 25 percent above market value. Three others later settled with the developer. Then the city used eminent domain to claim the last three, concluding that the neighborhood was deteriorating, based on a study that was paid for by the developer.

Tim Burke, a lawyer for the city, argues that the government had to clear the holdouts, especially because there were so many other property owners who had agreed to sell. “Would Norwood have used eminent domain if it had to acquire 69 of the properties? Clearly not,” he says.

As Burke explains it, Norwood is an old industrial town that lost its industry and a third of its population. The city needs to redevelop to generate new revenues, and clearly most of the Gambles’ neighbors weren’t opposed. “When you’re a community like Norwood, you’ve got to be concerned with the entire citizenry,” Burke says. “And, yeah, there are going to be instances where, in order to better the lives of the many, the property of the few will have to be taken.”

But what if you’re one of those few? “That this is happening here,” says Joy Gamble, “in the land ‘ of the people, for the people, by the people…’” The thought trails off, and she just shakes her head.

What You Can Do

Stay informed: Eminent domain projects  usually are years in the making—but quietly and  without public reference to “eminent domain.” Watch for words like “redevelopment,” says Scott Bullock, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice. 

Make noise: March, rally, call local newspapers and TV stations. Try to turn community opinion to your side.

Ask for help: Several organizations may take your case for free. But even if you have to hire your own lawyer, you can fight City Hall.

Pester your state legislators now: Some states already have passed new rules that restrict eminent domain.

Fight for the best deal: If you simply cannot save your home, make it as expensive as possible. An analysis by The Cincinnati Enquirer revealed that owners in Norwood, Ohio,
were paid on average twice the appraised value of their homes. However, the ones who fought got even more.

Editor’s Note


On July 26, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the city of Norwood can't use eminent domain to take Carl and Joy Gamble’s home solely for economic development. The United States Supreme Court had ruled previously that there is nothing unconstitutional about a government taking private property, with just compensation, solely for economic development but left it to state courts to decide whether such takings violated their own state constitutions. The Ohio Supreme Court further rejected Norwood’s claim that it also could use eminent domain to eliminate the Gambles’ neighborhood because it was a “deteriorating area.” The court ruled that the phrase “deteriorating area” was too vague—that it was, in effect, a standardless standard. The court ruling means the development group has to return the house to the Gambles. “Our state supreme court did what the the U.S. Supreme Court did not do: It protected our home,” Joy Gamble told reporters.

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Eminent domain is a government tool to be used sparingly
By Mayor Pat Hunter

Moonpark, CA

The Moonpark Acorn, September 29, 2006

The United States Supreme Court reawakened a political de- bate last year with its decision in Kelo vs. City of New London.

In that case, the Supreme Court upheld a Connecticut statute that allowed the condemnation of private property for economic development purposes. Condemnation, or as it is oftentimes referred to, eminent domain, is the power invested in the government to take private property for a "public purpose" provided that fair compensation is first paid to the property owner.

The Kelo case has thrust to the forefront of the political agenda the issue of when it is appropriate for a government to take private property. The debate centers around what constitutes a "public purpose." While one would think it should be easy to establish absolutes, as with any sensitive issue, there are many nuances that make absolute pronouncements difficult. There are three basic contexts in which local government may contemplate eminent domain-and each presents unique dilemmas.

It is important to note that state law requires any public project necessitating the acqui- sition of private property by eminent domain first be evaluated to ensure it has been designed to achieve the greatest public good and the least private injury. Consequently, alternative designs which minimize the need for the acquisition of private property are required to be considered before the ultimate decision to condemn property is reached. Even then, it is not an easy decision to take private property to benefit the public good.

The first category of "public purpose" for which eminent do- main may be used is in the acquisition of private property for public infrastructure-a public road, sewer, water line, etc. These are the traditional govern- mental functions most people generally equate with a "public purpose." In these circum- stances, the use of eminent do- main-as a last resort, and only after the owner has been fairly compensated-is probably the least objectionable.

The second category involves the acquisition of private property to accommodate offsite infrastructure improvements for a private development. For ex- ample, a housing development is contemplated, but the development requires that a road be widened across private property to provide access to the development and reduce existing traffic congestion. At first blush, the analysis here seems easy-no way. Why should one private property owner relinquish their property so a private developer can benefit and make a profit by developing adjacent property?

But what about the situation where the road the developer is being required to widen is a road the community already needs to improve-at least partially-to accommodate existing traffic. In that situation, the alternative to widening the road is to have the city acquire the property (at city expense) and widen the road (at city expense). Is it preferable to have the developer bear a proportionate share of those costs and allow the city to use their precious tax dollars for other fundamental public pro- grams such as street maintenance, library services, and public safety?

The third eminent domain context involves redevelopment. In Connecticut, the site of the Kelo case, state law provides for the acquisition of private property for economic development purposes. In California, however, private property may be acquired for economic development purposes only when there is a finding that the project for which the property is acquired will help eliminate "blight." Blight may include physical deterioration, underutilization, or adverse economic conditions.

The nuance here is how much physical deterioration, underutilization, etc., is sufficient to establish "blight." Is the elimination of "blight" really a sufficient "public purpose" to justify the taking of private property from one party and giving it to another party for economic development purposes? If the elimination of blight is the ultimate goal, code compliance efforts, exterior rehabilitation grants, and other programs may offer a superior solution.

It would be convenient to make absolute pronouncements about the government's use of eminent domain. But as with any constitutional issue, there are nuances that make such unqualified statements difficult. In some contexts-such as public infrastructure improvements-eminent domain (as a last resort and only after negotiations with the property owner fail) is a necessary government tool. In other contexts, taking a private residence for private redevelopment may be difficult to justify.

One thing is clear: eminent domain is an extraordinary government power that should be used only in extraordinary cases and then only for limited purposes. It is a tool to be used sparingly, as a last resort, and only after the property owner has been fairly compensated.

 

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Court Ruling Fuels Dispute in West Over Eminent Domain
Initiatives Challenge Land-Use Regulations
 

By Blaine Harden and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 2, 2006; A03
 

SEATTLE -- Libertarians and land developers have found populist fodder in a contentious Supreme Court decision from last year that favors eminent domain over private property.

This fall, they are trying to harness anger over the ruling in an effort to pass state initiatives in the West and federal legislation that could unravel a long-standing fabric of state and local land-use regulations. Among other things, the rules control growth, limit sprawl, ensure open space and protect the environment.

The property-rights movement, as it is known, has a major new benefactor -- Howard Rich, a wealthy libertarian real estate investor from Manhattan. He has spent millions -- estimates run as high as $11 million -- to support initiatives that will appear on ballots throughout much of the West.

The initiatives -- and legislation approved Friday in the House -- have alarmed many city and state officials, along with environmental organizations, budget watchdog groups and smart-growth advocates. They complain about "bait-and-switch" tactics.

"They bait you with eminent domain, but you end up voting to destroy all land-use regulation," said Elaine Clegg, a nonpartisan member of the city council in Boise, Idaho.

Following the lead of an Oregon initiative that in 2004 derailed the nation's strongest laws against sprawl, measures this November aim to do much the same thing in Idaho, Arizona, California and Washington. They would compel state and local governments to pay cash to property owners when land-use rules, such as zoning regulations, reduce the value of their land. Some of the measures say that if government can't pay up, owners can develop their land as they see fit.

In Oregon, there is no money to pay claims that total $5.6 billion, so land-use rules are being waived. In Washington, passage of a "pay-or-waive" initiative could cost state taxpayers $7 billion to $8 billion in the next few years, according to studies by the state and the University of Washington. In California, where there is no provision to waive payment, Proposition 90 has aroused opposition from staunchly conservative groups such as the California Taxpayers Association, which is concerned that the initiative could cost the state billions of dollars, triggering tax increases and slow growth.

The federal bill, which was approved in the House by a vote of 231 to 181, would revamp land-use regulation nationwide, allowing developers and property owners to challenge local and state rulings in federal court, rather than in state court.

The National Association of Home Builders has been pushing the measure for years, but the Supreme Court's eminent-domain decision finally "brought the bill back into the limelight," said Jerry Howard, the association's chief executive.

The bill's author, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), who chairs the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, said property-rights disputes that can drag on for years deserve speedy resolution in federal court.

"The Fifth Amendment says you can't take a person's property without due process," he said, comparing property rights with freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Opponents of the bill, including 36 attorneys general and a slew of environmental advocates, say the measure will undermine state and local governments' ability to oversee growth and preserve open space.

In Idaho, a measure called Proposition 2 would halt eminent-domain seizures of the kind allowed by the Supreme Court in 2005 in Kelo v. New London . That ruling upheld the right of local governments to condemn private property and then hand it over to someone else for commercial development. Since Kelo , 26 states have passed laws that ban the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes.

But the Idaho initiative, as with others in the West, is about much more than just eminent domain. It would require state and local governments to compensate landowners for regulations that restrict what they can do with their land.

About three-fourths of the more than $330,000 spent to put Proposition 2 on the ballot came from groups funded by Rich, in a pattern of spending that has been repeated in many Western states.

Groups bankrolled by Rich have this year spent about $11 million in 12 states in support of measures to restrict land-use planning, cap state spending or limit judicial power, according to state campaign finance reports compiled by the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a Washington-based group that is supported by labor.

Rich was not available to comment on his spending or the goals of his property-rights groups.

John Tillman, president of one of those groups, Americans for Limited Government, declined in an e-mail to comment on the amount of Rich's spending, saying that campaign finance reports "speak for themselves." He did not dispute the $11 million figure.

Tillman did note that the Supreme Court decision in Kelo has alarmed the public, putting "everyone on notice that property rights are on shaky ground and that the time to act is now."

In some states, grass-roots opposition to land-use rules existed well before Kelo and before Rich began spending money. For the past 15 years in Washington state, the Washington Farm Bureau has fought laws that limit what some farmers can do with their land in heavily populated places such as King County, which includes Seattle.

In Oregon, which had been a national leader in land-use planning, the consequences of rolling back the rules are becoming clear. At last count, there were 3,038 claims by property owners involving more than 173,000 acres, according to a tally kept by Portland State University. Of the 2,630 claims that have been decided, 90 percent have gone in favor of landowners, with state and local governments waiving land-use rules. Most of the claims come from owners of what had been protected farm and forest land bordering fast-growing urban areas.

"The agenda behind these initiatives is to make it so expensive for local and state governments to regulate land use that they can hardly function at all," said John Echeverria, executive director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute.

In recent weeks, courts in Nevada and Montana have knocked some initiatives off ballots. The Nevada ruling was on technical grounds, but a state judge in Great Falls, Mont., found "a pervasive and general pattern of fraud" in the gathering of signatures for three ballot measures aimed at reining in government power.

"A number of paid out-of-state signature gatherers used bait-and-switch tactics to fraudulently induce countless Montanans to sign petitions other than the petitions they thought they were signing," wrote Judge Dirk M. Sandefur.

The ruling has been appealed to the Montana Supreme Court. Nearly all of the money for signature gatherers came from Montanans in Action, which declines to reveal its donors.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) has said that Rich is bankrolling the measures and has challenged him to debate their merits. Rich has not responded to this request nor to a similar debate offer from Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) of Oregon, where Rich's money has been instrumental in putting a spending-cap initiative on the ballot.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

 

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Topping 2006 ballots: eminent domain

In November, 12 states have initiatives on the ballot that seek to protect private property against seizure and regulation.

By Ben Arnoldy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

BOSTON

A backlash among voters this November against an unpopular Supreme Court decision on eminent domain could dramatically curtail the ability of officials to manage growth and development in parts of the western United States.

Libertarian activists, tapping into voter anger as well as outside money, have helped propel property rights referendums onto 12 state ballots - making it the single biggest ballot issue this November.

Most of the measures aim to overrule a 2005 US Supreme Court decision that homes can be seized and handed over to private developers. But in some Western states, the eminent domain issue is coupled with other far reaching provisions that would force governments to pay landowners when regulations harm property values.

At stake is the momentum of "smart growth" planning in recent decades that has provided public interests like open space and environmental protection at the expense of private property owners. Supporters of the changes say they want those costs made transparent, while opponents argue that individual property rights, if unfettered, will trample on the rights of neighbors and the collective good.

"Urban growth boundaries, agricultural protection ordinances, wetlands regulations, historic district rules - just about any kind of land-use rule would be more vulnerable to litigation if the [regulatory takings] measures were adopted," says John Echeverria, executive director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute in Washington. "[The West] would be a lot more polluted, it would be a lot more congested, and it would be a lot less green if these measures were enacted."

Prior to the high court's decision on eminent domain in Kelo v. New London last year, Oregon, in 2004, enacted Measure 37, a law requiring local and state governments to compensate landowners when regulations decreased the value of their properties. Ballot initiatives in California, Arizona, Idaho, and Washington are loosely based on Measure 37. If governments cannot pay, some measures call for granting individuals exemptions from the rules.

In Oregon, the 2,446 claims already filed with the state would cost more than $5.7 billion to reimburse, according to the Department of Land Conservation and Development. None have been paid, says Michael Morrissey with the department. "Measure 37 didn't identify any new revenue source to pay for claims. So that means for those claims we judge to be valid, the issue is only waiver of regulation."

Such waivers have created some unusual dilemmas.

In Clackamas County, a landowner used Measure 37 to get a waiver for agricultural zoning restrictions that prevented a commercial gravel pit operation. One neighbor suddenly faced the prospect of a rock crusher just a few hundred feet from his home.

Another neighbor, an elderly couple trying to sell their adjacent farm, saw a $1.3 million offer collapse on account of the proposed pit, says their son, Scott Lay. He had voted for Measure 37, but now finds himself ambivalent. He warns voters in other states to "really consider how far that measure could extend into the property rights of the neighbor. The impact doesn't stop with that property, it extends beyond."

In another case, a pumice mine and power plant may be built inside Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Oregon if one longtime landowner gets his way.

"If putting up mining operations in national monuments seems too bizarre to contemplate, look again at Oregon because that's what [voters elsewhere] could get," says Bob Stacey, executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a land-use watchdog group.

Supporters of laws like Measure 37 cite the Constitution's Fifth Amendment, which prohibits taking private property for public use without just compensation. Land-use restrictions, they say, unfairly "take" part of the property's value without paying the owner.

"By not compensating landowners ... you are essentially forcing a minority of landowners - the private property owners - to bear the cost of providing [a] public benefit," says Leonard Gilroy, a senior policy analyst with the libertarian Reason Foundation in Los Angeles.

In recent decades, land-use restrictions have burgeoned in many states as strategies to manage growth. Oregon stood at the forefront of that movement before Measure 37. Mr. Gilroy says the measure is an indication that urban planning isn't sustainable without incorporating property rights into the policy framework.

"Measure 37 was passed by the Oregon voters who still strongly support their state's system of land-use regulation. They've just realized that it's had these severe economic consequences on private property owners ... [and] they wanted to rebalance the equation," says Gilroy.

But critics of laws like Measure 37 argue that they create profound imbalances by putting the rights of a few developers over those of the great majority: homeowners. Zoning rules and other land-use protections, they say, protect the value of homes.

The court decision that evicted Susette Kelo from her Connecticut home has helped campaigners connect with voters.

"As soon as I brought up the little old lady in New London, Connecticut, it just clicked with everybody," says Eric Dondero, a libertarian Republican consultant from Texas who gathered signatures for Montana's 'Kelo-plus' ballot measure.

He received payments from an outside group chaired by New York City real estate magnate Howie Rich. "But there were a lot of people that wanted to read the whole wording and I said, 'Here it is.' And they would read everything."

Mr. Dondero says the regulatory takings aspect wasn't controversial for any of the voters with whom he interacted. But he did meet stiff resistance, he says, from local officials and other operatives whom he claims tried to physically block and intimidate signature gatherers.

Countercharges of signature-gathering fraud prompted a Montana judge to throw out the property rights ballot measure. Dondero denies that there were irregularities from his camp, noting also that out-of-state money was used to gather signatures for liberal measures. The case is under appeal.

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Posted on Sun, Oct. 08, 2006


Kelo backlash puts property rights measures on the ballots
12 states to decide government's role in zoning disputes

New York Times News Service
 

More than a year after Suzette Kelo and several of her neighbors in New London, Conn., lost their battle against eminent domain in the U.S. Supreme Court, the reaction against the ruling has made property rights one of the most closely watched ballot issues nationwide.

Thirty state legislatures have enacted restrictions on eminent domain in response to the ruling. Now voters here and in 11 other states will consider property rights measures in November.

Most of the measures would limit eminent domain to some degree, while others, in Western states, would go further, imposing new restrictions on government's ability to enforce zoning laws.

In the Kelo case, the court ruled that government could transfer private land from one owner to another for the sake of economic development. But the court said that states were free to change their laws.

Opponents of the measures predict years of court fights if the measures pass.

"This thing is an abomination, the way it's written, the way it's being sold," said Nils Ribi, a City Council member in Sun Valley who opposes the Idaho measure.

Supporters of the ballot efforts in the West - often called "Kelo-plus" - say they want to stop so-called regulatory takings, the idea that government effectively takes private property when zoning laws limit how it can be used.

Opponents say the regulatory-takings initiatives are essentially a ruse, that they are trying to exploit anger over the Kelo decision to roll back zoning regulations that are critical to controlling growth, protecting the environment and preserving property values.

Affluent outsiders have been drawn to Idaho in recent decades, lured by technology jobs, mountain recreation and abundant sunshine. Boise has boomed, as has Sun Valley, where newcomers from California build second homes not far from ranchers who herd sheep over the Sawtooth Mountains. About two-thirds of Idaho land is under federal control, and frustration runs deep in rural areas with newcomers who, after buying their piece of paradise, try to restrict land use further in the name of preservation and environmentalism.

Rob Struthers, 59, a rancher here, said: "Now all these people come in and say, 'Wow, what a beautiful place.' But they don't trust us to keep it that way. Instead of rewarding us, they're penalizing us."

 

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Righting a wrong on property rights

The Christian Science Monitor's View

from the October 25, 2006 edition

Threaten hearth and home, as a Supreme Court ruling on property rights did last year, and Americans will run to bar the door. Since the "Kelo" ruling, 30 states have passed laws to better protect property owners. Now the issue is on a dozen state ballots, making it the No. 1 initiative topic in the US.

The speed with which the states reacted is breathtaking - an expression of the outrage Americans felt when the High Court ruled in June 2005 that it was OK for New London, Conn., to take the home of Susette Kelo to make way for a private commercial project that would produce jobs and tax revenue.

The Fifth Amendment allows for government takings of private property for public use - if owners are justly compensated. What set radio talk shows abuzz was the court's broad interpretation of "public use" to allow "public purpose." It wasn't just building of public schools and roads that could justify takings, or eminent domain, but private economic development deemed beneficial to the public.

Americans understandably have a reflex reaction against anything that endangers property rights. These rights reflect bedrock values of individual freedom and economic opportunity. Nothing affirms the American dream like ownership of a home or business.

That's why the High Court, despite its ruling, also invited states to enact laws to rein in this type of eminent domain. Most states hopped right to it. And mostly, they've been fairly smart about it.

The states ran in the same direction. They generally make it more difficult for government bodies to seize private property strictly for economic development and tax-enhancing purposes, or to sell to a private entity. But the laws are far from uniform.

Several states placed an absolute ban on takings for economic development or for a private entity. Unfortunately, bans can be overly restrictive. Better to include some exceptions, as many states have.

A common one is for blight. Some states have wisely redefined blight to mean property that is a threat to public health or safety. For too long, loosely defined blight has been a loophole for governments eager to develop a block that's merely an eyesore or outdated.

Several states (but not enough) have worked to open up the eminent domain process so that owners have more advanced notice or a better appeals process. The new Missouri law, for instance, establishes an ombudsman for property owners. A few other states now offer more than fair-market value as compensation for takings - a recognition of economic loss, and of the burden of an unexpected move.

One unwise trend: ballot initiatives in some Western states to compensate property owners for lost value due to government regulation or zoning. Governments must be free to address issues such as sprawl and environmental protection - with proper community input. Oregon, which recently adopted a "regulatory takings" measure, is now saddled with more than 2,400 claims of over $5.7 billion - an impossible burden.

Zoning is not the same as bulldozing a home, and shouldn't be treated as such. These ballot initiatives, known as "Kelo-plus," should get a big negative from voters.

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'SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT' THE EVIL FACING AMERICA
By Tom DeWeese
NewsWithViews.com

My friends, we come here today from many walks of life. A wide variety of reasons got each of us started on the road to activism.

Some of us started simply because we noticed something funny about our child's curriculum in school. Some of us were outraged by government trying to take away our guns. A good many of us suddenly found government agents and members of private groups plotting to take away our land. Some have had their livestock confiscated. Some have found themselves facing jail just for doing what their fathers and grandfathers have done on the same land for decades.

Some of us just wanted to be allowed to go to church, pray to God and celebrate Christmas without being fined for it. A few of us would even like to be able to go to a restaurant and order food we like - even if it is greasy, fattening and full of carbs and calories.

All of us just want to live in an America where our rights and pursuit of happiness is protected. And so we fight. And now we've found ourselves here today in a room with hundreds of others in the same boat.

I have one thing to tell you. You are not going to win. Because the other side has cut us up into little pieces. They've divided us and conquered us.

They've succeeded because you think your fight is against gun control. Because you think your fight is against bad schools. Because you think your fight is against the Endangered Species Act and roadless programs, and wetlands regulations, and water rights and Heritage Areas. Because you think your fight is against Democrats and not Republicans. Because you think it's a fight between evil liberals and good guy conservatives.

You're wrong. Your fight is against a well-planned, well orchestrated agenda for the complete transformation of America. And unless you learn that fact now, today... and unless you fully educate yourselves to every aspect of that agenda and fight it on the proper terms… then you cannot win!

I'm here to tell you that every one of these issues you are facing is interrelated. There is an agenda being implemented before your very eyes. It's called Sustainable Development.

And I will tell you now, if you want to keep your guns, your property, your children and your God… if you love liberty… Then Sustainable Development is your enemy!

So what is Sustainable Development? Imagine an America in which a specific "ruling principle" is created to decide proper societal conduct for every citizen.

That principle would be used to consider everything you eat, what you wear, the kind of homes you live in, the method of transportation used to get to work, the way you dispose of waste, perhaps the number of children you may have, even your education and employment decisions.

Sustainable Development is that "ruling principle" for the implementation of what former Vice President Al Gore said we must all suffer through in order to purify our nation from the horrors of the Twentieth Century's industrial revolution.

In his book, "Earth in the Balance," Gore called it a "wrenching transformation of society." Those are pretty powerful words that should concern anyone who values liberty. It's a warning that the rules are changing. That a new power elite is taking control.

Perhaps you are beginning to notice such changes as you go about your daily routine, but haven't understood where those changes, and the ideas behind them, are coming from. But Sustainable Development is a very difficult concept to grasp. It's written in an almost foreign language - designed to mislead and refrain from alarming you.

Let me put it in the simplest language I possibly can. The Atkins Diet is not sustainable. Now, why do I say that? Because on page 350 of the UN's Global Biodiversity Assessment Report it says that the grazing of livestock, including cows, sheep, goats and horses is not sustainable. One reason for that concept is because Sustainablists contend that the animals pollute and damage the banks of streams.

Getting us to stop eating beef is a major effort needed to fully implement the Sustainable Agenda. Since they are cowards who fear your reaction to an outright banning of eating meat, they have to try to trick you into thinking that not eating meat is your idea. So they use scare tactics. For years they have told you that eating meat raises your cholesterol. Fat is bad for you. Meat causes heart attacks. With PeTA's help they were succeeding in turning us all into little sissies eating salads.

Then along comes Dr. Atkins who shows us that a low carb beef diet will help you lose weight in a healthy way. Suddenly the nation has gone Atkins crazy. Beef sales are sky rocketing. The Sustainablists are in a tail spin. They've lost control of your eating habits.

Now watch what they are doing to get you back on track. Suddenly reports are being published in leading women's magazines about Atkins being dangerous to your health. Lawsuits have begun to pop up against the diet.

Do you see how it works? That's how the Sustainable Development agenda is implemented. Behavior modification based on fear. Freedom of choice is not part of Sustainable Development. And so I repeat, - the Atkins Diet is not sustainable.

Now, perhaps you'll understand why there are Sustainable Development papers, guidelines and regulations to impose the ruling principle:

On our public education system - to prepare our children to live in a sustainable world.

On our economy - to create partnerships between business and government, making sure business becomes a tool to help implement the policies.

On the environment - leading to controls on private property and business.

On health care - the new drive against obesity is leading directly toward controls on what we eat.

On farming - Sustainable Development policies affect farmers' ability to produce more crops by regulating or banning precious chemicals, biotechnology and genetic engineering in the name of environmental protection.

On our social and cultural environment - where political correctness is controlling policy hiring practices, immigration policy, multiculturalism, marriage laws, etc.

On our mobility - with emphasis on carpools and public transportation and away from the freedom of personal transportation.

And on public safety - where the rule of law and the court system is being challenged by new regulations that affect the right to privacy and unreasonable search and seizures.

It's important to understand that these leading issues we face today are not just random concerns that find their way into the forefront of political debate. They are all interconnected to the policies of Sustainable Development.

And you must understand that Sustainable Development is the official policy of the government of the United States of America - and every state, city and small burg in the nation.

It is completely bi-partisan. It is being equally implemented by Republicans and Democrats. No matter the outcome of any election - the Sustainable Development agenda moves forward unabated.

What we are telling you here today, my friends, is that Sustainable Development isn't just some land use policy. It is a complete transformation of American society; away from the rule of law; away from the ideals of property ownership, free enterprise, free travel and even free association.

Sustainable Development. It's a life plan. Planned by someone else. Not you.

And Sustainable Development is not a myth, or a theory or a conspiracy - as I've heard some in our own movement call it.

Since the 1970's literally hundreds of issue papers, charters, guidelines and treaties have been presented at scores of international meetings, each becoming a building block in the creation of what would eventually become Sustainable Development.

Finally in 1992 the UN's Earth Summit in Brazil brought all of these ideas together in two major documents called "Agenda 21" and the "Biodiversity Treaty." Here the ideas were officially presented to world leaders that all government on every level, needed to be transformed into top-down control over housing, food production, energy, water, private property education, population control, gun control, transportation, social welfare, medical care, and literally every aspect of our lives.

To get the full picture, add to these the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, both of which create UN-mandates on abortion, child rearing and government interference on families.

In 1993 President Clinton created the President's Council on Sustainable Development. From that Council came a flood of policy papers and recommendations to enforce it as government policy.

And the Clinton Administration didn't need Congress to get into the act. All Cabinet officials had to do was change some wording of existing programs and reroute already-approved funding to begin to implement the agenda - without Congress and without debate. Former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown told a meeting of the President's Council that he could implement 67% of the Sustainable Development agenda in his agency with no new legislation. Other agencies like Interior, EPA, HUD and more did the same thing. To help it all along, Clinton issued a blizzard of Executive Orders.

The American Heritage Rivers Initiative was born that way. So were roadless policies designed to stop logging in national forests. National parks have become core biosphere reserves designed to shut out any human activity. And the buffer zones around them are designed to shut off existing human activity, allowing the core to continually grow like a cancer tumor.

Any possible excuse to control human development or activities began to sprout up - from rails-to trails bikeways - to wet lands regulations - to historic preservation projects. Endangered species, real or made up, have been used to close down industry and steal private lands. Valuable natural resources have been locked away in national parks and preserves.

In this way an international agenda to transform the world into global governance under Sustainable Development policy took hold and became official policy of the United States of America.
 

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Sustainable Development 101
As the American Policy Center steps up its war against Sustainable Development and the UN’s Agenda 21, many readers have asked me to supply an overview of the issue. To answer that request, I have gone to the foremost expert in the nation on the subjects of Sustainable Development and Agenda 21—Henry Lamb.

Below is a series of articles written by Henry back in 1996. These are the articles that first taught me about Sustainable Development. The only update necessary is to point out that most of what Henry warned about has now taken place. Every single community in the nation is now developing "sustainablism." Read them, as I did years ago, learn, and begin the fight to take back your communities.

-Tom DeWeese

Sustainable Communities—Vanquished Freedom

By Henry Lamb

"Sustainability" is a term that is just beginning to reach Joe A. Citizen; in the months and years ahead, it will dominate virtually every aspect of American life. Since the concept was first defined in the 1987 report by Gro Harlem Brundtland (Vice-president of the World Socialist Party), it has swelled into a tidal wave that is washing across the world and has now crashed onto American shores and will soon inundate every American Community.

The "sustainability" paradigm rests upon the firm belief, as expressed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), that: "Humanity's collective imperative now is to shift modern society rapidly onto a sustainable path or have it dissolve of its own ecologically unsustainable doings." The same document, prepared for the World Bank and for the United Nations Habitat II Conference in Istanbul, says that society has two choices. "One choice is to go as we go and do as we do." Or, "We shift our consumption, extraction and harvesting patterns and technologies; reframe our ethical choices," and reshape and redesign planned communities "within the dictates of natural ecology."

The first choice, which to some may sound like freedom "to go as we go and do as we do," is the unsustainable, unethical choice, according to HUD. The ethical choice is: "The vision for `Community Sustainability,' defined as the condition of social, economic and ecological harmony that people require, deserve and must create where they live, if their lives and their inheritors' lives are to be meaningful, wholesome and hopeful." Joe A. Citizen, who now is pretty much free to go as he goes and do as he does, might be surprised to learn that HUD considers his life meaningless, unwholesome, and hopeless.

The HUD document, the report of the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD), as well as the United Nations documents that call for the drastic reorganization of society, all claim that: "By science's consensus we have but decades to recast the ways we operate as a modern society with respect to earth's natural ecological systems of support." Instead of producing specific, peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support such claims, the "precautionary principle" is offered, which says that if a serious threat is thought to exist, action must be taken even in the face of scientific uncertainty.

Every alleged ecological calamity—global warming, population explosion, and biodiversity loss—is widely challenged throughout the scientific community. For every scientist on the calamity bandwagon, there is another scientist of equal stature to refute the allegations. At the very least, society should be aware that there is no scientific consensus to justify the dramatic changes that are planned. Proponents of sustainability label detractors as unethical, and continue the push to recast society into planned communities, managed through an evolving system of "good governance" that dilutes the authority of elected officials and elevates the power of NGOs (non-government organizations).

The objective of "sustainability" is to integrate economic, social, and environmental policies to achieve reduced consumption, social equity, and to preserve and restore biodiversity. "Sustainable communities" is but one facet of a much broader sustainable agenda. It is the initiative that will touch most Americans first, and in fact, is already being advanced throughout communities across the country. The U.S. Forest Service has awarded $700,000 to the Chicago Region Biodiversity Council, a collaborative effort of 34 federal agencies and environmental groups, established to begin the process of making Chicagoland into a "sustainable community."

Similar processes are underway, funded by government and private foundations, all across America. The PCSD recommends that tax money be used to provide incentives to communities that engage in collaborative community planning for sustainability, and that funding authorized under other federal programs be denied or delayed for communities that are slow to begin the collaborative process toward sustainability.

Originated by the United Nations, embraced by the Clinton-Gore administration, implemented by an army of coordinated NGOs, the tidal wave of "sustainability" is crashing across America. Most Americans have not seen the warnings and will not recognize the dangers until they are drowning in sustainability.

Sustainable Communities: Yours Could Be Next

If your community has a population of 50,000 or more, someone is working to create a "sustainability council," or it has already been done. Smaller communities, your time will come—soon. The federal government, in collaboration with selected NGOs, is encouraging the creation of local "sustainability councils" which are to become the driving force in the reorganization of society. These councils may have a variety of names. Regardless of the name, however, their function is pre-planned, their procedures are pre-conceived, and the outcome of their work is pre-determined. Your community is about to be reorganized, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, so your life will be "meaningful, wholesome, and hopeful," whether you like it or not.

The initiative in your community could come from any federal agency through a grant to a municipality or directly to an NGO. Or the initiative could be funded by a private foundation and coordinated by an NGO. By using a variety of start-up mechanisms and an assortment of names, the well-coordinated effort disguises the appearance of the massive federal/international social re-engineering project that is underway.

The council, by whatever name, will enlist the support of all relevant local, state, and federal government agencies, then add representatives from the academic community, carefully selected individuals from the business community, and the leaders of cooperating NGOs. This phase is usually completed before the community at large knows it has been done. Frequently, the first few meetings of the council will be attended only by invited guests, chosen from the membership lists of participating NGOs, or for some other strategic purpose. Sympathetic individuals in the media will have been provided background material and enlisted to support the effort. Most community residents will become aware of the effort through a 60-second TV news item or a brief story in the local newspaper. The story will make it appear that the entire community has come together to solve common problems and build a beautiful future.

Exactly what that future includes will not be revealed. Each of the reorganizational components will be revealed over time, only as necessary, to avoid the inevitable backlash from private citizens as they learn how their lives will be impacted. The work of the council is to devise whatever mechanisms may be necessary to achieve several objectives: reduce consumption—especially energy; restore biodiversity through an ecosystem management approach; stop urban sprawl; and convince local residents that they are "unethical" if they fail to support whatever it takes to achieve these objectives, through massive, coordinated re-education and propaganda campaigns.

Here is a picture of your community when it has been reorganized to become "sustainable," taken from HUD's report to the United Nations:

For this hopeful future we may envision an entirely fresh set of infrastructures that use fully automated, very light, elevated rail systems for daytime metro region travel and nighttime goods movement, such as have been conceptualized and being positioned for production at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis; we will see all settlements linked up by extensive bike, recreation and agro-forestry "E-ways" (environment-ways) such as in Madison, Wisconsin; we will find healthy, productive soils where there is decline and erosion through the widespread use of remineralization from igneous and volcanic rock sources (much of it the surplus quarry fines or "rockdust," from concrete and asphalt-type road construction or from reservoir silts); we will be growing foods, dietary supplements and herbs that make over our unsustainable reliance upon foods and medicines that have adverse soil, environmental, or health side-effects; less and less land will go for animal husbandry and more for grains, tubers, and legumes. Gradually, decent standards of equity will be in place for women, for children and for the disadvantaged; the "peace dividend" will be forced upon us as the insane costs of military armament become challenged globally.

The purpose of the "sustainability council" is to give the appearance that the reorganization of society is the result of local initiative and reflects local desires. The fact of the matter is that how you are to live in your own community has been determined in Gland, Switzerland, confirmed by the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro, embraced by Al Gore in Washington, and is now being imposed upon you in the name of "sustainability."

Sustainable Communities in the Bioregion

The Sierra Club has proposed the reorganization of North America into 21 bioregions delineated by their ecological characteristics (Sierra, March/April, 1994). Each bioregion includes several states, counties, municipalities, and communities. The "sustainable communities" initiative is the first building-block toward the construction of bioregions and the total reorganization of America into a "sustainable" society as envisioned by the United Nations.

Sustainable communities must be seen in the context of the broader, published agenda, which limits privately owned property to no more than 25% of the total land area, removes human populations from at least 50% of the total land area, and requires that the remaining land be managed by government/NGO partnerships. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) suggests that the time frame for reorganizing sustainable societies can be no more than three decades. Others believe it will take 50 to 100 years. Whatever the time frame, the process has begun with the sustainable communities initiative.

Each community, regardless of size, will have its own "sustainability council." A common characteristic of these councils is that they are dominated by individuals from government agencies charged with the implementation of the government's sustainability agenda, supported by representatives from NGOs whose salaries are paid by grants from the federal government or by cooperating foundations. Local government officials, who are enticed by incentive grants from the feds, and local residents are typically outnumbered and outmaneuvered. The first function of the sustainability council is to complete the "visioning" process. This process produces a document that describes how the community should be organized to achieve the goals required to make the community sustainable. In the context of bioregions, individual communities cannot be left to design their own future. HUD says "there will be the linking up of networks of communities of varied sizes within quite varied and multiple regional contexts, such as `community constellations' linked by compacts based upon common interests. Between communities will be rural landscapes—highly functional landscapes— based upon entirely fresh understandings of landscape ecology and its integral relationship to the sustainability of urbanization."

Translated into plain English, this means that sustainability councils will coordinate their "visions" to achieve a regional or bioregional vision consistent with the ultimate outcome that has already been determined. To achieve the predetermined outcome, some smaller communities will have to be completely shut down. That process is already underway in the northwest and other parts of the country near federal forests and public lands. By banning logging on public lands, as the Sierra Club has proposed, residents of logging-dependent communities have no choice but to move out to find new sources of income. By denying grazing and mining permits, still more communities are evacuated and gobbled up by the wilderness required by the bioregional agenda.

It is the mid-size communities, suburbs, and bedroom communities that will feel the next crunch. These are the communities that are described as "urban sprawl" which is to be stopped. These are the communities that have devastated "greenfields" and are destroying ecosystems. Visions of sustainable communities will put an immediate stop to future geographical growth. The vision documents will also reveal a planned reduction or elimination of infrastructure support to communities outside the "approved" area of urbanization. Financing for activities outside the approved "greenlined" area will become impossible. Land use restrictions outside the approved area will tighten. Farming outside the approved "management" areas will become impossible, and people who choose to live outside the approved sustainability ethic will be ridiculed and made to feel inferior. People who do not get on the sustainability bandwagon can expect to be treated very much like the people who choose to smoke cigarettes.

The common thread that weaves the various councils together is the NGO. Coordinated by their national and international headquarters, and fueled by federal and foundation funding, NGOs will see that the various community vision documents mesh into a bioregional vision that is consistent with the global agenda.

When your community's sustainability council is formed, look for a representative from the Sierra Club, whose International Vice President, Michelle Perrault, is a member of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, and whose Board member, Dave Foreman, is largely responsible for developing "The Wildlands Project," the master plan for bioregions.

Sustainable Communities Means Managed Societies

"Sustainability"—sustainable communities, sustainable development, sustainable agriculture—is not simply a comprehensive approach to environmental protection. The recurring theme throughout the sustainability literature is the integration of "economic, equity, and environmental" policies. That grandiose language is translated by specific policy recommendations which use the environment as an excuse to manage the economy to achieve social equity. Throughout the literature, terms such as "harness market forces" describe proposals to impose consumption taxes on products that "management" deems to be unsustainable. Air conditioning, convenience foods, single-family housing, and cars are among the products already determined to be unsustainable. "Equity" means forcing those who produce an income to provide for those who do not. "Environmental protection" means constraining individual freedom to accommodate "management" to prevent the impending impoverishment of the planet.

"Management" is not the government. The government is simply the instrument for enforcing the dictates of management. Management is actually the NGOs, headed by the big three—the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); and the World Resources Institute (WRI). These three NGOs have set the ideological agenda. They have created a world-wide network of affiliated NGOs, well-positioned and adequately funded to implement the agenda. And they are acquiring the legal status to manage national, state, and local governments, as well as the lives of individual citizens.

Sustainability councils, dominated by NGOs and public officials paid to implement the sustainability policy, are being formed in every community. These councils coordinate their activity with regional councils also dominated by NGOs. Ultimately, each bioregion is to have a bioregional council to coordinate, or manage, the activities within the bioregion. The function of governments within the bioregion will be simply to enforce the dictates of the council. Ultimate enforcement is to come from the United Nations.

Official documents now published by the UN call for the creation of a Petitions Council, and an Assembly of the People, both selected from representatives of accredited NGOs. The function of the Assembly of the People is to review resolutions of the General Assembly. The function of the Petitions Council is to review compliance petitions from bioregional councils and direct the petitions to the appropriate agency within the UN for enforcement. All of the environment—including private property—is to be placed under the "trusteeship" of the UN Trusteeship Council, consisting of no more than 23 individuals selected from accredited NGOs. The existing World Trade Organization as well as the proposed Economic Security Council, have unlimited authority to impose a wide range of sanctions—including military action by a standing UN army—against any nation deemed to be not in compliance with any treaty or UN dictate.

The Law of the Seas Treaty has already created the International Seabed Authority which has legal jurisdiction over all non-territorial waters. Anyone wishing to salvage a shipwreck or harvest ocean resources must obtain a permit and pay annual royalties. Application fees may be a quarter-million dollars or more, and unspecified royalties are authorized by the treaty. The United States has not ratified the treaty, but Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, told a Stanford University audience on April 9, that ratification of the Law of the Seas Treaty and the Biodiversity Treaty would be top priority items on the Clinton/Gore agenda for 1997.

The plan for a world-wide, managed society is in place, published extensively in the literature of the United Nations . The plan is so massive, so complex, so bizarre, that it is difficult to comprehend in its totality . The public has seen only small segments of the plan at any one time . The various world conferences over the past four years have drawn only limited publicity for a short time. The President's Council on Sustainable Development has conducted its work in a public vacuum. And any negative discussion about the UN or about the environment is quickly denied and cast aside by the administration and the media as nothing more than the rantings of right-wing extremist wackos. All the while, day by day, the plan unfolds. In every community, a net is being deployed to surround every American. Over the next few years, expect the net to be slowly drawn around all individual freedoms, and tightened relentlessly until the managed activities of human beings produce the sustainability envisioned by the international managers.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization and chairman of Sovereignty International.

 

© 2006 American Policy Center
 

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SC County should protect property rights
Tree ordinance will trample on rights of Greenville residents

By Butch Taylor

Radical environmentalists in Greenville County are proposing an ordinance that would dictate to private property owners which trees they could cut, and if cutting is allowed by regulators, the kind and how many trees they would be required to replant, and how much of their private property to leave for public greenways.

"Our culture is not just the sum total of the choice free Americans make; it's the sum total of the choice they are given. It is a force like economics." (Tom Jerrod)

When government and nongovernment organizations are allowed to interfere with private property rights, they interfere with basic constitutional rights and the free enterprise system. One of the greatest responsibilities of government is to protect citizens' private property rights.

Karl Marx, father of communism, stated in his "Communist Manifesto," there is no God. Also in the manifesto, he set forth a thesis that capitalism, the right to own property and to be productive for self-enhancement, was wrong. The synthesis is Marxism, socialism or communism, wherein the state would own or control the land.

Sustainable development, a United Nations program (Agenda 21), encompasses every aspect of American life. The United Nations recognizes that the United States, with its constitutionally guaranteed property rights, would have to be subdued gradually. Government and nongovernment organizations realize they will be unable to overtly rescind property rights in America and have adopted a devious plan to buy up land, frequently using taxpayer funds, thus removing land from private ownership.

Restricting the rights of private property owners can also be accomplished by intrusive zoning, land-use planning, Vision 2025, smart growth, environmental easements, rails to trails, designing our destiny and tree ordinances, to restrict the property rights of citizens until total control of land can be achieved.

Other facts to consider that were omitted by the proponents of the tree ordinance:

  • Spring and fall tree pollen in the Greenville area is a major health problem for citizens suffering with asthma, emphysema, hay fever and other respiratory illnesses.
  • The highest flood level in the Greenville area occurred in 1907 (100-year flood level), which greatly exceeded the levels we experienced in recent years. It is interesting to note that lack of trees, clear-cutting and major development had little or nothing to do with the 1907 flood.
  • Greater Greenville has a negative inversion factor due to its close proximity to Paris Mountain. Ozone in the lower atmosphere negatively impacts our heath and increases air pollution. Ozone is created when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are mixed with nitrogen oxides. The primary source of VOCs in our area is from off-gassing compounds from trees during their natural growth. Fifty percent of VOCs in our area comes from trees and natural sources. Other sources of nitrogen oxides are from natural gas combustion and automobiles.

    We recommend the following for any resolution or changes in the tree ordinance:

  • The Home Builders Association should establish a committee made up of its members to make recommendations concerning future development projects.
  • Include provisions to hold property owners responsible for trees on their property. Falling trees or tree limbs are responsible for major damage to power lines resulting in power outages affecting citizens' homes and businesses. The tree owners should be required to pay for removing the tree, cost of power line repair and losses incurred by businesses. Other power customers should not be required to pay for restoration of power for the irresponsibility and negligence of others.
  • Any tree ordinance should be voted on by a countywide referendum.

    George Washington, our greatest president, stated, "How soon we forget history. Government is not reason. Government is not eloquent. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

    We urge each County Council member to resist unnecessary intrusion on the rights of private property owners.

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