There have been a flurry of articles and even a new “Leelanau County Commissioners Tinfoil Hat Brigade” Facebook page on the heels of a decision by Leelanau County Commissioners to reject a partnership with Grand Traverse County to promote growth and shutter the county Economic Development Corporation (EDC). It’s now reached the Detroit News who report that business leaders are criticizing a decision by the Leelanau County commission to abolish the Leelanau EDC.
Meeting in Suttons Bay on April 8, commissioners said the northwestern Lower Peninsula county is wealthy enough already and that they don’t want growth. They said it’s up to people to find their own jobs and businesses to make their own plans.
“We’ve been a county for over 150 years,” Commissioner Karen Zemaitis said at the meeting. “The people in this county have always managed to make a living, whether it was fishing or ice-marketing. Times changed, that didn’t work, they went to agriculture, cherries. Now they have the wineries.
“These independent, intelligent people in our county can make a living for themselves. They can develop their own economic community, they can figure out what it takes to have a business here. They can adapt.”
…Business leaders disagreed, saying people who want jobs can’t find them and leave the area.
“The message that it sends, or at least risks sending, is that the county is closed for business, ‘We don’t want growth,'” Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce President Doug Luciani told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. “It also puts the county at risk of really isolating itself in terms of all the things happening on a regional basis.”
Read on at the Detroit News. It appears that one of the reasons for the decision is a fear of Agenda 21, a voluntary United Nations program that County Commissioner Deb Rushton cited as a reason for her vote to reject the partnership:
Rushton, after listening to presentations from economic development officials, said she heard “buzzwords” from Agenda 21, which warns against a one-world government controlled by the United Nations.
“Somebody mentioned the word Agenda 21, the so-called theory of Agenda 21,” Rushton said during the public meeting. “But when I listen to you people speak, some of (our) board members, some of the guests, some of the facilitators, I hear all the buzzwords. Words have meaning. Words have meaning.
“So, to say that that theory or that agenda is not present here today, I disagree,” Rushton said.
The recording of Rushton’s comments was obtained by the Record-Eagle from Leelanau County through a Freedom of Information Act request. She did not respond to a phone message and email seeking comment for this story.
The recording shows Rushton made her comments about Agenda 21 buzzwords moments after listening to presentations from Doug Luciani, president of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, and John “Chip” Hoagland, managing partner of Cherry Capital Foods. They had asked the county to partner with the Traverse Bay EDC to develop the plan, which called for being a “national leader in smart, sustainable economic development” and to explore job growth in “clean applied technologies.”
The plan required a $25,000 payment from the county over two years to craft a thorough economic development strategy.
The commission instead killed the idea, then disbanded the county’s long-running economic development corporation.
Agenda 21 is a conspiracy theory promulgated by radio talk show host Glenn Beck, which centers on the fear that the United Nations is seeking a one-world government to encourage biodiversity and sustainable development. Beck since wrote a book about the theory. His website that promotes the book states “a violent and tyrannical government rules what was once known as America. The old, the ill, and the defiant all quickly vanish. Babies belong to the state.”
Rushton is the second county commissioner to cite Agenda 21 in their decision to vote against the economic development proposal. Commissioner Karen Zemaitis, in an interview with the Record-Eagle, also cited Agenda 21 as one of the reasons she voted no.