Maryland county charts a path out of Agenda 21

, DC Independent Examiner December 23, 201

Last February I wrote about how one brave county was taking the lead in 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 an elected official!” Paraphrasing the McCarthy hearings he asked, “Have you no shame, you group of haters?” But the Left is fine with such tactics when directed at their enemies, so the attacks continue unabated. 

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 counties throughout 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 – one in Massachusetts. Counting cities, 54 governmental entities have dropped out, about 10 percent of the total U.S. membership. This is a significant development, and may be what amounts 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 borders Governor, 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 told the 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 ones who provided the revenues, it is particularly galling for the Governor to assert the money is his to “subsidize” anything, much less that he knows better what to do with it.

But such considerations never stopped this Governor. He has even gone so far as to redefine economic success with bizarre new statistical measures he 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.

Presenters included internationally-known experts on wastewater treatment, Chesapeake Bay pollution, urban planning, and transportation modes – issues highlighted in PlanMaryland. The Plan justifies its radical prescriptions with dire predictions of climate change, sea level rise and other environmental calamities.

The redoubtable Lord Christopher Monckton, former science advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and noted global warming skeptic, addressed the true cost of climate change mitigation, using the UN's own data. Monckton globe-trots to debate the subject and has not lost a debate yet. He is so good that, on one occasion, Congressional Democrats took the unprecedented step of blocking his testimony on climate change that would have followed, and no doubt made a fool of, Al Gore.

Anyway, when the Left heard he was coming, they predictably degenerated into a mass of unglued hysteria, and left-biased papers from the Washington Post to the Baltimore Sun and everything in between, penned gratuitous attack articles, thereby creating a level of interest that advertised the forum far and wide. Generating such publicity was a main purpose of soliciting the Lord's kind assistance.

The commissioners also leveraged interest in the forum to secure repeated interviews on some of the most popular local talk shows. Commissioner Richard Rothschild, the most articulate and powerful advocate of the County's position, was interviewed for an hour on Washington, DC's Chris Plante Show, and both he and Board President Doug Howard appeared numerous times on Baltimore's popular Sean and Frank show. Lord Monckton was also interviewed just before the event. The result was a packed house with official representation from the Governor's office, the Maryland Planning Department, Baltimore City and nineteen of Maryland's 23 counties.

Ultimately, Carroll County was joined by 18 other counties in expressing serious concerns with PlanMaryland. Virtually all were concerned that, whatever its other flaws, PlanMaryland threatened to usurp local planning authority. 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. Another eight counties, as well as the Democrat-controlled Maryland Association of Counties, sent letters arguing for delay. Commissioner Howard also proposed a Planning Bill of Rights to reiterate demands that the state respect local autonomy in planning matters. 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. Maryland Senator E.J. Pipkin called PlanMaryland a "War on rural Maryland."

All of this fell on deaf ears, however. With arrogant disregard, the Governor signed the executive order on December 19th. Merry Christmas! Still, by identifying and articulating serious flaws within the Plan, and organizing opposition across the state, the Carroll County Commissioners were able to delay implementation for months and force the governor to acknowledge county supremacy in planning authority. The executive order now explicitly states: “PlanMaryland… will not supplant local planning and zoning authority…” The state has also offered repeated assurances that it will consult with counties moving forward. We will see if the governor honors that pledge.

The commissioners have charted a path away from Agenda 21, and while the scope for action may be limited within a state such as Maryland, their activities set an example that can be effectively utilized nationwide by those concerned about the future of our America.  Source HERE.