Thirteen members of the 15-person national board voted Friday to suspend the chapter for four years, U-T San Diego reported ( http://bit.ly/1hDXjQa). One member voted against it and one abstained, said Mark Westlund, deputy communications director for the national environmental group.
Sierra Club President David Scott said after the vote that the board had received many complaints about strife within the chapter, which had seen the resignation of key local staff and volunteer leaders.
The organization's leaders have provided few details about the nature of that conflict. But San Diego members and former officials attributed it to the Sierra Club's micromanagement of its San Diego chapter, refusal to fill key staff positions there and failure to mediate disagreements among local activists.
San Diego executive committee member Donna Tisdale told the newspaper she believed the suspension was decided long before the board vote on Friday.
"It's no surprise to me," she said. "It's part of the micromanaging of the local chapters. I assumed from the beginning that it was a done deal. Four years just seemed really extreme to me, though."
Local chapters have been suspended only a handful of times since the organization was founded in 1892, according to the newspaper.
Within the next month, the Sierra Club will appoint a seven-member steering committee to lead the chapter through the four-year suspension. Any San Diego Chapter member, including current and former executive committee members, could apply to serve on the steering committee, Westlund said.
Richard Miller, communications and development coordinator for the San Diego chapter, and its only full-time staff member, said he hadn't received notice of the vote Friday afternoon, and he didn't have details on how the hand-off would occur. But he said routine operations, from nature hikes to conservation campaigns, would proceed as usual under new leadership.
"Things will continue right along the same lines as they have in the past," Miller said.
Information from: U-T San Diego, http://www.utsandiego.com