Richard Ranzau
Guest columnist
On Nov. 21, 2011, the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD) announced the Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP) and the Flint Hills Regional Council (FHRC) as recipients of the 2011 Sustainable Communities Grants. These grants are a result of a partnership between HUD, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that was created on June 16, 2009, five months after President Obama took office. These planning grants are designed to help local communities to adopt “sustainable development” policies (also known as Smart Growth , Livable Communities, and UN Agenda 21).Proponents of these grants tell us this program will help lower the cost of future development and promote economic development.
But is this actually true? And what are they not telling us?
The counties of Sedgwick, Reno, Harvey, Butler, Sumner, Morris, Geary, Riley, Wabaunsee, Pottawatomie, and the cities of Wichita, El Dorado, Newton, Hutchinson, Wellington, Junction City, Manhattan, Riley, Alma, Council Grove, Chapman, Woodbine, and Grandview Plaza have all agreed to participate. Many others will be asked to participate in the future.
This is a tremendous mistake, not only for the regions currently involved, but for the entire State of Kansas as well. By participating in the HUD grant, they have agreed to develop a plan for future development under the guidance and supervision of the federal government and the United Nations. Like a deadly virus, what begins in one part of the state could easily spread to the rest of the state.
Unfortunately, most of the participants were never told about the real agenda and its’ disastrous consequences of higher housing costs, increased taxes, more environmental regulations, and fewer property rights. Nevertheless, they have paved the way for President Obama and his progressive, big government agenda by inviting DOT, HUD, and the EPA to “help” us plan our communities.
The program behind this grant is pure, unadulterated, liberal social engineering at its worst. The Obama administration has made it clear that their goal is to implement their principles “through changes in local zoning and land use laws and regulations”. The words of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson should send a chill down the spine of every citizen, developer, and businessman: “This partnership provides a framework to guide decisions that affect all communities.”
Incredibly, the supporters of this grant say that this partnership will reduce the cost of building communities in our region. The notion that introducing concepts like “social equity” and “environmental justice” into our planning process will lead to reduced cost is ridiculous.
And what about the paper co-authored by Misty Bruckner, a “key partner” in the REAP application, that clearly states “citizens who are willing to pay increased taxes are an important component of building sustainable communities.” Do you want your taxes to be raised? Do higher taxes promote economic development?
In the 2010 elections, the people of Sedgwick County and the region repudiated the big government agenda of President Obama. Nevertheless, elected officials have rejected the will of the people and have instead decided to adopt the President’s progressive agenda as their own.
Take the time to educate yourself. And then educate your elected officials and tell them to stop this “trojan horse” from entering our communities before it is too late.
If you are an elected official, please consider the unintended consequences and separate your desire to support REAP or the FHRC from this particular grant. Opposing this grant program and its agenda does not mean that you don’t support your regional body. It just means that you are willing to put the long term interests of your community first.
Ranzau is a Sedgwick County (Kan.) Commissioner.