Smart Growth and Suburbia:What Is It? Who’s Behind It?

132 views

Published on

Environmental groups, urban
planners and “not-in-my-backyard”
homeowners oppose what they consider
uncontrolled land development—also
known as “suburban sprawl.” They are devising
so-called “smart growth” initiatives
planning future land use. But these proposals
limit consumer choices and trample on
property rights. Smart-growth legislation
also unfairly discriminates against new and
less affluent homeowners who are priced out
of the housing market when land-use restrictions
cause property values to skyrocket.
What is smart-growth and who funds this
growing movement?

Published in: Real Estate
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
132
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
1
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Smart Growth and Suburbia:What Is It? Who’s Behind It?

  1. 1. Smart Growth and Suburbia:What Is It? Who’s Behind It?by James Dellinger and Ryan BalisOctober 2006CONTENTSSmart Growth and SuburbiaPage 1Briefly NotedPage 6Summary: Environmental groups, urbanplanners and “not-in-my-backyard”homeowners oppose what they consideruncontrolled land development—alsoknown as “suburban sprawl.” They are de-vising so-called “smart growth” initiativesplanning future land use. But these propos-als limit consumer choices and trample onproperty rights. Smart-growth legislationalsounfairlydiscriminatesagainstnewandlessaffluenthomeownerswhoarepricedoutof the housing market when land-use re-strictionscausepropertyvaluestoskyrocket.What is smart-growth and who funds thisgrowing movement?Smart growth is the buzzword used bythose who want to preserve as muchemptylandaspossible.Itsproponentssupport public policies that would give gov-ernment planners the authority to dictatehow private property should be used. Manysmart-growth advocates are city plannerswhoseideasderivefromthe“NewUrbanism”architectural movement of the 1970s; othersareenvironmentalactivists.Butsmartgrowthadvocates have one thing in common: theyfear that humanity is running out of “openspace.”Any appeal that smart growth might have isbased on the control of language.Inaseman-tic coup, environmentalists have discoveredthat “wetlands” are more inviting than“swamps” and that “rainforests” are moreappealing than “jungles.” Similarly, smart-growth planners have discovered that it isadvantageous to use environmentally-friendly euphemisms such as “open space”and “green space” to refer to raw land andempty lots. Smart growth advocates alsocultivate nostalgia for the past. Americansare encouraged to imagine an idyllic pastwhenlocalstoreswereoneverystreetcornerand neighbors met neighbors on daily walksdowntree-linedstreets.Theconceptofsmartgrowth is particularly dependent on an abid-ing hatred for cars and car culture. Environ-mentalist groups such as the Sierra Clubpromote bike paths and hiking trails androutinely denounce automobile driving as“unhealthy, anti-social and unsustainable.”Over 100 local or state governments in theU.S.haveadoptedsmartgrowthpolicies,butsmart growth advocates have targeted sub-urbs as the area most in need of limits ongrowth. They call for restrictive “growthboundaries,” a land-use policy that man-dates where development may and may notoccur,and“mixed-use”development,atypeofplanningthatfavorsdensehigh-risehous-ing combined with offices, retail shopping,and public infrastructure, often containedwithin the same structure.Smart growth proponents claim that if sub-urban development outside city centers isnot controlled, suburban sprawl will prolif-erate. This, in turn, will cause open space toPro-smart growth former governors Republican Christine ToddWhitman of New Jersey (second from left) and Democrat ParrisGlendening (center), at the launch last year of the Governors’ Insti-tute for Community Design. Glendening, the poster child of the smartgrowth movement, is credited with coining the term smart growth.Whitman was EPA administrator from 2001 to 2003.
  2. 2. OrganizationTrends2 October 2006Editor: Matthew VadumPublisher: Terrence ScanlonOrganization Trendsis published by Capital ResearchCenter, a non-partisan education andresearch organization, classified bythe IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity.Address:1513 16th Street, N.W.Washington, DC 20036-1480Phone: (202) 483-6900Long-Distance: (800) 459-3950E-mail Address:mvadum@capitalresearch.orgWeb Site:http://www.capitalresearch.orgOrganization Trends welcomes lettersto the editor.Reprints are available for $2.50 prepaidto Capital Research Center.disappear and traffic will become more andmorecongested;airpollutionandcrimerateswill increase; public schools will continue tofail students; and an epidemic of obesity willbloat the chauffeured children of America.And it will all be the fault of disorderly sub-urban development.In reality, smart growth policies contributeto the conditions those policies are sup-posed to prevent. By blocking new roadconstruction,motoristsfacelongerandmorecongested commutes. And by blocking newhomeconstruction,residentsendupmovingto the more affordable suburbs and drivingfarther to the urban cores. Smart growthsupporters argue that new housing exacer-batesroadcongestionandproducescrowdedclassrooms,anddailytrafficjamsthatenragecommuters. It’s no wonder that a politicalmovement has capitalized on that anger.Some of the strongest advocates for smartgrowth have channeled that anger into amovement that has political clout. City may-ors and officials at planning agencies havemade common cause with downtown busi-ness associations, public transportationunion officials, and left-wing community ac-tivists to put the brakes on private sectorsuburbandevelopment.Cityofficials,inpar-ticular,arguethatsuburbansprawlthreatenstheirmunicipaltaxbase(i.e.thepotofmoneythatpoliticiansusetofundprojectsthathelpget them re-elected). From this perspective,the smart growth campaign is essentially aturfbattle:Cityofficialsandtheirsupporterswanttoreversetheflightofresidentstolow-crime, lower-taxed suburbs that often pro-vide better government services at a lowerper-taxpayer cost. For them, smart growthpolicies re-direct taxes, fees and consumerspending back into city coffers that supportbig-spending policies.But many suburban homeowners andwealthy landowners also have an incentiveto favor restrictive smart growth policies.Vestedpropertiedinterestsoftenwantlimitson suburban property development to keeptheir own skylines and vistas uncluttered. Abeautiful view enhances their aesthetic ap-preciation, but it also leads to the apprecia-tion of their property values. Putting restric-tions on your neighbor’s land use can pushup your own land values.However, smart growth is not merely amatter of self-interest. Its most dedicatedsupporters have a mission. Anti-sprawl ac-tivists champion increased population den-sity in cities to halt land development inoutlying suburbs and exurbs. They want toreverse the trend toward low-density livingthat most Americans prefer. In A CompactHistory of Sprawl (published in 2005 byUniversity of Chicago Press), architecturehistorian Robert Bruegmann argues that theoutward expansion of urban areas has realsocial benefits. It is an inevitable social andeconomic process that characterizes pros-perous civilizations. But that’s not the viewof the smart growth crowd.Are They Winning?Smart growth supporters have deep pock-ets and are determined to change publicattitudes about putting restrictions on landdevelopment. They have already begun tosucceed in areas around Portland, Oregon,and in communities just outside Washing-ton, D.C.Oregon is a testament to the power of thesmart growth movement. Despite the recentpassage of Measure 37 to ease land useregulation,economistRandalO’TooleoftheThoreau Institute has documented that thestate retains some of the most onerous land-use regulations in the nation. For instance, afarmermustreceivespecialapprovaltobuildanewhomeonhisownland.Afarmercanliveon his own farmland only if he owns at least160 acres and can show that his land gener-ates a minimum of $40,000 in agriculturalrevenue in two out of three years. Oregonplanners have successfully limited the num-berofnewhomesbuiltonthesefarmlandstoaround 100 per year.In 1991, Portland was the 55thmost afford-able city in the U.S. By 2002, after the imple-mentationofsmartgrowthpolicies,Portland’srankingplungedtonumber163,accordingtothe National Association of Home Builders(NAHB).Ina2004survey,NAHBfoundthatonly20%ofPortland-areapoliceofficersandnurses earning the median salary for theirprofession could afford a median-pricedhome. Even worse, only 0.7% of retail work-ers could afford housing there.If Portland’s development policies wereextended nationwide, they would result inone million fewer homeowners over the pe-riod 1991-2001, according to The NationalCenterforPublicPolicyResearch’s2002study,“Smart Growth and Its Effects on HousingMarkets: The New Segregation.” Of thosewho would be priced out of the housingmarket, 260,000 would be minority Ameri-cans.Smart growth also has a firm foothold in thesuburbs of Washington D.C., one ofAmerica’s fastest growing regions. In 1997,then-MarylandGovernorParrisGlendening,whowasarguablythemostanti-growthgov-ernor in the U.S. at that time, initiated astatewide anti-sprawl policy. Indeed, he hasbeen credited with having coined the term“smart growth.” Today the state ofMaryland’sgrantsareskewedtowarddenselypopulated growth areas, which are desig-nated “Priority Funding Areas.” In 2005, aspart of an effort to halt suburban sprawl,officials in Prince George’s County, Mary-land, imposed a one-year ban on new subdi-vision home projects.In neighboring Charles County, many resi-dents in the state’s fastest growing regionbalked at the county commissioners’ 2005Community Development Housing Plan. Topromotemulti-familydwellingsandincreased
  3. 3. 3October 2006OrganizationTrendshousing densities, the plan expanded thenumber of rental units allowed to be built by7,400over15yearsanditrezonedlandforthispurpose.Butwithover6,500residentsbelowthe poverty line in 2000, many workers in thecounty cannot afford the local average of$851permonth(2005)torentaone-bedroomapartment.Across the Potomac River in the boomingsuburbsofVirginia,smartgrowthplanninginArlington County, Virginia, which bordersWashington,D.C.,hascreated a housingaffordability crisis.According to theNorthern Virginia As-sociation of Realtors,which tracks housingtrends, the averagecostofacondominiumthere increased from$151,857 in 2000 to$382,172in2006.Simi-larly, single-familyhomepricesmorethandoubledoverthissameperiodtoanaverageofover$746,000.Despitesmart growth’s infla-tionaryeffectonhous-ing prices, the Envi-ronmental ProtectionAgencypresentedAr-lington with its 2002national award for“Overall Excellencein Smart Growth,” an annual competitionamong local and state governments.Board supervisors in nearby LoudounCounty recently voted to limit new housinggrowth and to preserve as “open space” aspecific section of land featuring abackdropvista of the Blue Ridge Mountains. TheWashington Post reported September 7 thatthe county plan will require that new homesbebuiltonlargefive-to10-acrelots.Thatwillmeanonlyabouthalfofaprospective37,000new homes can be constructed.In the Washington region, it is common-place to read news stories of displaced per-sons who cannot find affordable housing.The Metropolitan Washington Council ofGovernments’ “Homeless Enumeration Re-port” showed 15,439 people were homelessin2005,anincreaseof6.2%from2004.Home-less shelters often operate at maximum ca-pacity and are forced to turn away families.Catholic Charities’ Angel’s Watch RegionalShelter in Maryland’s tri-county area ofCharles, St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties,refusedcloseto1,200peoplein2005,accord-ingtoJacquiHamilton,thecharity’sprogrammanager. In Virginia, the Washington Postreported that two homeless Fairfax Countymen huddled behind a local gas station anddied in the frigid temperatures two daysbefore Christmas in 2004. At least one of thedeceased men held a regular job but simplycould not afford to live in one of the nation’smost expensive housing markets.Hollywood Activists and ConservativesAnti-sprawl activists, academics and jour-nalists often make wild claims. Author Dou-glas Morris, in his bookIt’s a Sprawl WorldAfter All(publishedin2005byNewSociety),goes so far as to claim that sprawl andsuburbanizationareresponsiblefor“spawn-ing sociopaths such as rapists and serialkillers.”Theenvironmentalistcultdocumen-tary TheEndofSuburbia:OilDepletionandthe Collapse of the American Dream(2004)warns that continued suburbanization may“cause an energy crisis far worse than the oilshock of the 1970s.”Hollywood and other purveyors of popculturesharethiselitistdisdainforsuburbanliving.Intelevisionandmoviessuburbanitesare commonly portrayed as selfish, self-de-structiveandneurotic.“LittleBoxes,”apopu-lar 1962 song written by Malvina Reynolds,is the theme song of the Showtime televisionprogram “Weeds,” which features a harriedSUV-drivingsinglemomwhobecameamari-juana dealer to maintain her lifestyle and paythe mortgage on her large suburban home.Thetunemakesfunofthefaçadeofsuburbanhomelifeandcriti-cizes its conform-ist culture: “Littleboxes on the hill-side/Little boxesmade of ticky-tack…Andtheyalllook just thesame.” The 1999movie, AmericanBeauty, whichwon a “Best Pic-ture” AcademyAward, also at-tacks suburbanAmerica, charac-terizing it as adumping groundfor depraved anddeviant behaviorhidden behindmanicured lawnsand high fences.Even among conservatives there are thosewho are sympathetic to the aims of smartgrowth. For instance,National ReviewwriterRod Dreher chronicles the lives of conserva-tives like himself in his book,Crunchy Cons.He describes social and cultural conserva-tives who do not embrace change-drivenmarket economics, but live according to a“small is beautiful” smart growth-friendlyideal. Even Sen. George Allen (R-VA), whoclaims to be a staunch supporter of propertyrights, has embraced the “Journey ThroughHallowed Ground National Heritage AreaAct,” which would make large swaths ofproperty subject to a federally mandatedsmartgrowthmanagementplan.Thelawmayhave unintended consequences: if it is en-acted, it would not be hard to imagine afederally backed smart growth activist fight-ing against proposals to create new commu-This nature trail is part of Abacoa, a model smart growth project in Jupiter, FL. Butphotographs can’t depict the jump in real estate prices that inevitably accompanies theimposition of smart growth policies.
  4. 4. OrganizationTrends4 October 2006For frequent updates on environmental groups,nonprofits, foundations, and labor unions, check out theCRC-Greenwatch Blog atwww.capitalresearch.org/blognities or road improvements in the name of“heritage preservation.”Funders’ Network for Smart GrowthAnti-growth and anti-market movementsused to be funded mainly by individual do-nors sympathetic to leftist causes. But asfoundation philanthropy has increasinglyfocused on promoting movements for socialchange, smart growth advocates, not sur-prisingly,havelookedtothefoundationworldfor financial and moral support.The Funders’ Network for Smart Growthand Livable Communities is an umbrella “af-finity” group for foundations with a smartgrowth agenda. Incorporated as a separate501(c)(3) charity in 2003, it helps identifyissues,locatessympatheticdonorsandbuildspolitical coalitions. “Through its work theNetwork helps funders to advance policyreforms; share knowledge of effective strat-egies and tools; build the capacity of keyconstituencies; raise awareness about theinterdisciplinary nature of these issues; andencouragesustainedengagementwiththeseissues by a diverse coalition of funders.”The network includes some 60 organiza-tions, including major philanthropies (e.g.,the Ford, Packard, Mott, Joyce, and RobertWoodJohnsonfoundations),corporatefoun-dations (Home Depot, Bank of America, andFannie Mae), community foundations (Cali-fornia, Cleveland, Greater Atlanta) and coa-lition groups (Bikes Belong Coalition, LocalInitiativesSupportCorporation).Accordingto its website, they are “currently focusingoncommunications,communityfoundationsleadership, regional and neighborhood eq-uity, transportation, green buildings, andhealthy communities.”The network includes the elite of the foun-dation world, institutions with enormous as-sets and the capacity to make substantialgrantsforadvocacyonbehalfofsmartgrowth.Who Gets Funded?Environmentalist groups are among thegroups most financially prepared to fight forsmart growth.*The Sierra Club,avociferousopponentofsuburban growth and development, claimsthat“sprawl-likedevelopmentcanusemanymore resources — five times more pipe andwire, five times as much heating and coolingenergy— than urban living.” Claiming some750,000 members in hundreds of local chap-ters,theSanFrancisco-headquarteredgroupis promoting a new report that callssuburbanization“TheDarkSideoftheAmeri-can Dream.” Its guide, Building Better: AGuide to America’s Best New DevelopmentProjects, supports bringing local land useissues under state and federal control. In theWashington, D.C. area the Club fought un-successfully against the Intercounty Con-nector, a planned 6-lane, 18-mile tolled high-waylinkingWashington’ssuburbsinMary-land that was proposed more than a halfcentury ago. In Atlanta, Georgia, the Clubworks tirelessly for public rail transit andagainst most new highway construction.*TheSurfaceTransportationPolicyProject(STPP) is less well-known, but is one of thebest-funded and most vocal advocates ofsubsidiesformasstransit,whichhasbecomethe politically-correct panacea for issues ofgrowth management. It has received grantsfromtheHeinz,RobertWoodJohnson,JamesIrvine, Kirsch, MacArthur, McKenna, andPittsburgh foundations as well as from thePrinceCharitableTrusts,Rausch,Rockefellerand Surdna foundations. In 2004, STPP hadrevenues close to $1.5 million and expensesof $2.2 million according to its IRS Form 990.*The Natural Resources Defense Council(NRDC) litigates vigorously, filing multipleenvironment and land-use cases simulta-neously. Based in New York City, it attacksauto use, charging that “in the last threedecades,vehicleusepercapitainourlargestmetro areas has doubled....Energy use risesdirectlywithincreaseddriving,exacerbatingfossilfueldependenceandglobalwarming.”*TheTrustforPublicLands (TPL)haslatelyfocused on finding ways to stop develop-ment projects. According to its own website“because TPL does not own or manage landover the long term there must be a govern-mentagencyororganizationwillingandableto assume ownership of the land.” TPL hashelped states and local governments draftand pass over 300 ballot measures that havegeneratedover$19billioninnewlandacqui-sition funding.*TheNationalTrustforHistoricPreserva-tion often acts like an environmental group.“The trust has become an anti-growth advo-cate that values preservation over propertyrights,” wrote Peyton Knight, author of aNovember 2005FoundationWatcharticleonthe Trust. Knight continued:“If historic preservation is non-ideological,whyareallof[TrustpresidentRichard]Moe’sallies on the Left—and many on the fringe?Ifpreservationisaboutcreatingandsustain-ing livable communities, why block trafficimprovements, evict property owners in ex-isting communities, and refuse to allow newowners to build new communities? If preser-vation is about empowering communities,why use the federal government to decidewhat’sbestforthem?Howcanfuturegenera-tions preserve the ‘legacy that helps to de-fine us as Americans,’ by disdaining ourrights to own our land?”Foundation grants against sprawl go toumbrella coalition groups as well. Probablythe most important is the Smart Growth Net-work(SGN)andSmartGrowthAmerica(SGA).SGN opposes low-density living. It is aninformation clearinghouse for 30 environ-mental and urban interest groups as well asfor the state of Maryland and the U.S. Envi-ronmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mem-ber groups sign agreements with the EPA inorder to coordinate their anti-growth activi-ties. Although SGN receives foundationgrants from the Funders’ Network, it alsoreceives grants from the Nathan Cummings,Energy,GeorgeGund,andRockefellerBroth-ers foundations. On its website, SGN says ituses “smart growth approaches to create a
  5. 5. 5October 2006OrganizationTrendswider range of housing choices” and to im-prove “the quality of life in communities bypromoting new transportation choices andtransit-oriented development.” The irony isthatinthekindofdenselypopulatedcommu-nities SGN seeks to create, a house with alarge yard would not be a realistic “housingchoice,” nor would a private car be a “trans-portation choice.”According to its 2004 tax return, SmartGrowth America had $2,389,126 in revenueand $1,253,422 in expenses. In 2005 formergovernors Christine Todd Whitman of NewJerseyandParrisN.GlendeningofMarylanddecided to spearhead the new Governors’Institute on Community Design, creating apartnership between the National Endow-ment for the Arts and the EPA. The Gover-nors’ Institute plans to hold annual work-shops linking governors and their cabinetsecretaries to top planning experts. FormerMaine governor Angus King has agreed tohelp assist future workshops. The Gover-nors’ Institute builds on the success of theNational Endowment for the Arts Mayors’Institute on City Design, which since 1986haspromotedideastoimprovecityplanning.Many local smart growth advocates arealso funded by foundations such as theSurdna and Energy foundations.(SeeDavidHogberg’s January 2006 FoundationWatcharticle on the latter group for further details.)Theytendtofundgroupsthatfightfossilfuelenergy development projects and demandgovernmentsubsidiesforrenewableenergy.Will Smart Growth Succeed?Many Americans are understandablytroubledbythesometimesdizzyingspeedofgrowth and development in their communi-ties. Change can be scary. That fear hasallowed those who want to curb develop-ment to become a formidable political force.They support ballot initiatives and restric-tivelocalzoningordinancesthatviolateindi-vidualpropertyrights—andtheyareincreas-ingly successful.But smart growth policies confront the in-exorable force of population growth, urbanexpansionandeconomicdevelopment.Theseare worldwide social processes, and it isfoolish to think they will end anytime soon.As long as people are mobile, in search ofprosperity and personal advancement, theyare going to want more for themselves. Innewly-developing countries such as Indiaand Mexico a new middle class is acting likepast generations of Americans. It is movingawayfromcrowdedurbancentersandmulti-generationalfamilyhomesandisdemandingmore single-family dwellings on private lots.In the U.S., some critics think smart growthpolicies will have the unintended conse-quences of creating even more widespreadsuburbandevelopment.Theyspeculatethatanti-suburban policies are actually spurringanewroundof“exurbanization.”Exurbsreferto prosperous semi-rural communities thatexistbeyondwell-establishedsuburbs.High-speed limited-access highways often con-nect these new bedroom communities to ur-ban-suburban metropolitan centers. Ofcourse, smart growth activists denounceexurbanization too, arguing that such com-munities, like suburbs, waste resources.Andthentherearetheagingbaby-boomers.They will soon be in search of what develop-ers call “integrated senior living communi-ties.” The builders of these private develop-ments have, in effect, co-opted the “NewUrbanism” school of public planners. Theyknowtheircustomerswillwanttolivenearbythestoreswheretheyshop.Theywillwanttolink their condos, townhouses, and apart-ments to retail shopping areas, recreationalfacilitiesandmedicalcenters.Thisinfuriatessmart growth activists who loudly deridethese “living centers” as “fake towns.”Suburban tastes are evolving. “The mall isnolongerconvenientforus,”architectTerryShook told the Boston Globe last summer.The trend toward lifestyle centers suggeststhat “suburbia is starting to reinvent itself.”ConclusionDespite the creative advertising of the anti-sprawl crusade, living apart from city life isstill attractive and in many cases necessaryfor many Americans. According to RandallO’Toole, only 25% of Americans live in thesmart growth ideal of high-density develop-ments; the remaining 75% live in either low-density suburban neighborhoods or in evenless sparsely populated rural areas.Americans have voted with their feet. Theylike having more space, less pollution, andlesscrime.Moreover,theyhavedecidedthatthe flight to the suburbs is a way to achievea cherished American goal ofhomeownership, often a measure of eco-nomic success and what most of us think ofas “making it.” They have little patience forstate, federal, or local government plannerstelling them how to live.But smart growth backers are quite com-fortable telling people how to live. The anti-growth turf wars that have been waged overmany of America’s metropolitan areas areemblematic of changes in the modern Left.Rather than seeking to influence politicaldecision-making,theLeftnowaimstoimple-ment rigid controls that end up determiningtheeconomicdecisionsthatindividualsmakeat home. Suburbia is the battleground, andthey are waging war on low-density living.James Dellinger is Executive Director ofGreenWatch and EducationWatch at Capi-tal Research Center. Ryan Balis is a policyanalyst at The National Center for PublicPolicy Research.OTPlease rememberCapital Research Centerin your will andestate planning.Thank you foryour support.Terrence Scanlon, PresidentCapital Research Center’snext online radio show airsOctober 24, 3:05 p.m.(Eastern time)at http://www.rightalk.com(replays follow at 5 minutes past thehour for the following 23 hours)
  6. 6. OrganizationTrends6 October 2006BrieflyNotedGeorge Soros told a New America Foundation gathering that the war on terror is a phony war, an emptyadvertising slogan that President Bush and the Republican Party are using to pull the wool over gullible Ameri-cans’ eyes. In a mid-September speech, he attacked the war as a “very false frame.” The Open Society Insti-tute, funded by Soros, bankrolls the extremist, anti-American public interest law firm, the Center for Constitu-tional Rights, which was profiled in last month’s Organization Trends.New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez is the subject of a criminal investigation of his involvementwith a nonprofit group, according to a Star-Ledger report September 8. A subpoena has been issued related to aMenendez rental deal with the Union City-based North Hudson Community Action Corp. The senator report-edly collected more than $300,000 from the group over a nine-year period, and during that time helped it securemillions of dollars in federal grants. Appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor Jon Corzine in January, Menendezis currently seeking election to the post.The IRS has revoked the tax-exempt status of the Democratic Leadership Council. The group was formed byDemocrats eager to reclaim their party from its ascendant left wing following Ronald Reagan’s landslide 1984victory. The IRS determined that DLC activities primarily benefit so-called New Democrats running for politicaloffice, instead of the public at large, according to Forbes magazine’s October 2 edition. The DLC has asked afederal court to review the decision. “The outcome could affect the spreading use (abuse?) of tax-exempts bypoliticians and those seeking to influence them,” according to the article.Buying “green” products might make consumers less likely to donate directly to environmentalist groups, NewScientist reported September 16, citing a study that appeared in the August issue of the Journal of PoliticalEconomy. “An economic model devised by [study author Matthew] Kotchen suggests that, having bought pre-mium green goods, consumers may be less willing to donate directly to environmental causes, possibly loweringthe overall contribution they would otherwise have made,” according to New Scientist. But will smug environmental-ists stop feeling good about themselves as they drive their hybrid SUVs to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop?The publicity given Bill Clinton’s philanthropy continues on a scale grossly disproportionate to its actual scope. Ina fawning cover story in the September 18 Fortune magazine, reporter Bethany McLean acknowledged that theClinton Foundation has a 2006 budget of $30 million while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has anendowment of $30 billion. Yet she wrote that “no one motivates people and moves mountains like Bill Clinton.”Judicial Watch reported August 21 that a federal judge who found unconstitutional the Bush administration’swarrantless domestic surveillance program has close ties to the lead plaintiff in the case, the American CivilLiberties Union. U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor is secretary and trustee for Community Foundationfor Southeastern Michigan (CFSEM) which recently gave $45,000 to the ACLU of Michigan, a plaintiff in thelawsuit. The judge ruled in the ACLU’s favor in the case, ACLU v. National Security Agency. Judicial Watch alsonoted that according to CFSEM’s website, “the foundation’s trustees make all funding decisions at meetings heldon a quarterly basis.” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the “potential conflict of interest merits seriousinvestigation…if Judge Diggs Taylor failed to disclose this link to a plaintiff in a case before her court, it wouldcertainly call into question her judgment.”Liberal activist groups are so reliant on paid canvassers that it is hindering their ability to push for political change,according to Dana R. Fisher, a sociology professor at Columbia University. The Chronicle of Higher Educationquoted Fisher saying many liberal nonprofit groups opt to pay college students and other workers to solicit dona-tions from the public. Conservative groups, on the other hand, rely more on traditional community- and church-based groups, which are better at making long-term connections, said Fisher, author of a new book called Activ-ism, Inc.

×