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California Club Reconfirms Its Vote to Admit Women

March 17, 1988|KENNETH REICH | Times Staff Writer

The members of the exclusive California Club have voted by a 2 1/2-1 margin to remain committed to admitting women members, a tabulation of a special poll of 1,275 regular members and 300 non-resident members showed Wednesday.

The vote was the second in nine months in which members of the downtown club approved breaking a century-old all-male tradition and obeying a Los Angeles city ordinance banning membership discrimination. The most recent vote was taken at the insistence of a group of 66 dissidents opposed to allowing women to join the club.

Club President Lawrence P. Day, while confirming the outcome, said the precise poll results will not be released until after a special meeting of the club's board of directors today. Day said the club wants members to hear the results from its leadership rather than through the newspapers.

Mayor Tom Bradley, who had opposed a second vote on the issue, said he was pleased and thinks it "speaks well" for the California Club that the members decided to "comply with the city's anti-discrimination ordinance."

Less Enthusiastic Official

But City Controller Rick Tuttle, an author of the ordinance approved last year, had a less enthusiastic reaction.

"That vote is well and good," Tuttle said, "but I'm not about to praise the California Club for taking another vote whether or not to obey the law. Over eight months have passed since the civil rights ordinance was passed and they've been dilly-dallying around over this, and I for one want to see the club get about the business of complying. . . ."

Club officials have said two women, E. Cameron Cooper, a senior vice president of Arco, and Linda Hartwick, a senior associate of the executive search firm of Korn-Ferry International, have won final approval of the club's membership committee and are on a waiting list for vacancies in the regular membership.

Cooper and Hartwick are expected to be admitted as regular members in two or three months. Last month, the club admitted its first black member, Dr. Joseph L. Alexander, a surgeon.

Vote on House Rule

The actual question voted upon in the poll tabulated Wednesday concerned whether a new house rule should be adopted that would have banned all use of the club by the members for business purposes, receipt of business reimbursements for club expenses and taking tax deductions on such expenses.

The city ordinance cites the business nature of the city's large private clubs as authority for municipal regulation of their membership policies.

The dissidents, led by former club president John M. Robinson, had argued that declaring that the California Club would not be used for business purposes would enable the club to ignore the ordinance and continue to keep out women.

Robinson, 78, who is also president of the California State Club Assn., a group representing 120 of the state's private clubs, argued last year in a newsletter that private clubs have what he termed "the right . . . to discriminate." He has been active statewide in efforts to defy moves for club integration.

Robinson's secretary said Wednesday that he was unavailable for comment on the latest California Club vote.

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