MCLEAN COUNTY REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION- What It Really Is.
The latest news from CityWatch:
“What do you mean the McLean County Regional Planning Commission are federal administrators?”
That was the question in response to the recent discovery regarding who the McLean County Regional Planning Commission really is.
So, what was the discovery, you ask?
It started with an investigation some weeks back when we became suspicious about the funding of the regional commission. Being a regular attendee of the Commission’s meetings, I have the privilege of being on the mailing list. That provides me a regular flow of information from the Commission itself. No big deal – after all, they are a public body and the information is available to any citizen – if you request it.
Upon reviewing the budget information in one of the monthly agenda packets, a little-known fact that I hadn’t noticed before jumped out at me -that the regional commission received the large majority of its funding from the State of Illinois’ Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the federal government’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Only a very small portion of funding was received from McLean County. I found that odd and unique. Why? For several reasons. But most predominantly, why wouldn’t a County regional planning commission receive funding from the County it’s named for and operates under? Further review revealed the balance of its funding was generated by GIS (geographical information systems, otherwise known as surveillance) and a small portion from planning contract fees with Bloomington, Normal and McLean County. I also found it strange and questioned why the County Planning Commission would charge a separate planning fee to the County of which it is a part of? What I discovered is that its not a part of it. Not really. Even County Board member, Paul Segobiano, asked why the County is contracting with this regional planning commission when the County has its own planners. And, he’s not the only person asking. I, too began to look deeper. This started to look more than curious. Something didn’t add up when I tried to tabulate McLean County Regional Planning Commission into a County tribunal.
Recently while making a public comment regarding questions concerning the Main Street Feasibility Study, Bloomington Council woman, Judy Stearns, asked the pointed question. “who owns this” referring to the plan. Council woman Stearns was asking, if I may take the liberty to interpret, where did this plan originate? By whose hand? And, at who’s guidance? Reluctantly, we learned the answer to all those questions: it was the McLean County Regional Planning Commission.
Keeping all this in mind while looking into the multiple Comprehensive Plans spanning the last fifteen+ years, a recognizable pattern had taken shape. The information included in earlier plans was now absent in the most recent – but earlier plans reveal it is exactly what Alderwoman Stearns had discovered in her City Council inquiry – that the MCRPC is and has been the guiding force behind the planning, the implementation, and in the overall direction our communities have been moving towards for that same 15-plus years.
I have long-thought, and even mentioned to colleagues, that the transportation component was a key piece of fundamental framework that was a necessary foundation for all additional plans to be laid. Now, we see that confirmed and understand why and how. And we see that played out right here in our hometown as so much emphasis is placed on Main Street Corridor and the East Side Highway projects.
And, just as a side-note, I have wondered for the last three years what the precise role ISU, IWU, Advocate-BroMen, and even State Farm play? We know for a fact they are the most influential “stakeholders”, right along-side the City of Bloomington and the Town of Normal ( and that implies government bureaucracies). But, now we have confirmed by the language of the MCRPC itself, that these huge, influential corporate entities, that while they are not solely responsible for deciding the direction of the cities, or that the “agenda” originates with them alone, they are complicit in the plan by voluntarily facilitating the plan’s objectives by their own cooperation and contributions.
With all this in mind, our McLean County Regional Planning Commission, along with the City of Bloomington, has proposed its new, updated objectives for our City’s Comprehensive Plan. In retrospect, I find myself asking, who owns this plan?
One thing we can certainly be sure of – many of the visions, goals, objectives, plans, agendas, and anything else concerning municipal development, transportation, or land use projects, among others, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, originate with any City Mayor, City Council, or public policy created or driven by citizen or city government.
MCRPC educates us, only briefly, though, on its origin. It began in 1966 as a creation of the McLean County Board to coordinate planning and development. However, this wasn’t something dreamed up as a unique, local vision by our omnipotent County government. Let’s go to the beginning.
In 1962, the US Congress passed the US Federal Aid Highway Act. The Act required that urban areas form metropolitan bodies for transportation planning as a condition of receiving federal funding for interstate highway construction.
Then, in 1965, HUD was created. The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 mandated the creation of organizations (a further development of regional planning commissions or metropolitan planning organization – MPO) composed of public officials representative of the various political jurisdictions within a metropolitan urban area. http://www.huduser.org/portal/sustainability/FordhamLaw-id1818030.pdf
As the 70’s rolled around, the new focus became multi-modal. In 1973 the Federal Highway Act authorizied the legal mandate and financing to transform the hodgepodge of MPO’s. This also provided the regional bodies the first opportunity to stray outside the typical arena of highway planning, per se. http://www.compassidaho.org/documents/about/MPOhistory.pdf
As the regional planning commission moved away from solely and simply operating as a mechanism to coordinate highway planning, its direction towards establishing “regionalism”, as its namesake decries, becomes evident by the massive scale its planning tentacles reach to. An excellent source of information outlining the progress of regionalism and regional planning and the dangers of this concept, in the following link. Read for yourself the data compiled by Franklin County, Ohio citizens: http://relocalizeohio franklincounty.wikispaces.com/Regional+Planning+Commission
Enter Agenda 21, the United Nation’s, global comprehensive plan intended to be implemented on a local level, both by municipal government and, yes, regional planning.
Although we’ve been talking about this for a number of years now, the concept of Agenda 21’s regionalism just recently hit home. Is anyone listening?
Agenda 21 states in Chapter 10, under the heading “Establishing Regional Machinery“, that “Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of regional . . . organizations, should strengthen regional cooperation and exchange of information . . . “.
Does this not, without question, tie the objectives of our regional planning commission to the strategies and end-game of Agenda 21?
It’s hard to ascertain what came first; Agenda 21-esque visions and plans, or regional planning commissions. It’s like the chicken and the egg equation. Bottom-line is, however, whichever came first, both are here.
So, where does the role of a federal administrator play into the game?
And how does the typical commissioner of the MCRPC function as such? Well, we know for a fact that Agenda 21’s Comprehensive Plan is intended to be implemented on a local level by local government.
We know that regional planning commissions facilitate and coordinate plans, both rural and municipal, and sectors involving every aspect of daily life. Just take a look at the proposed areas the MCRPC intends to determine important, monitor, and regulate in its proposed Plan update:
We know, and see, that regional planning involves more than mere transportation plans, although as stated before, transportation is the foundation to build broader projects upon. But on top of that, the direction regional planning receives comes from the top down – the Federal Highway Administration. Just take a look at this link (scroll to page 33) to see for yourself who is coordinating the overall agenda that our regional planning commission is following and implementing locally.
We know that although several members of our Regional Planning Commission are also members of their respective municipalities, their role while acting as representatives of the MCRPC seem to conflict with that of the mission and best interests of those respective communities and citizens. Why? At that point, as MCRPC, they are representing the federal government’s and IDOT’s agenda. After all, that’s why the commission exists, and why those members are present representing the commission’s function – to coordinate regionalism. And that, my fellow-citizen, is top-down, federal government administration according to Agenda 21 objectives.
Don’t be fooled and deceived by invitations for public input – it’s an illusion. Citizens may very well have the opportunity to voice opinion, make suggestions, and even publicly reject ideas. But, for the most part, these ideas have already been decided upon and foundations laid for incorporation. Rarely, if ever, is the plan altered. Public input is simply a tool in which to determine how to satisfy and overcome citizen dissent. In the end, the federal administrator, from the top down, has already decided the fate of our community.
Ever wonder why your elected City Council representative is the last to know about these projects and plans? Or, why the citizen never becomes aware of them until public votes are ordered? Or, why it is Council procedure meanders along until “consensus” is manipulated to match a predetermined outcome – just like Julie Hile essentially explains in her video presentation? The federal administrators simply have to tie up the lose ends, make it look like it was the citizens ideas, and pass off the plan to a naive City Council.
The federal administrator, employed by the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, appears to be the engine driving the agenda.
It begs the question: is the federal government planning our city’s future?
And, is it creating the vision and directing the course and making us think it’s what we want?
If it’s the federal administrator planning our city and if it’s required by federal law, then further inquiry is absolutely necessary, wouldn’t you say, Citizen Bloomington?
Isn’t it time we truly find out who the McLean County Regional Planning Commission really is?
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Research and assistance provided by CITYWATCH staff