Questions and Answers About the Sierra Club Elections
An Interview with Sierra Club Director Paul Watson
Interviewer: Pedro Monteiro - Florida Chapter ExComm Director

2/12/04

Voting Deadline : Noon - April 21, 2004

The Sea Shepherd Endorsement for Sierra Club Directors

Robert Roy van de Hoek

Dick Lamm

David Pimentel

Kim McCoy

Frank Morris

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is endorsing the following distinguished candidates for the 2004 election to the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club.

We urge our supporters who are members of the Sierra Club to look for your ballots in the mail and to consider voting for the candidates listed below.

Kim McCoy

Why: Because she is a dedicated activist with the Chicago chapter of the Sierra Club and she is supportive of the need to address the severe environmental impact caused by the meat industry in the United States. She is concerned about population issues and she is concerned about addressing marine issues. She is one of the two candidates endorsed directly by Captain Paul Watson on her ballot statement. She is a supporter of veganism.

Robert van de Hoek

Why: Because he is a wetlands activist who was instrumental in the long fight to protect the Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles County. As a scientist, he is concerned about ocean issues, endangered species, population issues and pollution caused by animal husbandry and aqua-culture. He is the 2nd of the two candidates endorsed directly by Captain Paul Watson on his ballot statement. He is a supporter of veganism. He advocates restoration and recovery for the Guadalupe Fur Seal and the Southern Sea Otter in Southern California.

Governor Richard Lamm

Why: Because as a three time elected Democratic Governor of Colorado with an excellent environmental record, Dick Lamm will be a strong and distinguished voice on the Board. Governor Lamm has been a long time supporter of the Sierra Club.

Frank L. Morris

Why: Because as a retired State Department foreign service officer and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation he brings both a knowledge of international affairs and minority concerns to the Sierra Club Board. His ballot statement talks about helping the Club with one of its longstanding internal challenges, diversifying its membership base. "I seek a leadership position in our Club because I deeply share our core values of protecting the planet," he wrote. "I will effectively represent us in settings not always open to our message-in minority and disadvantaged communities, in Congress, and in leading the defeat of President Bush."

Dr. David Pimentel

Why: Because Cornell University entomologist Prof. David Pimental is a respected ecologist and expert on the impact of human population growth on eco-systems. The Sierra Club needs the expertise of Dr. Pimentel to intelligently address the real threat of escalating human population on the environment.


We Urge You to Not Support the Spoilers

Three candidates running have announced they are doing so not to be elected but to use the election as an opportunity to discredit other candidates. This is certainly not in the spirit of democracy. In fact it is a violation of the Sierra Club Bylaw 5.4 that states, "All nominees must be members of the Club in good standing and must agree to accept the nomination." Three of the petition candidates are asking members not to vote for them and this is prima facie evidence that they have not accepted the nomination.

The electoral process should not be cheapened by taking a ballot position for the sole purpose of mud-slinging and vicious smear campaigns. For this reason, we would urge you to not vote for any of the candidates recommended by these three bogus candidates.

The three candidates running on the "don't elect me, elect my friends campaign" are Morris Dees, Phil Berry and Barbara Hertz.

We would also urge you to not vote for any of the nominated candidates.

Although we feel that incumbent directors Nick Aumen, Ed Dobson, and Jan O'Connell are honorable members of the Club who have served the Board with distinction, we believe that the Nominated candidates have been given an unfair advantage in this election over petition candidates due to the insertion of a statement on the ballot that implies that the nominated candidates are more deserving of being elected. We also believe that Lisa Renstrom as a former Board Member is an honorable candidate but as a nominated candidate she also enjoys an unfair advantage over the petition candidates.

We do not believe that an election should be about the membership simply rubber-stamping the selection of the Club's official nominating committee.

And although they may not welcome the support of the hook and bullet crowd, it is the nominated candidates that the Fur Commission USA is endorsing and asking their members to vote for. The Fur Commission USA by the way is the group that represents all those sadistic bastards that anally electrocute mink and fox and support the feeding of whale and seal meat to fur-bearing animals. They also support the annual massacre of 350,000 harp seals off Eastern Canada every year.


The Sea Shepherd Association With the Sierra Club

Paul Watson was a active member of the Sierra Club in British Columbia back in 1969 when a group of Sierra Club members joined up with a group of Quakers to form the Don't Make a Wave Committee. In 1972, this Committee changed its name to become the Greenpeace Foundation. Paul Watson left Greenpeace in 1977 to form the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Paul has been a lifelong supporter of the Sierra Club.

In April 2003, Captain Paul Watson was elected to the National Board of the Sierra Club USA.

In 2002, Dr. Benjamin Zuckerman, a Sea Shepherd director, was elected to the Board receiving the highest number of votes cast for any director that year. Presently, two Sea Shepherd directors are Sierra Club National Directors.

In 2003, Sea Shepherd endorsed two of the directors elected. In addition to Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd was enthusiastic in its support for Doug LaFollette of Wisconsin.

One of Captain Watson's objectives, in running for the Board, was to campaign for a strong Sierra Club Ocean policy and to address the need for the Sierra Club to take a strong stand on population growth.

Another motivation was to challenge the Sierra Club's pro-hunting and pro-trapping policies and to take on the controversial issue of pollution and health problems caused by the meat and aquaculture industries.

Many former Club members have informed Paul Watson that they resigned from the Club because of the policies they disagreed with.

Captain Watson's reply has always been to encourage people to renew their membership to the Club or to join the Club if they have never been a member.

"I am a member of the Sierra Club because it is the oldest and most prestigious environmental organization in the United States. I am a member because of my respect for John Muir and David Brower and I want to see the organization recapture the courageous vision of both Brower and Muir. The Sierra Club has the potential to be even more effective and to spearhead the environmental movement in the United States in the 21st Century. The Sierra Club should be proactively addressing the threats to marine ecology and should be anticipating the consequences of escalating human numbers on eco-systems.

"I believe that the strength of the environmental movement is diversity - a diversity of ideas, of tactics, and strategies. Sea Shepherd represents one approach to this diversity and the Sierra Club represents another approach, and both are important in the struggle to resist the forces of greed and ecological destruction."


Comments on the Current Controversy in the Sierra Club
By Sierra Club Director Paul Watson

It has been amusing to read how I am being described in some media reports as leading an attempt to "take-over" the National Board of the Sierra Club.

There is no basis for such a statement. I am an elected director of the Sierra Club, one of 15 and as such I represent the views of the Sierra Club members who voted for me. I do not lead any faction or party and I have no desire to be the President of the Sierra Club. My primary advocacy has been and continues to be to lobby the Club to become more involved in marine issues.

I do however advocate and support taking the Sierra Club back to the courageous days of David Brower when the Sierra Club was not afraid to tackle controversial issues.

Towards this end, I am supporting candidates to the Board of Directors who I believe will have the courage to wade into the waters of controversy.

I have not recruited these candidates. My involvement in the 2004 Sierra Club Board elections is limited to endorsing two candidates and supporting with my vote five candidates.

What I have discovered is that there is a great deal of disinformation being spread concerning this election.

When I have advocated that pollution from pig farms be an issue, I have been accused of being an "animal rights fanatic." When I have advocated that U.S. population be stabilized to stop the spread of sprawl and the diminishment of wilderness, I have been accused of being anti-immigrant. As it is, I am an immigrant myself.

This fact and others have not stopped our critics in the Sierra Club from making incredible accusations that have no basis in reality.

For example, accusations have been leveled at Frank Morris that he is a racist and a white supremacist. This accusation might have some remote modicum of credibility if not for the fact that Frank Morris is an Afro-American.

Another accusation leveled at Sierra Club director Ben Zuckerman is that he is anti-Semitic. The only problem is that Ben is Jewish.

And candidate Richard Lamm is being called a right-winger along with Director Doug LaFollette. Lamm is the former three times elected Democratic liberal Governor of Colorado and LaFollette is the current Democratic Secretary of State for Wisconsin.

What the real controversy is about is control. Sierra Club membership awareness has gone ahead of a leadership that is afraid to tackle controversial issues. That is why new directors are being elected. The membership is simply voting in representatives that support the same concerns that they do. For this reason two former Presidents were defeated in the 2003 election and four directors were elected who had not served before. Why? Because the voting membership liked what they had to say.

This however does not set well with the Old Guard that consider themselves to be "insiders" fighting off an invasion of "outsiders". Many of them would like to see the Club be a social, rather than an environmental organization.

And thus when new directors or candidates proclaim the need to address issues like population, the environmental impact from the meat industry, the collapse of fisheries, global warming, etc., there is a deafening silence from those who wish to keep the Club focused on safe issues.

Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope has improperly meddled with this election with McCarthy-like statements implying association with disreputable outside groups where no association exists and then smearing the candidates with guilt by pseudo-association. For example Pope told the L.A. Times that he did not believe that any of the candidates were racists, "but they are supported by racist organizations". He did not of course name the organizations and he gave no details of what he meant by support. I wonder if the KKK are aware that they are being accused by Carl Pope of supporting an African American and a Jew for the Sierra Club Board.

It is all very Orwellian and the membership of the Sierra Club must be trusted to see through the mud-slinging and make decisions based on their own assessment of the candidates running without the influence of Carl Pope and his good old boy club of don't rock the boat traditionalists.

For a clear understanding of my position on Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope the following site has a rebuttal that I gave to him when he attempted to interfere in the electoral process that I was involved in during the 2003 campaign. http://www.susps.org/candidates/watson.html


Recent Articles of Interest on the Controversy Within the Sierra Club

From ThomasPaine.commonsense: Population Bombshell by Steven Rosenfeld
http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/9913

From Tech Central Station: Turmoil at the Sierra Club? by Neil Hrab
http://www.techcentralstation.com/013004C.html

The Guardian: Coup at 100-year-old green group by Duncan Campbell
http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1129587,00.html

From The Christian Science Monitor. March 11, 2004: The Sierra Club And Immigration
http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0311/p08s03-comv.html

From USA Today. March 7, 2004: Sierra Club could add immigration to green agenda
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-03-07-sierra-club_x.htm

From ESPN Outdoors. Feb 25, 2004: One to watch at The Sierra Club.
Paul Watson, a Board of Directors member at The Sierra Club, wants anti-hunters to control the nation's largest environmental group
http://espn.go.com/outdoors/conservation/columns/guest_columnist/1660114.html

From The DenverPost. Feb 25, 2004: A reality check for the Sierra Club.
http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~148~1976701,00.html

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