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The Sierra Club Toxifies Itself—Old Guard Cronies Win, But With Great Damage To The Organization
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April 21, 2004, 05:00 AM
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The Sierra Club results have proved once again that deep pockets and an unrestricted willingness to lie can still win elections. The numbers are in, and they are not pretty:

Elected to the Board are:

Lisa Renstrom 141,407
Jan O`Connell 132,262
Nick Aumen 123,332
Sanjay Ranchod 123,332
David Karpf 110,756

Runners-up:

Michael Dorsey 42,401
Ed Dobson 35,825
Chad Hanson 29,104
Robert Roy van de Hoek 15,700
Phillip Berry 15,492
David Pimentel 14,527
Dick Lamm 13,090
Kim McCoy 9,765
Karyn Strickler 8,333
Frank Morris 8,247
Morris Dees 7,554
Barbara Herz 7,525

The winners are the management-picked slate, presumably selected for their qualities of obedience to authority, er, loyalty. The stunning gap of more than 68,000 votes between the top five and the next candidate shows how willingly 100,000 members followed directions.

These are staggering overall vote totals by Sierra Club standards. In 2002, reformer candidate Ben Zuckerman was the number one voter getter with 36,383 ballots.

Turnout was 22.67 percent—dramatically up from just below nine percent last year, but still pathetically low, and an indication of the Sierra staff`s continued vulnerability.

True to form, the Sierra Old Guard couldn`t resist a lame attempt at gloating: in the post-election press release, President Larry Fahn announced, "Nearly a quarter of the Sierra Club`s members have indicated they love the Club the way it is."

The winners were the chosen candidates of GroundswellSierra.org, which materialized as a major Sierra staff auxiliary in the election and a voice against US population sanity.

Probably even more importantly, recommendations to vote for the New Old Guard were also sent by MoveOn.org, the Democratic outreach organization, to its 2.3 million members. MoveOn was recently in the news for receiving a matching grant of $5 million from open-borders billionaire George Soros.

At a recent Berkeley book flacking for MoveOn`s new handbook for Democratic activists, Bay Area environmental activist Tim Aaronson bravely quizzed founder Joan Blades about why her organization supported the establishment candidates rather than the reformers. She answered weakly that her husband did the screening of issues, not her.

Of course, Ms. Blades would not want to anger the source of her recent windfall.

The election results have certainly confirmed the Sierra Club as Democratic Party activist arm, tree division. The Club`s degeneration into the left and into the D camp, may bring joy in the anti-Bush quarters, but as an environmentalist and a Democrat, I think it`s terrible news for America`s environment. Democrats will increasingly see the Sierra Club as loyal supporters of the Party—doormat material, in other words. Republicans will view the organization as the enemy. Neither is good for the cause of conservation.

While touting they have advocated a "big tent" philosophy in their public pronouncements, the actions of Pope & Co. have been quite the contrary. The organization has moved away from Americans` widespread support for environmental protection, and has advocated socialist causes that undermine its environmental mission. This insults the tens of millions of Republican and conservative voters who care deeply about conserving America`s natural treasures.

One of the interesting facts which came to light during the election was the curious—and still mysterious—contribution of $100 million to the organization, brought to light by Dick Lamm and other reformer candidates. Was the cash a generous shovelful from extremist George Soros? Or did it come from the Mexican government in return for a promise to avoid the annoying immigration topic?

The Sierra Club had already supported California drivers` licenses for illegal aliens in the state—hardly an environmental issue—so a trans-border expansion would not be out of bounds from their viewpoint.

How an anonymous contribution of such size can be legal is shocking. The new Board should demand that Carl Pope come clean with the facts, if only to show that the club is not acting out of greed alone.

Carl Pope`s trail of character assassination and lies will not soon be forgotten. He and his henchmen have created an unprecedented level of bitterness and ill will. (In addition, promises were made to Fresno Hmong which may prove expensive when payment comes due.) For an introduction, please see a few examples named by the reformer candidates: Stop the Creeping Moral Corruption Within the Sierra Club, March 12, 2004.

But at least the enormous campaign launched against highly reputable men like Gov. Dick Lamm shows that it now requires quite a major expense to fool the people. That, in some ways, is good news.

The election will likely prove a Pyrrhic victory. How many times can Pope & Co. accuse their opponents of Nazism?

The Sierra staff may be breathing easier tonight, but they know that immigration reformers are still out there, like guerrillas, ready to strike again.

Brenda Walker [email her] lives in Northern California and publishes LimitsToGrowth and ImmigrationsHumanCost. She is ready to confess that she had lunch with a Republican last year.