Leelanau County Economic Development is the talk of Michigan

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.

Read on at the Record-Eagle and definitely weigh in with a comment below or on the Leelanau.com Facebook!



8 replies
  1. T Lindquist
    T Lindquist says:

    WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE??!!!! All the work by local businesses, the Leelanau chamber, local towns (yes even Northport..go figure) to pull this whole county out of the mess of the recession, and the State promotiing the are as one of the “gems of America” and being recognized as a great place to do business and live.. HAS ALL BEEN UNDONE BY TWO OR THREE MISCEANTS ON THE COUNTY BOARD!!!! My god it was like listening to some right wing wack jobs jabber on about some conspiracy.. And they said they really don;t care about the people of Leelanau..”they’re on their own… Oh my god how did these nut jobs get elected?!!!

    All of us who have mistakenly voted these people in need to get them out now! Thanks for destroying all the hard work by some many to move us forward! You have shown the true feelings of your “kind” in the county. They say a lot by opening their mouths so little: If you have it, don’t let anyone else get any or share it, or try to make the place better for commerce and employees (yes the people that mow your lawns Ms. Lautner, Rushton and Zamaitis,)… If you don’t have any or want to grow a business or start one.. then don’t bother us, this is the place for the rich and content to stay slow witted and recluse. Arrrrggghgh!

  2. Observer
    Observer says:

    Imagine an elected official who makes anti-development statements being appointed to an EDC

    What might be the result?

  3. Andrew McFarlane
    Andrew McFarlane says:

    The letters from the Record-Eagle…

    Educate ourselves

    I was pleased to read the May 2 article in the Record-Eagle about Debra Rushton and Karen Zemaitis who are Leelanau County commissioners standing up and saying no to sustainable development or otherwise known as Agenda 21. It’s good to know that we still have people in leadership positions who are well informed independent thinkers. The commissioners voted down a proposal to partner with the Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation, or EDC, presented by Doug Luciani.

    I suspect that the commissioners knew that Traverse City is a paid member of the International Council of Local Environment Initiatives, or ICLEI, which is a non-governmental organization. Check out ICLEIUSA.org. Look under membership. Traverse City therefore receives training and plans on how to implement smart urban growth. ICLEI is an arm of the United Nations Agenda 21 plan. UN’s smart urban growth goal is to herd humans into cities, restricting movement, food, water and shelter.

    Google: UN agenda 21, wildlands map & citizens against agenda 21. Go to Freedomadvocates. Org. Read ‘Behind the Green Mask’ by Rosa Koire. Please everyone, it’s our duty to educate ourselves and become informed.

    Renell Simon, Traverse City

    Listen to constituents

    We could hardly believe what we were reading. Closed door County? What are those commissioners thinking? Not all Leelanau County residents are farmers and business owners. How many of us can live on a gallon of milk and a gallon of gas, and ask the owners of that gas station or grocery store if they can exist on that small sale. What about the young families living here? How will a closed county affect them and their children’s education? What will we have to keep these families in Leelanau County? Without an economic plan, how can we expect positive growth? What will keep undesired businesses from moving in?

    Lautner quote, “Interestingly enough, Leelanau County has health and wealth, that’s just a bonus. We are already there.”

    Have you asked the residents who are having to hold down two and three minimum-wage jobs if they have the wealth they need and adequate health care? Open your ears and really listen to all your constituents. You are not giving all Leelanau residents fair representation.

    We cannot survive on tourism alone if we are to remain stable and a future destination for growth.

    Paula Swink, Leland

    Sandy Lindley, Suttons Bay

    The writers are former Leelanau County Chamber Presidents and business owners.

  4. Observer
    Observer says:

    We really don’t have to worry much about a UN Takeover as long as we have vigilant citizens like Steve.

    From : https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:7Ykb3WmW-A4J:www.leelanau.cc/downloads/draft_minutes_011413_1.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESiofafAJx5_9Z7OGsSmNW-xwF48YIjcSxxl_f-mJ1Ie8piCfhpwBt1aDPdirAQsnmuikxQpnWTiY03VcKYx6kdKI3eMkwLE2fp3V8kwA-RcBLH74DWYhuaeMHqdsc5u1C2Ivb4J&sig=AHIEtbQ3fpe4NjsnNyWLKjWHhsSU-3Ir0g

    We have Mr. Mikowski, who has alerted the county board to Agenda 21 issues :

    “Steve Mikowski (Lake Leelanau) made his 197th request for a referendum on the 1996 Zoning Ordinance, along with a request to cause the Zoning Board of Appeals to grant a 17-1/2-inch variance for a deck. He noted that the Township Board had not filled a Planning Commission vacancy for more than two years. Mr. Borden asked if a vacancy ever caused a deadlock on the Planning Commission,and if not, how this issue was relevant. Mr. Mikowski said the vacancy was an indication that the township is not following the law. Regarding the referendum request on the 1996 ordinance, Ms. Keen said she had provided information to Mr. Mikowski many years ago showing that the number of certified signatures was not enough to meet the standard for a referendum. Mr. Mikowski said the state legislature had changed the hurdle rate shortly before the petition deadline, but the Township Board did not inform the citizens. Mr. Little said Ms. Keen would answer any certification questions.

  5. Observer
    Observer says:

    Word of a new Chair for the Leelanau EDC

    Let’s see what he does for the county

    Will he help generate jobs?


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