Letters to the Editor

To Bob Mendes, et al:

Thank you (all) for your letters. Your frustration regarding a lack of Republicans endorsed by the Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) is understood and shared. This organization welcomes environmentalists from all parties, and we would love to be in a position to endorse more republicans. However, all too often after doing our assessments and evaluations of voting records, we discover that very few Republicans in Colorado are actually casting their votes in an environmentally responsible manner. (For the record, we have and do regularly endorse Republicans.)

The RMC bases endorsements on questionnaires, interviews and voting records of the candidates. Every election cycle we review and reevaluate. Our full-time lobbyist, Legislative Committee, Political Committee and Executive Committee are all involved in that process.

Although we will admit to being an "unabashed cheerleader" and to having "obvious bias" for those who stand up for the environment, never have we intended any bias towards any particular political party. We are and have been very aware of the political climate and leadership in Colorado; but our policy is to endorse candidates who have displayed a commitment to protecting the environment. If a candidate’s voting record does not reflect a consistent and sincere commitment to the environment, we will not endorse that candidate.

We certainly do not want to "chuck (you) out of the club," rather we welcome members of all political persuasions. How about staying onboard, and instead of getting frustrated at the organization for not being able to find what does not seem to exist, start talking with and educating your elected officials. We aren’t going to have much luck finding Republicans to endorse until more of them start following the lead of those great Republican environmentalists you mentioned.

By the way, the current president of the national Sierra Club, Chuck McGrady, is a Republican.

Sherri Valentine
RMC Chair
RMC Political Committee member


To the Editor,

If Republican Bob Mendes, who complained in the last Peak and Prairie that most of the legislators endorsed by the Sierra Club were Democrats, looked into the voting records of the available candidates he would see the reasons for this. Democrats are generally pro-environment, and Republicans with their support of unfettered capitalism and minimal taxes have an ideology of being pro-business and anti-environment. Profit is paramount.

The thrust of the Sierra Club is to save the environment by attacking any action by either party that is against its principles. It does not cozy up to politicians but rather rubs them up the wrong way. The Sierra Club is a pain in many butts, but it does get the environmental viewpoint across, and it is very successful in getting a far better environment for us all.

Mary Ramano
Denver, CO


To the Editor:

As an active lifelong Republican, I take exception to Bob Mendes’ Letter-to-the-Editor (Dec/Jan P & P) stating that the Sierra Club is an "...unabashed cheerleader for the Democratic Party...." Mr. Mendes suggests that the federal government, as influenced by the Democratic party, is responsible for "...serious environmental damage done to our country...."

My 11-year association with the Sierra Club has shown me that not only is the Club agonizingly deliberative by nature, but it has fought against the dam building and other ills Mr. Mendes alludes to in his letter as well.

Like a moth drawn to a flame, the Republicans continue luring me with their siren-song of fiscal responsibility and patriotism. However, the fact remains that their attitude towards the environment is, if not hostile, at least woefully negligent. Until they change, I doubt few environmental organizations will give them the support Mr. Mendes is hoping for.

Until they do change, it’s up to Republicans like Mr. Mendes and I to continue trying to dissuade our party from its war on the environment. Although difficult, the task is not impossible; remember, the Endangered Species Act came into law under a Republican president.

Roger Wendell
Aurora, CO



To the Editor:

Bob Mendes’ letter resonates with me. I also recently joined the Sierra Club because it promotes issues about the environment that coincide with my views. But imagine my dismay that I joined an organization that is an arm of the Democratic Party.

The Sierra Club does a disservice to all hoping to improve our environment. By completely aligning itself with one political party it causes the other party to consider it the enemy and to disregard its opinions.

Leonard Roellig
Boulder, CO



To theEditor:

During election time it is easy to get caught up in the ideals of one party versus another. The parties deliberately try to distinguish themselves from one another. We, as good Americans, follow their lead. We have a tendency to base our perception of the world at the party level.

What is our charge? To me our charge is to combat egocentricity, confront the rhetoric that we are omnipotent and thus omniscient, that the future does not matter, we are here only to grab the gusto of the moment, and our responsibility is only to ourselves and this election. We have responsibilities that go beyond just our daily lives, that go beyond just us.

Our charge is ecocentricity. What does this mean? We support individual political candidates that embody our ideals for the environment. If it happens we are choosing members of one party, so be it. What is important? To me how the public views our political repertoire is not important. What is important is to proceed undaunted in protecting the need and right of all life to live on a safe healthy world.

Eric Rechel
Grand Junction, CO



To the Editor:

I was surprised to read a letter to the editor in the most recent Peak and Prairie claiming that the Sierra Club had endorsed no Republicans this year. I say that I was surprised because (last) August, when Republican state legislator Marcie Morrison rang my doorbell asking for my vote, she reacted to my Sierra Club sticker on the door by mentioning that she had the Club’s endorsement in her Republican primary, and I saw that endorsement listed in the October Peak and Prairie (a little late to help her in the August primary). I was also told by a friend that Club members were working for Martha Kreutz up in Denver in the Sixth Congressional District Republican primary. Were these endorsements fraudulent? Why would someone claim we hadn’t made them?

Connie Sanchez
Manitou Springs Republican and Sierra Club member


To Connie, et al:

You’re right about Morrison. Kreutz was technically "support short of endorsement." The Chapter Ex-Com initially voted to endorse, but were blocked in that case by our national political committee. We did give her money, and I made phone calls for her.

Your note about our public support for Morrison being a little late for the primary matches my own concern in that area. We should have helped Taylor in HD38, we should have done a better job for Morrison in your area, maybe we should have helped Russell George and a bunch of others. And the help should have been before August, when moderate and right wing Republicans were fighting each other for the soul of the party in Colorado, not in September when it was meaningless.

Thanks for caring enough to respond with your own letter.

Sherri Valentine RMC Chair



To the Editor:

As a fellow Sierra Club misfit, I thought I would reply to Bob Mendes’ letter. I own two F250 4X4s, two motorcycles, an ATV, a bunch of firearms, and a long-time membership in the National Rifle Association.

However, I am also a long-time Sierra Club member, and I strongly back Club policy. I have also been on a couple week-long Club service trips, which were very enjoyable.

In defense of the Club’s support of Democratic candidates here in the west, (the Club) really has little choice. Unfortunately the Republican Party seems to cultivate an anti-environmental position and vote accordingly.

The League of Conservation Voters tabulates voting records for Congress. The scorecard for the 105th Congress had the following results: only six Republican Senators (all from northeastern states) exceeded 50% for environmentally favorable votes. The highest score for Republican Senators in western states was Senator Campbell (R-CO) with 13%.Sen. Allard, of course, scored 0%. Democratic Senators scored generally much higher, with 13 scoring 100%.

Data for the House is more complex but shows the same general trends. It is too bad that a major political party chooses to turn its back on the environment. I think this will cost them as voters become more aware.

Well Bob, if they don’t kick us out for our redneck leanings, lets hang in there and work for a good environment.

Bill Weber
Boulder, CO



To the Editor:

When I decided to join the Sierra Club, after having been conservation-minded all my life, it never occurred to me that I’d run across a fugitive from the funny farm, and published yet, as soon as I did. I refer to the article in the December-January article by Dr. LaBedz, who advocates wholesale conversion to vegetarian diets. Dr. LaBedz presented some extreme proposals, which generally rubbed me the wrong way and caused me to re-think whether I was the Sierra Club type.

Dr. LaBedz, what would you do with all the cattle presently on ranches and in feed lots? Would they become household pets or simply wander around until old age overcame them? Pigs are supposed to be smarter, but they can’t all be movie stars. Doctor, would you be in a position to hire all the unemployed workers from McDonalds, Burger King and the like? Perhaps they could grow sprouts or knit socks?

Maybe, as Dr. LaBedz claims, beef is not a healthy food for humans. Back in the days of my childhood, we ate what was considered a balanced diet of meat, fish or fowl, bread and butter, vegetables, salad and fruit. This evil diet finally caught up with my dad, who died not long after his 92nd birthday when he got the flu.

"If Americans stopped eating hamburgers, farmlands and range-lands could return to wilderness." Wonderful! Could we then hungrily wander through this wilderness foraging for nuts and berries while farms went out of production? In my 75 years I’ve heard some mighty flaky proposals, but this takes the cake. Perhaps the doctor does not realize that the food on supermarket shelves comes from farms; it doesn’t just materialize out of thin air into a plastic wrapper.

Since we need a balanced diet, why the big yen to eat vegetables only? It definitely is not the answer for those like me, thank you. LaBedz claims that vegetarians live longer than flesh eaters. Maybe it only seems longer. Instead of harping about diets, what we really need is the means or power to head off this mindless rape of the land that occurs through development.

Tom Johnson
Lakewood, CO



To the Editor:

On December 19, we lost Kirk Hanna. He left as he lived, on his own terms. All of us who knew Kirk were deeply saddened to learn of his untimely passing. He was more than a valued Sierra Club member. He was also the immediate past President of the Colorado Cattleman’s Association. He was one of those rare individuals who "got it." He understood, as few people do, that those of us who love the land have a common cause, and he had an uncanny ability to see opportunities for cooperation where others were inclined to see conflict. He understood that people who love the land need to stand together. He understood what many of us never learn. Working together gets things done. He was a rancher, an environmentalist, and a rare and irreplaceable bridge builder. I’ll miss him. We all will, whether we knew him or not. His leadership and his vision will be sorely missed. His legacy will serve our grandchildren well.

Ross Vincent, Chair
Sangre de Cristo Group
Sierra Club