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    Commentary: The Sierra Club as a Political Organization

    Albany resident Karen McKeown wrote the article below criticizing Sierra Club’s political role in local elections, in response to the Commentary: Here’s why I plan to vote for Lieber, Panian and Toomey.

     “How self-serving of Ms. Wishner to publicize her support of Sierra Club candidates for Albany City Council without disclosing that she was a member of the Sierra Club committee that interviewed Council candidates for inclusion on its slate.The one objection she notes to this slate of candidates is that their election “will create an all-Progressive council”. My concern is far more specific than the label a candidate might–or might not–affix to his or her political philosophy: I am deeply suspicious of any candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club.

    I am not”anti-Sierra Club”. I am, politically-speaking, a liberal, and I have been a long-time supporter of the Sierra Club and its conservation and education efforts. But during the last election the Sierra Club–as a political organization–and its candidates did much to create a serious rift in our community. Those Sierra Club candidates and their associates produced and distributed literature that was misleading (proposing a conference center that included land that was unavailable for sale or use) as well as nasty (campaign hit pieces). These same Sierra Club “operatives” filed a lawsuit against valued Albany community members–a lawsuit determined by a local court to be a SLAPP suit (a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). That case was found to be without merit and was dismissed and the bringers of that lawsuit–associates of the Sierra Club’s candidates–were charged with the costs and fees of the defendants. As far as I know, they have yet to pay a dime to the defendants.

    It is time for the people of this community to recognize that the Sierra Club, notwithstanding its history and many laudable, and historical, endeavors, is no longer the 501(c)(3) charitable or educational organization people remember. Today it operates as a 501(c)(4) political action organization. And when Albany voters defer to selections made in closed meetings by “progressives” like Nan Wishner, they’re getting candidates who serve someone else’s agenda, and not the broader interests of our community.”

    *Albany Today encourages open and constructive discussion on the current election and other issues of public concern in the community. All voices of reason from Albany residents are welcome. You can post your opinions under the articles or send them to me through email linjun9913@berkeley.edu

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