A video showing the RhodeMap RI meeting from Wednesday, November 12 shows consortium members of the economic plan calling meeting attendees opposed to the plan "racist" and "Ku Klux Klan."
The video opens with text saying, "Panel member calls opposition Tea Party racists...when no one identified themselves at tea party patriots."
RhodeMap RI is billed as a "coordinated and forward-looking effort by the state to make Rhode Island a better place to live and work by mobilizing state and community assets in a whole new way. Through RhodeMap RI, the State seeks to strengthen our economy, meet current and future housing needs, and plan for future growth through the development of an integrated plan that will also include strategies for transportation, land use and environmental protection."
The video shows Social Equity Advisory Committee member Joe Buchanan pointing at the opposed off-screen, saying, "I don't see a person of color over there -- you don't know what goes on in our community."
A moderator asks Buchanan to stick to talking about the plan, to which Buchanan replies, "You tell the Ku Klux Klan that," referring to the opponents.
"The next step now is next Thursday morning. [The plan] was adopted by the consortium, now the state planning council will vote to adopt it in the state economic plan. I think they do allow public comment, and we'll be there again," said plan opponent Mike Stenhouse with the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. "Obviously they got caught off guard yesterday, they don't know how to defend this because they're indefensible."
On Wednesday, Stenhouse had said of RhodeMap RI, "What we see is a coordinated national-state-local scheme where federal agencies are poised to seize unprecedented levels of control over local land-use and housing issues. Property owners and local officials are about to lose sovereignty over their own affairs to the federal government."
"This demonstrates the point that I've been making that RhodeMap RI isn't about economic development but rather about a radical social equity agenda," said Stenhouse of Wednesday's meeting altercation. "This isn't an economic plan for the people of Rhode Island."
A far reaching plan to direct economic development and housing construction in Rhode Island has caught the attention of personal rights activists, and they are calling for a slowdown.
The plan is called Rhode Map RI. Backers of the plan say a comprehensive economic development vision must include an element of social equity.
"We try to level the playing field for people with less education, lower job skills training," said Kevin Flynn, Rhode Island' associate director of planning.
But opponents fear the central planning will result in a loss of rights.
"Things like racial quotas and the amount of affordable housing units per city. So the idea that the federal government will take control over local housing and land use decisions, many of which will infringe on local landowners rights with little debate, that's what's of concern to us," said Mike Stenhouse of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity .
The plan will be presented to the state planning council Nov. 20. If adopted, it would require executive action, and perhaps some legislation, to put it into effect.