April 14, 2010

Initiative aims to restrict city’s international ties

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane leaders would have to revoke the city’s memberships and relationships with the United Nations and other groups “undermining United States sovereignty” under a proposal that supporters hope will make the November ballot.

That charter amendment and another that were submitted last week would also prevent the city from “adopting any regulations, taxation or other policies which would be targeted specifically towards modifying greenhouse gas emissions.” They proposals were submitted last week by former city council candidate Mike Fagan on behalf of the Spokane Patriots.

The Spokane Patriots is a group formed earlier this year and is an offshoot of the Tea Party of Spokane. Fagan, a member, ran for City Council last year and works for anti-tax activist Tim Eyman.

The Patriot’s UN proposal also would prevent the city from belonging to ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, a group focused on climate change policy.

City leaders were puzzled by the assertion that the city has membership or relations with the United Nations. It doesn’t. And they say they don’t desire one. ICLEI, they said, is a membership organization they joined much like other government-based organizations that many cities belong to.

Meg Doherty, spokeswoman for the Spokane Patriots, said regulations pushed by ICLEI will control where and how people live.

“The goal is top-down control of everybody’s life on the planet,” Doherty said. “Our concern is that once the United Nations gets a foothold … that means that we have local city policies guided by the United Nations.”

To make the November ballot this year, the Patriots will need to collect about 9,000 valid signatures.

Don Knapp, an ICLEI spokesman, said although the nonprofit group was founded in the early 1990s at a UN conference of local governments, it never has been an arm of the UN. He said more than half of ICLEI’s 1,100 members are in the United States. ICLEI used to stand for the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.

“ICLEI has no control whatsoever over what our members do,” Knapp said. “They tell us what their needs are.”

Lloyd Brewer, Spokane’s environmental program manger, said the city joined ICLEI in 2006 and pays $2,250 a year for membership. He said one of the main benefits to members is the right to use ICLEI software to help the city examine levels of greenhouse gases.

The proposal questions the science that indicates that human activity is at least partially responsible for climate change.

“Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize costly policy decisions based on junk science and the erroneous proposition that carbon dioxide is harmful to our environment,” the proposal says.

Eric Steig, a University of Washington earth and space sciences professor who studies climate, said scientific claims made in the proposal are false or based on half-truths. He added that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists continue to say that the data points to human activity being a significant contributor to climate change.

“You wouldn’t want a group that believes smoking doesn’t cause cancer to hold sway over public policy on smoking,” he said.

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