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Friday, October 15, 2021

Marion County Commissioner expresses concerns of ‘globalization’ in county’s bid for ‘Age-Friendly’ classification

A Marion County Commissioner vehemently objected to the county’s pursuit of an “Age-Friendly” classification and denounced it as a move towards “globalization,” during a workshop at the McPherson Governmental Complex on Thursday afternoon.

During the workshop, District 1 Commissioner David Moore expressed his concern with the county’s pursuit of the classification and primarily focused on the organizations that would be associated with the cause.

“When you’re saying the World Health Organization is pushing the age-friendly agenda, I’ve got a problem with that. I believe America is founded on the United States constitution, not on the UN,” said Moore.

Moore took issue with the WHO and American Association of Retired Persons being affiliated with the cause, indicating that the organizations would play a partisan role and he would not support it as a result.

“The AARP supports Democrats. I’m a Republican. They support my opposing party. So, if [Association of Mature American Citizens] had something like this, or if we had something where we could do this without [the WHO and AARP] being involved, I’d be much more willing to be involved in it,” explained Moore.

Jennifer Martinez, the executive director of Marion County Senior Services, was quick to clarify the nature of the relationship between the organizations in question and the age-friendly classification.

“I don’t look at it as Democratic or Republican,” said Martinez. “I look at it as is it an opportunity for our community to bring additional resources in.”

Moore suggested that the WHO, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations concerned with international public health, was focused on a “globalist agenda.”

“I think we need to get the U.N. out of the U.S., and the U.S. out of the U.N.,” said Moore.

Moore went on to suggest that any inclusion in the program would fall under the blanket of of Agenda 21, a comprehensive plan of action implemented globally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups over the last 27 years.

Martinez explained that none of the responsibility of the action plan would fall on the county, and that there would be no financial commitment from government.

“Public funders and private foundations are really getting behind this initiative because government isn’t funding it. It’s not being mandated by the government, it’s not being regulated by the government. It is being regulated, mandated, and managed by the community itself,” said Martinez.

Martinez additionally clarified that the only item needed from the county was a letter stating support for the initiative.

Marion County Commission Chair Michelle Stone reaffirmed that the county government would not be the lead agency in charge of implementing the action plan before indicating that she had drafted a letter of support and would let other commissioners review it.

“Our governor signed it, our state is supporting it, our agencies are supporting it. I don’t personally support the organizations and the effect that those folks have on it. But at the end of the day, we aren’t spending any tax payer dollars,” said Commissioner Carl Zalak.

According to Martinez, the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Elder Affairs have both included this initiative in their strategic plans.

“There are real people hurting as they age, and as they age, difficulties happen. And I can’t just say I don’t care about that,” said Zalak.

Zalak went on to support Governor DeSantis’ initiative to charge counties in Florida to make the state age-friendly, suggesting that he did not believe the governor would subject the state to Agenda 21.

“I don’t think [Governor DeSantis] is going to sign up for any Agenda 21. I think what he’s trying to do is bring the services to the right people at the right time in their moment of need,” added Zalak.

Chair Stone clarified that the support offered by the letter from the county was solely that and would not commit the county to anything.

“Our letter simply is stating that we’re offering our support to Marion Senior Services as the lead agency in achieving this age friendly designation. And of course, we want a healthy community in Marion County and we want to be apart of a healthy community in the state of Florida,” explained Stone.

Commissioners will review the drafted letter and have room to make adjustments before approving the final draft. If approved, the letter will be submitted as part of the application for the age-friendly designation.