Wednesday, February 2, 2011

COLUMBIA COUNCILMAN: Belittles Sierra Club

COLUMBIA, 1/31/11  (Beat Byte) --  Antagonistic words from a Columbia City Councilman have members of the Sierra Club angry and disappointed.
Urging Columbia city manager Bill Watkins and public works director John Glascock to "discount" Sierra Club complaints about the city's compliance with EPA stormwater discharge requirements, Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl asked Watkins in a Jan. 10 email if he could "recall any time when the Sierra Club and/or the American Canoe Association have participated in a joint effort with any department in the city to work on a project to improve the health of the Hinkson creek?"
"???" Watkins replied.   "I do not remember any, do you?" Glascock added.  Sierra Club members obtained the emails via a Sunshine Law request. 
Record Straightening
Until he decided to run for his current position, Kespohl (below)  himself had limited involvement with city government.  But that didn't stop the first-term Councilman from applying a different standard to the Sierra Club. 
"Do they actually take steps and spend funds to better the water quality or do they just complain that the city is not doing things right?" Kespohl chided.   "Seems to me that if they are truly concerned about the Hinkson, they would take action (do work) to help improve it.  If they simply are an alarm to the DNR and EPA and not willing to go into action, we should discount their involvement." 
"I do not take lightly aspersions from Councilman Kespohl, city manager Watkins and public works director Glascock," local Sierra Club program director Scott Dye told the Columbia Heart Beat.  "Apparently, everyone on their email chain is stunningly uninformed."

The American Canoe Association, Dye informed the three men in a follow up email, "does not have an affiliate office in Columbia," and hasn't been involved in recent Sierra Club efforts to secure documents regarding City Hall's EPA compliance.  More importantly, however, "for ten years, the Sierra Club has been proud to be one of the primary cosponsors of Cleanup Columbia, by far the largest single-day citywide cleanup per capita in the state," Dye wrote.  "The City is the event sponsor."  Along with labor and organization, the Sierra Club annually donates $1,000 to the event. 

Long History
Founded in 1892 by famed naturalist John Muir, the Sierra Club is the nation's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization.  In Columbia, group participation has more than tripled over the last decade. 
"For seven years, we’ve held the annual Hinkson Clean Sweep each Fall in Columbia," Dye explained.  "The event has grown from 70 participants to over 250 in 2010, and has removed over 17 tons of trash, debris, appliances and over 150 waste tires from Hinkson Creek and its tributaries."
"It’s disappointing," Dye added,  "that Director Glascock was apparently unaware that Columbia Public Works has been a full sponsor for the last five years."

So that Columbia remains tire free, the Sierra Club is tireless, Dye explained, also cleaning up abandoned homeless camps and clandestine tire dumps.  "Public Works employees at the Grissum Building are well familiar with my red pickup pulling through the gate to deposit the tires on their racks," he said. 
"We also help coordinate stream cleanups for Job Point; provide certified volunteer water quality monitors for Missouri’s Stream Team program;  report sewage spills and severe erosion," Dye wrote.  "I was honored to be one of the first four Missouri Stream Team volunteers selected for Level IV training (the highest certification available from this nationally acclaimed program)." 
Dye ended by inviting Watkins, Glascock, and Kespohl to the 8th Annual Hinkson Clean Sweep and by rising above the fray. 
"Thank you for listening, and for your public service to our city," Dye wrote the three men. 

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