Sam Wakim with vitriolic conservative commentator Ann Coulter, at the 2004 National GOP Convention.
He’s a right-wing Republican activist who lives in the Central Valley. So what’s he doing on the North Coast Water Board?
Sam Wakim is the Chair of the Siskiyou County Republican Party and is a leading candidate to replace Doug LaMalfa in representing the Second Assembly District, which encompasses the Northern Central Valley, plus Modoc and Siskiyou counties. He was appointed to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in November of 2006.
Wakim currently resides in the town of Mount Shasta, and runs a dental practice in Yreka. Though he does maintain a business office that is (just barely) within the boundaries of the North Coast Water Board region, one has to wonder how you can serve on the North Coast Water Board and simultaneously seek to represent the Central Valley in the Assembly.
Residency requirements are not Wakim’s only problem. His ideological perspective comes through at Board meetings, with belittling comments such as referring to the Karuk Tribe’s sacred World Renewal Ceremony (which requires ritual cleansings in the Klamath River for 10 days) as their “little festival”, and pushing back against staff (and other Board members’) efforts to address the public health concerns of toxic algae blooms in the Klamath River system. The toxic algae blooms are among the worst in the world, exceeding World Health Organization standards by more than 100 times.
Sample driver's license from Sam Wakim's web site.
Wakim also runs his own personal blog (under the pseudonym Abu David) which provides additional insights and concerns about his politics. For example, his post lambasting Senator Gil Cedillo for carrying a bill to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants includes this intemperate mock license.
Sierra Club California opposes the confirmation of Sam Wakim’s appointment to the North Coast Water Board, which is scheduled to be heard before the Senate Rules Committee next Wednesday. We believe the Governor can, and should, do better. Though we have been quite critical of a few of Schwarzenegger’s appointments, he has generally made many quality appointments, and we are frankly perplexed at how Wakim ended up in an important environmental post.
The North Coast has many complex water quality challenges, and the public deserves a better appointment to this important seat. The Water Board should not be used as a political stepping-stone, nor as a venue for exerting right-wing ideology. We call upon the Senate to reject his confirmation, and the Governor to make an appointment better suited to represent the interests of the public on the North Coast.
UPDATE: Sam Wakim resigned on Thursday. Please see this Sacramento Bee story for more details. We look forward to working with the Schwarzenegger Administration on appropriate appointees for this and other vacant positions on the North Coast Water Board.