What if you put on a protest and the people you really wanted to see it were a mile away?
That’s the situation for San Francisco’s Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, which takes to San Diego’s streets a week from Saturday to protest the State Bar’s refusal to relocate its annual meeting out of the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of protesters hope to convince attendees to boycott the Hyatt because owner Doug Manchester donated $125,000 to last year’s Yes on 8 campaign. (Details)
But BALIF’s organizers weren’t aware that the swearing-in ceremonies they targeted for their 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. event aren’t taking place at the host hotel, but rather 1.1 miles away inside the San Diego Marriott and Marina. Chief Justice Ronald George will be there, giving the oath of office to the incoming presidents of the State Bar and California Judges Association, as well as new members of the State Bar Board of Governors.
"Well, here's another fine mess ..." after the jump.
That seems to defeat the whole purpose of getting in the faces of all those swells attending the shindig. Righteous indignation from a distance doesn’t have quite the same kick.
San Francisco lawyer Chelsea HaleyNelson, handling outreach for the event, vowed things will go on at the scheduled time and place because it’s “symbolic” and makes a “statement.”
“The State Bar’s motto is about creating a just and fair society,” HaleyNelson said, “and if they held true to that, they certainly would take a firmer stand that dealt with issues of justice.”
The protest could still have some impact. Plenty of other events are going on at the Hyatt and outspoken liberal lawyer James Brosnahan — he who defended the American Taliban case — will speak. He can rouse the masses and, just maybe, could point out that the State Bar has relocated before.
Way back in 1989, the agency voted to move its 1990 annual meeting to Monterey from San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center Marriott because of a contract clause that allowed backing out if the host hotel was experiencing labor strife. At the time, the Marriott was negotiating with Local 2 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders Union.
The State Bar said things are different this year. Not only is the organization now constrained by case law from taking political stands, a current picketing outside the Hyatt isn’t by the hotel’s employees, but by Local 30 of Unite Here!, an international union of hotel, restaurant, laundry and food service workers trying to raise awareness about marriage equality.
Maybe, but the Unite Here! Web site also trumpets the months-old protest as about “the lack of job security for workers at the hotel.”
No contract clause with wiggle room this time? Hmmm!
— Mike McKee