After a video of an October session on Agenda 21 at the state Capitol was sent to the media Tuesday, Sen. Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) said the meeting was requested by constituents and won’t be the last one he intends to support.
Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntary U.N. resolution dating back two decades that encourages sustainable growth, including high-density, urban core development. Some decry it as being a threat to property rights and rural values.
Rogers distributed the “U.N. Agenda 21 Information Session” invitation to senators, which said the meeting would address: “how regionalism and public private partnerships are tearing down constitutionally limited self-government and free market economics.”
Additionally, during the 2011-12 regular session, Rogers co-sponsored failed Senate Resolution 730 to “recognize destructive and insidious nature” of Agenda 21.
“Our office was contacted by a group of constituents and asked for help obtaining a room and notifying senators of an educational meeting on Agenda 21,” Rogers said in an email to the Tribune on Wednesday. “There have been a number of meetings held at the Capitol the last couple years on this issue, including one during the last session.”
Rogers said his office works to help any constituent group wishing to educate senators on policy concerns.
“This is not the first time our office has facilitated this type of request and won’t be the last, I am sure,” Rogers said.
The video release by progressive non-profit group Better Georgia has come under scrutiny by some Cherokee residents and caught the attention of Atlanta media.
Linda Flory, a political activist from Ball Ground, said she does not think taxpayers should have paid to host the meeting or to have the senators attend.
“Any (senator) that attended received taxpayer money for being there,” Flory said, as senators can receive per diem reimbursement for their attendance at such meetings. “I don’t think that was a useful outlet for our tax dollars. I think its ludicrous that our senators are involved in listening to any kind of theory on that.”
The 52-minute video from the session includes a video presentation about Agenda 21, a plan allegedly driven by the United Nations to take over privately owned property through land use ordinances and rezoning passed by local governments.
In the video, former member of the Georgia Tea Party Field Searcy leads the presentation warning against regional governance as a means to carry out Agenda 21.
The video cites the failed Ball Ground Recycling deal that’s left Cherokee County citizens on the hook for $18 million as an example
“This is another exmple of (public private partnerships) that has gone south,” Searcy told the audience of state senators. “…We’re trying to engage citizens to be aware of this but we need your help to protect the citizens from getting involved in this kind of thing.”
Seth Clark, a volunteer with Better Georgia, said no one at the meeting took issue with him recording the tape for about an hour.
“At about 52 minutes in, Sen. Rogers’ staff came in and asked me to leave and were extremely abrupt,” Clark said. “I turned my camera off and didn’t make a fuss.”
In his presentation, Searcy shows a clip of political consultant Dick Morris, who says President Barack Obama opposes the suburbs.
“He wants to force everyone into the cities from whence our ancestors fled,” Morris said in the clip.
Searcy also says in the video Agenda 21 is pushed by a mind control technique, called the Delphi Technique, which was developed by the Rand Corp. during the Cold War.
“Basically the goal of the Delphi technique is to lead a targeted group of people to a pre-determined outcome…” Searcy said.
Searcy has lost favor with the state Tea Party for his extreme views.
On April 15, the Georgia Tea Party passed a resolution requesting Searcy resign from the board for reasons including “discussing so-called ‘birther’ and ‘truther’ theories” during volunteer meetings and “promoting issues and beliefs derived from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.”
Clark said Searcy was “very explicit” about blaming the Atlanta Regional Commission and Georgia Chamber of Commerce for entering into public-private partnerships.
“(He said) they were eating away at our freedoms as Americans,” Clark said.
Clark said the intention of waiting to release the tape was so it did not get lost among the national election news.
“The most upsetting thing is (Searcy) was invited to the Capitol and Georgia state dollars were used,” Clark said.
In a Wednesday release by Better Georgia, a copy of the slideshow is presented, most notably a slide comparing President Barack Obama’s intiatives to Joseph Stalin’s Five Year Plan and Mao Tse Tung’s Great Leap Forward, citing both ended in famine and death.
“There’s no way to contextualize this stuff,” Clark said.
Flory also said it’s an “embarrassment” that the four senators who represent Cherokee County all attended the meeting, including Sen. Jack Murphy (R-Cumming), whose district no longer includes Cherokee after Jan. 1, Cherokee’s newest senator, Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) and Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell).
Other meeting attendees included Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler), Bill Heath (R-Bremen), Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) and, according to Clark, members of Georgia Tea Party and legislative staffers.
Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques, who serves on the ARC’s advisory committee on aging, said he was unfamiliar with the video and the issue as a whole and did not want to comment.
Henriques cast the tie-breaking vote at Woodstock City Council’s Sept. 24 meeting when the council voted to amend zoning ordinances to add a chapter of form-based code.
The original proposal was opposed by Ridgewalk Holdings LLC, the company that owns much of the land subject to change and includes the slated Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta. Former Gov. Roy Barnes has filed suit on behalf of Ridgewalk Holdings LLC claiming the zoning vote unconstitutional.
Henriques said Wednesday he has never heard from Rogers on the issue.