Archive for February, 2012

Agenda 21 provokes conspiracy fears in Chattanooga


Times Freepress

A 20-year-old United Nations plan has crept steadily into the local public discussion, with some local officials saying it is nothing more than a suggestion on how to make a community better.

But others say it is something to be feared, a guide to world domination and a guiding tool of Chattanooga government.

It is called Agenda 21.

The man who leads Chattanooga government said Agenda 21 is not the guiding principle for his administration and called the group leading the charge a “conspiracy theorist” group.

“When I first heard about it [Agenda 21] a few months ago, I had never heard about it and had to look it up,” Mayor Ron Littlefield said.

The Chattanooga Tea Party has been talking for months about Agenda 21, an action plan adopted at a 1992 conference of the United Nations. The action plan calls for governments worldwide — national, state and local — to focus on sustainable development.

But tea party groups and others say there is more to the plan that intrudes on the private rights of individuals. They say the agenda proposes such things as trying to make people live closer to cities instead of giving them free choice, guiding such things as annexation to give cities more control of individuals and cities using code enforcement as a way to trump individual rights.

Mark West, president of the Chattanooga Tea Party, said the Republican National Committee passed a resolution last month on Agenda 21. The resolution said Agenda 21 is “a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering and global political control.”

West said if his group is made of “conspiracy theorists,” then that should point to the RNC as being a conspiracy group as well.

“I guess we’re all in this conspiracy boat together,” he said.

Agenda 21 has been cropping up in political circles for months. Last week, the Chattanooga Tea Party hosted two speakers on Agenda 21. The topic also came up during a meeting at the Ooltewah-Collegedale Council of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce concerning the formation of the proposed city of Hamilton in the northeastern part of Hamilton County.

Agenda 21 also came up in November during a long-range regional growth plan meeting held in Chattanooga with government and nongovernment entities. During that time, tea party officials derided the meeting as a way to implement Agenda 21.

Littlefield said the tea party is starting to create more chaos than good.

“They’re getting far more extreme,” he said. “They’re against anything that mentions governance or sustainability.”


Chattanooga has a direct connection with Agenda 21. Dave Crockett, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, said Friday he attended the 1992 U.N. meeting in Rio De Janeiro as a local businessman. He said the idea of Agenda 21 was simply a way for governments to look at how they could do things better and think of how things could be “greener” in the process.

Examples include putting energy-efficient light bulbs in street lamps, trying to promote consuming food grown within 100 miles and also community issues such as crime or poverty, Crockett said.

Agenda 21’s goal is to get measurable goals to make human life better.

“The only conspiracy is making the town better and saving some money,” he said.

Crockett said he did not care if the tea party or other groups tried to use his presence at the U.N. convention as a way to suggest that Chattanooga is Agenda 21-driven. He said he never picked up on anything that seemed controversial.

“Don’t tell me; hell, I was there,” he said.

West said he sees things differently and knows that Crockett had direct involvement with Agenda 21.

“He’s part of the reason we’re struggling with this,” West said. “He was at the scene of the crime, so to speak.”

West said there is no question that the city knows about Agenda 21 because a high-level city administrator participated.

“It removes the implications for the mayor to say he was unaware,” West said.


Two men from Alabama, Ken Freeman and Don Casey, made a presentation to the Chattanooga Tea Party on Thursday night about Agenda 21. Casey said he’s been informing people about it since 1992, and Freeman has been on the road discussing it since 1997.

Freeman likened the environmental sustainability movement to a religious worship of the earth. In his presentation to the Chattanooga Tea Party, he explained “how future generations are being educated to replace you. Our children and our grandchildren are being propagandized and brainwashed.

“Agenda 21 is their Bible, and the elimination of private property and individual rights is their goal,” Freeman said.

Casey told the tea party members that Agenda 21 is real and “nothing here is conspiracy,” and urged members to “dismantle progress” by talking to local officials about the U.N. plan.

The men displayed studies of wildlife migration and scattered memos from various states dealing with sustainability and suggested that the ultimate goal is to rid the continent of all non-native species, including wheat, barley and cattle.

During a meeting Wednesday at the Ooltewah-Collegedale Council, Chris Matthews, president of Friends of Hamilton, said he had heard about Agenda 21 and listed it as just another reason for residents to form their own town.

He said his group wants to make sure Chattanooga doesn’t gobble up their community. He thinks Agenda 21 is helping to push Chattanooga’s growth boundaries.

“I think there’s certain people driving it,” he said.

Littlefield also gave a presentation to the Ooltewah-Collegedale Council. After the meeting, he said the talk sounded familiar to him.

“I felt like it was 1971 and I was out in rural Tennessee and had to tell people, ‘You have to be stewards of God’s earth,'” he said.

Categories: General

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, Hamilton backer discuss proposed city

by Cliff Hightower


Times Freepress

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said Wednesday he thinks a group wanting to start a new town in Hamilton County is underestimating the costs.

“I think it’s going to be far more than they expected,” Littlefield said.

But the group’s president maintains residents can have a town with low taxes and good services at a lower cost than if they were annexed into Chattanooga.

“We have a lot of questions directly related to what we can get from Chattanooga,” said Chris Matthews, president of the Friends of Hamilton, which is proposing a town called Hamilton in the northeast portion of the county.

Littlefield and Matthews spoke Wednesday to the Greater Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce’s Ooltewah-Collegedale Council. The two were invited to speak because of the potential impact of a new town on the area, said Jamie Kyle, vice president of the Ooltewah-Collegedale Council.

Friends of Hamilton is holding a petition drive with the aim of incorporating a city between Chattanooga and Cleveland. The town of Hamilton would include the areas of Birchwood, Georgetown, Harrison and Ooltewah.

Matthews said Wednesday the group has until Sept. 1 to get the petitions into the Hamilton County Election Commission. The group hopes to have a referendum placed on the November election ballot.

Friends of Hamilton members have said they are afraid of Chattanooga annexing the area, which would lead to residents paying higher taxes for fewer services.

Littlefield said after the meeting he wanted to tell those in attendance that they had nothing to fear from Chattanooga. “I hope they came out with the idea that we have no plans for expanding that far north,” he said.

Categories: General

Free choice will guide ‘town of Hamilton’ referendum

Times Freepress
Author: Lee Anderson

Both Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and supporters of a proposed “town of Hamilton” raise valid points about the proposal.

The new town, if approved, would take in the areas of Birchwood, Georgetown, Harrison and Ooltewah. The impetus behind creating the town is concern about high taxes if Chattanooga should ever annex the area — and the belief that a town of Hamilton could provide good services and reasonable tax rates.

Chattanooga has “no plans for expanding that far north,” Littlefield said during a meeting of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s Ooltewah-Collegedale Council. And he questioned whether the proposed town could keep down costs as much as its supporters are hoping.

“I think it’s going to be far more than they expected,” he cautioned.

He could be right. Putting together a town cannot possibly be a simple — or cheap — task. So it’s clearly wise for residents of the area that would be incorporated to think long and hard before a potential referendum in November.

But one thing may surely be said in favor of the push for a town of Hamilton: Unlike traditional annexation of new areas by an existing city, the residents of the area that would become part of Hamilton would exercise free choice in the matter. Majority vote by people in the affected area would decide whether they become part of the town or remain unincorporated.

If they create the town and it turns out that costs are reasonable, taxes are low and services are adequate, residents will reflect proudly on the wisdom of their decision. If, on the other hand, costs and taxes are higher than anticipated, residents will not suffer the added frustration of those conditions having been imposed against their will. Self-determination will place on residents the benefits if the new town meets expectations and the responsibility if it does not.

That is far preferable to outside imposition.

Categories: General

Ooltewah/Collegedale Chamber of Commerce Broadcast

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and Friends of Hamilton President Chris Matthews speak about incorporation and annexation in East Hamilton County. February 15, 2012 at Collegedale City Hall

Watch video

Friends of Hamilton Thank You

The Friends of Hamilton would like to extend a THANK YOU to the following:
– Ooltewah/Collegedale Chamber of Commerce for organizing the community event
– City of Collegedale for hosting the venue
– Mayor Littlefield of Chattanooga for taking time to have an open discussion on annexation vs incorporation

Residents Speak-Up – Joe McPherson

FOH is announcing the first in a series of citizen interviews. We are providing a platform for our neighbors and businesses to tell their story.

Chattanooga Mayor (Annex) vs Friends Of Hamilton (Incorporation) @ Chamber of Commerce Meeting in Ooltewah/Collegedale

Chamber hosts Littlefield, Matthews


Rachel Sauls

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

East Hamilton residents and business owners will get an opportunity to hear both Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and Friends of Hamilton President Chris Matthews speak about incorporation and annexation in East Hamilton County at this month’s meeting of the Ooltewah-Collegedale Council of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Our goal is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas,” said council president Suzanne Burrell. “As a council, we cannot take a position, and both sides must be represented. We are glad both groups are willing to participate.”

The meeting will be Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 9:30 at Collegedale City Hall, located at 4910 Swinyar Drive. There is no charge to attend and all visitors are welcome, said Burrell.

“We’re just trying to give business owners as well as residents a chance to hear both sides present their positions on these issues,” she said. “A lot of it has been in the paper, but with this meeting they can hear firsthand what each side is saying.”

Burrell said it is especially important for business owners to be aware of what is happening regarding any potential annexation or incorporation as it results in tax structures that can ultimately affect a business’s bottom line.

“People don’t like confrontation, but it’s the way our government is organized,” she said. “That’s democracy at work.”

Categories: General

Unincorporated Areas of Hamilton County Need Nannies…

It is clear in today’s Times Freepress article the writer believes the residents of unincorporated Hamilton County areas are not capable of making their own decisions while the writer surreptitiously pursues a progressive agenda. We encourage FOH friends to pay attention to these tactics. The writer is more focused on planning private property areas and lifestyles outside of Chattanooga than addressing the dysfunction inside it’s city limits and their lack of fiscal responsibility.


Healthier, smarter growth


For years, county leaders here have considered sound urban planning mainly as a political issue — an issue tainted by the specter of intruding on personal property rights and free enterprise. As a result, they have regularly rejected calls for comprehensive land-use planning for the unincorporated areas of the county. But as it turns out, the lack of urban planning in suburbia — here and elsewhere — is now being acknowledged as a critical public health issue.

Unguided sprawl, public health experts have learned, almost invariably leads to poorer health, isolation, depression, reduced longevity and stunted essential personal growth in children. And that premise is being validated across the country.

Such cautionary findings should prompt the County Commission to make comprehensive land-use planning in the unincorporated areas of the county an integral element of its public responsibility as it embarks on the regional growth planning. The latter effort is due to start soon to address regional infrastructure needs spurred the arrival of Volkswagen, Wacker Chemical and related industrial and residential growth here.

Car-dependency, poor health

Studies confirm what common-sense observation shows — that the typical suburban pattern of sprawl has made Americans excessively dependent on driving a car somewhere to do almost anything that most people, of any age, want or need to do.

Statistics on the suburban trends are hard to ignore. At the October meeting of the American Public Health Association, New York Times health columnist Jane Brody reported last week, there were nearly 300 presentations “on how the built environment inhibits or fosters the ability to be physically active and get healthy food.” The latter point referred to “food deserts” in both suburban and urban areas where stores with nutritionally adequate foods are not found within walking distance.

As one public health expert put it, Brody reported, our “built environment” — how we design where we live, work, shop and play — has usually fragmented these components in suburban areas in a way that has “engineered physical activity out of children’s lives.” It also has isolated adults in places that separate them from friends, family, meeting places and much of the physical activity, especially walking, that adults used to enjoy and take for granted.

Shorter lifespans coming

Unless that changes, Dr. Richard Jackson, professor and chairman of environmental health sciences at the University of California, told Brody, Americans born since 1980 will be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Without adequate provision of sidewalks, bike and pedestrian trails, nearby parks, schools, playgrounds and community-based clusters of retail facilities, suburban families typically become utterly dependent on driving themselves and their children to most everything they need to do.

Jobs and shopping are miles away, often requiring long commute times. Children now rarely walk or bicycle to school, though fully two-thirds of children did so less than four decades ago. The lack of places to bicycle, walk and play particularly thwarts children’s need for exploration, growth and development of an essential sense of autonomy.

Just as the distance from many suburbs to friends, family members and core activities inhibits walking and physical activities, it conversely fosters more stay-at-home isolation. That sentences children and many elderly and handicapped people, as well as other adults, to lonely boring hours of sitting, watching television and playing more sedentary computer games and, too often, harmful weight gain.

That, in turn, predictably leads to the demise of their health. Children used to rarely have diseases associated with age and obesity. Now, with obesity plaguing a third of American adults and children, and nearly as many over-weight, growing numbers of children and adults have Type II diabetes, heart disease and fatty livers, Brody reported.

Many studies confirm the downward health trends in the age of car-dependency. In 1970, only one state had more than 20 percent of its population ranked as obese. Now, only one state, Colorado, has a population with as few as 20 percent obese.

A healthier growth path

Fostering a better built environment would not normally encroach on private property. Most of the county’s unincorporated rural land, where most of the projected growth here will occur, is zoned in a number of classifications, from commercial to residential to agricultural.

So it is still early enough, though barely, to designate where zoning changes may be made to encourage smart growth and timely infrastructure development before developers swamp county government with requests for re-zoning for speculative development, which is not — and should not be considered as — an automatic property right. There is also still time to adopt better rules for development — to include sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds, school zones, signage and billboard limits, and retail clusters, as opposed to strip-zoning on major corridors. But this window of time for better planning will close rapidly.

Families and developers, as well, should envision, and hold out for, neighborhoods that get the built environment right — that make walking, safe bicycling, socializing with neighbors, and play areas the norm, not the exception, even near and along major road corridors. The vision of tree-lined boulevards for major corridors, with center green islands and sidewalks and bikeways alongside, should be a priority, not a jettisoned dream.

Cities and counties around the country are moving to make their sterile, car-dependent, suburban areas greener and healthier, more pedestrian-and-bicycle friendly and more people-oriented. For our community’s long-term value, for the quality of life that promotes economic growth rather than hinders it, and for the improved health of our citizens, that should be county government’s goal, as well.

Categories: News