What Your Cities Are Doing Outside of Council Meetings

November 26, 2012 at 11:55 am 2 comments

Much of what your City does is documented by video in City Council meetings. There are many other issues that are done in open (but not televised) work sessions, commission meetings, and extra-curricular organizations. As bad as it is to not have access to work and commission meetings after the fact, curious people can get some information with a little work. Not true with these organizations that City Councils and mayors join outside of the confines of City oversight. The only insight we get is in ordinances that get passed, but we get no inclination whether these are devised by a City Council, or part of some larger agenda that is being pushed by an outside group.

Take the Bottineau Boulevard Partnership. It is charged with completing studies and paving the way for the Northwest Transit Corridor to become a reality. How can your City Council member be a part of this (using taxpayer money), and still represent those of you that oppose it? Simple answer is, they can’t.

I came across an organization recently, that is another one of these shadowy groups that operate outside of the accountability of the City, and more importantly, the People. It is the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The following mayors have signed their cities on to something called the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement (http://www.usmayors.org/climateprotection/documents/mcpAgreement.pdf ) at the Mayors Climate Protection Center: Tim Wilson- Brooklyn Center, (almost former mayor) ReNae Bowman- Crystal, and (former mayor) Linda Loomis- Golden Valley (the full state list can be found here- http://www.usmayors.org/climateprotection/cities.asp?state=MN).

What does this agreement say? That mayors agree to:

  • Adopt and enforce land-use policies that reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create compact, walkable urban communities.” Well, this has certainly been done. Look at the homes and businesses gone, with drainage ponds in their place. Look at the purchase of the Cavanaugh property and the City’s redevelopment plan calling for scores of (mostly high density) housing to be built within walking distance of the proposed light rail tracks. Look at the walking and biking paths that have been built. This is certainly underway, and there is plenty more to be done.
  • Promote transportation options such as bicycle trails, commute trip reduction programs, incentives for car pooling and public transit” See my last point about the proposed light rail. Look at the “complete streets” initiatives, where busy roads that once had four lanes of traffic have been reduced to two (with a turn lane), so that there is more room for bicycles. Also note the bike trail that was approved to go from New Hope through southern Crystal and on to downtown Minneapolis.
  • Evaluate opportunities to increase pump efficiency in water and wastewater systems” The City had mandatory smart meters installed to monitor water consumption a few years ago. These were not optional. The City threatened to shut off access to City water for those that did not comply.
  • Inventory global warming emissions in City operations and in the community, set reduction targets and create an action plan.
  • Practice and promote sustainable building practices using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program or a similar system
  • Make energy efficiency a priority through building code improvements, retrofitting city facilities with energy efficient lighting and urging employees to conserve energy and save money
  • Increase the use of clean, alternative energy by, for example, investing in “green tags”, advocating for the development of renewable energy resources, recovering landfill methane for energy production, and supporting the use of waste to energy technology

Now, not everything in the list is a bad thing. No one would argue that being good stewards of what we have is a good idea. Increasing recycling rates, and planting more trees are noble ideals. This document, however, is filled with buzzwords found throughout Agenda 21. This is just another organization to get local communities to submit to an international set of standards, where it has no sovereignty over us. So, even if your City doesn’t belong to ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability, there are still plenty of other strands in the net to capture the allegiance of a City. Hennepin County is a member of ICLEI, and passes along these initiatives to your municipality. In the Twin Cities, the requirement of every City Council to create a plan to administer the Met Council’s 2030 plan also nudges communities onto the Agenda 21 tracks.

Given that global warming models have been shown to be suspect (and even deceitful) over the past few years (remember Climategate?), why would any mayor continue to subject their residents to an agenda that is determined by someone else, somewhere else? We need to retain local control. If we decide to build bike paths and such because it is right for that community, fantastic. Deciding to push them because someone else’s agenda tells us it is the right thing to do, shows an utter lack of leadership and a dereliction of duty, in that you are passing the buck to someone else to make these important decisions.

I hope our Cities will make the decision to get out of groups like ICLEI and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, so that they can begin to assert themselves against an agenda that is not the best for their individual communities. Who wants to live in a city that is an exact blueprint of the next one over? Choose individuality.


Entry filed under: Agenda 21, Brooklyn Center, City Government, Crystal, Environment, Golden Valley, Hennepin, Mayor, Met Council. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Justice for the Ramirez Family- Round 2 Agenda 21 In Our Own Backyard

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bill C  |  November 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I have it on good inside info from a Golden Valley resident that the current mayor, Shep Harris, while running as a non-partisan, was heartily endorsed by MN rep Ryan Winkler (D), so it is not likely that he will have any resistance to anything the USCM pushes in the way of green or Agenda 21.

    RE: Smart water meters. We just noticed on our last water bill that billing is now divided up into “usage level categories”, with each higher level category being charged more per unit of water than the next lower level category. For our family of 4 that does lots of laundry every week, the adults shower every day and the kids every other day (usually), runs a dishwasher on average every 2-3 days, but does not water our lawn or wash our car at home, we hit usage of 12 units where anything under 30 was considered the low category.

  • 2. Paul Seefeld  |  November 30, 2012 at 4:14 am

    Great usage of the word “nudge” there!


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