Leftist Lawmakers Want Feds to Oversee Local Development – and Your Life

Wes Vernon, NewsMax.com
Wednesday, June 26, 2002

WASHINGTON – Behind closed doors, far-left lawmakers are conspiring to ram through legislation aimed at putting Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood and their allies in charge of your life.

The bill in question purports to deal with development that some people might deem objectionable. But like so many other schemes prompted by real or imagined problems, the "remedy" turns out to be far worse than the disease.

Clinton's Damage Never Ends

While the nation’s attention is focused on the war on terrorism, S. 975, the Community Character Act, seeks to implement a Clinton executive order that the leftist establishment could use to dictate what you can own, what you can drive, the kind of home in which you can live – a mammoth intrusiveness into your life.

American Policy Center, a think tank headquartered in Warrenton, Va., says that if the measure and its companion in the House (H.R. 1433) become law, they could also be used to dictate "the way you get to work, how you dispose of waste, the number of children you may have, even your education and employment decisions.”

On the last point, NewsMax.com has already dealt with efforts to put the feds in charge of your career choices. S. 975 would facilitate that all the more.

S. 975 passed the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee on April 25 over the objections of its more conservative contingent. It awaits action on the Senate floor, where its primary backers hope to sneak it through when you’re not looking.

One of the "no" votes on the committee came from Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., who has expressed his concerns to NewsMax.com. He charges the measure "threatens the ability of local governments to make their own decisions on important economic development matters.”

A former mayor of Tulsa (1978-1984), Inhofe remembers confronting the same land-use issues. One of the first people to lobby the new mayor in the early years of his tenure was a prominent national advocate of land-use planning, housing, transportation and a host of other issues. This activist was advocating a plan to entice local governments to accept federal grants, while downplaying the inevitable federal strings attached.

Inhofe led his community in rejecting such proposals.

'Designed to Blackmail Local Governments'

"They were largely designed to blackmail local governments into giving up real local decision-making authority,” the Oklahoman says.

"By voting this legislation out of committee,” he told his colleagues, "we are saying it’s OK for the federal government to get involved in state, local and tribal land-use planning and that local planning is not important.”

'Changing the Concept of Private Property'

American Policy Center traces this development back to Executive Order 12852, issued by Bill Clinton in 1993 to create the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. "Sustainable development,” as envisioned by its proponents, "calls for changing the concept of private property, protected by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, to nothing short of a national zoning system,” says the think tank.

"Under such a system, the federal government, backed by an army of private, non-governmental organizations [NGOs] like the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, and the National Education Association will influence, if not dictate, property and other policies to the states and to local communities,” the study adds.

Sen. Inhofe sees this as "a dangerous precedent.” Proponents claim the program would be voluntary. But the Oklahoma lawmaker says that ignores the fact that "such a program creates a strong incentive for conducting planning activities solely in accord with federally imposed guidelines.”

The senator has "grave concerns with the notion of the secretary of commerce in Washington evaluating a state’s need for federal funds and then prescribing the criteria for the content of a state plan, usurping the expertise that exists at the local level.”

Hillary, Jeffords, Boxer, Lieberman, Specter, Reid ...

Committee Chairman Jim Jeffords (the GOP turncoat who now claims to be "independent" but caucuses with and even campaigns for the Democrats) is a driving force behind getting S. 975 approved by his panel.

Other main backers of the bill, according to APC, are Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Bob Graham, D-Fla.; Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Thomas Carper, D-Del.; Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.; Jon Corzine, D-N.J.

Under the bill, as critics see it, locally elected officials would no longer be the driving force in making decisions for their communities. Most decisions would be arrived at behind the scenes by non-elected "sustainability councils” armed with truckloads of federal regulations, guidelines and taxpayer money.

Yet another think tank, the Chicago-based National Center for Public Policy Research, has done a study showing "the potential damaging effects of ‘sustainable development’ in over 100 metropolitan areas around the country.”

Back in the 1970s as mayor of Tulsa, Inhofe fought this plan because he was concerned the power of the citizens’ votes would be nullified.

As a U.S. senator in 2002, he worked with his colleagues to try to make improvements in the legislation. While one change was made before the committee vote, the senator says the bill still "continues to present serious constitutional and policy problems.”

Those who value individual control over their life decisions might want to notify their congressmen (www.house.gov) and senators (www.senate.gov) that they are well aware of S. 975 and H.R. 1433, and that they will be watching their elected lawmakers to see that they oppose this government encroachment.


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