It depends on what your definition of “id” is: When Superior Court Judge Robert Hess announced last week that he would excuse Arnold Schwarzenegger from testifying in the case of Rhonda Miller—who’s accusing the actor turned governor of first molesting her and then libeling her after she went public—his reasoning was plain-spoken. “We’re talking about the governor of the state of California here!” the judge explained to the baffled plaintiff, who foolishly imagined the plane-hopping governor’s schedule of Idaho skiing vacations, Midwestern steroid competitions and endless campaign fund-raisers somehow could be interrupted to address one of the nastier pre-election maneuvers in recent memory.
For those who haven’t been following this story, which is admittedly far less important than Arnold’s shoes or smoking tent, it goes like this: The Schwarzenegger campaign smeared Miller by sending an e-mail alert to the press, directing reporters to the criminal record of what turned out to be another Rhonda Miller. Not surprisingly, the deception was dutifully reported as fact by newspapers and television stations just in time to allay the pre-election jitters of anyone who would take the word of a dozen women over that of a Hollywood superstar.
Bites will leave it to readers to decide whether Arnold’s “get-out-of-court-free” card is any more justifiable than the one previously played by Condoleezza Rice and company at the Washington, D.C., hearings about 9/11. Come to think of it, maybe Condi could pick up on Arnold’s favorite defense: “That’s old news.”
Hostile takeover: Bites has always believed nonprofits could learn a lot from the corporate world, and now it’s exciting to see one of the most venerable environmental associations do just that. Come April 21, the Sierra Club will be holding what Bern Kreissman, a former chairman of the Sierra Club’s local chapter, calls “one of the most critical elections we’ve had in the history of the club.”
John Muir, who founded the environmental organization 112 years ago, probably never could have imagined his organization now would be facing what Kreissman calls a “hostile takeover.” The struggle goes back to 1998, when an internal faction failed in forcing the club to change its neutral stand on immigration. The faction believes that immigration is one of the greatest threats to the environment. If anti-immigration candidates win the five board seats up for this month’s election, they can set priorities and policies and control the club’s $81 million budget.
In recent months, white supremacists, radical vegans and animal-rights organizations all have jumped into the election free-for-all by urging their supporters to join the Sierra Club. New members who joined only a few weeks ago can vote. Longtime Sierra Club members fear that a takeover will result in a radical agenda moving the organization far from its conservation roots.
In last year’s election, only 8.7 percent of members voted, but this year, Kreissman is hoping for a bigger turnout. To find out more, go to www.sierraclub.org/bod/2004election.
Revenge of the fairy shrimp: Last week, Bites readers were informed that they could increase their fairy-shrimp karma by begging the Army Corps of Engineers not to permit the Sun Ridge Development plan to eliminate the little vernal-pool dwellers. So, it was a tremendous relief when the Army Corps of Engineers called the very next day to say that the fairy shrimp still have hope. “They still have a chance!” said the corps’ Dave Killam, explaining that the deadline for public comment is now being extended to April 25. He said it’s the Army Corps of Engineers’ duty to enforce section 404 of the Clean Water Act and “look for the alternative that causes the least amount of damage to the environment.” Fairy-shrimp advocates and embattled Sierra Club executives can make their views known by e-mailing Justin.Cutler@usace.army.mil.