From Ireland is fascinating news of corruption in land development - local politicians bribed for lucrative rezoning. In UK Yahoo:
Former government press secretary Frank Dunlop has been jailed for 18 months and fined 30,000 euro for corruption after bribing councillors to rezone land around Dublin for lucrative development deals. The one-time lobbyist among Ireland's political elite admitted five counts of corruption more than eight years after first disclosing his role in the sleaze scandal.
From a Sunday Tribune editorial:
All the councillors deny being bribed. All the landowners deny having any knowledge of bribes being offered to have their land rezoned. Dunlop is the only person to face corruption charges. So far. As things stand, he says, he bribed councillors on behalf of clients, but the beneficiaries of both the bribes and the corruption claim to have known nothing about what Dunlop was doing. Strange, but, it is alleged, true.
Magic! Who knew?
Then the Tribune writer, Michael Clifford, spins-off mark about how the problem is corruption in planning, not in development. Nice redirection.
There is no reason to believe that the common good is any better
served in planning today than it was in the early 1990s. Any system
that bestows huge wealth overnight on a landowner – usually increasing
the value by a multiple – will continue to be the subject of
corruption. A councillor with bad thoughts might be too scared to
accept a bribe these days, but that doesn't eliminate corruption.
long as the system prevails, the common good will take a beating. (...)
This would be abhorrent to free-market ideology and vested interests. No government – and precious few politicians – has been willing to bat for the common good against such opponents. So corruption in planning is here to stay. It just mightn't involve naked bribes anymore.
Yet he keeps throwing around the phrase "common good" which is a meaningless platitude without a public process to define and shape policies - including land use policies that should become the yardstick for the zoning decisions. You know, a planning process.