The Back Room Deal to Destroy America

June 3, 2002

By Tom DeWeese

A group of U.S. Senators have conspired to destroy local zoning throughout the United States of America. They are trying to do it in secret. They don’t want to hear from someone saying they are betraying the Constitution they swore to uphold.

Americans should take note of the names of these Senators: Former Republican turncoat Jim Jeffords; Republican Arlen Specter; Democrat Max Baucus; Democrat Harry Ried; Democrat Bob Graham; Democrat Joseph Lieberman; Democrat Barbara Boxer; Democrat Ron Wyden; Democrat Thomas Casper; Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Democrat Jon Corzine.

These U.S. Senators, members of the Senate Environment Committee, hold American liberty in such disdain that they conspired behind closed doors to railroad through a bill that would put faceless bureaucrats in Washington, DC, in charge of decisions that have always been made at the community level. The bill, S.975, also known as the “Community Character Act,” authorizes the use of federal money so that un-elected environmentalists can advance their extreme-left political agenda.

Secrecy was needed because opposition has been growing as the harsh realities of S-975 are being revealed by property rights advocates. The Jeffords-led cabal knew fast action was required if the bill was to sneak past. S.975, and it’s counterpart in the House (H.R. 1433) will turn all of Bill Clinton’s land-grabbing Executive Orders into legislation. The Community Character Act will officially make the environmental goal of “sustainable development” the law of the land.

What is “sustainable development”? Imagine an America in which a single ruling principle is created to decide proper societal conduct for every citizen. That principle would be used to determine everything you eat, what you wear, the kind of home in which you live, the way you get to work, the way you dispose of waste, the number of children you may have, even your education and employment decisions. Imagine, too, that all of these decisions are called “voluntary” while the federal government uses its full power to induce—coerce–what it deems “correct behavior.”

On June 29, 1993, former President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order #12852 to create the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. Sustainable development calls for changing the concept of private property, protected by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, to nothing short of a national zoning system. 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.

Locally elected officials will no longer be the single driving force in making decisions for their communities. Most decisions will be arrived at behind the scenes by non-elected “sustainability councils” armed with truckloads of federal regulations, guidelines and money. The power of citizen’s votes would be nullified. This system is already in place with regard to the nation’s education system, controlled entirely from Washington, DC.

It is comparable to the Communist system of the former Soviet Russia.

The Community Character Act (S.975), and its counterpart in the House of Representatives (H.R.1433), is legislation that will legalize enforcement of “sustainable development” in every community in the nation. The bill requires local governments to implement land-management plans using guidelines outlined in a federal document called the “Smart Growth Legislative Guidebook.” This publication was developed with $2 million provided by the Clinton Administration to “guide” counties, cities and towns on how to “update their local zoning.”

The Community Character Act offers grants to communities that will pay up to 90% of the costs for localities to update their zoning, but only if they do it the way the federal government wants it done. Among other goals, the guide requires localities to “promote social equity.” Communities will be required to establish social programs that will be paid for with new or increased taxes on businesses and industry. What better way to discourage business growth?

The Community Character Act requires localities to “conserve historic, scenic, natural and cultural resources.” These are euphemisms that mean more land grabs and fewer places where humans can freely go about their daily lives. It means planned economies, restricted housing, diminished use of cars, and government control of property.

The Community Character Act demands that communities “integrate local land- use plans with Federal land-use plans.” That means local needs, local problems. and local culture will be ignored as the entire nation is homogenized into one, unhappy, colorless, controlled Big Brotherhood.

The bill contains not a single mention of private-property rights protection. The federal government and states now own forty percent of the entire landmass of the nation. Under the Community Character Act, money would be provided to render more land unavailable for any development or use.

This legislation must be stopped. If not, America will be unrecognizable to future generations. It is time for the Republicans in Congress to decide if they truly believe in the concept of limited government under which individual Americans are free to determine their destinies and achieve their dreams and goals, without intrusion and dictates. Under “sustainable development” there are no individual decisions, rights or actions. Virtually everything will come under the scrutiny of a Washington-sanctioned federal bureaucrat.

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott and House Speaker Dennis Hastert must unite their party to stop this attack on one of the fundamental principles of the Constitution. If enacted, it will not “sustain” development. It will end it. It will destroy the machine that maintains our economy and insures its growth. A secret, backroom deal has set this in motion.

Tom DeWeese is the president of the American Policy Center, a grassroots, activist think tank headquartered in Warrenton, VA. The Center maintains an Internet site ate

Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.