Topic: People (331)

Demonizing Satpal Sidhu

Social Media exchanges among politically polarized groups often deteriorate into personal attacks, smear campaigns and verbal abuse.

Social Media exchanges among politically polarized groups often deteriorate into personal attacks, smear campaigns and verbal abuse.

• Topics: People, People, People, People,

In the blood sport we have come to recognize as partisan politics, public exchanges among political opponents often deteriorate into verbal abuse, character assassination, vilification and smear campaigns.

Smear campaigns, by design, have little basis in fact. While a smear may rely on a splinter of the truth as its foundation, the actual facts surrounding the smear are obscured by a rapid series of political hit pieces or negative comments on social media specifically designed to provoke a destructive emotional response within members of the community. Once distracted by vilification and personal attacks, people stop focusing on the issues in a campaign and allow political operatives to work their will. Once the smear becomes the campaign focus, the democratic process, as we know it, is rendered dysfunctional.

The success of any smear is wholly dependent on the smear artist’s ability to remain anonymous. So, who is the operative running the smear campaign against Councilmember Sidhu? Is it former County Councilmember Kathy Kershner? Or, former County Councilmember Sam Crawford? I think that it’s highly unlikely that either Kathy or Sam is the actual mastermind of this smear.

So, who is the architect of this particular attack? I can only guess.

Traditionally, the proponents of a smear, are spin doctors, opposition researchers or political operatives who target an individual, like County Councilmember Satpal Sidhu, in order to hinder or halt unfettered debate and prevent the free exchange of ideas within the community. The goal is to suppress people’s desire to make informed decisions based on facts, and lead them towards decisions that are based on innuendo and political subterfuge.

Let’s take another look at the TreOil allegations. When Mr. Sidhu’s character was denounced publicly in such terms, it also brought into question the moral status of his intentions. Yet Ms. Kershner has not provided specific documentation that directly links Sidhu to the sump oil leak that was investigated in August of 1992. By claiming Mr. Sidhu is directly to blame for
the contamination, Ms. Kershner is stating that his character is blemished, even though his intentions may have been honorable. Did the leak exist? Yes. Was he responsible? We don’t have enough information to make a final conclusion at this time.

Recently, Ms. Kershner posted a comment on Mr. Sidhu’s election Facebook site challenging his citizenship status. “There is no requirement to check citizenship if he has permanent resident status,” she wrote. “The County Elections do not check citizenship status. The candidate simply signs a document stating that they meet the requirements to run for office. The longer Sidhu stalls on providing proof, the more suspicious this looks.”

Ms. Kershner’s demand that Mr. Sidhu provide proof of his citizenship status is little more than a covert blend of racism and xenophobia. After all, former President Obama produced a certificate of live birth from the state of Hawaii, but to this day, birthers still insist that he is lying about his citizenship.

My father Robert Barnes was born in Wales and is a naturalized US citizen. He served as a pilot in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He is a highly decorated veteran, a proud American who also happens to be a Republican.

Does Ms. Kershner also want to see proof of my father’s citizenship? Why not? After all, he served as an elected Whatcom County official many years ago. If her assertions are correct, there must be many residents of Whatcom County clamoring to know whether my father was actually an American citizen at the time he took the oath of office.

But there is a difference between Mr. Sidhu and my father — not a difference that I relish pointing out. My father is Caucasian and a Protestant. No one is going to ask my father for proof of his citizenship status, or post a statement on his Facebook page, in the inflammatory words of Ms. Kershner, “Remember, the young man who shot and killed five people in the Burlington Mall was not a citizen, but he had registered to vote and had voted in elections (illegally). Our system has been intentionally designed to not verify citizenship when registering to vote.”

Many non-citizens have served the United States of America honorably in the armed services. Despite Ms. Kershner’s implications, not all non-citizens are criminals or mass murderers.

Ms. Kershner wraps up her Facebook statement saying, “Sidhu may very well be a citizen but he never mentioned it in either the 2014 or 2015 campaign. There is no public record of his citizenship. I would think that it would have made a great campaign story and he would have at least made a statement about how proud he was of becoming a citizen and now running for public office, . . . . Let’s see if he will put this issue to bed by releasing some form of documentation of citizenship status. ”

Sounds like a sore loser to me.

In closing, the demonization of a former political opponent by Ms. Kershner deeply offends the core principles of civility that we have come to cherish in America. Good government, more importantly, a properly functioning government depends upon open, unfettered public discourse. So, any political trick that is designed to prevent the rational examination of thoughts or ideas about public policy runs counter to the democratic principles cherished and revered by the American people, regardless of their cultural or religious background.

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About Elisabeth Britt

Posting Citizen Journalist • Member since Mar 23, 2009

Comments by Readers

Tim Paxton

Jun 18, 2017

Excellent  follow up on this now exposed & despicable smear campaign.

Maybe  Sam Crawford and Kathy Kershner  are  chagrinned at the bad information that  was being deliberately spread right before filing time and are planning a major public apology?   I bet NWCitzen will be happy to publish that message.


Elisabeth Britt

Jun 18, 2017

Thank you, Tim. Of course NW Citizen would be happy to publish an apology, but I doubt that we will receive one. Sadly, it appears that Sikhs across the nation are being targeted for not being American enough by other  Americans. Here is a link  to an article published in the Los Angeles Times  earlier today, titled “Sikhs face a growing wave of hostility.” According to the article, many Sikhs have started carrying copies of their American passports with them, in order to be able to prove to others that they are actually Americans. Studies at Cal State San Bernadino reveal that more hate crimes take place during flare ups of anti-immigrant rhetoric.  Shame on the proponents of this smear campaign for allowing this kind of ugliness to take root in our community.  


Sam Crawford

Jun 18, 2017

I am disappointed that because I commented on a previous article, that now I’m somehow connected with your contrived ‘smear campaign’ slander.

I have nothing to do with this, other than stating my opinions here in the NW Citizen comments column based on the provided documentation along with a quick google search of the documents I did myself after I read your hit-piece.

As editor and curator of this site, I hope Mr. Servais considers requesting you re-write this post, not including any reference to me in the context of whatever-the-heck conspiracy theory you’re trying to propose here. With the addition of some well-researched posts by Ralph Schwartz and others, I’d been hoping for a little more integrity in this corner of local sociopolitical media.


Satpal Sidhu

Jun 19, 2017

Sam, you cannot have it both ways. It is fascinating how quickly you have asked NWCitizen for a retraction and extricate your name. Only a few short weeks ago, when false claims were posted by Kathy, you were eager to malign my character and name through your own summary judgements after a ‘quick google search.’ What about the ‘whatever-the-heck conspiracy theory’ that Kathy was trying to propose about my citizenship and responsibility for Treoil?

I expect a lot more honesty and integrity from a former council member to call out the racist remarks made by Ms. Kershner. How many elected council members were asked to show the proof of citizenship, including you and Ms. Kershner?

 I have lived in this community for 30 years, same address. I have made my humble contributions to this community serving numerous non-profits with sincere efforts to make it little better community through kindness, equality, and respect for each other – regardless of anyone’s beliefs or ethnicity. How would you, or your family feel, if somebody made a distasteful comparison on social media of you to a murderer?  

Where is the apology and retraction of your unsubstantiated accusations and comments made about me?


Sam Crawford

Jun 20, 2017

Satpal, I’m glad you joined in here. Can you explain how the Treoil site in the early 90s got so polluted and what you did to clean it up? The photographic evidence from the EPA is pretty horrendous. How did you let it get that way, and what actions did you take to prevent it, and after the fact, clean it up?

Not interested in commenting on racial stuff. I have never made any such accusations, so you can argue that with someone else.

But I, and thousands of Whatcom citizens, want to know the truth about why the contamination occured while you were VP of operations, and what you did about it. I assume you read my comments on the previous article about the timeframe, so if you claim all the pollution in the EPA pics occurred in just a few months after you left please provide details on how that could have possibly happened without your knowledge or involvement. (The EPA said the site was unchanged from the previous November when you clearly WERE in charge.)

Thank you—this is a great opportunity for you to clarify your involvement there, many people are discussing this and would like you to publicly provide specifics.


Elisabeth Britt

Jun 20, 2017

Sam, in the interest of fairness, could you please provide a date range and direct internet  links to the pictures and reports  from the early 90’s that you are referring to in the statement above? 

If you won’t provide the information. I will. 




Tim Paxton

Jun 20, 2017

So….. I am guessing that the  herring kiling mess that is still leaking and leaching out at Cherry Point  will NOT be cleaned up any time soon by this group of 3 experienced County Council members?  1 Current and 2 former…

Maybe Sam, Kathy and Satpal can temporarily team up and  use their super powers to persuade three other current County Council members to vote to do an emergency clean up now that everyone knows about the mess?

Are there any mature existing Council Members who can show some leadership here?   Barbara? Ken? Todd? Carl?  Rud? Barry?   It would be refreshing and probably an historical  moment if clean up took precedence over politics.  Think of the herring!




Elisabeth Britt

Jun 20, 2017

Sam ,

Point of clarification: slander is the action or crime of making a false spoken  statement damaging to a person’s reputation. On the other hand, libel  is a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation. For the sake of simplicity,  let’s refer to it as written defamation. Clearly stating in my article that I don’t  believe you are involved in the Satpal smear campaign, hardly meets the defintion of libel.  Naturally, you are free to disagree  with my  interpretation.  In which case, I recommend that you go hire yourself a lawyer.  I’ll be waiting in the wings. 

Your days of bullying me are over. 



Elisabeth Britt

Jun 21, 2017

The inspection report posted below was completed in August of 1992, approximately five months after Satpal Sidhu left his employment with TreOil.  Click the underlined  word, Show  in the box at the bottom of this comment  to review the document. I am also including a link to the DOE website on TreOil . And the link to the official EPA website on TreOil. And, finally, a link to a USDA Tall Oil Panel Report completed in 2010 listing the potential hazards of Tall Oil.  I have  also included an excerpt from Evaluation Question #7 for your review below.  By the way, refined Tall Oil is used in many food products, including chewing gum and Pepsi. It is also used in soap. It can be found  in paint, varnish and other chemicals. 

Evaluation Question #7:  Are there adverse biological or chemical interactions in the agro-ecosystem by 
 using the petitioned substance?  (From 7 U.S.C. § 6518 (m) (5).
 There is some information available to indicate that distilled tall oil has virtually no harmful biological or 
 chemical interactions in the agro-ecosystem.  The ecological toxicity assessment of this petitioned substance 
 indicates it has virtually no toxic effects or apparent harm to fish, plants, and animals (U.S. EPA, 2008a, pg. 285,
 1 and pg. 3).  Based on mammalian toxicity data presented by Pine Chemicals Association (2004) presented 
 to U.S. EPA tall oil is non-toxic.  

At the bottom of page 3, in a document dated August 17, 2006, titled ,TreOil Industries - Ecology HWTR Compliance Inspection Report, WA DOE states that the smallTall Oil spill does not meet federal standards for contamination. It only meets state dangerous waste criteria, because it failed the fish toxicity test.  This document was written approximately 14 years after Satpal left employment with TreOil. Readers can peruse the document below.  Again, the original TreOil Industries - Ecology Water Quality NPDES Compliance Inspection Report, that was conducted approximately five months after Satpal left his employment with TreOil in 1992, is posted at the bottom of the page.  Please note the differences in the level of suspected contamination in the two documents. After all, there were several other businesses that rented the former TreOil site from the property owner, Mr. Gill. 

<form id=“aspnetForm” action=“CleanupSiteDocuments.aspx?csid=950” method=“post” name=“aspnetForm”>

Treoil Industries - Ecology HWTR Compliance Inspection Report 08/17/2006 Site Specific Technical Document - other Show



<form id=“aspnetForm” action=“CleanupSiteDocuments.aspx?csid=950” method=“post” name=“aspnetForm”>

Treoil Industries - Ecology Water Quality NPDES Compliance Inspection Report 08/13/1992 Initial Investigation Report Show



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