This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
According to CNSNews.com, August 04, 2010 (full article available on-line)
The Senate Banking Committee passed the Livable Communities Act on Tuesday, moving the bill one step closer to final passage. The bill creates $4 billion in neighborhood planning grants for “sustainable” living projects and a new federal office to oversee them.
Similar legislation in the House has been criticized by Republicans on the House Budget Committee, who charge that “the program’s aim is to impose a Washington-based, central planning model on localities across the country.”
In the Senate version, written by outgoing Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the Livable Communities Act would designate $4 billion to aid local governments in planning high-density, walkable neighborhoods.
Premised on helping local governments to combat suburban sprawl and traffic congestion, the bill sets up two separate grant programs. One, known as Comprehensive Planning Grants, would go to cities and counties to assist them in carrying out such plans as the following:
-- “(1) coordinate land use, housing, transportation, and infrastructure planning processes across jurisdictions and agencies” and
-- “(3) conduct or update housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy, and environmental assessments to determine regional needs and promote sustainable development; [and]
-- “… (5) implement local zoning and other code changes necessary to implement a comprehensive regional plan and promote sustainable development.”
The second grant type – Sustainability Challenge Grants – funds local efforts to:
--“(1) promote integrated transportation, housing, energy, and economic development activities carried out across policy and governmental jurisdictions;
-- (2) promote sustainable and location-efficient development; and
-- (3) implement projects identified in a comprehensive regional plan.”
To administer and regulate these new grants, the bill creates the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC) within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The legislation is designed to prod local communities toward high-density, public transit-oriented neighborhoods that concentrate large numbers of people into small geographic areas connected by train and bus networks.
Dodd said that his bill would try to entice localities to move away from this model of suburban home- and land-ownership and toward a centrally planned model where local government officials make housing, business, and transportation decisions that steer residential and economic growth into designated high-density areas.
Dodd said that the new centralized development model would reduce traffic congestion, create jobs, and make residential and commercial development more environmentally friendly.
Limited Federal Authority vs. Present Federal Government
US Constitution; Tenth Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
We the People:
Senator Dodd’s admission that he supports central planning and discourages private land ownership is surprisingly candid and alarmingly dangerous to freedom. Private property control is a cornerstone to liberty. The land conservancy movement, in which the owner and local communities’ yield some control of land, is one of the tentacles of this; so is high-speed rail. You will recognize such effects locally when your local officials manage around acquiring federal funds.
The current federal government takes the people’s money, and will not return it unless the people give up some control of their communities. Such loss of local control is anathema to the Constitution. Instead of evaluating Congressmen on how much they bring in federal dollars, we should consider how much money they stop from leaving.