Agenda 21's impact here is key topic at town hall
Some people in the audience said the subject was inappropriate.
By Ali Helgoth
CHEYENNE -- A newly elected Laramie County commissioner organized a town hall meeting Tuesday night to fulfill a campaign promise of making government more open.
While the more than 100 people who attended were able to ask questions of recently elected Commissioners M. Lee Hasenauer, Buck Holmes and Amber Ash and sitting Commissioner Troy Thompson, a significant portion of the meeting was devoted to presentations about the United Nations Agenda 21 and the importance of being self-reliant. Hasenauer organized the event.
A non-binding United Nations document signed by the U.S. and more than 100 other countries in 1992, Agenda 21 is a blueprint that encourages nations to pursue sustainable development. But in recent years, some in the U.S. have contended that it is actually a scheme to gradually eliminate private property rights through zoning codes and other planning mechanisms.
Cheyenne resident Brad Harrington was one of three speakers.
He outlined what he described as a link from Agenda 21 to the city and county’s planning document PlanCheyenne and the Unified Development Code approved by the Cheyenne City Council.
Comparing language in each, he said the city, even if without intent, made the non-binding international document law on the local level.
Agenda 21 is the detailed blueprint of total top-down control of all property as it relates to development, he said, and the local codes are its implementation.
Harrington’s presentation included some controversial remarks, including an explanation that Agenda 21 “calls for the sacrifice of all the wealths of the haves to the inefficiencies and ineptitudes of the have-nots.”
He described it as a form of international welfare.
“Forget about your economic growth, forget about what’s right for you, forget about your prosperity. We’re going to sacrifice your economic growth, your prosperity and your wellbeing for savages in Africa or everywhere else in the country that live in subhuman misery because they have totalitarian governments or worse, no government at all, and this is going to bring about social progress and world peace?”
The majority of the room applauded Harrington after his presentation, but not everyone was pleased.
Beth and Paul Howard said they attended because it was billed as a town hall meeting, and they wanted the chance to talk with the new county commissioners. Both are on county-appointed boards, the library board and hospital board, respectively.
Beth Howard said she expected it would be a chance for them to hear about concerns people in the community have, but it was “more to promote an agenda.”
Paul Howard said he thought the presentation was “totally inappropriate.”
Hasenauer said as the event’s emcee Harrington had leeway giving remarks, but he made sure Thompson was able to answer questions from attendees before he had to leave early.
Thompson said he wasn’t expecting Tuesday night’s meeting to have such a focus on Agenda 21, and he wouldn’t have attended if he had known.
He said he has studied Agenda 21 and he encouraged everyone to do more research by looking at both sides of the issue.
“With any issue, it’s important to do your own research and do your own critical thinking and come to your own conclusions,” he said.
He said Agenda 21 and governmental overreach in general are concerns, and as a commissioner, he always tries to look out for private property rights.
Holmes said he believes there is a connection between the city’s UDC and Agenda 21, but some of the views presented during the meeting were further right on the political spectrum than he is.
Despite some criticism, Hasenauer said the meeting went well.
“You cannot ask for any better than people who want to hear and voice their concerns to the commission,” he said.
Among them was Roger Hovel, who said he wanted to attend to listen and ask questions.
“I think it was good to call this meeting because look at the turnout it had,” said Hovel.
Hasenauer said he heard positive feedback after the meeting, but he does plan to make changes to future town hall formats. There will be fewer speakers and more time to hear from residents, he said. He said the decision was made to have more speakers this time because he, Ash and Holmes have not yet been sworn-in.