Monday, February 23, 2009
Conference of Delegates Changes Venue for September Meeting
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations will not be holding its conference this year at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, it was learned Friday.
Executive Director Laura Goldin said that the State Bar confirmed via email that it is in agreement that the conference does not need to be held at the same location as the State Bar’s annual meeting Sept. 10-13.
The conference is now planned to convene at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, a few blocks away, she said.
“For our organization, this is wonderful news,” Goldin said, in light of the results of a recent survey set out by the group in which 25 percent of respondents said they would not attend the conference if it remained at the Manchester Hyatt.
James W. Gilliam, chairman of the Los Angeles County Bar association delegation to the conference, said that his delegation was “ecstatic with this decision.”
Gilliam had previously requested that the State Bar consider relocating the meeting, as had LACBA President Danette Meyers.
The Manchester Hyatt is operated under lease by the Global Hyatt Corporation, and owned by the Manchester Financial Group, whose chairman, Doug Manchester, gave $125,000 in support of Proposition 8.
It is currently the target of a boycott led by Californians Against Hate, a non-profit organization devoted to drawing attention to the major donors to the Yes on 8 campaign, and UNITE HERE, San Diego’s hotel workers’ union.
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom—an organization representing gay lawyers in the San Francisco Bay Area—had threatened to boycott both September events if the venue were not changed, while the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills Bar Association and the Bar Association of San Francisco have also voiced objections to the venue.
Beverly Hills Bar Association President Nancy Knupfer said that her organization will be seeking alternate hotel arrangements for its events held in conjunction with the State Bar Conference, and an alternate block of rooms at a hotel other than the Manchester Hyatt for members wishing to attend the State Bar meeting.
State Bar Position
The State Bar has taken the position that it could not breach its contractual commitments to hold its meeting at the Manchester Hyatt because the cost of doing so, if borne by the members, could violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits public entities from using mandatory dues money for political actions.
State Bar President Holly Fujie could not be reached for comment following the Conference of Delegate’s announcement.
Vice-President Richard A. Frankel confirmed that issues regarding the annual meeting were addressed at the State Bar Board Committee on Operations meeting Friday.
“There was a great deal of discussion regarding the sensitivity of the issue, and how to work out a solution that can meet everyone’s needs,” he said, adding that it is “a very high priority” for the organization to resolve.
“It’s not that the State Bar Board of Governors is insensitive to that at all,” he insisted. “The last thing we want is to have an annual meeting and have no one show up.”
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company