Monday, September 19, 2011

Aerotropolis: Something to kill for everyone

Missouri's Aerotropolis is a bill that is worth killing from a number of different perspectives, it has something for everyone - hate cronyism? Kill this bill. Hate Govt control of industry? Kill this bill. Hate your elected representatives going behind our backs? Kill this bill. Hate your elected representatives going outside of the bounds of the constitution which defines their powers? Then KILL THIS BILL!


The Crony view to a kill
The most obvious reason for killing this bill, has little or nothing to do with what its supporters are trying so hard to cast our opposition to it as. Their three main pot shots at conservatives, are that:

  1. They fear the Chineeze!
  2. They are hypocrites because they usually love tax credits, but are opposing tax credits them here (because of the Chineeze!),
  3. Aerotropolis just wants to help promote St. Louis (or Missouri, if you're not from St. Louis), and all this foolish opposition is just hurting our image elsewhere.
The attempt here is to cast of Aerotropolis as being opposed to Free Trade - which is ridiculous - Conservatives, by nature, are pro-Free Trade. You can wad these issues up in a tissue and toss 'em away, because these aren't the issues conservatives oppose, Free Trade isn't the problem, it's only a cover for smuggling in a load of other issues, and such a maneuver shouldn't be allowed to... fly.

Briefly:

  1. Opposing trade with China, because it's from China, is ridiculous; it isn't the problem and shouldn't be a concern.
  2. The idea that Aerotropolis is intended as a bill for selling St. Louis is (as you'll see shortly) ludicrous, but if it did, there'd be nothing wrong with promoting St. Louis as a shipping hub, and no one would oppose such a bill on those grounds.
  3. Tax credits aren't the problem with Aerotropolis, while it's true many of us realize that tax credits work as advertised, in the ranking of govt boo-boo's, they come in pretty near the bottom of the list of wrongs to be righted.
Get this straight: Aerotropolis is not proposing general tax credits to encourage businesses to set up shop in the airport area in order to improve the efficiency and attractiveness of St. Louis as a trade hub.
Instead, it is proposing tax credits for building warehouses... which we’ve got no shortage of!

As Darin pointed out,
"There are 18 million square feet of available warehouse space near Lambert-St. Louis airport; therefore, there is no reason for $300 million in tax credits for warehouses."
We've already got gobs of warehouses and we do not need tax credits to build more! But even then, these tax credits are not just for warehouses in general, but for new warehouses, built in a particular way, in a particular place, and built by a very particular sort of developer, so particular as to nearly engrave one particular developer's name into the legislation - a developer who is also a big political campaign donor to the key politicians involved!

Hello!

On top of that, like President Obama's recent debacle with Solyndra, it has boondoggle written all over it, as Saku Aura, Missouri associate professor of economics, and Jeff Milyo is Middlebush Professor of Social Science at MU, recently put it,
"The Missouri legislature is contemplating handing out as much as $360 million in subsidies to create a monument to graft in St Louis. The China Hub project, or “Aerotropolis,” is being sold as a slam-dunk profitable investment of public money; economic consultants claim the project will generate many more millions of dollars in benefits to Missouri than its cost to the state. But the theoretical models upon which such predictions are based are well-known to wildly exaggerate the benefits of such projects...."
Opposition to Aerotropolis is not about Free Trade, it is about crony capitalism, it is not about promoting the interests of either St. Louis or Missouri, or about fear of the Chinese, it is about steering tax payer funds to politically well connected businessmen, and giving politicians even further power and control over our lives and commerce. At the very least, that portion of this bill which targets tax credits to benefit influential and powerful friends of politicians, needs to be stopped and dropped as not only wasteful, but purely and deeply corrupt.

And that was the extent of the issue as I saw it last week, and I was confident, then, that if that warehouse specific language were dropped from the bill, it would drop off my radar entirely.

Or so I thought, until Patch Adams and I began looking a bit further into the matter.

Picking Industries to promote - at your expense
When you begin to search through the Aerotropolis bill, you start seeing a lot of language centered around promoting multiple options for promoting 'renewable energy'... but not just solar panels, this goes much farther down the road to boondogle than just solar panels.

Worse than simply picking an industry to promote, this bill's language makes it very, very easy for a commission or some other 'governing authority' (yeah, what?), to use eminent domain to condemn and take over anyone's property if it shows even so much as a potential for being useful for some form of green energy purpose, language such as this:
11 term "blighted area" shall also include any area which produces or generates or
12 has the potential to produce or generate electrical energy from a renewable
13 energy resource,
, is sprinkled throughout the bill. And 'Potential' potentially covers a lot of ground, such as yours, because if your property seems as if it might potentially be useful for a "Renewable energy resource" such as:
(a) Wind;
(b) Solar thermal sources or photovoltaic cells and panels;
(c) Dedicated crops grown for energy production;
(d) Cellulosic agricultural residues;
(e) Plant residues; SCS SB 8 60
(f) Methane from landfills, agricultural operations, or waste water treatment;
(g) Thermal depoly merization or pyrolysis for converting was te material to energy;
(h) Clean and untreated wood such as pallets;
(i) Hydroelectric power, which shall include electrical energy produced or generated by hydroelectric power generating equipment, as such term is defined in section 137.010;
(j) Fuel cells using hydrogen produced by one or more of the renewable resources provided in paragraphs (a) to (i) of this subdivision; or
(k) Any other sources of energy, not including nuclear energy, that are certified as renewable by rule by the department of natural resources;"
, it can be taken away - and those are a lot of potential options for declaring your property to be a Green Blight. Line after line, section after section, you find this sort of language throughout, and it should bring a couple questions to mind, such as:


  • What do these Green Energy measures have to do with Free Trade and attracting shipping?
  • How easily could someone, a powerful developer say, acquire land he wants, but which you don't want to sell, by way of these measures?
  • How difficult would it be for Federal agencies to involve themselves in the most basic rungs of local politics, through these measures?
As we looked into this bill a bit further than the obvious layers of political corruption, it began to appear that simple cronyism is only a secondary issue here – while we have all been looking at the suspicious hand of Aerotropolis which holds crony capitalism behind its back, the other hand, held right out front, in plain sight, is being used to advance a green agenda armed with the ability to rob you blind.

But even that is not the full problem.

Local Interests of Little Interest
Remember the line about this bill being a vehicle for promoting St. Louis to the world? Well... maybe, but if so, it does so by taking a back seat to Detroit, Memphis, Atlanta, and others, each of which have an Aerotropolis bill proposed or being implemented, along with so many other cities now or pending... there's even a bill pending at the federal level for Aerotropolis.

Aerotropolis, far from being the nifty new idea of local politicians and their cronies to cash in on a weak economy, is an old idea that's been pushed for years by a globalist who is enthused about ringing the world with a new form of linked cities, which he calls an 'Aerotropolis',

"As more and more aviation-oriented businesses are being drawn to airport cities and along transportation corridors radiating from them, a new urban form is emerging—the Aerotropolis—stretching up to 20 miles (30 kilometers) outward from some airports. Analogous in shape to the traditional metropolis made up of a central city and its rings of commuter-heavy suburbs, the Aerotropolis consists of an airport city and outlying corridors and clusters of aviation-linked businesses and associated residential development. A number of these clusters such as Amsterdam Zuidas, Las Colinas, Texas, and South Korea's Songdo International Business District have become globally significant airport edge-cities representing planned postmodern urban mega-development in the age of the Aerotropolis."
Aerotropolis is the brain child of John D. Kasarda, a techno-utopian, who sees it not only as a means for eliminating borders, but especially fit for green energy pursuits, the 'Smart Grid', and as being a perfect tool for the expertise of Federal agencies to be plugged directly into the lowest rung of local politics... while at the same time branching out Globally - ‘bottom up – top down’....

So far from being a bill meant as selling St. Louis to the world, or promoting it as a unique regional shipping hub, this bill is national (at least) in scope, spreading a new type of city, or city within a city, with each Aerotropolis forming new associations of local, regional, state & federal government officials, together with airport management, local businesses and other leaders having "economic development" agendas, into a 'governing authority'... all of which means that 'We The People' will be even further removed from representation and control of our lives, in the most local of matters.

In Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next by John D Kasarda, and Greg Lindsay reviews it as,
“...According to Kasarda, the future city will have "an airport at the center and concentric rings of uses radiating outward". The aerotropolis is designed for the wired, always-on "Instant Age" of smart phones and smart cities, where the only law is the survival of the swiftest. Kasarda argues that this is the next stage in globalisation, a radical rethink of how we live in a world rendered flat by new technology. Just as cities such as Southampton or Singapore grew up around their seaports, so the airport will become the heart of tomorrow's city.

Dubai is the model. It is "the aerotropolis writ large, a city of hubs designed to lure the world's wealth to its door". And as in so many other areas, China has been quick to seize the initiative. It will build 100 new airports by 2020, when it aims to have 82% of its population living within 90 minutes' drive of one. This investment will enable the iPods and other high-value goods manufactured there to travel via Hong Kong to America within 48 hours. In contrast, the west views airports as "nuisances or toxic threats". Kasarda warns: "If we don't change our minds, the game will be over. In some ways, we've already surrendered."...”
And so we are presented with yet another crisis that we've got to pass a bill for, before we can find out what's in it. Even its hungry use of the term "renewable energy" stems from interests far beyond the borders of Missouri, as Patch pointed out,
"Coincidentally, the term "Renewable Energy Zone" was crafted in a bill titled "The New Apollo Energy Act of 2007". The Bill was created by Rep Jay Inslee, the Co-Founder of the Apollo Alliance, the same Apollo Alliance who wrote the first Stimulus and who's "New Apollo Program" is being used by the Obama Administration to Transform the U.S. into a "Green Collar" economy."
So far from being a Missouri, or even a St. Louis boosting bill, this is part of a national agenda, pushed by the mother of all national agenda makers, the Apollo Alliance, and is also perfectly suited for opening local concerns to Federal involvement in the the most basic rungs of local politics

Finding all this, I wondered what else we’ve been missing, especially after Patch & I began to hear technical objections about the text we'd quoted from the Bill, that it wasn't underlined or in bold face, so it was technically not part of the Bill itself, but already existing law and therefore we shouldn't concern ourselves about it.

Excuse me? Patch and I were being blown off, because the original Green Blight language wasn't in the Aerotropolis bill itself, so, the thinking goes, since this Green Blight language was pre-existing, Aerotropolis couldn't possibly be associated with it, or be worthy of concern.

There are at least two problems with that line of thinking.

First, at the very least, while it's true that language perhaps didn't originate in the Aerotropolis bill, it was being purposefully inserted into it, over and over, for the purposes of condemning land that might be seen as 'potentially' useful for renewable energy purposes, anywhere in the vicinity of the new 'airport city' - that's seriously a non-issue?

Second, it assumes that since the language originated in a separate bill, the purposes of these bills must be separate. The first question that should prompt is: Just how separate are these bills? Do they have any common interests? Are they separated by large spans of time? Did they have any of the same players involved in writing them?

So with that in mind, I went looking for where the Green Blight language originated, surely from the reactions we received, you'd assume at the very least that it'd be from long standing legislation, right?

Nope.

The Green Blight language comes from this bill, House Bill No. 737 (more informatively linked here) where the green blighting text is added (which is a story in itself),
"...The term "blighted area" shall also include any area which produces or generates or has the potential to produce or generate electrical energy from a renewable energy resource, and which, by reason of obsolescence, decadence, blight, dilapidation, deteriorating or inadequate site improvements, substandard conditions, the predominance or defective or inadequate street layout, unsanitary or unsafe conditions, improper subdivision or obsolete platting, or the existence of conditions which endanger the life or property by fire or other means, or any combination of such factors, is underutilized, unutilized, or diminishes the economic usefulness of the land, improvements, or lock and dam site within such area for the production, generation, conversion, and conveyance of electrical energy from a renewable energy resource;..."
It was sponsored by Representative Craig Redmon and Representative Michael Corcoran, and the summary states,
"Changes the laws regarding renewable energy in enhanced enterprise zones and the taxation of hydroelectric power generating equipment"
The green blighting language isn't long standing legislation at all, or even unrelated, it was added earlier this year in the same legislative session, and was intended to be passed along with the Aerotropolis Bill. And for that matter, why on earth was this Green Blight language not an issue itself when first proposed? and why do so many not want to make the obvious tie between them?

WTF? Whatever happened to connecting the dots... an issue is off the table if it extends beyond the piece of paper you’re staring at? Look at the people involved in this, it involves the same players, the same Speaker of the House. The same cronies. Separate purposes? My ass. Is no one capable of connecting dots anymore? How about even seeing them?

But wait! There's More Constitutional Issues
With some more searching and prodding, a friend discovered that not only did this language originate in a bill from the same session, but that it involved some very unconstitutional monkey business in concocting the bill's final language.

Without getting too much into the inside baseball of the issue, this original bill, HB 737, had been sponsored by Rep. Redmon, as a bill to classify hydroelectric power generating equipment as tangible personal property for purposes of tax assessment; it unanimously passed the Committee on Local Government, was "perfected" and sent to the Senate in essentially that form, and was unanimously passed by the Senate.

But something funny happened on the way to the forum, funny enough to make my friends "blood boil!". As he put it:
"On May 10 the House considered the Senate Committee Substitute, and Rep. Redmon - the original sponsor - spoke against it, asking the House to request a conference on the bill. Speaker Tilley assigned Redmon, Funderburk, Houghton, Holsman and Quinn to the conference committee for this bill. Mayer appointed Lager, Munzlinger, Pearce, Callahan, and Curls as the Senate's conference committee on May 11. On May 13, Rep. Redmon dropped his opposition and asked the House to pass the Senate Committee Version of the bill - which it did without one vote cast in opposition. The bill was signed by both Tilley and Mayer on May 26 and signed by the Governor on July 7.

The Senate Subcommittee Version is where the offending language first appeared, and I mean the Senate subcommittee version COMPLETELY changed the function of the bill, adding an enormous swath of material related to "enhanced enterprise zones" - and, seemingly as an afterthought, classifying hydroelectric power generating equipment as REAL property, not tangible personal property.

Article III, section 21, of the Missouri Constitution states that "no bill shall be so amended in its passage through either house as to change its original purpose." I have not yet looked into how this provision has been applied by Missouri courts, but it seems obvious that the original purpose of HB 737 was DRAMATICALLY altered by the amendments made in the Senate."
So the force behind Aerotropolis, Speaker Tilley, pushed this bill through, even though the language and purpose of it had been dramatically changed from its original intent, violating the Missouri State Constitution in the process... why? Why take the risks? All for a disinterested civil minded effort to promote Free Trade for the people of Missouri?

Here Are The Dots
To sum up,

  • Aerotropolis is not a self contained bill, it relies upon at least one other bill, HB 737
  • Aerotropolis is the 'tip of the sword' whose purpose extends far beyond the borders of Missouri.
  • The political payoffs and graft which are visible, are just means to an end that is far larger than either of these two bills.
  • Aerotropolis is not a local bill promoting St. Louis or Missouri, it’s the brain child of a Globalist, designed to work with similar programs such as the U.N.’s 'Agenda 21'
  • Aerotropolis' is a useful tool to bind up your neighborhood with various Smart Grid efforts, the Apollo Alliance, and new government authorities over you local neighborhood level politics - which you and I will be powerless to question or confront.
This goes far beyond 'Taxation without representation', this moves on to inhabitation without representation.
Aerotropolis is a bill that deserves to be put to death for many different reasons, including, but not limited to,

  • cronyism,
  • corruption,
  • misrepresentation of intent,
  • advancing a national and international agenda at the expense of our local dollars and political representation;
  • using govt resources to promote another Green Energy scheme (Show me Solyndra!),
  • enables Missourian's property to be declared a Green Blight and taken through eminent domain for 'having the potential' of being useful to its Governmental Authority
  • makes use of language improperly inserted into another bill in an unconstitutional manner, in order to further the purposes that are furthered by Aerotropolis.
You can see the dots folks, connect them and Kill. This. Bill!

4 comments:

lance said...

I am a super liberal and I fear China. Not because of free trade issues. I do not trust them and I think it hurts America for our business's to take factory jobs over there. But for me it is a moral issue not a government intervention one.

You are correct about the bill it looks like a bad one Van.

Van said...

“I am a super liberal and I fear China. “

Heh, Why? China is just doing what you’d like our country to be doing?

“I do not trust them and I think it hurts America for our business's to take factory jobs over there. “

I would not do business in or with China, because it is a communist country – it does not recognize property rights or any other rights – and thinks nothing about torturing and imprisoning its own people; why would you want to involve yourself in such a system at all?

But we can’t expect businesses to take on the role which our govt has failed to carry out. Due to the government shirking its responsibilities for the last 40 years, treating China as if it were a valid nation, as if it were worthy of civilized respect, allowing them to steal our intellectual property for decades with impunity (as we do to so many other fine fellows in the U.N.)... we have the mess we do.

Because of that failure, China is a force in international markets, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Just the way it is.

And really, with the last 80 years of ‘law’, what could our govt say to the Chinese “You can’t steal our people’s property, that’s our turf!”?

turnrite said...

EXCELLENT article!
All of this helps me understand the reason St. Louis is, and has always been worse than the "cow town" title given it, because of old cronies. "Cow town" is actually a compliment these days, considering elitist poop smells a lot worse than those cows (who are also more "out in the open" about their actions than old cronies are).
Mooooooooooo

turnrite said...

And, oh yeah. There is that nasty little inconvenient truth about Agenda 21.

patriotsoul