The Sierra Club’s Southern California director on Thursday declared the San Diego chapter’s environmental report card “completely legitimate” and said that state and national chapters will do no further investigating of charges that the study was manipulated.
“I’m comfortable with what the chapter did, and I think it’s a completely fair thing to look at whether politicians show up and vote, the way they’re supposed to,” said Bob Hattoy, regional director for the Sierra Club in Southern California.
On Wednesday, Mark Zerbe, a member of the local chapter’s executive committee and treasurer of its political organization, charged that the Sierra Club had “modified” the study of San Diego City Council members’ voting records to ensure that Councilwoman Linda Bernhardt placed first in the rankings.
Sierra Club officials named by Zerbe, including the study’s author, Sierra Club Conservation Coordinator Barbara Bamberger, denied the accusations.
Bernhardt faces a possible recall election, which her allies say is prompted by opposition to her strong pro-environment stand. The Sierra Club is aiding Bernhardt’s campaign against the recall.
Zerbe claimed that the study was slanted in favor of Bernhardt by reducing council members’ scores for missing key votes on environmental issues. That action was taken by the authors in defiance of an initial vote of the local chapter’s executive committee, a decision that was later overturned, he said.
But Hattoy, who said he reviewed a telefaxed copy of the report Thursday, endorsed the local chapter’s methodology.
“They have been very thorough in their analysis this year,” said Hattoy, who is also the region’s liaison to the national Sierra Club. “I’m sorry that Mr. Zerbe is upset about this and he’s spending so much time causing trouble about it.”
Hattoy said the local Sierra Club chapter must decide whether to take action against Zerbe. Chapter Chairman Rob Langsdorf said no actions or meetings of the executive committee are planned.
“When your kid acts like a kid, you don’t throw him out of the family,” Langsdorf said.