Open Letter to City Council Members, December 7, 2012
I admit I was partly wrong Tuesday night Dec. 4 , and I understand why you were exasperated with me. As I transcribed the city council discussion and my comments, I understood why you were as exasperated with me as I was with you. I was trying to explain over a 1000 pages of information and hundreds of hours of study in five minutes, and I realize why it did not make sense to you.
I was wrong to make the accusation that if you implemented this 2012-2016 Comprehensive Plan that you would be implementing a great deal of Jonesboro Vision 2030. After reading the Comprehensive Plan I see that you HAVE ALREADY IMPLEMENTED a large portion of Vision 2030 when you voted for the 2012-2016 plan earlier - before you have ever had hearings on it or voted on Vision 2030. (I will prove those points more succinctly in this and another email.)
My other error was that I guessed that you needed the designation to get the grant when instead you wanted it for approval to spend the grant money another way that would give you more flexibility; and it may very well do that, but from the citizens' viewpoint not for any better purposes. I would guess that the flexibility will be used more to further the government's plan else they would not provide that DESIGNATION in the first place.
I noted the following two quotes in the 2013 Action Plan you passed Tuesday night that: "These projects were selected after careful consideration of the City of Jonesboro's needs in relation to HUD's national objectives," and "The City of Jonesboro continues to place major emphasis on HUD's Priority goals of Housing, Neighborhood Revitalization." pp.10 & 7. In other words the money is being spent to satisfy HUD's goal and objectives not the objectives of the citizens of Jonesboro. See this link for this 2013 Action Plan. http://jonesboro.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=aac7fa08-26b9-4471-9483-e102ed650f10.pdf
The citizens of Jonesboro probably have very little interest in using their tax money for meeting the national government's HUD's priority goals and objectives or spending $105,000 on administrative costs for the CDBG grant, or $150,000 on a rehabilitating and expanding the Hispanic center and culture, a $100,000 on a community market place that should be done through private enterprise; $15,000 for the Foundation of Arts, or in revitalizing communities ($37,500) for North Jonesboro Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative to pedestrian style villages. Just those allocations in the 2013 Action Plan you passed Tuesday night alone amount to $407,500 of the total grant of $677,150.00.
And to borrow money from China for these things when our government is almost 17 trillion dollars in debt - No, citizens of Jonesboro would not agree with this. (See allocations and description from same link in above paragraph throughout the document but can you can also see it in table form at this link: http://www.wpaag.org/agenda_21_cdbg_grant_expenditure.htm
Forgive me for being cynical, but when the Sun reports that the "The CDBG grant [$677,150.00] approved by the city council] targets activities that benefit low to moderate-income families, eliminates slum and blight and revitalizes impoverished neighborhoods," and then I read that the above figures as to where the money is actually going, how can I or other citizens be anything but cynical. If the average citizens of Jonesboro listed ways to meet the needs of the poor in Jonesboro, I doubt that any of these listed would be on their list.
In another email I will outline the fallacies in Heather Clements report at the city council Tuesday night. For a starter, Clements said at the city council meeting: "I think it should be noted that this CDBG Consolidated Plan for 2012-1016 has nothing to do with Vision 2030, the twenty year comprehensive plan for the city of Jonesboro - they are definitely separate documents, and separate issues."
(In actuality, they are companion documents covering the same issues. The CDGB grants are mentioned at least eleven times in just one of the 13 chapters of Vision 2030, mostly as the funding source for projects in that document, one of them being the NJNI under discussion. See pages 1, 10, 12, 32,1, 85, 91, 95, 106, 111 and 117, Chapter 11 at this link: http://www.jonesboro.org/CPAC/Documents/2030/Chapter%2011%20-%20%20Housing%20Element.pdf
And the very 2012-2016 Consolidated Plan under discussion that you amended Tuesday night, refers to the Vision 2030 plan by name as having been the result of efforts of the Department of Grants and Community Development of which Heather Clements is Administrator according to the first page of the 2012-2016 Consolidated Plan, bottom page 98 and page 99 at this link: http://jonesboro.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=d97af9aa-2d58-479a-bf55-797150ba6d88.pdf
Both documents under discussion that Clements said were not connected are also based on the J-Quad consultants' 323 page study and do cover many of the same issues, same terminology, same goals, same neighborhood initiatives, etc. A quote from the 2012-2016 Consolidated Plan says, "J-Quad Planning Consulting Group assisted in writing portions of the Consolidated Plan." Many pages of the Jonesboro Vision 2030 Plan are actually copied and pasted as well from the J-Quad 323-page Comprehensive Housing and Neighborhood Study, and that study is also referenced on page 99 as being a result of the Dept. of Grants & Community Development of which Heather Clements is Administrator. (See page 99 at link in last paragraph above)
I really wanted to work with the elected officials behind the scenes on a friendly basis on this issue before publicizing the things I know that I think will actually be damaging to the elected officials. After the city council meeting the other night, that goal has been thwarted because I could tell most of you were resistant and even offended by what I said, and I had to laugh when I transcribed the section where the city councilman said, "Is there anyone else that wants to speak. I think she has had her five minutes." Actually I was ready to be finished because I knew we were just exasperating each other.
There is no way to discuss this extremely complex issue in a few minutes at a city council meeting, and I have issued an invitation to meet with any of you by email and have received none. And I know you were doing your best where I was concerned as you saw it the other night. I don't necessarily see you treating me badly, but I did recognize I was speaking to a hostile audience. I am still willing to take the heat if I thought it was doing any good; and I am still willing to meet with anyone almost any time for further discussion because I do not believe most of you want what I know will be the results of these grants.
I have one ten page email that I have written that I think would help you understand the connection between Agenda 21, Jonesboro Vision 2030, and this 2012-2016 Consolidated Plan that we spoke about Tuesday night. I will probably send it out to you in a couple of days. I wanted to give it to you before I sent it to the public. Read it if you like, but it will also be sent to hundreds of other citizens across Jonesboro and the state.
I am also sending you soon the transcription of the discussion at the council meeting the other night. I think if you really read it again, you may see some things you may not have seen Tuesday night.
By the way UN Agenda 21principles have been around much longer than 1992, at its initial formal establishment. More than 150 nations, including the US, are participants in UN Agenda 21. The reason all the cities in the US are doing the same things is because there is a planned agenda behind it. Sustainable development, Smart Growth, Complete Streets, etc. are pretty much synonymous with Agenda 21.
P.S.I think the following is really the reason for the need for the designation. They want to use more money for the NJNI which comes under the heading of Public Services in the 2013 Action Plan document. Following quote taken from Heather Clements email on the Jonesboro City website. "With the NRSA [Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area] status, once the NJNI [North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative]initiative applies for its 501 (c) 3 status and becomes a separate entity from the City (which will happen in the next 12 to 18 months), the NJNI can then be a CBDO -Community Based Development Organization. CBDO's are NOT limited on the amount of CDBG funds that they can receive." Only time will tell for sure but I have several reasons to believe this.
Posted December 7, 2012