Opposition to old United Nations resolution moves from the fringe to the GOP platform

“UN Flag.” Photo by Philippe Teuwen, via Flickr.

All eyes are on the Republican Party’s national convention in Tampa this week, with voters and pundits gauging presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s performance. But amid the bright spotlight of the stage and the specter of Tropical Storm Isaac, the GOP also released its platform for the coming years.

The platform’s language includes reference to the “U.N. Agenda 21,” a non-binding resolution signed by the in 1992 that has become a catch-all boogeyman for conservative fears about changing development and new currents in American society. In a post published today, the New York Times’ Leslie Kaufman explains what this has to do with local planning efforts:

Although it is nonbinding and has no force of law in the United States, it has increasingly become a point of passionate concern to a circle of Republican activists who argue that the resolution is part of a United Nations plot to deny Americans their property rights…Most of those pushing the Agenda 21 theory have been largely on the margins of their own party. But the inclusion of language for Agenda 21 in the Republican Party platform could mark a turning point, said Tom Madrecki, a spokesman for Smart Growth America, an advocacy group that works to limit sprawl.

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Smart growth news – February 10, 2012

National News:

Editorial: Designing a Fix for Housing
New York Times – February 9, 2012

RECENT efforts to fix the housing market — including Thursday’s $26 billion settlement with five of the nation’s biggest banks — have focused purely on the financial aspects of the slump. A permanent solution, however, must go further than money to address issues that have been at the core of the crisis but have been wholly ignored: design and urban planning.

Highway Bill Tests Boehner’s Leadership
Wall Street Journal – February 10, 2012

The measure’s failure would be a blow to Mr. Boehner’s leadership, and he is scrambling to win support. The bill contains no earmarks, which adheres to Republican campaign themes, but the debate surrounding the measure shows how that promise, along with others to oppose big spending bills, can make it harder to govern.

Boehner uncertain on passage of $260B transportation bill
The Hill – February 9, 2012

Speaking Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., Boehner said he was not sure what would happen when the transportation bill comes to the floor of the House.

White House backs $109B Senate transportation bill
The Hill – February 9, 2012

The White House is backing the Senate’s $109 billion surface transportation bill, eschewing a $260 billion measure from the Republican-led House that GOP leaders have offered as their counter to President Obama’s call for a jobs bill.

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Smart growth news – February 6, 2012

National News:

Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot
New York Times – February 3, 2012

Ilana Preuss, vice president of Smart Growth America, a national coalition of nonprofits that supports economic development while conserving open spaces and farmland, said, “The real danger is not that they will get rid of some piece of software from Iclei” but that “people will be too scared to have a conversation about local development. And that is an important conversation to be having.”

House GOP Takes Aim At Safe Routes To School, Mass Transit
Huffington Post – February 3, 2012

“The leadership of the House is looking to support highways. It seems that they’re not wanting to support bicycle, pedestrian or transit use,” said Deb Hubsmith, director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The decision was particularly disappointing, she said, because “one of the biggest problems facing America right now is childhood obesity.”

U.S. overbuilt in big houses, planners find
San Diego Union Tribune – February 2, 2012

America has too many big houses — 40 million, to be exact — because consumers are shifting preferences to condos, apartments and small homes, experts told the New Partners for Smart Growth Thursday, holding its 11th annual conference in San Diego through Sunday.

“Smart Growth” Experts Tout San Diego
NBC News – February 2, 2012

“San Diego is investing in the right things,” said Ilana Preuss, vice president of Washington D.C.-based Smart Growth America. “Looking at how you create whole neighborhoods where people can live near where they work, have jobs near shops and schools. We’ve found that that’s really a key to the economic development of the 21st century.”

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