At last night's City Council meeting, Mayor Noam Bramson was asked about ICLEI, Agenda 21 and the United Nations. In response, the Mayor emphatically declared that "New Rochelle is not associated with the United Nations".
When it comes to ICLEI, Agenda 21 and the United Nations, methinks the Mayor doth protest too much.
Let's start with the obvious. Noam Bramson is a proponent of ICLEI. He has been the guiding hand every step of the way, operating directly or indirectly through fronts like Deborah Newborn, Chuck Strome, David Kooris, the GreeNR Committee and others. Noam speaks and their lips move. He brought ICLEI to New Rochelle over 10 years ago under the guise of signing onto an innocuous sounding position paper on reducing carbon emissions. He submitted a proposal to ICLEI in which he offered up New Rochelle as the "ideal laboratory" for experimentation with ICLEI's environmental planning and policies -- with New Rochelle residents as the guinea pigs. Noam Bramson caused New Rochelle to join ICLEI in 2010 without bothering to put it to a vote of the City Council.
A review of the 12 years show how the Mayor has worked tirelessly to help ICLEI get their nose under the proverbial tent.
The major policy goal of ICLEI is to achieve their vision of so-called "sustainability" with an eye towards making the traditional suburban lifestyle unaffordable, primarily by changes to building and land-use codes. They are driven by their belief that the American ideal of single-family home ownership and two cars in the garage with a white picket fence is the very definition of "unsustainable" and thus must be eliminated. In communications with ICLEI obtained by Talk of the Sound, the Mayor boasts how he has brought about changes to the City's comprehensive plan "more than twenty times" most of which were designed "to permit higher density/mixed use developments near the Transit Center".
In 2008, the Mayor boasted to ICLEI how the "central thrust of the City’s land use and development policies has been the Smart Growth model that steers investment to our transit district while limiting growth and development in our low density residential areas" and the development and pending adoption of Green Building regulations. In the end, this all about land use control where United Nations policies will dictate what you can do with your property.
John R. Nolan, a Professor of Law at Pace University School of Law, and a major proponent of the Land Use Stabilization Wedge strategy, explains in a 2009 law journal article how Agenda 21 seeks to achieve United Nations goals through changes in land use control and zoning.
As Nolon states, local land use law is "critical":
In our system of government, municipalities have been given a key, if not the principal, role in land use regulation. Local legislatures may adopt land use plans, zoning ordinances, and maps that provide blueprints for the future development of their communities and, when aggregated, their region. They also adopt local subdivision and site plan regulations and establish planning and zoning boards to review, approve, and impose conditions on applications for housing and commercial development. These tools can be used by municipalities to play an active role in the mitigation of climate change by fostering the shift from suburban to urban living.
Nolon describes Agenda 21 in land use terms calling it "a global plan of action adopted by the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992" in which "the relevance of land use law to achieving sustainable development is set forth."
“Agenda 21 is analogous to a comprehensive plan for the planet of the type adopted by nations, states, and local governments: a plan that defines where the community has come from, where it wishes to go, its demographic trends, how and where new populations will be settled and how they will be housed, new infrastructure and services needed (such as schools, parks, roads, water and sewer systems, and public buildings), and valuable natural and cultural resources that must be preserved.” Thus, Agenda 21 establishes and emphasizes land use goals that encourage sustainable human settlements and seek to integrate environmental considerations into development decisions. Current land use patterns across the globe are largely unsustainable requiring extensive law reform. “The sine qua non of land use regulation is to determine where development should go, how much of it – and what type of it – is needed, what interests should be served by land use agencies to review development proposals and to approve them if they meet established standards such as energy conservation and site planning that ameliorate environmental damage on site, next door, down river, and to the landscape.”
Certainly, Nolon would feel right at home on the Mayor's GreeNR Advisory Committee. In fact, he is a member of the GreeNR Advisory Committee.
Across the board, GreeNR is the result of applying the ICLEI playbook in New Rochelle. ICLEI's "toolkit" was used to structure the overall process, create a checklist of activities for GreeNR committee and provide the model for initiative development. The resulting GreeNR plan is now being integrated into every facet of municipal governance - zoning, planning, budgeting and development.
On ICLEI's web site, Mayor Bramson is quoted talking about New York City's sustainability plan and on how ICLEI "provided us with a proven process for developing a sustainability plan, and helped us to understand how New York’s planning process could work in a city of our size."
It is hardly a secret that New Rochelle, at the Mayor's behest, joined ICLEI without a public discussion and vote by City Council. When asked about the legal basis on which New Rochelle joined ICLEI by Council Member Lou Trangucci, City Manager Charles Strome said the Council's consent to join ICLEI was implied by virtue of an ICLEI representative speaking before council. Setting aside that the ICLEI spokesperson completely misrepresented the organization in her presentation, how does listening to a person speak at a meeting constitute Council authorization to make expenditures to join that speaker's organization?
Despite the obvious connections between ICLEI and the United Nations, the Mayor again last night denied that New Rochelle has any association with the United Nations. In the past, the Mayor has sought to portray anyone who questions ICLEI and their role in GreeNR as a "John Bircher" or "Conspiracy Theorist" or a "Kook" or a "Nut". In other words, rather than address a fact-based, logical argument the Mayor prefers to slander, demonize and demagogue. Why is that?
Here are a few facts the Mayor does not wish to address:
- ICLEI was founded in 1990 at its inaugural conference, the World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future, which was convened at the United Nations in New York in September 1990.
- ICLEI wrote what became Chapter 28: Local Agenda 21 of Agenda 21.
- Agenda 21, also known as the Rio Accords, is a "comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups" which was adopted by 180 nations at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).
- UNCED, also known as the Rio Summit, Rio Conference, or Earth Summit, was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992.
- United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created in 1992, based on Chapter 38 of Agenda 21, to serve as a high level forum on sustainable development and has acted as the preparatory committee for summits and sessions on the implementation of Agenda 21.
- The United Nations will convene, Rio + 20, the next UNCSD summit, in June of this year, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of UNCED.
- Rio+20 is "a joint endeavour of the entire UN System" including ICLEI as part of that UN System.
ICLEI's web site states:
The year 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit, the birthplace of the Local Agenda 21 movement. Initiated by ICLEI, it has inspired thousands of local governments and communities worldwide to put in place local strategies and actions for sustainable development.
The math here is simple: GreeNR = Local Agenda 21 = ICLEI = Agenda 21 = 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development = United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development = United Nations.
ICLEI is not simply "associated" with the United Nations. It is, in their own words, part of the "UN System". It was created at United Nations Headquarters in New York, at a meeting convened by the United Nations, funded by the United Nations, for the purpose implementing policies of the United Nations. On their own web site it clearly states that ICLEI initiated the Local Agenda 21 movement.
Is it any surprise that Mayor Bramson plans to travel to Brazil in June to attend Rio + 20 as the New Rochelle delegate to ICLEI?.
Not only is ICLEI directly "associated" with the United Nations but so is the GreeNR Advisory Board put in place by the Mayor to implement Local Agenda 21 in New Rochelle as part of a so-called ICLEI pilot program. The GreeNR committee included a number of people with close, direct connections to the United Nations, people, who people have participated in various United Nations sustainability events around the world and include at least one United Nations employee who himself is married to a high-ranking UN official.
Steven Nakashima is the Program Coordinator of the Common Fund for Prevention and Fight against Avian Influenza at United Nations Development Program ("UNDP") in Cameroon. The UNDP Secretary is the third most powerful person in the United Nations organizational chart. Nakashima's wife is Sophie de Caen, a senior United Nations official. She also works for the United Nations Development Program but at a much higer level.
Sophie de Caen runs the billion dollar MDG Achievement Fund. MDG or "Millennium Development Goals" are eight goals established by the United Nations in 2000. The first goal listed on the MDG Achievement Fund web site is "Environment and Climate Change - Ensure Environmental Sustainability" which is further described as a goal to "integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes".
Not only is the United Nations directly involved in GreeNR, the Local Agenda 21 program for New Rochelle, but the husband of one of the key players in implementing Agenda 21 for the United Nations was placed on the GreeNR advisory committee by his old Harvard classmate, Noam Bramson.
Whether you love the United Nations or hate it, whether you think ICLEI is wonderful or terrible, whether you support Agenda 21 or not, it is simply ludicrous to claim, as the Mayor has repeatedly done, that there is no association between New Rochelle and the United Nations. The United Nations, Agenda 21 and ICLEI are not just associated; ICLEI is the implementation arm of the United Nations for Agenda 21 at the local level.
In the Mayor's application to ICLEI for what become GreeNR, New Rochelle is described as "an ideal laboratory for creative environmental planning and the implementation of new policies." Is that how the Mayor sees New Rochelle? A "laboratory" for him and his ICLEI friends to conduct experiments? People should consider that long after the Mayor moves on from the scene, the rest of us will be stuck with the results of the failed experiments from Noam's lab.
If the people of New Rochelle, informed of all this, still want to be members of ICLEI so be it. The public, however, has been deliberately misinformed by the Mayor as to the true nature of ICLEI. The City Council has never held a vote on whether to join ICLEI. When Lou Trangucci offered to vote for GreeNR in exchange for terminating New Rochelle's membership in ICLEI, the Mayor refused. He said there could be a separate discussion about ICLEI membership but that discussion never took place.
Perhaps the time has come.