The Lodi City Council halted an item on its consent agenda Wednesday night after almost a dozen local residents questioned the science behind global warming and raised concerns about the city being connected to an organization tied to Agenda 21, a United Nations initiative they say is trying to create a socialist, worldwide government.
The council was deciding whether to spend $120,000 in federal grant funds to hire a consultant to draft a climate action plan.
City Manager Rad Bartlam said the plan would help the city meet greenhouse gas reduction requirements set by the state. It also would help the city complete state-mandated environmental studies for future developments in Lodi.
If the city refused the federal grant money, Bartlam said he is positive a state agency would eventually require Lodi to pay for the plan with city funds.
Lodi would benefit from doing its own climate action plan now, Bartlam said, instead of waiting for state intervention later.
“We’ll control this process, and we’ll control this outcome,” Bartlam said.
Lodi resident Ed Miller said even though the state is pushing for cities to create a climate action plan, that doesn’t mean the city should go forward with it.
“This is kind of like two wrongs make a right. I think the cities need to band together and push back on the state and say, ‘You can sue every city,’” Miller said.
In a 4-to-1 vote, the council directed staff to research the residents’ concerns and see if any other cities are refusing to move forward with a climate action plan. Councilman Larry Hansen voted against delaying the plan.
Lodi resident Kathy Polenske and several of the speakers, many of whom are members of Lodi’s Tea Party affiliate, Citizens in Action, said they were against how the city received the money.
The Tea Party members recently heard a presentation from Santa Rosa activist Rosa Koire, who urged all communities to fight Agenda 21. She said it is an attempt by the federal government and the United Nations to control local land-use planning worldwide.
After hearing that presentation, Polenske said she believes Smart Valley Places Compact, a consortium of 14 cities including Lodi, is part of the U.N. initiative.
Looking for funding for a climate action plan, the city joined the compact about a year ago to apply with the other 13 cities for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. The grant is through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Polenske said she saw many references on the compact’s website to smart growth and comprehensive planning, which she said are terms used by Agenda 21 supporters.
“The Smart Valley organization reeks of Agenda 21 and all of the buzz words for Agenda 21 are there,” she said.
Agenda 21 is a comprehensive blueprint to foster sustainable development, and was adopted in 1992 at a United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
At the Tea Party meeting, Koire said the basic philosophy behind Agenda 21 is that the community’s rights rank ahead of an individual’s rights, especially when it comes to property. That includes redevelopment agencies and eminent domain, she said.
At the council meeting, Lodi Citizens in Action president Kim Paragoris said she looked at the Smart Valley Places Compact’s goals, and believe their goal is to control the lives of Central Valley residents.
“It’s the end of American sovereignty, and it’s against the United States Constitution for these entities to be getting into agreements with foreign nations,” Paragoris said.
Lodi resident Alex Aliferis encouraged the council and Lodi residents to research Agenda 21.
“People down the line are going to be really mad because they are going to wonder why they didn’t know about it. We are out here, we are waking up,” he said.
Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce and Mayor Bob Johnson both said they wanted to hear more about how this grant could relate to Agenda 21 before voting on it. They also wanted to know if other communities were not going through with a climate action plan.
“If other cities in the state are looking at this with such a jaundiced eye, then I’d like to learn more about it,” Johnson said.
Hansen voted against delaying the climate action plan because the city has faced threats of fines and penalties before if they did not meet state requirements. He did not want to see that happen again by delaying the plan.
“What you are asking is for the council to gamble with the tax dollars of Lodi residents. We’ve got to try and decide what is the best thing to do to protect the citizens of Lodi,” Hansen said.
The council will discuss the grant at a future shirtsleeves meeting.