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Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Unworldly paranoia in Kootenai County

Can you imagine a world where the Kootenai County commissioners would make a stealth move to grab private property rights?

A world where the handmaidens of the New World Order are the GOP trio of Dan Green, Jai Nelson and Todd Tondee?

Where any day now, you’ll be prevented from doing whatever you want on your own property by an out-of-town design firm carrying water for the United Nations?

No? You can’t?

I guess that’s how you know you live in the real world.

Lucky you. Because a lot of people live in a scary, sinister place. A place where freedom-loving Americans are “under attack” by the forces of “consensus” and “collaboration” and other “Communitarian” influences. A place where individual freedoms are being consumed by community rights. A place where the will of the people is a sham, and nameless, faceless outside forces are working constantly to mislead and manipulate you into believing otherwise.

“We’ve got to be very, very careful we don’t lose our private property rights,” Kathy Sims, a Coeur d’Alene car dealer and member of Idaho’s House of Representative, told the Coeur d’Alene Press this week.

Very, very careful indeed. About what again? Kootenai County’s hiring of Kendig Keast Collaborative – see that? see? collaborative? – to help turn the county’s comprehensive plan into new zoning laws.

Which the county is required to do by the state. And which the county will take the next two years to complete, after hearing a bunch of public testimony and input. Which will no doubt include a lot of paranoid references to Agenda 21.

Or maybe I should say AGENDA 21!

You don’t know about Agenda 21? Yet another sign of your real-world residency.

Agenda 21 is a U.N. proclamation that aims to encourage sustainable development and work against poverty and other such nonsense, and which somehow gets brought up as the shadow behind any attempt at zoning regulation, despite the fact that Agenda 21 has never been ratified by the U.S. Congress.

In the course of your regular life, you should assume that anything that doesn’t go your way stems from Agenda 21, and if Kootenai County tries to do anything that freedom-loving Americans don’t approve of – like tell you how high you can build the corrugated tin fence around your compound or try to prevent you from throwing car batteries in the river – well, you’ll know where it came from.

Some people are not going to stand for this. Some people have had enough. Some people are going to pull up their britches and go to battle for freedom.

“If you value property rights,” read an email screed circulated in Coeur d’Alene, “you should be very frightened of the possible outcome of this process.”

Well, shoot. I value property rights, and though I don’t own any in Kootenai County, this email assures me that these Agenda 21 ideas are being snuck in all over the world. So I figured I ought to go take a look at this comprehensive plan that Kootenai County is going to codify.

The plan was created after Kootenai County spent a lot of time and money gathering public input in a “visioning” exercise. All this visioning is supposed to add up to a community vision for land-use planning in the future, and the plan’s vision is meant to be turned into regulations.

On the first page, it lists components that are to be considered in making land-use decisions.

Guess what’s at the top of the list? Property rights.

And you get a good sense of the debate that came before – and the one that’s still to come – when you notice that on more than one occasion, the plan takes the time to point out that normal, legal government regulation is not a “taking” of private property.

You never thought it was? Real-worlder.

Where there’s talk of “taking,” fear of Agenda 21 can’t be too far behind.

You get the feeling that the authors of the comprehensive plan had a specific audience in mind when they wrote that property rights “do not prevent the exercise of legitimate governmental authority to ensure the public’s safety and well being, including, for example, penalties for failure to keep a property in good repair or for nuisance violations, and zoning and development regulations which ensure the County’s ability to provide safe and adequate fire, police and infrastructure to its residents.”

It’s like Karl Marx wrote that himself.

Among the plan’s goals are preserving historic sites, monitoring population, improving the economy, encouraging enough housing for everyone, supporting school districts, promoting and developing efficient public services, building nice parks and protecting the environment.

In this, the author of the alarmist email sees reason to be very afraid.

“Any persons in disagreement with this process will be discredited and marginalized and made to appear ‘uncooperative and unreasonable,’ ” it said. “The goal is to create stakeholder, or community, rights that will inevitably conflict with individual rights and government will have to arbitrate these competing rights. … When government is involved with environmentalism, the land, water, plants and animals gain equal rights to us. Think grizzly bears!”

Yes, indeed. Think grizzly bears! Think grizzly bears gaining equal rights to freedom-loving property owners in Kootenai County! Think grizzly bears and the U.N. and Agenda 21!

Think that. Then think a little more.

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or shawnv@ Follow him on Twitter at @vestal13.

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