Monday, September 14, 2009
Bar Conference Kicks Off, Little Impact Seen From Boycott
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The 82nd annual State Bar cponference kicked off on Thursday, and despite the picket line marching in front of the hotel and boycotts by various organizations, still drew strong attendance.
State Bar Deputy Executive Director Robert Hawley opined that “so far the boycott has not seemed to have an adverse impact,” adding that “all seems to be within the normal range.”
He said that all the programs are full and gave a loose estimate that about 3,300 people would attend.
About 30 protesters with signs chanted slogans and circled the drive of the Manchester Grand Hyatt Thursday evening. The 1,625-room waterfront hotel is owned by the Manchester Financial Group LLC, whose chairman, Doug Manchester, contributed $125,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign to overturn the right of same-sex couples to marry.
The hotel has been the target of a boycott organized by Californians Against Hate, a non-profit organization devoted to drawing attention to the major donors to the Yes on 8 campaign, and the hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE since last July.
A larger organized protest was scheduled for Saturday to include support from the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers of Los Angeles, The Beverly Hills Bar Association, the Bar Association of San Francisco, Barristers Club, California Employment Lawyers association, National Lawyers’s Guild and Santa Clara County Bar Association.
The Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations was originally scheduled to hold its annual meeting at the Manchester Hyatt in conjunction with the State Bar conference but later relocated its event to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront instead in the face of strong opposition by some delegates.
Newly-elected State Bar Board of Governors member Patrick M. Kelly had spoken out against the Hyatt location during his campaign for his seat representing District Seven and said Thursday that he “stayed true to my word” by declining to stay at the hotel. “I’m paying for my own room at the Marriott” he said.
The State Bar has taken the position that it cannot breach its contractual commitments because the cost of doing so, if borne by the members, could violate a U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting public entities from using mandatory dues money for political actions.
The organization said it contracted with Hyatt to reserve the space for its 2009 and 2011 annual meetings before the divisive Proposition 8 campaign.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company