While the federal government always views its threats to cut off the flow of stolen money to the states as a kind of untrumpable trump card, a Colorado town has created a template for how to handle the federal government’s attempts at bribery and extortion.
Castle Rock, a community of 55,000 people in central Colorado, recently decided to refuse funds from the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). At issue for the town was a new set of regulations, 377 pages in all, which gives the unelected HUD bureaucrats broad powers over grant recipient communities, including the power to reverse electoral decisions by local voters, change local zoning laws and force said communities to join regions against the its wishes.
Faced with the choice of refusing federal funds or submitting to increased federal intrusion into their local concerns, Castle Rock’s town government chose the former, reports SustainableFreedomLab.org. In a letter to local HUD applicants, mayor Paul Donahue explained that,
“If we continue to accept the HUD grants, we will be forced to prepare detailed taxpayer-financed studies of our schools, retail, housing, and other community aspects to HUD who will decide if our neighborhoods are “furthering fair housing.” That means that even though our town has never been found in violation of the anti-discrimination housing rules that have been law for over 50 years, HUD on a whim could force us to build low-income, government subsidized housing into our neighborhoods if HUD decides we aren’t racially balanced enough.”
In other words, Castle Rock’s town council has recognized that the new federal regulations are likely to be used not to mitigate actual instances of discriminatory behavior, but as politically-motivated means to produce politically-motivated ends. As Castle Rock’s letter acknowledged, far from being a paranoid hypothetical, this scenario has already played out in Westchester County, New York, where county leaders have been fighting a HUD directive to construct 750 affordable-housing units in established neighborhoods. But while Westchester County has sued to have this decision reversed – a suit that, to nobody’s surprise, was decided in the federal government’s favor by the federal government’s judge – it has not decided to refuse the HUD funds.
What Castle Rock has discovered, that Westchester County apparently has not, is that federal funds always come with strings attached, and the strongest string is invariably tied to local sovereignty. The Castle Rock town council has heroically identified this truth and has decided that the funds are not worth the cost. Donahue’s letter concludes,
“As a Town Council, we will resist all federal attempt to destroy our local sovereignty, be it from HUD, the EPA, or any other government agency. Council will always defend our resident’s right to make their own local decisions without federal interference. While I appreciate the many good works that are represented by your (the grant applicants’) programs, accepting onerous federal grant requirements, which harm our community, cannot be the price to pay for federal monies.”
Towns, cities, counties and states all across the country should take notice of what Castle Rock has done and should hasten to emulate its example.