When the Finance and Administration Committee of CalPERS, the giant public-sector pension fund, met Wednesday morning in Sacramento, its agenda included a vote on a seemingly innocuous proposal made by California State Treasurer John Chiang to expand its Responsible Contractor Program.
For several tense hours yesterday San Diego’s plush Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel, located in the city’s Embarcadero district, felt more like Athens’ besieged Parliament than a resort on California’s laid-back shoreline.
Around 2 p.m. the hotel, which is playing host to this year’s annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), sealed off all entrances except its main lobby in what became a virtual lockdown.
For the 1,300 state legislators and corporate lobbyists gathered inside, the perceived security threat turned out to be from those who stand the most to lose from ALEC attacks on workplace rights, minimum wage laws and state health and environmental standards — California workers.
An estimated 2,500 protestors, carrying placards declaring California to be an “ALEC-Free Zone,” gathered around 1 p.m. in Embarcadero Marina Park to hear a series of speakers lambasting the secretive,