Second Sierra Club election tossed; chapter faces suspension

A second election of local Sierra Club leaders was thrown out Wednesday and the national organization recommended the chapter be suspended for four years, after voter irregularities that invalidated the first election were found again.

Issues such as multiple memberships at one address and suspicious spikes in memberships all coming from one Ventura County branch of the Los Padres chapter of the Sierra Club led to the rebuke.

“Frankly, it is a sad day when the proud tradition of member-elected leadership is called into question,” Greg Casini, the national associate director of volunteer development, wrote in an e-mail to the club’s leadership. “But we do not have confidence in one-member, one-vote in the Los Padres Chapter, nor do we have the level of confidence we had hoped for from a re-run election.”

The decision follows an acrimonious battle within the local club concerning the direction it is headed, who it spends its money on, and allegations of who is behind the voter fraud.

The December election was thrown out in February after “massive voter fraud” was found. Ballots from the second election were supposed to be counted next week.

“I’m disappointed because it means that we still don’t have a legitimate election,” said Mike Stubblefield, the chapter’s chairman who has been leading one side of the fight.

Al Sanders, who was on the opposing side, said his group merely out-hustled his opponents, drawing in new members and encouraging existing members to vote. He said the national chapter just didn’t want his side to win.

Casini’s e-mail spells out a number of problems with the election, many of them centered in the Sespe Group, which is a branch in Ventura County. The club has four branches in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Among the allegations in the e-mail:

• Since January, 53 new joint memberships were bought in the Sespe group, compared to three in the rest of the chapter. Prior to January, there were no new joint memberships in the entire Sespe group for seven months. Six years of records have never shown such a dramatic rise

• Sixteen addresses now have multiple memberships resulting in 89 votes; 15 of those 16 are in the Sespe Group.

• In April, 13 joint memberships were purchased that all list one of three P.O. boxes as the main address.

• One address represents six joint memberships, three of which were recently purchased.

• One out-of-state member who already had two joint memberships, recently purchased 10 new joint memberships.

The new memberships and multiple memberships at a few houses add up to enough votes that they could sway the election and the “integrity of this election has already been severely compromised,” Casini wrote.

He would not say if the club has a suspect behind the original fraud, the most recent irregularities, or who lives at the addresses in question. If a further investigation is warranted, it us up to the national chapter, he said.

Sanders, who represented the club as conservation chair for years and was paid to do activism work for the club, said he’s never seen any proof of fraud or irregularities, only missives from the national chapter. If anything, he said, the new memberships show how outraged people were over the first election.

“All this stuff about people registering illegally is just an excuse to invalidate the election because they didn’t like the people who are winning,” he said. “The election was fixed. There is no difference between this election and the one that went on in Iran.”

Casini said Sanders should provide proof of such allegations.

Stubblefield, who led a slate of candidates that would have toppled Sanders from his long-held position of power, said the one person who stood to benefit financially from the election was Sanders. In recent years the club had paid him $30,000 annually for his activism work at Ormond Beach, but recently decided to pull his contract.

“As far as I’m concerned, there are not two sides to this story,” he said. “There is only one side of this story and I’m one of the good guys.”

What exactly becomes of the local Sierra Club — which has worked on issues such as fighting LNG, restoring Ormond Beach and stopping unchecked development — is unclear. Casini said the national chapter will decide if it wants to suspend the chapter and if an investigation will ensue.

If the chapter is suspended, the national group could appoint leaders who would oversee the organization, which could continue with its conservation work.

© 2009 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 23

SamQ writes:

This is truly a sad day for local environmental warriors. In my experience, every time people band together to fight evil, they are attacked from within by evil. Go into battle armed with Power and be prepared.

The_Highlander writes:

This is so stupid! Although, I am not surprised that the Star delivers so much press-space to it. With all the problems in the world, this is whats important? C'mon!

chair#208777 writes:

This is what happens when personalities trump missions. Suggest our local Sierra Club leaders accept the ballots as they are and enlist a group of less-involved, less aligned members to examine and count the ballots more objectively than those currently involved in that process. Existing chapter leadership must cease their involvement in this election and must accept the ruling of this ballot-counting group.Or should we send this matter to the Grand Jury?

coffeetime writes:

Why did the Sierra Club accept the new memberships ($$$) in the first place? Will members get their money back, since we have no local chapter?

calandman writes:

Anyone out there got the real story on this? Doesn't look like the newspaper is going to fill us in.

Looks like the their long time leader Sanders had a pretty good sweetheart deal of $30000 year until challenged by Stubblefield. Then maybe Sanders got all his relatives and friends to join and support him?

Any insight out there? What changes does Stubblefield's slate of people want to push through?

eyeball writes:


RedSage writes:

Sanders is a discredit to the orgaization. He is a pimp for himself and has done nothing for Ormond Beach. He showed up for Ormond meetings and "filmed" it and contribute nothing to the advancement of saving same. He was told to stop it. It is time for him to go, except no one will hire him ever.

Truth805 writes:

Can't these freeze dried hippies get along? Can't we all get along??

carefulnow writes:

RedSage - You don't know what you're talking about.

JayB writes:

"Al Sanders, who was on the opposing side, said his group merely out-hustled his opponents, drawing in new members and encouraging existing members to vote."

Yeah, "Sixteen addresses now have multiple memberships resulting in 89 votes" is what Al Sanders calls "out-hustling". By his own words, Al Sanders is a cheater.

"He said the national chapter just didn’t want his side to win."

There is no "national chapter", there's national Sierra Club leadership. Why wouldn't they want Al Sanders' "side" to win? Possibly because his "side" are cheaters who have no place in the Sierra Club and have repeatedly violated its policies -- like by attacking national leadership. Why would Al Sanders want to be part of an organization that doesn't want him? The answer is simple -- to rob them and use the organization for his own personal benefit.

bobjhonson writes:

Thank you otiscampbell

Could not have said it better myself....

troutcon writes:

"Sixteen addresses now have multiple memberships resulting in 89 votes"

Is this story about the local chapter or the Chicago chapter??

Howard_Beale writes:

Hmmm, a group of liberals don't like the outcome of an election and want to invalidate it. Sound familiar? I love it when the tables turn and they start eating their young.

rh_02eat1 writes:

jwrocks, you have the wrong question. It isn't who wants clean air and water? Hell we all want that. How about, how did fighting the LNG plant provide either of those? How do you define unchecked development, does unchecked development include placing a university on Wood Ranch which would have been a world class facility and a gem in the county? Too many other abuses of processes to list.

The only members of the Sierra Club that give a rats about clean air and water with equitable allowance for reasonable progress to allow for affordable living in a modern age are the ones who are ignorant of the clubs activities. This story is indicative of the general lack of respect the group has for due process and moral accountability. We would all be better off if they closed down and moved out.

carefulnow writes:

02eat1 - a university on Wood Ranch? Are you talking about Cornerstone's Bible college in the Tierra Rejada greenbelt?

ReadMyLipsNoNewTaxes writes:

I'm glad there is infighting. Sierra Club need to spend more time bickering with themselves rather than trying to take away my freedoms and my choices of where I want to spend my recreation time.

BeeBop writes:

Howard_Beale said it correctly. Cheating, lying hipocrats. Go away....

ReadMyLipsNoNewTaxes writes:

"Sierra Club, go hike to hell"

No they want to make it so you can't hike anyplace. That privilege should be reserved for the green toed wally eyed gopher...

chair#208777 writes:

02eat1: Not all that long ago the Oxnard Plain could fully support the basic needs of at least 50,000 non-farming individuals (plus the farmers, of course!). But the farmers got greedy and wanted to reap four crops a year instead of just three. All they had to do was to dam the Santa Clara River. Well, they gained their extra crop but now they and we pay for all the fertilizer and insecticide not previously needed. And they still needed water so they pumped it out from our water table. Then the water there got salty from seawater incursion and on and on and on. All these so called "conservatives" seldom behave conservatively!

Thus our naturally blooming desert now is artificially blooming mostly with new houses, and retail outlets and highways and roads and humans with their water slurping lawns and decorative, imported vegetation.

If the Big One hits anywhere near here, tens of thousands of our humans will die from lack of water, food and inability to escape the area -- that is those humans of moderate means. Most of our oligarchical rich folks and their favored minions -- such as our politicians -- will do just fine, thank you.

Alas, the "poor folk" in Oxnard should do better than most other county residents. They can quickly and easily regain electricity, have stored fresh water (so long as they don't water their lawns). have lots of fruit growing virtually in town and can shoot scads of crows and pigeons and catch fish for food!

As for your LNG comments, those reliquefaction plants require power (smog) to operate, require raw diesel powered ships to bring the product to them (more smog), and their operation destroys marine life which some of us like to eat.

My question has always been: Why do some humans think they know better than our Maker? The native Chumash acted correctly and in accordance with Nature. We must learn to behave in like manner or, soon enough, perish as Nature takes Her revenge.

Nature _always_ has a reason!

ReconByFire writes:

I recall an "Al Sanders" who worked locally for the Dept. of Fish and Game or some similar government agency - are we talking about the same guy? If so, I would wonder if he was paid twice for the same work - his regular salary and the stipend from the Sierra Club.

williamblake writes:

The Sierra Club is partly responsible for all our problems. Jerry Brown & the Sierra Club did in California.

The water shortage and high cost of water is due to their policies.
The electricity shortage and high cost of electricity is due to their policies.
The overcrowded highways is due to their policies.
The overpopulation is due to their policies. Did you know the Sierra Club was accepting a $100 million a year donation contingent on it's continoued support for immigration?

The lack of decent working class jobs is due to their policies. Industry has fled the state. All our proud aerospace people moved to Arizona. All our banking industry moved to Arizona. Our steel plants were dismantled, shipped to China and reassembled there employing Chinese in top scale 100k/yr jobs. Other plants moved to Mexico or Neveda.

There is only low grade work for dirt wages, or servile service jobs. Thanks to Jerry Brown and the Sierra Club policies.

....environmentalists are seeking to halt construction of a $119 million Army Corps of Engineers dam, contending that the dam would ruin a scenic portion of the Rogue River. And last year, in what California environmentalists describe as one of their most concerted efforts in years, Congress was persuaded to block construction of hydroelectric dams on a portion of the Tuolumne River.

To some extent, the unfinished, mile-wide Auburn Dam is a $226 million monument ....

williamblake writes:

"If the Big One hits anywhere near here, tens of thousands of our humans will die from lack of water, food and inability to escape the area "

If only you guys would let us build dams and store water, np. And the Ventura coastal plain is the most productive farmland in the world.

And if the darn highways had been expanded to match the population growth mobility would not be a problem.

And if the LNG facility had been completed, and the peaker power plant in Oxnard, and we converted to bi fueled natural gas cars, we would be out rescuing the rest of the world from the 'big one' instead of fleeing as refugees or waiting and hoping for help.

Get us more water. The more cheap fresh water the more our economy will
produce jobs and revenues.
Four crops a year over 3 is not a catastrophe! Its a 25% increase in a major portion of our economy, and revenues.

SamQ writes:

Ha ha. I knew this article would draw all the environmentalist haters like flies to a carcass. Darned treehuggers! Getting in our way from looting and pillaging what's left of the planet.

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