BLM Continues To Buy US Land From Nature Conservancy

As of 2017, the BLM owned 248 million acres of US land and continues to expand its portfolio. The laundering of new land is often accomplished through the Nature Conservancy, as was the case in this purchase. 

The Nature Conservancy often acquires land through conservation easements, where landowners retain a life estate in their property, and then deed it to the Conservancy upon their death. ⁃ TN Editor

The Bureau of Land Management closed on a $5.6 million property purchase Thursday that adds 7,268 acres to public lands just north of the Blackfoot River.

The purchase is from The Nature Conservancy and uses Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars, which is a federal program whose money comes from offshore oil and gas development. This brings the total of BLM-owned property in the drainage about 25 miles northeast of Missoula to about 27,000 acres, with the eventual goal of expanding the federal agency’s land holdings in the area to 60,000 acres.

The purchase amounts to about $775 per acre.

Joe Ashor, the BLM’s Missoula field manager, said the plan has been in the making for a couple of years. The nonprofit Nature Conservancy bought about 117,000 acres from Plum Creek in 2014 in the greater Blackfoot area to preserve the intact landscape and keep it from being subdivided into ranchettes. When The Nature Conservancy purchased the property, the nonprofit group said it didn’t intend to retain ownership, but wanted to pass it on to the state and federal public agencies.

Ashor anticipates they’ll use $4.5 million in LWCF next year to purchase another 5,760 acres, then make additional purchases in 2021 and 2022.

“Back in 1986, the BLM managed a whopping 40 acres in that area,” Ashor told the Missoulian on Thursday. “Fast forward four or five years, and that 40 might be upward of 60,000 acres.”

The purchase comes at a time when federal land managers under the Trump Administration are being accused of wanting to sell off public property, and Ashor said he hopes this will calm some of those fears. In a news release, William Perry Pendley, the BLM deputy director for Programs and Policy, confirmed the support. Pendley previously supported the sale of public lands, but after he was appointed to head the BLM he said he disavowed his past views.

“The BLM, under Secretary (David) Bernhardt’s leadership, is working on multiple fronts to expand access to public lands for all Americans and to increase opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation on the more than 245 million acres we manage,” Pendley said in the news release. “This important acquisition embodies our commitment, and we’re proud to work with local landowners and sportsmen’s groups to continue to enhance public holdings in the Blackfoot River watershed.”

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Tempe, AZ Launches First No-Cars-Allowed Housing Development

Culdesac

Tempe, Arizona is the epicenter of Sustainable Development in the United States. The first ‘Culdesac’ development will house 1,000 people but no cars are allowed. Walking, scooters, bikes, and light rail are acceptable.

The Culdesac website clearly states its intentions: “Our goal is to remake cities all over the U.S. for people, not cars”  This is a model project of social engineering that epitomizes Technocracy. ⁃ TN Editor

The world’s first post-car real estate developer, Culdesac, today announced the company and its plans to build the country’s first car-free neighborhood from scratch in Tempe, AZ. Residents will not have private cars or parking, although the neighborhood will accommodate parking for visitors, and car-based modes of transportation, such as ridesharing. Unlike small-scale, incidental car-free communities—like old town centers or islands—Culdesac is the first developer to intentionally build a 1,000 person neighborhood-scale, car-free development from scratch.

Culdesac believes that real estate innovation has failed to keep up with fast-paced changes in mobility. Transportation has evolved beyond car dependency— real estate has not. Culdesac is changing this paradigm and today announced detailed plans for its first neighborhood, a $140 million project called Culdesac Tempe. The company also announced it has raised $10 million in venture capital funding to invest into its corporate operations led by Khosla Ventures, as well as Initialized Capital, Zigg Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Y Combinator.

“The communities we are living in were optimized for the peak car era,” said Ryan Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO of Culdesac. “Culdesac is building spaces for the post-car era. Starting next year, residents of Culdesac Tempe will be able to live life from their doorsteps, rather than seeing it through their windshields.”

The Tempe project marks the nation’s first and only agreement between a city and a developer to build a neighborhood-scale community with zero residential parking. The plans for Culdesac Tempe show a walkable neighborhood directly on a light rail station and near a dense job center in downtown Tempe. In typical developments, the parking lots often dictate the design—and without this constraint, Culdesac Tempe is able to offer three times the average amount of green space, along with friendly courtyards and community spaces.

Because less land is needed to park vehicles, Culdesac Tempe will include a grocery store, coffee shop, coworking space, market hall, and other retail, in addition to rental apartments for 1,000 residents. To help bring this vision to life, the Culdesac team is working closely with renowned architect Dan Parolek, who popularized the term “Missing Middle Housing,” a concept for diverse housing options to create sustainable and walkable places.

When the 1,000 residents of Culdesac Tempe need to travel, they can choose their preferred modes of transportation. The development is centered around the mobility needs of residents, with on-site light rail station, a connective shuttle bus, dedicated rideshare pick-up zones, scooters with respective parking, carshares for off-site transport, and more. Culdesac will additionally serve as the neighborhood’s property manager, helping residents get the most out of their new community by enabling seamless access to transportation and amenities.

“We have found the Culdesac team to be true partners with our city council and its neighborhood communities, and we look forward to bringing the country’s first car-free community to life in our city,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.

The Tempe site was chosen for the first car-free neighborhood due to the city’s thriving job market, growing population, and land available directly on a light rail station. Additionally, local leadership has a reputation for being innovative, forward-thinking, and action-oriented. Culdesac is evaluating locations for additional projects, including in cities such as Dallas, Denver, and Raleigh-Durham.

“Because the power of transportation innovation is larger at scale, we’re considering 50-100 acre sites for our next project,” said Jeff Berens, Co-Founder and COO of Culdesac. “People are ready to leave their cars behind for the walkable and vibrant lifestyle that comes from living in a car-free neighborhood.”

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Nature’s Rights Movement Will Destroy Concept Of Private Property

nature's rights

This new legal precedent would completely reshape city, county and state permitting and zoning decisions as it decouples private property rights of humans by giving similar rights to nature. ⁃ TN Editor
 

When members of the White Earth band of Ojibwe in Minnesota take out their canoes to harvest wild rice, they’re gathering a source of nourishment and following a tradition that has connected them to the land for generations.

But to the White Earth people, manoomin isn’t just a resource to be used—it’s an independent entity with the right “to exist, flourish, regenerate and evolve.”

Other tribes and even some cities also are embracing the idea that Mother Nature has —setting the stage for court battles that could shake governments, businesses and the environmental movement.

Earlier this year, voters in Toledo, Ohio, passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, which declared “irrevocable rights for the Lake Erie Ecosystem to exist, flourish and naturally evolve.” The measure would give the ecosystem legal standing, which means that the lake—with help from a human guardian—could enter the court system as a plaintiff and sue polluters.

Recognizing “rights of nature,” as the concept is known, also would shape city and state permitting and planning decisions. And it might become a powerful tool in fighting climate change and habitat loss.

But it’s still uncertain if any of the forms the movement has taken—protecting specific watersheds, habitats and species—will prove most effective as a legal tactic. And critics in business and government contend that overly broad declarations could paralyze important development and infrastructure if entire habitats are rendered untouchable.

“Our legal system gives corporations rights, but treats nature as property that can be exploited,” said Tish O”Dell, Ohio organizer with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which helped back the ballot measure. “If we don’t have the right to clean air and clean water in the Constitution, that was because our Founding Fathers couldn’t even fathom that would be something you’d need to write in.”

But the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, one of a handful of such measures enacted across the country, is being challenged in court. Drewes Farm Partnership, an Ohio business, asserts the measure is unconstitutional and would harm agriculture and other interests in the region. That challenge is currently awaiting a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Some state attorneys general, agricultural interests and business groups say recognizing rights of nature would make businesses and governments vulnerable to lawsuits over almost any action with an impact on the environment. Thomas Fusonie, a lawyer representing one of the plaintiffs in the Lake Erie lawsuit, said the Toledo measure would allow any city resident to sue “any business or government within the watershed for really undefined potential violations.”

“When you’re talking about the right for soil or mosquitoes to naturally evolve, people are going to have different views on what might violate that,” Fusonie said. “You can’t do anything to the land. You can’t farm it, you can’t put new roads in, you can’t do landscaping.”

Several U.S. tribes already have enacted rights of nature laws, pointing out that indigenous people have long treated nature as a shared resource that must be preserved.

“These are the natural laws that have always existed prior to the poisoning of the land by the extractive industry,” said Casey Camp-Horinek, a councilwoman in the Ponca Nation in Oklahoma and a leader in the rights of nature movement. “If you eat, if you breathe, if you drink water, then it’s an undeniable connection between human and nature.”

In 2017, the Ponca Nation became one of the first tribes in the country to enact a rights of nature law, an anti-fracking measure aimed at protecting the tribe from an increasing number of earthquakes and rising cancer and asthma rates.

Soon after, the White Earth band of Ojibwe enacted its own law recognizing the rights of wild rice, as well as its freshwater resources and habitats. The Ojibwe signed a treaty with the federal government in 1837, granting it access to wild rice on ceded territory.

But that treaty means nothing if there is no wild rice left to be harvested, said tribal attorney Frank Bibeau.

“Wild rice has a right to exist, it has a right to flourish,” Bibeau said. “We have a right to defend it and protect it.”

For the tribe, harvesting wild rice is not just a matter of economic or nutritional importance, but a continuation of cultural and spiritual practices. It also carries strategic value, as the tribe’s treaty guarantees continued access to the resource, and protecting the rice means protecting the water on which it grows.

“Wild rice is the most important cultural aspect of our livelihood,” Bibeau said. “Our migration path took us here to the Great Lakes, where the food grows on the water. If we can protect the water, then we’re probably protecting everything else.”

The White Earth band is hopeful it can use the law to block future threats to the resource, such as oil pipelines and mines. But like many other aspects of tribal law, questions of jurisdiction remain a challenge.

“It’s very difficult to get standing (to sue),” said Rain Bear Stands Last, executive director of the Global Indigenous Council. “When you come to  protection or protection of rivers or salmon, you can go into a tribal court theoretically with a case, but you actually would have to get the defendant to show up. … The tribe doesn’t have jurisdiction outside the boundaries of the reservation.”

Bear Stands Last helped assemble support in 2016 for the Grizzly Treaty, a document signed by more than 200 U.S. and Canadian tribal nations recognizing the grizzly bear’s right to exist in a healthy ecosystem. That coalition won a court victory in 2018 that overturned the Trump administration’s attempt to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the bears.

It isn’t clear whether a tribe’s treaty rights—or its connection to a resource that crosses boundary lines—are enough to establish jurisdiction.

The rights of nature movement started in 2006 with a law in Pennsylvania’s Tamaqua Borough to prevent the dumping of toxic sludge. Since then, about two dozen communities have crafted their own measures, including an anti-fracking provision in Pittsburgh, a ballot measure to stop aerial pesticide spraying in Lincoln County, Oregon, and a climate bill of rights that banned fossil fuel extraction in Lafayette, Colorado.

Advocates on both sides say the movement is poised to face crucial questions about its place in U.S. law in the years ahead.

“The law as we know it recognizes the earth and ecosystems as human property,” said Shannon Biggs, a co-founder of Movement Rights, which advocates for nature’s rights. “Corporations can frack in communities or blow off the tops of mountains—that’s a privilege that’s been granted to corporations in this country. That’s not going to go easily.”

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India Orders ‘staggering’ Eviction Of 1 Million Indigenous People To Save Wildlife

Misguided Technocrats place people on a lower plane than animals and have no problem moving 1 million people to make way for the ecology. The people being moved have no power to resist.⁃ TN Editor

India’s Supreme Court has ordered its government to evict a million people from their homes – for the good of the country’s wildlife.

The ruling, issued Wednesday, was a startling conclusion to a decade-long case that has pitted the rights of some of India’s most vulnerable citizens against the preservation of its forests.

The court told the government to evict over a million people – mostly members of indigenous tribes – from their homes in public forest land because they had not met the legal criterion to live there.

With over 700 tribal groups, India is home to over 100 million indigenous people. While the forest land is legally controlled by the government, people have lived in such areas for centuries.

A landmark law passed in 2006 gave legal rights over forest land and its produce to tribes and forest-dwelling communities provided they could prove that their families have stayed there for at least three generations.

The battle for mineral-rich forest land is not new in India. The ruling is the latest flash point in the competing interests of industry, wildlife conservationists and forest communities.

In the last 30 years, the government has diverted 5,400 square miles of forest land, the size of Connecticut, for industrial projects – many of which were opposed by the indigenous people. Wildlife groups contend that granting “wide-ranging” rights to people on forest land leads to fragmentation of forests at a time when the country’s forest cover is shrinking. Critics, however, say that neither accounts for the rights of the indigenous people who rely on the forest for daily needs and for their livelihood.

Now the court says that those whose claims were rejected must go – by July 27. The number of affected people is estimated to go up to 1.89 million when more states comply with the order.

Human rights groups and activists were stunned by the ruling. Nicholas Dawes, the acting managing director of Human Rights Watch, wrote that it had “staggering” implications for India’s most marginalized.

Forest Rights Alliance, a grassroots advocacy group, called the judgment “draconian.” Another group advocating for the rights of forest dwellers, the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, called the order a “major blow.” It also noted that thousands of claims for land rights under the law – the Forest Rights Act – get “wrongly rejected.”

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California Looking To Be First State To Mandate Solar Panels On New Homes

Radical environmentalists are asserting themselves again in California as they seek to mandate solar panels for all new homes, which could cost up to $30,000 more per unit. The Technocrat mindset is that there is a scientific solution to every conceivable problem, but personal freedom of choice does not enter their mind. ⁃ TN Editor

For seven years, a handful of homebuilders offered solar as an optional item to buyers willing to pay extra to go green.

Now, California is on the verge of making solar standard on virtually every new home built in the Golden State.

The California Energy Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday, May 9, on new energy standards mandating most new homes have solar panels starting in 2020.

If approved as expected, solar installations on new homes will skyrocket.

Just 15 percent to 20 percent of new single-family homes built include solar, according to Bob Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association.

“California is about to take a quantum leap in energy standards,” Raymer said. “No other state in the nation mandates solar, and we are about to take that leap.”

The proposed new rules would deviate slightly from another much-heralded objective: Requiring all new homes be “net-zero,” meaning they would produce enough solar power to offset all electricity and natural gas consumed over the course of a year.

New thinking has made that goal obsolete, state officials say. True “zero-net-energy” homes still rely on the electric power grid at night, they explained, a time when more generating plants come online using fossil fuels to generate power.

“Zero net energy isn’t enough,” said Andrew McAllister, one of five state energy commissioners voting on the new homebuilding standards. “If we pursue (zero net energy) as a comprehensive policy, we’d be making investments that would be somewhat out of touch with our long-term goals.”

While environmentalists and homebuilders praised the new standards, the proposed rules have some detractors who still support net-zero goals.

“We’re happy they’re making good progress,” said Kelly Knutsen, technology advancement director for the California Solar and Storage Association, a solar-industry group. “We wish they would go further. There’s always compromises.”

All-electric homes

In addition to widespread adoption of solar power, the new provisions include a push to increase battery storage and increase reliance on electricity over natural gas. Among the highlights:

  • The new solar mandate would apply to all houses, condos and apartment buildings up to three stories tall that obtain building permits after Jan. 1, 2020.
  • Exceptions or alternatives will be allowed when homes are shaded by trees or buildings or when the home’s roofs are too small to accommodate solar panels.
  • Solar arrays can be smaller because homes won’t have to achieve true net-zero status.
  • Builders installing batteries like the Tesla Powerwall would get “compliance credits,” allowing them to further reduce the size of the solar system.
  • Provisions will encourage more electric use or even all-electric homes to reduce natural gas consumption. State officials say improved technology is making electric water heaters increasingly cost-effective.

The mandate dates back to 2007 when the state energy commission adopted the goal of making homebuilding so efficient “newly constructed buildings can be net zero energy by 2020 for residences and by 2030 for commercial buildings.”

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UN Report: Better Land Use And Management Critical To 2030 Agenda

The data behind this UN report is full of the typical fabrications of data and facts. It would lead you to think that trees are running out and we will all die of oxygen deprivation. However, a 2011 study demonstrated that the U.S. had more trees than it had 100 years ago. In the heavily populated eastern U.S., forest growth was 380 percent greater than in 1920.  TN Editor

Consumption of the earth’s natural reserves has doubled in the last 30 years, with a third of the planet’s land now severely degraded. Each year, we lose 15 billion trees and 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil. Smallholder farmers, women and indigenous communities are the most vulnerable, given their reliance on land-based resources, compounded by their exclusion from wider infrastructure and economic development,” according to the new publication, The Global Land Outlook (GLO), launched today, at the 13th meeting of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Ordos, China.

Currently, more than 1.3 billion people are trapped on degrading agricultural land, drastically increasing competition for crucial ecosystem services such as food, water and energy. The GLO draws on an analysis of recent trends in land productivity and modelling of land demand scenarios up to the year 2050. It outlines how reversing trends in the condition of land resources could accelerate efforts to achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals, by adopting more efficient planning and sustainable practices.

Speaking at the launch, UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut said, “land degradation and drought are global challenges and intimately linked to most, if not all aspects of human security and well-being – food security, employment and migration, in particular.”

“As the ready supply of healthy and productive land dries up and the population grows, competition is intensifying, for land within countries and globally. As the competition increases, there are winners and losers. To minimize the losses, The Outlook suggests it is in all our interests to step back and rethink how we are managing the pressures and the competition. The Outlook presents a vision for transforming the way in which we use and manage land because we are all decision-makers and our choices can make a difference – even small steps matter,” she further added.

Welcoming the UNCCD’s new flagship publication, Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator stated, “over 250 million people are directly affected by desertification, and about one billion people in over one hundred countries are at risk. They include many of the world‘s poorest and most marginalized people. Achieving land degradation neutrality can provide a healthy and productive life for all on Earth, including water and food security. The Global Land Outlook shows that each of us can in fact make a difference, and I hope that in the next edition we are able to tell even more stories of better land use and management.”

This landmark publication on the current and future state of the world’s land resources is the first in-depth analysis of the multiple functions of the land viewed from a wide range of interrelated sectors and thematic areas, such as the food-water-land nexus, as well as the ‘less obvious’ drivers of land use change, notably the nature of economic growth, consumer choice and global trade patterns. Crucially, the report examines a growing disconnect between the financial and socio-economic values of the land and how this affects the poor.

The first edition of the GLO was published by the UNCCD secretariat with the support of numerous partners, including the European Commission, the Governments of Korea, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and UNDP. It is available in both print and digital formats on a dedicated web platform.

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Obama’s Historic Land Grab: 553 Million Acres For ‘Conservation’

Federally Controlled Land

Technocracy as a resource-based economic system, intends to place all land resources into a global common trust to be ‘administered’ by Technocrat scientists and engineers. This land-grab scam is always passed off on Sustainable Development, Green Economy or Conservation. But, Sustainable Development IS Technocracy!  TN Editor

President Barack Obama decreed two more national monuments from his vacation home in Hawaii on Wednesday, taking 1.65 million more acres of Western land for management by the federal government.

The new Bear Ears Buttes monument includes 1.35 million acres of Utah and the Gold Butte monument includes about 300,000 acres in Nevada.

That makes a total of 553 million acres of national lands and waters that Obama has repurposed for conservation and protection using the 1906 Antiquities act, more than any other president, according to the New York Times. More than 80 percent of Nevada and about 65 percent or Utah is owned by the federal government, according to National Public Radio.

Utah Republican leaders in Congress were furious after Obama decided to designate the controversial Bear Ears monument.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKjjTa2cL2A

“This arrogant act by a lame duck president will not stand,” Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee responded in a statement. “I will work tirelessly with Congress and the incoming Trump administration to honor the will of the people of Utah and undo this designation.”

A November poll of Utah residents showed that 60 percent were opposed to the idea and only 33 percent supported it.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz was also furious.

“The midnight move is a slap in the face to the people of Utah, attempting to silence the voices of those who will bear the heavy burden it imposes,” he wrote, calling Obama’s actions a “major break with protocol” because it did not have the support of Utah’s Governor, the state’s Congressional delegation, nor local elected officials or state legislators who represented the area.

Obama has used his power to create 29 separate national monuments, using the Antiquities Act, but the Washington Post reports that he is expected to create one or two more in order to match or beat Franklin D. Roosevelt’s record of 30 designations.

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Technocrats Seek To Replace Certain Democratic Processes In New Orleans

New Orleans

Read to the bottom: “The ‘experts’ get to make the decisions, and if the public misses their chance to provide input, they should have been paying closer attention.”  TN Editor

Technocrat. Noun. An obscure insult used to describe a politician who promotes progress through innovation and technology at the expense of the way things have always been done. The term is most often seen on the left or liberal side of the political spectrum to describe Democratic elected officials deemed insufficiently protective of liberal or progressive interests and who attend the Aspen Institute a few times too many.

That’s a little tongue in cheek as far as definitions go, but that’s the context surrounding the term when I see it. And I see it used on Twitter or elsewhere on social media, usually within a wonky discussion of some obscure policy point. Kind of ironic if you think about it too hard.

Which is a long way to say I thought “technocrat” was one of those made-up words that only mean anything to people who already agree with one another. Whenever I’d see it, I would roll my eyes and stop listening. Like baseball fans getting deep into the weeds about the meaning of a pitcher’s ERA or the finer points of discussion you hear when football fans talk about QB rating by quarter – obviously, it is time to change the subject on whatever we’re talking about and find another beer.

But I found the term “technocrat” popping into my head the other day as I was looking over Master Plan amendments proposed by the Mayor’s Office. If you haven’t had a chance to wade through all the Master Plan amendments proposed for your New Orleans neighborhood – probably because you have something called a “social life” – you may want to take a few minutes and go through them and see what the powers that be would like to do with your city.

Of particular interest to me are the amendments proposed to Chapter 15 of the Master Plan.

Chapter 15 is the part of the Master Plan that says citizens of New Orleans should be notified about proposed land use and zoning issues in their community, informed of what those proposals mean, and have a chance to offer their opinions to city decision-makers throughout the decision-making process. If that sounds like a wonderful, Norman Rockwell version of How Democracy Works in America, that’s what it is. Or should be.

As you may have guessed, the reality is quite different. The system we have now is wholly dependent on citizens volunteering their free time to figure out what it is all the paid experts and investors are talking about when they make land use decisions.

Do you ever get a letter in the mail about some development taking place nearby your house? They usually involve a proposal for a variance or conditional use, maybe a zoning change. There’s usually an alphabet soup of zoning designations that you may have heard about before, but aren’t really sure what they mean. Sometimes these proposals are just your neighbors looking to build a shed. Other times, they’re developers proposing something that sounds nice, like a coffee shop or some nice place families can live. If you go to a neighborhood meeting about it, they say something about how what they’re doing is “fixing a mistake made by the city” or how their intention is to “provide improvements to the community.” They’re only ever here to help out, you know. The only people you know complaining about it are the “crazy NIMBY neighbors” who just sound like they hate everything. Your natural human reaction is to say “sure, this development sounds cool, I’m sure everything’s on the up and up.” You toss the notification in the recycling and don’t think a thing about it.

Then two months later you hear about how someone’s tearing down a building that has been around forever and putting up 400 apartments. Or maybe they’re dropping a six-story building in among all the shotgun doubles down the street from your house. Here’s where they’re putting 5,000 square feet of commercial space and they don’t have to provide any parking. There’s going to be a new restaurant that serves alcohol until 2AM. Suddenly, you and a bunch of neighbors are mad, because you’ve never heard about the details of what they’re planning to do. The thing you did hear about wasn’t what you thought you’d heard, and you feel lied to.

That’s the system we currently have because we didn’t do what the Master Plan asked for. If we had, there would be members of your community who could help explain exactly what was being proposed and facilitate community understanding of the rules so you and your neighbors could make an informed decision based on more than the official notification you get in the mail. You’d still have to participate in the process on your own time, but it may not feel like you’re wasting that time.

We don’t have that because doing what the Master Plan asks would cost money. And New Orleans doesn’t have a lot of money. Instead of intentionally building a well-informed citizenry who feel confident in the process and know what questions need to be asked, we have a patchwork of volunteers at the neighborhood level trying to keep up with everything that is going on. Down on Perdido Street, the City Planning staff and the Neighborhood Engagement Office and staff in the City Council members’ offices do what they can to help out when neighborhood volunteers start asking questions, but they’re all stretched pretty thin. There are only so many hours in the day, developer requests are endless, and it is difficult for unpaid neighborhood volunteers to know the right questions to ask.

What that means is neighbors sometimes get the old City Hall Surprise I’ve written about before, where they only find out about some development near their home at the tail end of the process, after months of work has already been done. Official notice has been mailed, news was reported in local outlets, and neighborhood volunteers have tried to tell folks what’s going on. City Planning published their report and approved the plan. City Council is getting ready to hear it, but now everyone’s getting yelled at by the neighbors, so the decision gets postponed. And postponed. And postponed. Now everyone’s doing more work and it is costing everyone more money and time.

Democracy based on public participation is a messy, messy thing. It can be confusing and infuriating for residents and embarrassing to decision makers. It can be hard to keep up with. It can be very hard to manage on a shoestring budget. To work, it requires citizens give up their free time, inform themselves at their own expense, and grapple with complex and often controversial issues. Like Fight Club, democracy requires you determine your own level of involvement. For a bunch of folks, that level of involvement means not involved.

But a non-involved public grinds participatory democracy to a halt.

And that’s where the technocracy comes in. Instead of waiting on the public to get involved, technocrats consolidate and automate the process. The “experts” get to make the decisions, and if the public misses their chance to provide input, they should have been paying closer attention. Technocratic solutions remove the mess of democracy and make things easier, quicker, and cheaper for those who are most invested and connected and knowledgeable about the process. If the voters don’t like it, they can participate on election day – if they even show up to the polls.

Proposed amendments to Chapter 15 double down on resident non-participation by consolidating the big, messy, difficult democratic process into management by one small office at City Hall. Even if every city employee in that office has the best of intentions at heart, how long will it be before the sheer weight of this process demands less access from the public, and more decision making at the top?

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BLM Board Condemns 45,000 Wild Horses To Death Or Banishment

Unlike wolves, horses do not wantonly kill and eat cattle, sheep, elk and other wildlife; however, they are native to America, and a national treasure of biodiversity. You will never hear any government land management group say, “Kill all the grey wolves.” So, what gives here? Where is the love for biodiversity?

This dichotomy proves the scam that the BLM (et. al.) simply wants every inconvenient thing off ‘their’ land. The wolves and grizzly bears that they have methodically planted are a natural cleanser of the land – they scare people away, drive ranchers out of business and eat other wild game with abandon. When all that is accomplished, the wolves will be marked for extinction just like the horses.  TN Editor

The U.S. government is coming under fire from animal rights activists amid concerns that almost 45,000 wild horses could be euthanized in an attempt to control their numbers.

Last week the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board recommended that the Bureau euthanize or sell “without limitation” excess “unadoptable” horses and burros in the BLM’s off-range corrals and pastures.

An “unadoptable” horse or burro is typically at least 5 years old, making them less attractive for purchase or adoption. The bureau has more than 44,000 horses and more than 1,000 burros in off-range pastures and corrals.

The recommendation prompted an angry response from The Humane Society of the United States. “The decision of the BLM advisory board to recommend the destruction of the 45,000 wild horses currently in holding facilities is a complete abdication of responsibility for their care,” said Humane Society Senior Vice President of Programs & Innovations Holly Hazard, in a statement.

Under the terms of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the BLM manages, protects and controls wild horses and burros. The law authorizes the agency to move wild horses and burros off ranges to sustain the health of public lands. In addition to the off-range animals, the bureau estimates that more than 67,000 wild horses and burros are roaming on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states.

With virtually no natural predators, wild horse and burro herd sizes can double about every four years, which means that thousands of the animals are removed from the range each year to control herd sizes and protect the land. The BLM has its own off-range holding corrals in states such as Nevada and California, as well as contracts with private ranches in locations such as Kansas and Oklahoma.

The Bureau has not yet made a formal response to the board’s recommendation, although, in a statement, it said that it will continue to care and seek good homes for animals that have been removed from the range. “What this means is that we will continue with our current policy, which is not to sell or send wild horses or burros to slaughter,” it said.

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The Trap Is Set: Governments Exploring ‘Debt For Land’ Swaps With World Bank

TN Note: Or is it the other way around? That is, World Bank exploring Swaps with debt-laden countries. The only countries that may apply are those who are actively sworn to implement and support Sustainable Development. The World Bank calls these ‘conditionalities’ and they are nothing short of extortion to force countries to change policies against their will. In this case, Jamaica does not realize that they are playing right into the spider’s web that may well spell their ultimate demise as a nation. As to the global elite, this is nothing short of a brazen land grab that includes valuable resources to be locked up and away from public use.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the government is exploring with the World Bank an innovative debt swap initiative to improve Jamaica’s debt profile.

He says it’s part of the government’s active debt management strategy.

Holness made the announcement at a press conference at the annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank last evening, following discussions with World Bank Vice-President Jorge Familiar.

“We have endorsed the idea of debt-for-policy swaps.  And I will be speaking more about that in my budget presentation. But you can imagine what that means.  It is a way of rewarding countries that have a high debt profile, who take on new, bold initiatives to preserve the environment on issues such as climate change,” the Prime Minister says.

“Already there is a mode globally, as to how you can incentivise countries that adopt policies that are aligned with environmental preservation and managing climate change, and a debt-for-policy swap could be one way.  The level of significance of this is to be determined, but certainly it is worth exploring,” he adds.

Holness says all options for bringing down the national debt, will be explored in order to create more space for investments and that the CDB meeting platform was used to put those issues before the international community.

“It is not just a debt-for-policy swap on nature.  But then you start to look at other things, debt for equity, for example, debt-for-land swap …,” he says.

In the meantime, Holness says the World Bank has also agreed to develop a new project to support credit to small- and medium-sized enterprises.

He says the World Bank has also agreed to innovative financing initiatives, including a debt for nature and resilience swap and a policy based guarantee, for Jamaica.

Also speaking at the press conference Finance Minister Audley Shaw said the Government has had fruitful discussions with the Caribbean Development Bank, in relation to support for increasing public-private partnerships aimed at facilitating private sector growth and efficiency.

Shaw says it’s time to stop giving lip service to public-private partnerships and the multilateral organisations have a key role in that.

He argues that they have a catalytic role to play in governments working closely with the private sector to get things done.