The role of the press in our country is quite unique. They are called to be the most inquisitive amongst us. Their importance and power is specifically enumerated in the First Amendment to our U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press … .” In the words of Socrates (470 BC - 399 BC) the press should be counted on to “follow the story wherever it leads.”
I would like to thank the Havre Daily News for reminding everyone of the Vibrant Futures Consortium. The “partisan” vote was criticized in the “Our View” section of the HDN opinion page on July 10, 2012. I don’t remember the HDN editorial board criticizing Councilman Woodwick and Tretheway for their “partisan” vote, which prevented the entire council from voting to repeal the cellphone ban. Nor do I recall that “Our View” lavished praise on Mayor Solomon’s bipartisan vote against Councilman Woodwick and for Councilman Brekke to become the new president of the council back on Jan. 3. Perhaps we should forego the faux hand-wringing on the partisan issue?
Vibrant Futures is not “the brainchild of Opportunity Link.” A quick search will turn up many of these consortia throughout the country: Northeast Ohio, Teton County Idaho, Association of Bay Area Governments, etc. A journalist might be intrigued by this fact and therefore “follow the story wherever it leads.” From Plato’s Republic to Marx’s Communist Manifesto utopian ideals have been peddled and mandated on mankind without success. Recognizing the rights of individuals to life, liberty and to pursue happiness and acquire private property, however, has changed world history for the better.
Phrases like “sustainable communities,” “regional planning,” “planning efforts for land use” are used by all of the HUD grant recipients. Here is the opening few sentences from the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium:
“In October of 2010, Northeast Ohio was chosen to receive a $4.25 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As a result, CMHA joined the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) to engage in the planning process. The NEOSCC will develop a coordinated and integrated approach to planning efforts for land use, transportation, economic and workforce development, and infrastructure investments for a 12-county planning area … .”
Once again, a journalist might be intrigued by the similarities in all of these cookie-cutter sounding consortia popping up all around the country and thus be inclined to “follow the story wherever it leads.”
ABAG stands for the Association of Bay Area Governments. It is a consortium of local governments, which is in charge of regional planning and creating sustainable communities in and around San Francisco. Recently, the town of Corte Madera terminated its membership in ABAG, because the regional planning association, ABAG, takes too much control from the cities and towns. ABAG has also proposed a ban on single family residences in order to combat “manmade global warming.” Dictating how citizens live is the goal of these consortia.
Furthermore, if you don’t agree with an elected official’s policies, you can vote them out of office. The same is not true for these regional boards. The members are appointed. The “information gathering sessions” have predetermined outcomes, and if your opinion deviates with that predetermined outcome it will be ignored or treated with derision.
Finally, I stand by every previous assertion that I have made regarding Vibrant Futures. I did not run for City Council because I wanted to be part of the “city hall clique.” I saw that this government body, like so many across our state and country, was going astray of our limited government principles. Don’t let the HDN’s editorial board’s dearth of curiosity regarding the Vibrant Futures Consortium stop you from doing your own investigation.
I encourage you to “follow the story wherever it leads.”
(Rick Dow serves on the Havre City Council representing Ward 3.)