To answer the title question first, yes, Emerge 2040 is community organizing, it recommends the kinds of things you might expect to hear from a radical group trying to upend the political process, and if it was presented to you that way, you would have closely examined each proposal in their plan. You would have told your local representatives throughout Erie County to hold hearings and put those proposals on the ballot if they were thinking of implementing them so the residents of the county could vote on each one, but that didn’t happen.
You had no chance to vote on this
The Emerge 2040 comprehensive regional plan with hundreds of controversial proposals was just dumped on the county in one big package without any mention of the political ideas embedded within it. This entire plan should have been voted on, but you and I didn’t get that chance, the planners knew if you looked closely it would have failed at the ballot box, so, instead, it was just rolled out with a public reception and press release, a done deal. They’re telling us it’s over, they decided and they’re doing it. It doesn’t matter if they say some residents attended meetings, most residents didn’t. Just because some county residents took part in public forums and talked about it doesn’t mean everyone else has to live with it. It’s bad enough when they do things like this in Washington, but here in Erie County, we deserve better.
The 84 page plan is filled with pretty pictures, graphs and dense bureaucratic prose of the sort no one reads. That’s not by accident. If it was easy to read and the points were made clear, this would have been thrown out the day it was presented, if it ever made it that far. You do not want this plan! You have no idea how far reaching and radical, in the political sense, it is. Many of the ideas on which it is based were and are espoused by community organizing groups in Chicago and elsewhere around the country and explained in detail by radical professors writing in scholarly journals who give the ideas an air of academic respectability. Yes, really, people you have never heard of, but whose ideas the county is already acting on, are all part of the “regional vision.”
Regional plans sidestep any voting or accountability
This long running and persistent process has gradually made words like “regional” and “sprawl” a part of the planning conversation and many people believe they have a deep understanding of modern urban planning so they sprinkle these words throughout their discussions on the topic. As an observer, you may think you know what those words mean, but you may not know what the planners mean when they use them, because, like so many words today, they’ve been redefined by advocacy groups to mean something totally different to disguise their vision of radical change.
Planners working at the somewhat fuzzy “regional” level make decisions which cross boundaries, but no voters gave them the authority to do that. Kathy Dahlkemper is a county executive, not a regional executive, she has no authority to go beyond the county level no matter how much she or others may want to. The various municipalities within the county have clearly defined jurisdictions, as well. There is no “region.” It’s a concept without any legal standing. It’s a common word now being misused to imply some higher level of government that does not exist! There is no regional government. Private individuals and businesses can define any region they wish and act within it because it’s voluntary, however government has the ability to force people to comply or pay in some way, but without authority they’re just conjuring up new powers from thin air. Think about that!
Because of the size and complexity of this plan and these ideas, it will take a whole series of articles with examples to explain, each one dealing with a separate issue or term, because the connections are often long and sometimes run through multiple levels and it’s already hard enough to stick with it unless we go one step at a time. Afterwards, we’ll tie it all together.
Planners don’t want you to read or think, just follow the plan
The Emerge 2040 planners hope you won’t read this or think about it before they have a chance to move forward with many of the recommendations, but everyone in Erie County needs to become familiar with this plan and what its advocates envision. Planners are racing to do as much as possible before you find out and before the November elections when they may find themselves reined in. Our county executive is solidly on board with this plan, but I sometimes wonder if even she knows what this is all about. As far as county council and the elected officials in all of the various municipalities in Erie County, I can pretty much guarantee they are totally in the dark. Does anyone in Erie County really understand what this plan is aiming to do? Sure, some know, but they would rather you didn’t. Don’t let this go any further without a full understanding of what is involved. Whether or not you wake up one day wondering “How did this happen?” is completely up to you.