On October 30, 2016, the Plano Star Courier reported on The Plano Tomorrow Plan. The article states, "The Plano Tomorrow Plan has received silver-level recognition for its proposal to improve the community's sustainability." Plano received the award from the American Planning Association (APA). The paper and Plano's Mayor are happy with the award. They also love the Plano Tomorrow Plan (PTP), but the residents of Plano feel differently.
Before commenting on the award, and talking about resident opinions of PTP, I have a few questions. What is the APA? Who gave it authority? Who created the APA? Why should we care if it likes the PTP?
To find out what APA is, I went to their website www.planning.org. APA's mission statement is, "The development of vital communities by advocating excellence in planning, promoting education and citizen empowerment, and providing our members with the tools and support necessary to meet the challenges of growth and change." One way APA does this is by, "Advocating for planning at the national level, support chapters, divisions, and members' efforts at the state and local levels." In other words, APA is a lobbyist group for bureaucratic planners. It has forty-seven chapters in the USA, and the membership fee ranges from $160-$385. For additional fees, APA offers education, forums, publications, and specialized sessions at the annual National Planning Conference. APA has two offices; one in Chicago and one in DC.
Since APA is a private lobby group, they don't have any authority. APA's website does not say who started it. On their website, it says, "On October 1, 1978, the American Planning Association emerged from the consolidation of the American Institute of Planners and the American Society of Planning Officials." "We trace our roots even further back to 1909 and the first National Conference on City Planning in Washington D.C. From that and subsequent conferences, the organized planning movement emerged." In other words, this group's founders help to create the Progressive idea of central planning.
Should we care about receiving an award from APA? In my opinion, NO! APA is just like the National Restaurant Association, the American Medical Association, or the National Association of Realtors. Would any of you care if those groups gave out an award? I am going to guess the answer is, no.
Unlike residents, the Mayor wants the APA's award. Therefore, the city sent the Plano Tomorrow Plan to APA. According to the Star Courier, "A team of planners scored the plans' principles of a livable environment, resilient economy, interwoven equity, healthy community, and responsible regionalism." The paper never said what defined any of those things, or what any of them look like in the real world.
While bureaucratic planners love the PTP, residents hate it. If you talk to the Mayor, you will get the same opinion as bureaucrats. In response to the award, the Mayor said, "This recognition is an acknowledgment of a thoughtful and thorough process led by our Planning Department. By working closely with the community, they were able to design an excellent plan that meets the needs of all our stakeholders and enhances our status as a regional leader." Either the Mayor has come down with a case of amnesia or, he is lying to us. It is the only way to explain how he could "forget" all the resident opposition to the PTP.
If you remember, hundreds of residents attended the Planning and Zoning meeting to oppose PTP when it was first voted on. A Planing and Zoning meeting rarely has more than a few residents in attendance; the board should have realized something was wrong. Still, the board ignored the people and passed the plan. Next, the PTP went to the City Council for a vote. Again, hundreds of people went to oppose the plan, and again, the people were ignored and the plan passed.
The grass roots group, Plano Future, organized a petition drive to get the PTP on the election ballot. Citizens wanted to vote on the
PTP themselves, so thousands of residents signed the petition. However, the City Council would not bring the petition up for a vote. The City, once again, disregarded the people. As a result, residents sued the City Council. The case is currently in court. (For more information about the lawsuit and PTP go to http://planofuture.org/. You can also read the PTP on the City's website.). This proves the Mayor lied when he said, "They worked closely with the community." I would also like to know who the Mayor was talking about when he said, "The plan meets the needs of all our stakeholders."? Since he ignored the residents, he clearly was not talking about them.
The most disturbing part of the article was at the end. David Rouse, from APA, said, "The plans recognized through this program are guiding communities toward a more sustainable, enduring, and equitable future." In other words, unelected bureaucrats are deciding what is best for Plano. That is not their job! People in ivory towers should not be deciding what is best for Plano or any town. That is the job of the residents.
In my opinion, this award is meaningless. The Mayor is trying to use it to make the Plano Tomorrow Plan look great, but an award from a lobby group does not make it look good at all. In reality, it makes the plan look terrible. If a bureaucrat likes something, it cannot be a good thing. The Mayor and Council need to remember the residents of Plano vote for them! Plano's elected officials need to stop making lobbyists happy and, start doing what the residents want. If the politicians don't, they will be kicked out of office in 2017.
This is The Plano Political Pit Bull signing off.