UUA Board to act in Phoenix GA relocation review

So Arizona lawmakers pass a repugnant immigration bill that reignites the Brown People Fear. (I’m sure that would scan better in German. Then again, ethnically, I’m both part Mexican and German.) And the 2012 Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly (GA) is scheduled for Phoenix next June.

Cue the agita about bringing them convention dollars. And now the UUA Board is going to act this evening. I lifted this from a GA-related group in the walled garden called Facebook. (It really should be on the front page of UUA.org.)

The following announcement was posted to the UUA-L email list [yesterday] afternoon:

The UUA Board of Trustees will hold an online Board Meeting on Thursday, May 6, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time to determine how and when a decision will be made to affirm or change the location of General Assembly 2012, currently scheduled to be held in Phoenix, Arizona. UUA Moderator Gini Courter called this Special Board Meeting following the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070. This meeting is open to observers; Unitarian Universalists wishing to observe can register here: http://persony100.uua.org/?meeting=6388129

When you register please use your first and last name. Once you have registered, Persony will send you a confirmation email that will allow you into the meeting which will be open at 7:45 pm EDT. Also remember the email address you used to register – you will need to use that exact email to enter the meeting. Please note: There are a limited amount of lines for the Persony (web) part of the meeting. If you try to register and it will not allow you to, you may still call into the meeting. The call in number is: 1-866-516-3949 – Attendee code: 73886534#

Gauging from the Facebook group comments, those people who have opinions have them all over the map. Here are my thoughts.

  1. I support boycotts that work. Read that as you like.
  2. Who’s bright idea is it to keep holding General Assembly in hot climate states in June anyway? Or such conservative cities? The only reason that makes sense is that they’re cheap. And you get what you pay for. Spare me the sermon about spreading our values. Apart from a couple of press clips and at the overloaded eateries, we’re scarcely seen in these burgs.
  3. Planning a convention is like steering an iceberg. Can you imagine cancelling the contracts, the alternate site decisions, the site visits, the new contracts, the new volunteer arrangements and so forth?
  4. Each of these changes will take money the UUA doesn’t have.
  5. Any action will lead to silent boycotts. So there’s a net result to consider.
  6. Lower participation will be bad — I suspect — for those delegates who take their governance responsibilities seriously.
  7. I’m not going to GA anyway — no vote, no parish, no reason — and am all the happier for it. I’m also not calling in.

So what to do? I’ll go to one of my favorite phrases: Let’s get legal on the phone.

  1. As soon as this law is challenged in court, I’d like to see a UUA-sponsored amicus brief, should that prove useful.
  2. Better still. Since the voter suppression of Latino Arizona citizens is a subtext — or is it the surtext? — I’d like to know what a roving mob genteel meeting of religious liberals could legally-safely and practically do to register voters, or to support registration efforts.

For me that’s money and time well spent.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. re: Who’s bright idea is it to keep holding General Assembly in hot climate states in June anyway?

    Phoenix because of outreach to hispanics?

    re: Or such conservative cities?

    Hispanics can be a pretty conservative lot. At least in ways that would goes the standard-issue UU discomfort.

    off the top of my head….

  2. …it’s also worth considering the legal hispanic workers who will really get stiffed by the loss of covention business if this boycott really takes off.

    Reminds me of Prez Obama dumping on Las Vegas all the time….

  3. FYI – the LREDA page on Facebook has the decision from tonight’s UUA Board Meeting:


    Here’s the LREDA report on this decision:

    “The UUA Board, in an online meeting has just voted overwhelmingly to recommend to the delegates of this years GA, the removal of the 2012 Assembly from Phoenix, Arizona. The resolution, if passed by the Minneapolis GA, would commit the UUA to an alternate location in 2012, and to raising the funds necessary to offset …the penalty costs, with an equal amount to be dedicated to work with ARAOM allies in Arizona.”

    The social media reporting seems to be faster than the uua.org web site and the blogosphere on this.

  4. hey scott
    thanks for the quick summary, i always appreciate your heads up as well. you track the uua well.

    i’m not going either, and i love your idea on registering folks to vote. seriously, the uua GA social action day would be well used to fan out and canvass 50,000 people. we had our largest gotv effort here in oregon with 1300 people this january for the amazing progressive tax measures that passed in oregon’s special election. it takes personal contact to win on our issues. rallies, soup kitchens, all that are nice, but ultimately it is about changing hearts and minds (a la jenkins)

  5. A c3 organization (UUA, the District or sponsoring congregations) can’t be involved in partisan electoral intervention. I think there’s a legitimate goal of helping underserved populations register. And — as Bill said, plus the complaint of Arizona Hispanic Republicans — shows that Latino voters are not a determined bloc. It would just take some care and clarity of purpose. Lawyers help, too.

  6. I am concerned that the decision to move GA will be an emotional one rather then a rational one. Emotionally everyone believes the law is wrong, and it is. Rationally will moving GA do more harm then good to the UUA and the people of AZ?

    As you mentioned, it will cost the UUA a great deal of money that it does not have. Will more staff and programs be cut limiting the effectiveness of the UUA’s remaining programs to help the congregations? As some of your commenter stated does taking our money, other then the $650,000 to be paid to the convention center and state, be a good show of support to the people of AZ who need our business.

    Finally what if similar laws are passed elsewhere around the country? Are we going to run away from them as well or are we going to stand up and fight?

    We should keep GA where it is and show our support as people from around the country that we disprove this law and the way people are mistreated.

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