For months, Plumas County supervisors sat silently while individuals railed against Agenda 21 and its infiltration into the county’s general plan.
But that changed April 9.
At the board’s request, County Counsel Craig Settlemire wrote a resolution regarding Agenda 21.
It read in part, “Whereas, although the United States of America is a signatory country to Agenda 21, since Agenda 21 has not been ratified as a treaty by the Senate of the United States, nor has it been ratified by the Executive Branch of the United States, it is not enforceable as law in the United States of America. …”
The resolution concluded, “Resolved further, that the County of Plumas does not grant the United Nations or any other agency the authority to enforce Agenda 21 within the County of Plumas.”
Agenda 21 is a 300-page document adopted in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, and designed to be a blueprint of how jurisdictions worldwide should move toward sustainable economic growth that protects and renews environmental resources.
Settlemire told the supervisors that he authored the resolution as they requested, but “whether you take the action or not, it doesn’t have an impact,” because Agenda 21 is not enforceable in the county.
Portola resident Lynn Desjardin said she thought the board was going to reject Agenda 21.
“It (the resolution) just acknowledges and says it’s not enforceable; that’s not a rejection,” she said. “This resolution does nothing to prevent us from participating in Agenda 21. The board should be honest enough to admit it.”
Graeagle resident Mark Mihevc took the opposite view. He agreed that the resolution was “ridiculous,” but for a different reason.
“The people demanding this resolution live in a fantasy world,” he said. “They think the U.N. is going to take their property. It’s paranoia; it’s delusional.”
Indian Valley resident Jack McLaughlin, who favors a resolution, said, “I’m being cautious; I don’t want to lose our country.”
While some audience members addressed the Agenda 21 resolution as it came before the board for action, others spoke during the general comment portion of the meeting.
Indian Valley resident Mia Van Fleet leveled a series of questions at the supervisors including why the general plan used the United Nations’ definition of “sustainable” as opposed to Webster’s.
She also questioned why the board reappointed Betsy Schramel to the planning commission instead of Sheila Grothe. (Grothe had also filed an application to serve on the commission.)
Another Indian Valley resident, Heather Kingdon, read a letter from Centella Tucker who asked that the word “shall” be removed from the general plan.
And Kingdon voiced her own concerns and asked the supervisors why the individual rights of Plumas County residents weren’t placed above those of downstream residents.
“We need to be put first and foremost,” she said.
Not everyone opposed the general plan.
Veteran board observer Larry Douglas spoke in favor of the plan and described it “as our vision for the future.”
“I disagree with everything Larry just said,” said Todd Anderson, another regular attendee of board meetings. “This plan needs to be legally defensible and it’s not.”
He then told the supervisors that a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. He said that reappointing Betsy Schramel to the planning commission was “exactly that.”
When individuals speak during public comment, the supervisors can listen but are not allowed to respond, according to the Brown Act.
So, when the supervisors were able to publicly address Agenda 21 during the meeting, they took advantage of the opportunity.
“We are listening,” Supervisor Lori Simpson said. “We’re not trying to demean you; we understand you believe in this.”
“This” includes charges that grant funding, nongovernmental organizations and words such as “sustainability” and “open space” are all examples of Agenda 21 infiltration in the county.
Simpson listed an array of county services that fall into that category: government housing, public transportation, subsidized preschools such as Head Start, subsidized flu shots, senior nutrition centers, Williamson Act land, conservation easements and farm subsidies.
“We’ve already implemented most of this stuff,” Simpson said.
Those who have spoken out against Agenda 21 also worry that private property rights will be eroded.
Simpson said that she supports private property rights, “but the issue comes when you don’t like what your neighbor is doing.”
She used a garbage plant or a meth lab as examples.
“You’re going to go to your government,” Simpson said. “It comes to this room.”
Desjardin said the county has already been infiltrated.
“Look at the county and how much we depend on funding from outside,” she said. “We provide services we can’t afford and it ties our hands.”
Desjardin said she realized that the county couldn’t “clean the slate” but she asked the supervisors to “look at Agenda 21 and re-evaluate what we’re doing and make sure we’re not getting in any deeper.”
Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said that she received an email from a constituent demanding that the county not accept any grants, nor work with any NGOs, nor indulge in regional planning.
“We must accept grants,” Thrall said.
And she cited the proposed four-season resort at Dyer Mountain as an example of why regional planning is needed, because even though the development would be in Lassen County, it would dramatically impact neighboring Plumas.
“I’ve changed my mind on the Agenda 21 resolution,” she said. “I asked for this resolution, but I feel it would tie my hands.”
Board chairman Terry Swofford said he, too, had favored a resolution but was reconsidering the idea.
“I don’t give a rip about this resolution,” Supervisor Jon Kennedy said, and added that it’s a resolution that just addresses the facts. As for a resolution that would reject Agenda 21, he said he had read the resolutions adopted by various jurisdictions, including Alabama and Oklahoma, and he wants no part of that.
With regard to the Oklahoma resolution, he said that it included “intellectually lazy language strapping their state to a future lawsuit.”
“I reject the fact that we need to have a resolution,” he said.
The other supervisors agreed and the board did not adopt the resolution.
But this will not be the last time the supervisors address Agenda 21.
The board will conduct public hearings on the county’s general plan and the associated environmental document after the planning commission conducts its own public hearings.
Those hearings will be scheduled when the planning department and its consultants finish responding to public comment on the documents.
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