At the annual Hands Across The Sand event in Treasure Island, FL, the Suncoast Sierra Club used a helicopter to take aerial photographs. However, helicopters are powered by aviation fuel, which the Sierra Club labels a “dirty fuel”. A battery-powered aerial drone would have used 99% less energy.
The Guardian repeatedly asked the Sierra Club asking why they didn’t use the much more eco-friendly drone, but received no answer.
Hands Across The Sand (HATS) took place on Saturday, May 21st, 2016. George Root, a Sierra Club representative, approached the Guardian reporter prior to the helicopter’s arrival and said that the reporter and his bicycle “need to be moved out of the circumference” when “we announce the approach of the helicopter.” As authority, Root cited “permission” for the event from the city.
Root’s claim of a permit was false. Treasure Island City Manager Reid Silverboard wrote the Guardian prior to HATS that no permit had been issued for the event (because no permit was needed). A permit of the type Root claimed to have, one allowing the Sierra Club to order people and their possessions hither and thither about the beach, would have been illegal on its face because the beach is a public place, and people are free to move about as they wish.
The reporter informed Root that no permit had been issued, and of everybody’s right to be anywhere they want to be on a public beach. Root then claimed that his “need to be moved” statement was not an order, but a “request”.
At the end of HATS, the Guardian reporter was assaulted, berated using foul language by multiple event participants, and stalked. See video and pictures later in this article.
The event was billed as “creating a giant human SUN for 100% Clean Energy” as a photographer in a helicopter above took pictures. Given the “100% Clean Energy” theme, it’s unclear why the final “artwork” used the word “power” instead of “energy”.
Above is one such aerial image that resulted. The Guardian reporter, his bicycle lying on the sand to the right of him, can be seen in the middle of the picture. We mention this detail, not to draw attention to our reporter, but because his mere presence seemed to be a source of irritation for many participants.
The Guardian reporter’s presence in the image could have been edited out using the widely available image editing tool Photoshop (or other free tools). The Guardian wanted to be in the middle of HATS to video-record it, but without participating.
When Root was asked what the carbon footprint of the helicopter was, he responded “I’m sorry, I’ll refer any further questions to the crew leader” and then left.
A few minutes later, Lisa Hinton, the Sierra Club organizer of HATS, approached our reporter. “I just want to make sure you’re comfortable”, said Hinton, who was fully aware that the Guardian reporter wasn’t there to participate.
The concerns that the Sierra Club may have had regarding who was “in their shot” would’ve best been addressed using Photoshop. The Guardian informed Root of the “Photoshop solution” before HATS, as well as informing him and Hinton that the beach is a public place.
The “it’s a public place” message and its legal implications didn’t reach most event participants. In the below video (warning: very profane language), one event participant (pictured right) accosted the Guardian reporter just as the event was ending. The reporter was in the process of leaving the beach (as is evident from the video) when he was called an “asshole” five times, and a “fuckhead” once, the final epithet perhaps as the cherry on an Insult Sundae.
During an expletive-filled tirade, the man physically blocked the path of the reporter as 4 or 5 event participants ominously gathered around. The reporter feared for his safety, and wondered if this man’s behavior is what Hinton had meant when she earlier had told the reporter she wanted to “make sure you’re comfortable.”
The gentleman in the white shirt seen at the end of the above video is pictured left . He asked the reporter (warning: foul language) “is it painful to have your head that far up your ass?”
HATS bills itself as “worldwide gathering of people dedicated to a clean energy future and ending our dependence on filthy fuels.” Filthy language, however, appeared to be abundant at this HATS event, as well as bigotry in the form of a shouted “Hablas Inglés” from one event participant.
Recalling the old saw involving “words can never hurt me”, the reporter started to leave the general area after being confronted as described above. However, another Sierra Club “keeper of the order” then deployed brownshirt intimidation tactics.
The man pictured on the right, while dressed in US Naval Academy shorts, ran alongside the reporter as he traveled south on this bicycle on the beach boardwalk. He took actions that meet the legal definition of stalking under Florida Statutes 784.048.
The tactic of trying to provoke peaceful observers into a fight is an old one. It was frequently used by the NKVD, the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in the Soviet Union. As with the apparatchiks in the Soviet Union and the countries they oppressed, many Sierra Club members seem to believe that you’re literally mentally ill if you don’t do as they say. Such beliefs justify the harsh “treatment” their member thugs then seek to dispense.
In a video posted on Facebook, a Sierra Club organizer circled and showed great interest in our reporter. Yet they managed to not video record or publicize the thuggery that took place at the end of the event. The Sierra Club has also not answered questions about their lack of security, despite the Guardian being asked questions about it.
Hinton (pictured left) is the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Suncoast Sierra Club. This is not the first time Hinton failed to exercise control while performing her official duties. After Hinton illegally endorsed a political candidate in a widely read e-mail she sent out for her local Sierra Club, the national Sierra Club was fined $250 by the Florida Elections Commission in 2015.
Should the Sierra Club commit the same offense again, the fine would likely be $5,000.
Hinton’s act of having the Sierra Club endorse a political candidate was also contrary to the Sierra Club’s federally stated tax exempt purpose, and could jeopardize their tax exempt status if those actions are repeated.
Questions about HATS e-mailed to Hinton after the event went unanswered. One of our questions was why they used a helicopter instead of a drone. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, drones are much more eco-friendly than helicopters, and would have used over 99% less energy than a helicopter if used at HATS.
As for the survey flags and orange tape the Sierra Club placed in the sand (see picture below), Hinton said “I reviewed it all with Parks and Recreation, they said it was fine and gave us their blessing”. We were unable to confirm that claim with the Treasure Island Parks & Recreation department prior to publication of this article, but will post an update when we have it.
Responding to Guardian concerns that the Sierra Club might “unlawfully detain or redirect” beachgoers during this event, Silverboard wrote two days before HATS that “the Treasure Island Police Department will respond should the Sierra Club engage in an unlawful act.” Time will tell if they do.
Below, Hinton is seen speaking in favor of Greenlight Pinellas in 2013, an initiative that was trounced with 62% “NO” by the voters at the ballot box in November, 2014. Surrounding her on the steps of St. Petersburg City Hall are eight elected officials, testimony to her popularity with the political establishment.
In the video below, Hinton leads the chanting in a Jonestown-like atmosphere as HATS participants sat or laid down as commanded. Participants chanted “dirty fuels are yesterday, clean energy is here to stay” as their very own “dirty fuel”-powered helicopter circled overhead for 20 minutes. The irony of the situation was lost on event participants.
While no aerial drone was used at this event, there was no shortage of human drones. As shown above, some of them were very aggressive and of an oppressive mind. The recently deceased Morley Safer was treated better by US soldiers in a combat zone during the Vietnam War than the Guardian reporter was treated at HATS, even though Safer was documenting the alleged misdeeds of those very same soldiers.
In the above video, one woman throws her head back in frustration when the reporter would not remove his bicycle from their “private space in a public place.” Perhaps she was looking skyward to Heaven’s Gate founder Marshall Applewhite for guidance (Applewhite is pictured right).
Insisting that a bicycle be removed from a Sierra Club event? Now that’s priceless.
Applewhite jokes aside, the frustrated women was not alone, she was just one among dozens who insisted repeatedly that the reporter’s bicycle must be removed from their event. All were apparently unaware that they were in a public place, and also unaware of how easily Photoshop could address their concerns.
Congressional candidate Charlie Crist also attended HATS. Crist was enthusiastically greeted and then photographed by one event organizer. Below left is our picture of this Sierra Club organizer taking a picture of Crist, and on the right is her resulting picture of Crist. The Sun and the Bern were both radiant at HATS.
Several other politicians, e.g. County Commissioner Ken Welch and Largo Commissioner Michael Smith, spoke at the preceding press event, but were not observed as part of the formation in the sweltering mid-day sun. Only the always tan and cool Crist, sin esposa, participated in the main event of the day.
BayNews 9 “reporter” Sarah Belsole “covered” the event, kinda sort of. Belsole never went out on the beach to observe the actual “human sun”. One beach business owner dubbed the “human sun” a “fleshy flyover”.
The Baynews 9 vehicle left approximately 15 minutes after the event ended, suggesting that Belsole was likely on site the whole time. Perhaps Belsole was enjoying the air conditioning inside of Sloppy Joe’s as her cameraman labored on the beach.
Cynthia Smoot of Fox 13 reported on the event from atop the Bilmar. In this video, Smoot asked the Sierra Club leader Frank Jackalone softball questions like “are we making progress” and “part of me wonders, there’s so much money in Washington these days, so how do these people make a difference.”
Despite a promise to take questions from viewers, none were taken.
No voices dissenting from the Sierra Club were heard as Jackalone falsely claimed that “seismic waves destroy brain waves” and that a recent minor subsea spill “destroyed a big plot of the Gulf of Mexico”.
The Sierra Club was recently caught using images from a different spill to advance their false narrative about this same minor subsea spill.
Jackalone also falsely claimed that the people out on the beach were “holding hands laying down”. Had Jackalone and Smoot left their shady perch atop the tony Bilmar hotel hundreds of feet away, they would have been able to observe this for themselves.
The Suncoast Sierra Club wants the local transit agency, PSTA, to buy all electric buses, even though 97% of electricity in Florida is generated using power sources that the Sierra Club adamantly opposes. Electric buses cost twice as much as clean diesel buses , have a shorter range and have more than 60 times the amount of unscheduled downtime (a.k.a. as “breakdowns”).
HATS made it clear to this reporter what the “club” in “Sierra Club” really means. Pictured below are several such clubs. The Sierra Club’s use of the word “power” instead of “energy” at the HATS event may have been an unusually revealing Freudian slip during this reporter’s “Day of Living Dangerously”.
The Guardian reports, the readers decide.
Footnote: while the above is not 100% “straight reporting”, the interwoven commentary is the reporter’s way of shining a light on the ignorance, intolerance, and intimidation tactics of the Suncoast Sierra Club. The freedom of expression we enjoy in our nation, our most important engine of economic growth, is in danger just as soon as a majority truly believes that good ends justify bad means.
— Tom Rask