Enviro deal-cutters get a lot of heat
2-4-2010--(This comes from a blog written by Gary Patton, who has been an attorney for the Planning and Conservation League, and represented them when they cut a deal with the Tejon Ranch developer.) Here, he debates the attorney for the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center, which cut a deal over oil drilling. As I've posted before, both deals have upset a lot of people and have caused quite a backlash.
This is the comment I posted:
this is like the pot calling the kettle black. The deal you cut for Tejon Ranch was shrouded in secrecy too. As a longtime Sierra Club member and 5 year executive committee member at the Angeles chapter, many of us were sandbagged by the leadership's sudden announcement of the "deal", which was then "ratified" in an unpublicized vote shoved in front of the ex-com with no notice to the grassroots and no opponents present. The PCL and NRDC and EHL and Audoubon didn't broadcast this deal to their members either before signing on the line.
In comparison to the Tranquilon Ridge deal, the Tejon project will encourage the merging of the L.A and Bakersfield sprawl--a pretty scary outcome. I understand you think this is the best deal you could make. But sometimes, it's better to walk away from a crummy deal than forever tar your organization's reputation among the grassroots activists. Of course, if your organization doesn't care about the grassroots, and chases the corporate contributions, and is well-known for cutting deals with developers and polluters like NRDC and EHL and Audubon, then maybe this loss of reputation does not matter to you. Since the deal was signed, your group's names have figured prominently in Tejon Ranch's TV ads. I've seen it so many times before: when you work with the other side, their propagandists will make use of your good standing with the public everywhere they can.
I am not writing this to support the Tranquilon ridge deal. I don't support it. But I at least understand why they cut it, as this is right in their backyard and they have worked and fought over this issue for many years. On the other hand, the groups who sold out to Tejon Ranch have very little history of fighting this development, are not based anywhere near the project and have enraged all the local groups who have to live with its impacts. When corporate enviro groups walk into local battles and cut a deal and leave, they may not collect money directly from the developer, but I'll bet the big corporate donations pour in from other enviro-wreckers who want that group's support or wink-wink "non-opposition" for their latest project. It's a slippery slope the Tejon-friendly groups are on. Now that grassroots folks know who they play ball with, we'll never give them another dime.
I respect some of the work PCL has done in the past. But you made your bed this time.
Rex Frankel, editor, Rare Earth News