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Is your community being transformed?

By Henry Lamb
web posted July 11, 2005

"I'm from the government; I'm here to help," is a phrase that should raise warning flags for individuals and for elected officials in every community. But what is the reaction when a private, not-for-profit foundation appears, and says "we want to help improve your town."

This is how it begins. In 2002, the Magi Foundation formed the Pacific Partnership to "preserve and develop Old Town Pacific." Pacific, Missouri is a small town of about 6,000 people (5.4 square miles), situated southwest of St. Louis. The project has now grown to encompass 154 square miles, crossing into three counties, into a "sustainable community" known as the Pacific Ring.

Jim McHugh, chairman of the Magi Foundation, is the originator of the project. The agenda for a recent conference boasts "Creating a model sustainable community through balancing of accelerated population and economic growth with the protection of private property rights and the preservation of the highest quality environment."

This mission presumes that the town of Pacific is currently not sustainable, even though the local folks have sustained the community since the early 1800s, without help from the Magi Foundation, or the dozens of professional planners, researchers, university professors, and agency bureaucrats that now drive the project.

The July 7 conference heard reports from its committees on Education and Research; Economic Growth; and Alternative Energy. The reports were followed by what was called "open discussion," but of the 12 panelists listed to do the discussing, only one was a local farmer and land owner, Bill McLaren.

At a similar conference last January, McLaren told the project leaders, "The reason you all have come here and found clean air and water is because what you call open space, we call family farms. It's no accident that this place is in good condition." He told them that it was essential that they get local land owners involved in the process - two years after the project began.

McHugh told a symposium of more than 30 "specialists" last October, that "Our goal is to establish the Pacific Ring as a laboratory for the study of the total environment to support sustainable development."

Is this Pacific Ring project the result of local citizens demanding that their town be transformed into a sustainable community? Did the City Council adopt a resolution inviting all these experts to come transform their town? There have been no such reports.

The blueprint for the Pacific Ring can be found in Agenda 21, a U.N. policy document adopted at the 1992 Conference on Environment and Development. The process is described in Chapter 8. The Education Committee's work is laid out in Chapter 36. Every project within the Pacific Ring initiative is addressed somewhere in the Agenda 21 document.

As the project leaders describe the various activities in glowing terms, the end result is obscured. The end result is a society designed by professionals, managed by unelected bureaucrats, imposed upon the people who are governed.

The project's multi-county jurisdiction is no accident; it is a deliberate design objective, requiring a special act of the legislature to define governing authority, most often to an appointed council.

McHugh's first goal is to get a bill enacted to designate the area as a special "micropolitan area with a goal of sustainability."

Dr. Peter Raven, Missouri Botanical Gardens director, and one of the 30 specialists involved in the project, says that the Pacific Ring will be similar to the Adirondack Park in New York. Everyone inside the Pacific Ring should learn about the Adirondack Park, and see how it has destroyed private property rights and the local economy.

These "sustainable communities" are being formed all across the country. The process erodes the power of local elected officials, by placing policy-making power in the hands of non-elected bureaucrats and professionals who are not accountable to the people who are governed. The people, however, are forced to live by the rules and regulations imposed by the professionals.

Santa Cruz, California was the first sustainable community, transformed through a process they proudly called "Local Agenda 21." Because of the association with the United Nations, proponents now avoid any recognition of Agenda 21, and use names such as "Pacific Ring Initiative." The process is the same. The goal is the same. The result is the same: loss of control by elected officials, loss of property rights and value, and the emergence of a managed society.

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


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