By Terri Hall l February 24, 2012
Apparently, I hit a nerve. San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff (see link below) went postal over some columns I penned opposing the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the City of San Antonio’s ‘Complete Streets’ policy. Chasnoff’s tirade tried to link local concerns over the improper raiding of the Highway Trust Fund and road scarcity to Rick Santorum’s surge in Texas. In reality, it was a hit piece trying to link me to some of Santorum’s comments about radical environmentalism that he made on a Sunday talk show in an attempt to paint me with the same broad brush.
“Santorum is channeling a bizarre, paranoid form of anti-environmental rhetoric emanating from tea party-tied activists across the country. In our region, the movement has an adherent in Terri Hall founder of the anti-toll road group Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom.”
Nice try, but that won’t fly.
Apparently, concerned citizens are forbidden from leveling criticism about controversial issues in this town without the ESTABLISHMENT coming unhinged. The pure contempt for the taxpayers who dare to challenge the wisdom of heisting already scarce federal highway and road funds for nice-to-haves like anti-automobile hike & bike trails came through loud and clear in every line of Chasnoff’s column. Seems obvious that some disgruntled members of the MPO board gave Chasnoff a call to gripe over the influence of ordinary citizens in transportation policy. Shudder the thought!
Chasnoff was all too happy to pounce. I was asked to address the MPO board on two agenda items at a workshop and spoke a total of 15 minutes, if that. A few board members complained I rattled on for an hour. Absolute hogwash. We have witnesses to attest to the truth, but Chasnoff isn’t interested in the truth.
It’s sad we can’t have an adult conversation about public policy without the establishment resorting to ad hominem attacks that have nothing to do with debating the issues at hand. What are the real issues at play here? For me it started with the raiding of our already scarce highway road funds for things that ultimately elevate non-automobile modes of transportation over automobile transportation.
Complete Streets policies mandate a certain percentage of our highway road funds be siphoned off for hike & bike trails or dedicated bike lanes that ultimately shrink automobile capacity. They can also involve Cyclovias, where streets are closed to automobiles so bicyclists and pedestrians can roam free. What starts as a temporary closure can turn into permanent road closures inhibiting the free flow of automobile traffic. Wikipedia says a Cyclovia is a “term which translates from Spanish into English as ‘bike path’ and now used worldwide to describe either a permanently designated bicycle route or a temporary event, the closing of the street to automobiles for use by others.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciclovia)
We don’t need the government to be closing our streets for recreational purposes or to “encourage physical activity,” as Chasnoff suggests. I thought that’s why we have public parks — a place for physical activity and to enable pedestrians and cyclists to roam free from cars? Other countries and communities have had healthy debates over whether the benefits of Cyclovias outweigh the traffic jams. But in San Antonio, debate is eclipsed by below the belt personal attacks on those with views contrary to the establishment media.
What is the Agenda?
Complete Streets policies are indeed part of the UN’s Agenda 21 program – that’s right, the United Nations. For anyone who takes the time to read this behemoth UN document, they’d know that Agenda 21 is a blueprint for global governance, well beyond the claim it’s merely “sustainable environmental policies.”
Two of the UN’s Agenda 21 stated goals are to restrict mobility and abolish private property. Chasnoff calls it non-binding, but George H.W. Bush signed the U.S. government onto Agenda 21 at the Rio Summit in 1992 making it binding. Clinton further implemented Agenda 21 through the creation of the Presidential Council on Sustainable Development in 1993. George W. Bush continued the push through the Security and Prosperity Partnership and public private partnerships. On June 9, 2011, President Barrack Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Rural Council that establishes Agenda 21 sustainable development policies over America’s rural heartland — and food basket.
The Agenda 21 web site says it best: “Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.” It goes on to say: “The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), to monitor and report on implementation of the agreements at the local, national, regional and international levels.” Sounds like global governance via the United Nations to me. Doesn’t sound optional either.
Just two of the governing principles of Agenda 21:
“Principle 4 – In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it. Principle 5 – All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world” (Emphasis Added).
The section on “human settlements” (Chapter 7) goes way beyond environmental policy and seeks to exert governmental control over virtually every aspect of our lives — where we live, what we eat, what kind of car we drive, how we travel, how many children we can have, and where we can live, work, and play. It seeks to supplant individual rights and replace it with the socialist collective.
Chasnoff calls that revelation “ramblings” and dubs citizen concern over this government power grab “troubling.” Read it for yourself (http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21). Agenda 21 does all of the above, and it’s actively being implemented in over 600 cities nationwide through the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).
Though Chasnoff would like his readers to believe this is conspiracy theory, Agenda 21 and its goals are well-documented. Rather than debate the facts, however, he’d rather lob personal attacks and call critics “irrational,” saying the MPO “should ignore any irrational voices that fail to see the Earth and its inhabitants — ‘man’ and everyone else — as intertwined.” It’s to agree with Chasnoff and his version of earth worship or you’re irrational, should be ignored, and should have no say over transportation policy. Never mind that the MPO’s governing documents actually state people should have a say over the transportation decisions that effect their lives.
So apparently, the irrational ones in this discussion are those who fear the truth.
Terri Hall is the founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), which defends against eminent domain abuse and promotes non-toll transportation solutions. She’s a home school mother of eight turned citizen activist. Ms. Hall is also a contributor to