Money-Saving Planning Effort Squelched by Maine Gov. Paul LePage

For six years, retiree Don White has been representing the town of Camden as part of a committee working to preserve the character of rural communities along Route 1 in Mid-Coast Maine.

Volunteers like White, from some 15 towns from Brunswick to Stockton Springs, have been collaborating to produce a corridor action plan that would tame traffic, limit sprawl and preserve the beautiful vistas that make this area an important summertime tourist destination. Last year, their efforts had earned the praise of the EPA, who recognized the Gateway 1 Corridor Planning project for Smart Growth Achievement.

Maine's Route 1 runs through dozens of towns where preserving the rural character is an economic imperative, thanks to the importance of the tourism industry. Photo: ##http://people.maine.com/publius/almanac/encycweb/htm/madawask.htm## People.Maine.Com##

Then on Monday — without warning — White received an electronic copy of a letter from Maine State Department of Transportation saying the Gateway 1 planning process had been suspended. White was informed that the state’s new administration, led by Republican Governor Paul LePage, wants to shift its focus.

“Given the significant and growing fiscal constraints under which we are operating, our top priority must be to focus our time and scarce resources on existing short-term critical infrastructure needs — roads and bridges primarily,” said David Bernhardt, commissioner of the State Department of Transportation in the letter.

In an interview Wednesday, White, who is the chairman of the Gateway 1 Steering Committee, said he still hadn’t received a paper copy of the letter.

“We had no knowledge that this was coming at us,” White said. “I‘m disappointed and I’m sad that the funding and that the entire program has been suspended immediately.”

White said he recognizes that there is a new administration and that budgets are lean in Maine. But he points out that the state DOT itself started this program just a few years ago and recruited volunteers like him. The group has donated hundreds of hours to the process.

What’s more, the planning effort was designed to reduce congestion and wear and tear on Route 1 through thoughtful land-use planning. It was hoped that these efforts would save the state the expense of having to build costly bypasses, which can have catastrophic effects on small towns. The 15 participating communities were preparing to enter an inter-local agreement that would have established a regional development plan, including the creation of “core-growth” areas near traditional town centers.

A spokesman for MDOT said the Gateway 1 program has received about $2.4 million in support from the state over its six-year history. The state was due to put an additional $29,500 into a number of local grants to support the project soon, plus another $450,000 this year. It won’t be sending that money. But project manager Chris Mann acknowledged that money saved by canceling the Gateway 1 project won’t go far if redirected toward building roads, which cost between $1 and $3 million per mile to build.

MDOT officials were adamant that the governor’s decision had “absolutely nothing” to do with bizarre claims posed recently by some from the state’s Tea Party movement, who had tried to connect the Gateway 1 planning program with a vast United Nations conspiracy to impose a global government.

Maine Governor Paul LePage has a new set of priorities, and they don't include long-term planning efforts aimed at saving money. Photo: ##http://www.sunjournal.com/approved/story/909046## Sun Journal##

Members of the Tea Party had attended recent Gateway 1 meetings and claimed that the initiative was part of a “socialist, central planning directive” intended to shift the population from rural areas into high-density areas. At a recent meeting of the commission, Tea Party members questioned commission members about a 1992 resolution of the United Nations, known as Agenda 21. None of the committee members, who are residents of towns that are part of the planning process, had heard of it.

Jarrod LeBlanc, a reporter with Maine Web News, outlined the concerns in a video on the issue.

“Skeptics see Agenda 21 as an action plan to implement a 21st Century move toward a global government — a new world order, if you will — where unelected elitists, mostly from the old money families of Europe, will rule the world,” LeBlanc said in a story titled “Mainers Oppose Agenda 21 and Gateway 1 Corridor Action Plan.”

White said the Tea Party members who have attended some of the commission’s meetings have been civil. “They said we didn’t know what we were doing,” he said, “but we were definitely part of Agenda 21.”

He shrugged off the controversy: “Like any program, there’s always a few that would like to ask a lot of questions,” he said.

Despite the governor’s decision, White said he hopes the planning process can continue in a less formal manner, possibly supported by grants.

Officials from MDOT said they would not oppose such an effort, though they couldn’t say whether the department could officially support it.

Gary Toth, transportation director at the Project for Public Spaces and the former head of the New Jersey DOT, says the loss of the Gateway 1 Program is a terrible setback for the state of Maine. The program was a shining example of grassroots local planning to help preserve communities and reduce infrastructure costs and congestion.

Traditional interventions — road and bridge projects — like those endorsed by Governor LePage, will be far more costly than planning efforts, especially because the historic and coastal nature of Route 1 make it a poor candidate for widening.

“This whole livability movement is a way to preserve everybody’s way of life, it’s a way to give everybody more choices, it’s a way to save everybody money,” Toth said.

“You can’t just stick your head in the sand. It’s shortsighted.”

  • Steve

    Money-Saving Planning Effort Squelched by Maine Gov. Paul LePage

    “Tea Party members questioned commission members about a 1992 resolution of the United Nations, known as Agenda 21. None of the committee members, who are residents of towns that are part of the planning process, had heard of it.”

    That is precisely the point.

    What the Tea Party folks and world citizens in general are reacting to is the gradual, hidden implementation of the United Nations Agenda 21 plan for “Sustainable Production and Consumption”. They don’t know about it because it is not reported…and for good reason. But I’ll bet Governor LePage knows all about it.

    Why won’t the government or press explain the real truth that is Agenda 21? Because it is “communism,” plain and simply.

    Drill into United Nations “Agenda 21” signed at the UN Rio Earth Summit. It is now based on the “Earth Charter” “smart growth” and the UN Biodiversity Assessment Report and numerous follow-up plans.

    If you want to remain free, then study Agenda 21. Then expose Agenda 21, its Sustainable Production and Consumption, UN Global Governance Conference, world justice system, UN military enforcement, world finance, Interpol, redistribution of wealth, socialist justice, elimination of private property rights, the “New World Order” (See Bush Sr.’s State of the Union speech in 1992 where he called it a ‘Big idea’), the socialist communitarian management of our lives in every respect, the tiny human settlement zones, the vast no humans allowed mapped out wildlife zones, and the necessary depopulation of humans to save the earth.

    Agenda 21 Director Maurice Strong, who co-wrote The Earth Charter with Gorbachev, calls the Earth “Gaia”. Earth is paramount to humans. Humans are destroying Earth.

    Gaia preservation and worship will also supplant organized religion and nationalism which are considered obstacles to Agenda 21.

    You won’t do it because then you’d be “conspiracist”, kooky, radical and subject to suppression and ridicule.

    But it’s no theoretical conspiracy. Bush Sr. signed it in Rio in 1992 along with 178 other nations. Clinton formed a presidential commission, headed by then VP Al Gore, to implement it in the US. It came within hours of being congressionally approved as a binding treaty. Bush 2 and Obama (first US President to head the UN Security Council) are backing it. Regional and local governments are weaving it into every regulated activity there is. Most of them aren’t even aware that they are doing the bidding of the United Nations. It’s what Copenhagen was all about. It is being implemented locally through International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI): Local Governments for Sustainability. Non-elected steering committees and NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) are jamming it through while taking heavy financial grants from the Feds with strict “Smart Growth” strings attached. The Hegelian Dialectic is used to rule by “consensus ” with no public input or influence.

    On February 4, 2010, the major stakeholders in the Agenda 21 plan met at the UN to discuss ways of accelerating its implementation. Maurice Strong has sold the deadline to the UN as 2012. Next year is another Rio 2012 Agenda 21 meeting in Brazil where the heat will be turned way up through calls to make implementation mandatory via world governance.

    Did you have a happy official 2010 UN Biodiversity Year? Google the UN Biodiversity Convention Treaty to see the real sinister plans they have for us.

    It is real and it is happening now, worldwide.

    How come it’s such a big secret? Because it is the very embodiment of the “fundamental transformation of America”, and, indeed, the world …and it is the end of sovereignty, freedom, independence and overpopulation (1/3 of Medicare has been cut over the next ten years when Boomers are about to quadruple the current enrollment). It is not pretty (see Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board powers for the “how” of the depopulation agenda) and it is not going to go away.

    You’ll be hearing and seeing “Sustainability”, “Sustainable Consumption and Production, “Green Growth” and “Smart Growth” more and more as the 2012 deadline nears.

    I’m no Tea Party extremist. I’ve studied Agenda 21 since long before there ever was a Tea Party. I am a decorated veteran, now in professional practice. This is no joke. All of the above is available to you at the UN website and related serious, credible resources. It will connect all the dots for you.

    Wake up now and…

    Good luck, comrades.

  • Moser

    Oh yeah, the Hegelian Dialectic. It all makes sense now.

  • tom

    I think any public meeting shouldn’t start until everyone takes their prescribed meds.

  • tom

    Jerrod, love the jacket. Are you our waiter?

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