Monday, December 21, 2009
State Bar Moves Its 2011 Annual Meeting to Long Beach
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The State Bar of California has reported that it is moving its 2011 Annual Meeting from San Diego to a location in Long Beach.
“This action is being taken on the basis of the bar’s business and convention needs and to make the convention as successful as possible,” a spokesperson for the State Bar said Thursday.
The State Bar was originally scheduled to return to the 1,625-room waterfront Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego where the convention was held this year, but the spokesperson said “there was no availability at facilities throughout the state for a September or October date, which are the preferred months for our meeting because more people are able to come after summer vacations.”
Several individual attorneys and legal organizations had objected to the 2009 venue, which was 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 UNITE HERE, the hotel workers’ union.
The hotel is owned by the Manchester Financial Group LLC, whose chairman contributed $125,000 towards overturning the rights of same-sex couples to marry, and is operated under lease by the Global Hyatt Corporation.
About 30 protesters with signs chanted slogans and circled the drive of the hotel as the 82nd annual State Bar conference kicked off this past September, followed by a larger protest involving 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 Lawyer’s Guild and Santa Clara County Bar Association.
The Los Angeles County Bar Association also declined to host an exhibit at the hotel or participate in any activity at the Hyatt, instead setting up a booth at the nearby Hilton San Diego Bayfront where the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations convened.
Various organizations, including the American Association of Law Schools and the American Association for Justice—formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America—also relocated events that had been scheduled to be held at the Hyatt over the past year.
The State Bar, which had contracted with the hotel to host its 2009 and 2011 annual meetings before the divisive Proposition 8 campaign began, acknowledged strong opposition to the venue from members of the legal community but took the position that it could not breach its contractual commitments 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.
A spokesperson from the State Bar said that the organization is renegotiating its contract with the Hyatt to return to the hotel in 2014 and insisted that the 2011 move had nothing to do with the controversy.
“It was all about what’s best for the convention,” which was obtaining a date in September for the event, she explained.
“As a result of the current economy and the bottoming out of the convention market, we were able to obtain September dates in Long Beach,” the spokesperson said, adding that the exact date and location have not yet been determined since the State Bar is in negotiations with multiple facilities.
The 2010 conference is scheduled to take place Sept. 23-26 in Monterey.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company