When the so-called “leadership” of the Tampa Bay Sierra Club publicly endorsed Tampa developer Jeff Vinik’s proposed Hillsborough County sales tax scam this week, it “forgot” to consult the membership.
No debate. No discussion. No agenda item.
The deceitful maneuver reflects the baksheesh tactics employed by Vinik and the susceptibility of unscrupulous individuals to jettison their core principles.
Sierra Club members are up in arms. Many oppose the sales tax referendum because there is no environmental accountability demanded of the special interest group pushing the levy. Developers, headed by Vinik, are behind the $16 billion boondoggle.
The endorsement was rolled out in the mainstream media, not in any email, newsletter or communication to the membership. The next general membership meeting is scheduled after Election Day.
The Tampa Bay media outlets that are on the take from Vinik all bleated about the Sierra Club support for a project that will hurt the environment, burden low-income taxpayers and displace a significant minority community.
Make no mistake: The general membership never formally supported this rump endorsement. The few who back the tax or are undecided are among the miffed who were never consulted or allowed to participate in a thorough discussion of the important issue.
Phil Compton is a senior organizing representative for the Sierra Club. Incredibly, he is a paid employee of Sierra, although he abandons environmental principles when they conflict with his desire for a ballpark and a train.
He wrote on social media that the executive committee represents the general membership, therefore no meeting or discussion was necessary. Among the many fictions that Compton concocted is that the Sierra Cub National Office gave its blessing to the endorsement. But Tampa Bay Beat could find no one in the Oakland headquarters who was aware of the issue.
If corporate subsidies for those projects aren’t bad enough, neither project is subject to environmental review by any credible governmental agency.
The Tampa Bay Sierra Club has lost all credibility. Essentially, it stands for nothing. Every action, every utterance by this renegade local chapter means nada. I renewed my membership to national a couple of weeks ago. Oh, the humanity!
Count me as one of the angry, disgusted members. “Disgruntled” left the station long ago.
Chapter President Kent Bailey and Compton hid the sales tax endorsement from membership, never mentioning it in this Sierra Club mailer that listed endorsements.
The Sierra Club leaders here can take their symbolic-only “Hands Across the Sand” and rename it “Castles in the Air.” When it comes to substantive, cohesive action to save the environment, they are AWOL.
I tried to contact Chapter President Kent Bailey with text messages asking for an explanation for an endorsement that goes completely against the pro-environmental principles embraced by the Sierra Club (the national one and most all other chapters anyway).
Same with Frank Jackalone, the Florida Chapter director who resides in St. Petersburg.
Compton, Bailey, Jackalone. A trio who love trains but clearly have gone off the rails.
Jim Bleyer, a former reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Tribune, writes the Tampa Bay Beat blog.