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June 20, 2011


A green battle begins

by Deena Winter

Some say the city's push for bike lanes and roundabouts are more sinister than you might think.

Remember back during the spring campaign, when I wrote about the “green grenade” I expected Republicans might throw at Mayor Chris Beutler?

Well they never did really go after Beutler for pushing green initiatives, but now, it turns out, LIBA is.

LIBA wants the mayor to drop out of that group I wrote about in March — the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI. (Read LIBA’s press statement here: EPA Position Statement)
ICLEI is an international association formed in 1990 to promote sustainable development. More than 1,200 cities, towns and counties and their associations are members of ICLEI.

Mayor Beutler quietly signed Lincoln up with ICLEI in July 2010, saying the group would help Lincoln city government reduce its energy use by 20 percent and the city reduce its energy use by 10 percent over the next two years. LIBA doesn’t like it, saying,

Unfortunately, under the guise of being green, some special interest groups attempt to use the
environment as a weapon to defeat private property rights, curb individual choice, and promote
“social justice.”

LIBA says groups like ICLEI support regulations that would impose unnecessary controls and costs on business and property owners. The city of Lincoln recently hosted a meeting about sustainability goals, during which an EPA official said, “walkability is the issue, non vehicle travel.” He said the keys were more trees, fewer vehicles and strong air quality agencies.

Another consultant said during the meeting, “Lincoln’s development codes have to change to deal with sustainability” and said Lincoln should make the following code changes:

• Adopt a clothesline bill of rights, “The Right to Dry.” (Some homeowners associations don’t allow clotheslines. A law would override homeowner covenants to block clotheslines.)
• Require bicycle parking and bike lockers in all apartment buildings.
• Adopt outdoor lighting regulations that give each project a “lumen budget.” Once you have reached your “lumen budget”, you are not allowed to have any more lighting.
• Require showers in office buildings to encourage people to bike to work.
• Require separating our household waste prior to putting it into the trash.
• Allow gardens in homeowners front yards.

LIBA says Greg Shinaut, of Black Hills Energy, has been loaned to the city half time to promote a green city. Greg said when he met with Mayor Beutler, “The Mayor told me to inject green into all the codes.”

All of this may be music to some people’s ears. Not to LIBA’s.

“Environmental activism must be balanced with respect for private property rights and freedom of choice,” they said.

Lincoln’s membership in ICLEI is up for renewal in July, and LIBA wants Beutler to drop out, saying, “We feel that the citizens of Lincoln are best suited to manage our city’s needs rather than having to take direction from ICLEI, an organization connected internationally with entities like the United Nations and the EPA that seek to implement an agenda that is counterproductive to Lincoln’s business climate.”

Some cities and counties have dropped out of the group due to controversy like the one swirling beneath the surface in Lincoln — including Albemarle County, Charlottesville, Va.; Carroll County, Westminster, Md.; Edmond, Okla.; Spartanburg County, Spartanburg, S.C.; Garland, Texas; and Montgomery County, Norristown, Penn.

I learned just how suspicious some people are of the green movement and the way Beutler is spending $2.4 million in federal stimulus money for green initiatives when I went to a meeting about it in March at a local church. About 60 people were there, including almost all of the Republican candidates for city offices in the spring election — mayoral candidate Tammy Buffington and council candidates Melissa Hilty and Travis Nelson.

The meeting was hosted by the Rev. John Morrow, who calls himself “a right-wing, radical, flag-loving, God-loving, conservative, Bible-believing pastor” and Don Raskey, a local accountant.

Morrow talked about the history of the sustainable development movement — noting that a Seattle planner advises cities to call it “comprehensive planning” or “smart growth” to avoid controversy. He said often city officials hold “visioning sessions” with facilitators or “change agents” to “give the appearance of public buy-in” to their goals.

He said individual rights take a back seat to ICLEI goals, and the ultimate goal is international redistribution of wealth and “public-private partnerships” and “putting nature above man.”

Morrow talked about a plan to eliminate humans on at least 50 percent of land, population control and mobility restrictions. He talked about groups that want to limit water consumption to five gallons per day.

“That sounds like a stinky deal to me,” Morrow said.

Raskey noted that Milo Mumgaard was hired to be Lincoln’s point man on spending the federal green money — without being “subject to the usual hiring review.” He talked about how the city’s “traffic-calming measures” like bike lanes and roundabouts and city lighting upgrades and smart meters (LES) and the solar-powered stoplight at 84th and Highway 2 are all part of this sinister movement.

“They want you out of your car, folks,” he said.

He said Beutler’s Cleaner, Greener Lincoln’s goal is to make Lincoln the “green capital of the Great Plains.”

It was clear most of the people in the audience were on board with the idea that the green movement has sinister underpinnings. People ate it up with Amens and oohs and aahhs.

Frankly, I’m not sure which side is right. My parents are pretty conservative and my Dad loves his Fox News and so they’d probably believe a lot of what the anti-Greenies are saying. However, my Mom is more green than most Obama-lovers and taught me to:

• Save rainwater and use it to water plants (long before rain barrels became cool)
• Recycle Ziplock bags and aluminum foil, when possible.
• Use plastic grocery bags as garbage bags.
• Shut off the A/C and open the windows at night in the summer to let the cool air cool the house, rather than electricity.
• Never waste food if you can avoid it.
• Open and close the window shades to keep the house cooler in the summer and use the natural light, rather than electric lights, whenever possible.
• Plant a huge garden and can as much as she could to feed our family.

I knew I’d taken her conservation mantra too far when I found myself debating the most frugal way to delete words on my computer one day at work.

She’s a conservative Republican, but she’s also practicing green principles every day, in a thousand ways. Not to over-simplify, but that tells me there has to be a sensible middle ground on this issue.

23 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kris
    Jun 20 2011

    Your mother sounds like a very wise woman. These initiatives should be common sense measures that originate in the hearts and minds of the citizens, not from government control. We all need to consider our stewardship of the resources with which we’ve been blessed. I don’t need a meter on my home, or any other input from outside to help me make ‘smart’ choices for my family.

  2. LC
    Jun 20 2011

    The only way to get the message across to the public-at-large and corporate America is not through forced or burdensome regulation, rather by providing a large amount of public recognition to good practices and by educating the community. It’s about getting everyone from the little kid all the way up to the corporate leader to do simple things on a daily basis. It’s not about forcing the bigger stuff down everyone’s throats that will make the most difference. It may take longer to acheive the goals set about through the sustainability movement, but the best thing is that it isn’t done by force. Forceful action by the few zealots has done more damage to the movement for the greater number of average Joe’s out there who do care about the Earth and the people who live on it.

  3. Gene
    Jun 20 2011

    I see that LIBA, John Morrow, and Dan Raskey don’t provide any actual facts to support their wild claims.

    • chanda leer
      Jun 20 2011

      Actually those fellows have all the facts to support their claims. You can find it on the U.N. website under Agenda 21. ICLEI also has a website with its wild goals. I checked it out, you should do the same before forming an opinion and posting it. I didn’t believe it until I verified it.

      • Gene
        Jun 21 2011

        I guess I don’t see some of that stuff as all that wild. Maybe if I had purchased an SUV when gas was $4/gallon I might feel differently.

  4. Dave
    Jun 20 2011

    As usual LIBA advocates community progress by shoving its organization in reverse and stepping on the accelerator. Look sustainability makes small business sense. It is in place and has been successful in locations all over the U.S.

  5. Matthew Platte
    Jun 20 2011

    “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” – Stephen Colbert

  6. Publius
    Jun 20 2011

    The issue is whether or not it is the government’s role to initiate such measures. And actually these initiatives don’t even originate in our own government but through the United Nations – a foreign entity. And based on that fact, would actually make these proposals a violation of the Constitution.

  7. Jun 20 2011

    “Frankly, I’m not sure which side is right. ”
    What is so difficult? The contrast is pretty great… perhaps you are accepting the right-winger’s definition of what the green movement is about? It is their typical straw-man argument– set up a false target and then give that some whacks.

  8. porcupine
    Jun 20 2011

    I don’t think the city should enter into such agreements. I believe it’s a bad practice and that it is probably how we got into the mess with the railroad. Once again, Buetler sold out the city. Can anyone stop this madness? How much more is there to come?

  9. Roger Yant
    Jun 20 2011

    LIBA supported the Mayor, so why are they now fussing about what he did years ago. You get what you vote for. The green movement is a farse and the masses are to stupid to see it.

    • porcupine
      Jun 21 2011

      I personally don’t think the masses are too stupid. They’re just hard working people trying to feed their families. Not to mention all the smoke and mirrors.

  10. DougB
    Jun 20 2011

    There are no laws forced on the United States by the UN. The United States does enter into treaties and agreements, just has it has done with Indian tribes and other nations. International agreements to reduce carbon emissions and the like make sense. Some may think it is trite to “Think globally and act locally”, but really, isn’t it more frightening to have a world where bad actors are accountable to no one?.

  11. Bob Root
    Jun 21 2011 has some great information on Agenda 21 and ICLEI.

  12. Roger C
    Jun 21 2011

    “The green movement is a farse and the masses are to stupid to see it”.

    I thought hell would have to freeze over before I agreed with anything Roger Yant had to say, however, I think that before he gets off telling people how “stupid” they are, he should probably do it with proper grammer and spelling (“too”, not “to”).

  13. Buffalo
    Jun 21 2011

    Individual actions such as your mother’s come from common sense and care for the world, not from the UN or its agencies or even our local governments following the UN Agenda 21. See or for BIpartisan movements against this world control. There is no “CONSENSUS” except when there is no striving for excellence or a lack of leadership which is why Al Gore says the science is settled. The science is not settled on global warming; what is settled is that the US is the most responsible country in the world–try to get Russia or China or India to clean up, but, no, attack the US and our citizens because we care INDIVIDUALLY and we already do the best job on and for the planet.

  14. J
    Jun 21 2011

    I would like to exercise my liberty to ride my bike safely and to not interrupt those who like to drive. Designated bike streets and bike lanes help accomplish this.

    The LED stop lights provide more visible lights while saving our community a lot of wasted money on electrical and labor replacement costs.

    Maybe I have a backyard not suitable for growing a garden, and I want to put it in the front yard.

    It seems to me that you are the one trying to take away or continue to prevent me from exercising my rights. Why do you want to do that? Isn’t that the opposite of what you say in your blog?

    • porcupine
      Jun 21 2011

      We don’t need an agreement to change light bulbs or a law to tell you where to grow your garden or ride a bike. We should not enter into such agreements. . .what’s next, an agreement that your car has to be washed before every Husker game?

    • Jun 22 2011

      Where in my blog did I say people shouldn’t have the right to ride their bike or plant a garden in their front yard? My take is that I’m not taking a side on this debate.

      • J
        Jun 22 2011

        I want to suggest that the “sensible” solutions (the one’s mentioned above) are the very one’s on which the Rev. you quote (and LIBA) rails against. It seems you prefer to see yourself as reporting objectively. Yet, a significant portion of your article reflects quite a radical position from a not-so-sensible voice, a person who suggests that “they (whoever “they” are) want us out of our car.”

        Also, there are no sources cited, no information for people to look up, just hear say from LIBA quotes and a Rev.

        Nothing here says anything specific or informative, and I suggest it only serves inflame people. If sensible is what you seek, this blog post does not invite that sort of discussion. It leads to complaints such as the one listed above.

      • Jun 22 2011

        I think it’s clear I’m reporting on these people’s opinions. You don’t think sustainable devt. proponents want people to use their cars less? I think that’s a fact. If you don’t want to know that this is happening locally — that LIBA and others are very concerned about the green movement — then I guess you don’t have to read it. I prefer to know what’s going on in my community — whether I agree with it or not.

  15. Ellie
    Jun 21 2011

    I think your mother taught you well. Many of us practice these conservation practices. The difference here is CONTROL by the government telling us what we are to do, the rules we must follow and the increased cost to make THEIR plan realized. It is a loss of freedom and property and redistribution of our hard earned money. Now is time that our mayor RETHINK his action of renewal of ICLEI.

  16. Glenn Friendt
    Jun 21 2011

    Your description of your parents positions on the “green movement” are instructive. I applaud your Mom, precisely because her actions ARE VOLUNTARY. The key is the use of law, or regulation, to coerce people to do what YOUwant them to do against their will, because YOU think it is a higher good. Those who can’t surpress these “smarter than you,” and “holier than thou” convictions are Socialists or worse. They may be well meaning, but are the most dire threat to individual freedom and democracy.

    Don’t be ambivalent. Use of government force to coerce green behavior is wrong.
    Glenn Friendt


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