Day 6 on the NOM California tour, Part 1: Why go to Latinos when Latinos can come to your Best Western?
October 2, 2010
We’ll have more from Huntington Beach later tonight. -Adam
By Arisha Michelle Hatch
Stop #29: Santa Barbara
Originally scheduled for an 8:00 am stop at Mission Park in Santa Barbara, Vota Tus Valores updated their website at some point Saturday morning after 7:30 am to reflect their new stop: the Best Western Pepper Tree Inn, their hotel.
It makes sense, I hate getting up early on my vacations too.
Rather than actually get up and engage voters in Santa Barbara, organizers opted instead to host a “private meeting” with bagels and coffee in a conference room provided for free by the hotel.
Tour organizers looked shocked when we arrived at the hotel.
“This is a private meeting,” one organizer quickly said.
“It was advertised on the website,” I replied.
“It was?” asked a new organizer on the tour (he won’t confirm his name so we’ve just been referring to him as “Country Club” because he always looks ready to play golf).
“Yes [it was posted],” confirmed Allegra Herburt-Hewell, Project Director for the Latino Partnership Initiative.
As I sat down for “the meeting” a different organizer began communicating in Portuguese (we believe) with Allegra.
We were then told by Country Club just before being asked to leave that the meeting was posted for people who were invited.
Normally the Best Western Inn conference room would cost $185/a day and according to the hotel’s contract with K’s Tree House, a restaurant located on the property, any food for group events must be provided exclusively by the vendor. Those rules didn’t apply to Tus Valores, apparently; not only did they not pay for the room, the hotel manager, Shavonne, also allowed them to bring in their own food.
When I informed the hotel manager that this tour was sponsored by the National Organization for marriage – an organization that contributed millions to the passage of Proposition 8 in California – the manager stated, “I have my religious views, but I don’t judge you just because you’re agnostic.”
Okay, I don’t recall using the words agnostic at all, but I suppose it’s implied when you’re a supporter of equality.
“Do you think that the millions of gay and lesbian couples who were denied the right to marry the person they love may have a problem with your decision to enable them to meet on the hotel grounds, your personal religious views aside?”
“My head is spinning right now,” the manager said.
The Best Western Inn is located at 3850 State Street, Santa Barbara, California. You can contact the hotel at (805) 687-5511 to voice your displeasure.
It doesn’t appear that anyone other than tour organizers were actually invited to this “exclusive” meeting.
A photographer and reporter from the Santa Barbara Press were at Mission Park, the original set location, and luckily were able to get in contact with Allegra and make it to the Best Western Inn in time for the last minute “meeting.”
Stop #30: Camarillo
In Camarillo, we stopped at a private parking lot that included Bank of America, as well as “Nueva Vida”, a Spanish-Christian radio network, for an event.
Our own Anthony Ash, a Bank of America customer, inquired whether the bank had given permission or endorsed the Vota Tus Valores tour. A bank representative informed him that it was a private lot and told us he would call the property manager to see if they had permission to host the small rally and if not then he would call the police.
A police car arrived on the scene approximately 10 minutes later as the stop was wrapping up.
“We’re leaving now,” Mark Roepke, the tour security officer, told the officer when approached.
The next stop originally planned for the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel at 2:30 was apparently canceled. We’re now sitting in a DMV parking lot in Culver City. Somebody should have informed organizers that DMVs are closed in California on Saturdays.
We’ve been sitting in the empty parking for about 20 minutes now while organizers take a stretch break. I hope they’re not counting this as a stop.