Friday, 18 of April of 2014

Category » Bureaucrats

Statism Begins At Home

Blogging on the Instapundit site, Sarah Hoyt links to brilliant summation of the threat to liberty at the local level by Patrick Richardson.

Statism begins at home.

It begins with small things, often at the city or county level.

It begins with well meaning regulations on things like when you can take your trash to the curb for pick up — and regulations which can order you to return the cans to your house within a specified time frame.

Regulations which will force you to sell an old car you’re fixing up in your driveway — simply because the neighbors think it an eyesore — regardless of current insurance and tags.

For the most part we accept these little annoyances, perhaps with some muttering under our breaths or a bit of table banging blustering down at the local coffee shop after we get a ticket.

A few of the most vocal of us might actually call our city councilman and blister his ear with little or no expectation anything will change.

And year by year the regulations mount in towns across the country, becoming just as stifling as the myriad federal regulations which intrude into our daily lives.

Little by little, bit by bit we become habituated. We learn to allow the intrusions.

We get broken to the harness.

Back at Instapundit, Hoyt says, “Statism starts with the words ‘there ought to be a law’ for every small, pesky annoyance.  Statism begins at home, and the fight to roll it back must begin in every town and city council.”

How They Want Us to Live

San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art has put together a display to aims to “inspire” us on how to live better.  Yep, uber-high densities and transit orientation.  Go figure.

Smart Growth and the Maryland Example

New Geography published the second of my two pieces on the so-called preference for Smart Growth.  Here, I dig into Maryland’s growth management plans and how they are not consistent with what people want.

Part I is here.

City Manager Fires Himself

Don’t know if this is quite man-bites-dog … but it’s close.  Story here.

Property Rights Victory at Supreme Court

Good news out of Washington, D.C.: “Court Sides With Property Owners Over EPA.”

The Supreme Court has sided with an Idaho couple in a property rights case, ruling they can go to court to challenge an Environmental Protection Agency order that blocked construction of their new home and threatened fines of more than $30,000 a day.

The EPA wants to be able to issue edicts without allowing for due process by those affected by EPA rulings.  Fortunately, the Court saw things differently.

Big Trouble for Little (Local) Governments

A perfect storm is converging on your community.  USA Today reports that, finally, four years after the housing boom went bust, property tax revenues are beginning to decline for many school districts and local governments.  Historically, this is the principal funding source for cities, counties, and public schools.

Secondly, Real Clear Markets points to municipal pensions and their expanding unfunded liabilities:

“According to Northwestern’s Joshua Rauh and the University of Rochester’s Robert Novy-Marx, the nation’s largest municipal plans (those with more than $1 billion in assets) have collective unfunded liabilities of $383 billion.”

This will likely put severe pressure on local government budgets in the near future.  Combined with declining revenue forecasts, the squeeze is on.  How will local governments respond?  Cutting services?  Raising taxes?  Outsourcing?

The Californization of the country will not be from the top-down; it will be from the bottom-up as local governments, having modeled themselves on the Golden State, find themselves bankrupt.

Big Government & Beach Regulations

A few weeks ago, we noticed this piece of regulatory overkill: LA County OKs $1,000 Fine For Throwing Football, Frisbee On Beaches.

After a public outcry (from around the country after the story went viral), the county backed down.  Officials claimed the whole thing was a big misunderstanding, but the county had to nonetheless make changes to the controlling legislation.  A CBS affiliate reported that the county supervisor directed staffers “to rewrite the ordinance to clearly state that football, Frisbee and similar sports are OK, unless the safety of other beachgoers is in danger or a lifeguard demands the activity stop.”  The vote from the Board of Supervisors was unanimous.

Even though this was a victory for common sense, the act of the vote to change the ordinance is proof that the ordinance was filled with absurdities.  It took a public outcry to force the change.  Grassroots activism is alive and well!

After the Death of DCA, Florida Moves Forward

Last year, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida legislature dismantled the Department of Community Affairs that enforced the state’s growth management laws.  Since 1985, all counties and municipalities were required to adopt 10-year comprehensive plans to direct growth.  Over time, this system became overly coercive and (Smart Growth) doctrinaire.

Cities and counties can continue to enforce comprehensive plans, but they can also opt out.  And some have.

Under the headline, “City Repeals Business Restraints,” it’s reported that Nassau County Commissioners adopted amendments to “eliminate transportation concurrency from the 2030 Comprehensive Plan and the Land Development Code” and “remove state oversight and streamline the permitting process for developers.”  Upon approval, one of the officials, Commissioner Barry Holloway, proudly declared that the county was “open for business.”

Meanwhile, the man who spearheaded the effort to kill the DCA, State Senator Mike Bennett, is at it again.  This legislative session, he is proposing two growth management bills — SB 842 and SB 1180 — aimed at helping cities and counties expedite development and economic growth plans.  The first appears about as common-sensical as it gets: SB 842 would “prohibit planning councils from providing paid planning services and then reviewing possible changes to the same development.”  And SB 1180 would “allow cities and counties to opt out of reviews with planning councils if they choose to provide faster approval for projects by hiring a private company.”

When Florida repealed statewide growth management last year, there was a lot of doom-and-gloom from the usual suspects.  But these efforts show that a t least some people are serious about getting Florida moving again.

When Persuasion Fails, Use Intimidation

All elected and appointed officials in Maryland are supposed to march in lock-step with Governor O’Malley’s coercive statewide growth management plan known as PlanMaryland.

If dissent is expressed, over-the-top measures will be taken to de-legitimize it.  Back in October 2011, I participated with several other speakers at a public forum organized by Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild.  “PlanMaryland: At the Crossroads” identified technical errors and faulty assumptions that undermine the plan’s viability.  It was widely publicized and about 150 people were in attendance from members of the Governor’s cabinet to state senators to county commissioners to local activists.  Additionally, the media was present and provided lots of coverage, even live-blogging the event.  All the presentations were posted on the County website (available here).  A nominal fee was proposed to cover costs, but only about 1/4 of the participants paid it proving that the fee was not an impediment to attendance.

There was no call to order, no motion set before the board, no votes taken, no direction given to staff.  In other words, there was nothing at this forum that in any way could be confused with a meeting of an elected body set to take action.

But the hypersensitive environmentalist community was offended that a forum would be organized that challenged their precious assumptions, so they sought a ruling from the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board who has issued an absurd ruling that the event was a “closed meeting,” thus violating the state’s open meetings law.  The Carroll County Board of Commissioners has posted a response on its website showing that there is at least some common sense left in Maryland.

Iowa lawmakers consider ban on traffic cameras

Faster, please.