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She points out obvious icons like Kate Sessions, the Mother of Balboa Park, or Lillian Rice, who created Rancho Santa Fe and a San Diego style of architecture, or Ellen Browning Scripps, who spent her young 19th-century womanhood setting up profitable newspapers with her brothers in Detroit and Cleveland and, when she retired wealthy to La Jolla in 1896, began a second career financing institutions that are all alive and well today: the La Jolla Woman’s Club, the Public Library, the now-seal-occupied Children’s Pool, Scripps Memorial Hospital, Bishops School, and, most internationally famous, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. And all the while she was spreading seditious propaganda promoting women’s liberation in general and suffrage in particular.

But Gardner says that San Diego’s true heroine when it comes to pushing and persuading the men of California to give women the vote was no millionairess doling out money to buy support. She leads me over to a lady sitting at a little school desk, writing notes. Anne Hoiberg’s wearing a red sweater that almost melts her into the red wall behind her. “Anne’s our expert. Ask her about Clara Foltz.”

Hoiberg is the Women’s Museum president. She’s copresident of the League of Women Voters of San Diego, too. She sees me looking up at a weathered banner that reads: “The Susan B. Anthony Amendment. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”

“You’ll be seeing a lot of that in the media this year,” she says.

“Why?” I ask.

“Because of the centenary,” she says. “Ninety years ago, American women got the right to vote. But it was ten years earlier, a hundred years ago this year, that Californian women won the right. One of that campaign’s leaders was a San Diegan, Clara Shortridge Foltz. She’s one of our heroes.” Ms. Hoiberg says Clara Foltz was a widow with five children to raise back in the late 19th Century who still managed to become California’s first female lawyer, even though law schools had refused to accept her. She studied at home and passed the bar exam on her first attempt. In the late 1880s, she edited the San Diego Bee newspaper while she lived and practiced law at 1223 Front Street. “Most significantly, she wrote the Women’s Voter Amendment for California, which passed in 1911, almost a decade before the rest of the nation,” says Hoiberg.

It seems they called Ms. Foltz “the Portia of the Pacific” because she could win in court by her wits, like the heroine in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

So, who are today’s Portias? And what battles have they fought? “You have so many women, children of the ’60s, who took activism to a new level,” Gardner says. “Look at Rachel Ortiz of Barrio Logan.” Ortiz started out fighting the good fight with César Chávez. For 30 years, along with her mentor Gloria Serrano-Medina, Ortiz has helped keep Barrio Logan as an intact cultural entity. Kids came — and come — to her Barrio Station to learn computer skills, to concentrate on homework and sports, and to get away from gangs and drugs. Alums include city council members Ben Hueso, David Alvarez, and Fabian Nuñez, speaker of the California State Assembly.

When it comes to change that ripples out beyond San Diego, where wobble points in our history have provided gutsy women with opportunities to apply Buckminster Fuller’s “trim-tab effect” on San Diego and nudge us in a better direction, two ladies stand out. Their battles have been not just as women, but for women.

The Lunch Counter Affair

Quick, what do you think of when you hear the name Lynn Schenk? The fact that she was a UCSD grad who became the first woman elected to Congress, south of L.A.? Or the first woman chief of staff to a governor (Gray Davis)? Or that she was instrumental in getting the California state senate (at least) to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment?

Probably none of these. Odds are two words come to mind: Grant Grill. Schenk and the Grant Grill incident have become part of downtown lore. Symbolic, like Rosa Parks’s bus-seat protest, but lesser, and yet still a harbinger of profound societal change. I had to track her down.

“What’s amusing to me at this stage in life,” she says, when we finally get to talk, “is that of all the things that I feel I’ve accomplished in my life to advance the cause for women and for men, it’s the Grant Grill that is most remembered and probably will be the headline on my obituary.”

Back in 1971, the Grant Grill, the downtown elite’s favorite watering hole, banned women at lunchtime. “It was really quite simple,” Schenk says. “We didn’t know that we were doing anything historic. I was a young lawyer in the attorney general’s office, and my friend (now judge) Judy McConnell was a young lawyer in the Department of Transportation. Downtown San Diego was a very different place than it is today. It was very rundown, there were a lot of Navy tattoo parlors, that kind of thing, and there weren’t too many places to go to lunch. Today it wouldn’t matter because who has time for lunch? But back then, everybody would go out to lunch, and there were few places that were decent. One was a private club called the Cuyamaca Club. The other was the Westgate Hotel, which was very nice but expensive. And the third was the Grant Grill in the [U.S.] Grant Hotel, and that’s where all the power brokers met for lunch. The mayor, city council members, heads of banks, that’s where business got done. This was not a private club, and it wasn’t a hotel, but it said, ‘Men Only, from Noon to Three.’ Well, this didn’t sit too well with us. We decided we were going to try and change that. There was at that time a case in New York City, an old, old bar, going back to the 1800s, and it was a men-only bar. Some women in New York brought a lawsuit saying, ‘This bar has a liquor license, and it’s not a private club, and they should have to allow women in.’ Well, the [federal] District Court in New York said, ‘These women are right. You have to allow women in because you have a state liquor license.’ Of course, that decision had absolutely no bearing and no precedent value outside that district. But I heard about it. This was before email, the internet. This was before fax. So, I had a friend in New York mail me a copy of the case. I had it in my hand, and we asked a male friend of ours to make a reservation and went over [to the Grant Grill], and we went in, the three of us.

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Comments

MrsKramer Feb. 3, 2011 @ 5:26 a.m.

Another saying: "Absolute power corrupts." I am sorry to report that your friend & pioneer of women's rights of equal employment, Judy McConnell, has become corrupted and is now part of the Good Ole Boy network.

She has the blood of many innocent children on her hands by becoming a puppet for the US Chamber of Commerce and the insurance industry. Judy forgot the laws along the way that perjury in strategic litigation to silence mothers of sick children is still criminal, even if one has written policy for the US Chamber.

Judy forgot that you can't deem a Ca citizen guilty of libel, while not being able to cite evidence of them being impeached as to the subjective belief in the validity of their words.

Check out App Ct records Case No. D054496 & cross reference against what Judy and her fellow judiciaries have written as Opinion,to see just how misbehaved your friend Judy, Chair of the California Commission on Judicial Performance, has become. You will find history making stealth case law that interests of the US Chamber supercede all laws.

I am published in a medical journal regarding what your friend, Judy, would like to see me gagged from writing & her aiding of it. http://freepdfhosting.com/377df5aa08.pdf

IJOEH, 9/07 "In the spring of 2003, Veritox, a risk-management company that provides defense testimony in mold litigation, and of which two of the authors of the JOEM article are principals, was paid $40,000 by the Manhattan Institute to convert the ACOEM Statement on Mold into a “lay translation” to be shared through the United States Chamber of Commerce with stakeholder industries..The authors unfairly presented the essence of the mold controversy as, “Thus the notion that ‘toxic mold’ is an insidious secret ‘killer’ as so many media reports and trial lawyers would claim is ‘junk science’ unsupported by actual scientific study.”

I was able to get a Federal GAO audit of fraud in policy that your friend, Judy, has aided in an insurer fraud cost shifting scheme. http://freepdfhosting.com/49717ac6af.pdf

Even sister pioneer judges are dying while Judy plays politics with the courts and tries to choke my whistle. http://miami.cbslocal.com/2011/01/31/attorneys-claims-dangerous-levels-of-mold-in-broward-courthouse/

The authors of US Chamber mold statement are seeking an injunctive relief that I be gagged from writing of the fraud of the US Chamber and how it is connected to policy. Coincidentally, this would also gag me from writing of Judy's role in aiding fraud. Well behaved women rarely make history...nor do the save thousands of lives by stopping corrupt judges like your friend, Judy. http://freepdfhosting.com/71a20b8643.pdf

The truth about Judy & her role in aiding insurer fraud adverse to the public's best interest. http://katysexposure.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/truth-out-sharon-kramer-letter-to-andrew-saxon-mold-issue/

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MrsKramer Feb. 3, 2011 @ 3:03 p.m.

My apologies for redundancy. This link works to the above documents referenced. If it doesn't in this final post, just search "Katy's Exposure Well-Behaved Women"

Katy's Exposure Blog Re: This Article.

"Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History & Not Well-Behaved Women Who Become Judicial Puppets Of The US Chamber of Commerce Need To Be Stopped"

http://katysexposure.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/well-behaved-women-rarely-make-history-not-well-behaved-women-who-become-judicial-puppets-of-the-us-chamber-of-commerce-need-to-be-stopped/

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Visduh Feb. 7, 2011 @ 9:03 p.m.

I think the point of the cover story was to illustrate the extensive changes that women have experienced in the past four decades. That story of the shall-we-call it "integration" of the Grant Grill has been told many times. Seems to me that a couple other young women were part of the story, one of whom was named Kay Jarvis, later Kay Jarvis Prokopf, who wrote restaurant reviews for the late and unlamented Evening Tribune. 1969 was the watershed year for the gender equality movement, or call it feminism if you prefer.

The notion that the city's power lunch gathering spot was excluding women as recently as about 40 years ago seems at least mildly outrageous now. That's especially true when you realize that they were excluding young professionals, the sort of clientele that such places now covet. The Grill would love to pack its tables with all such women now, but sadly that will never happen. The Grill lost its grip shortly thereafter as the "in" spot of in spots when Tambo de Oro came along in downtown, and Lubach's gained the upper hand. Isn't it curious to note that neither of those exists?

The comments about our local "Judge Judy" are a bit out of place. I agree that she's made some really dumb decisions over the years and should just resign or retire, and should have done that twenty years ago. But that frontal assault on her judicial record belongs in a forum where the readers might be sympathetic. Judy is just a footnote to the story, not the central character.

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MrsKramer Feb. 18, 2011 @ 7 a.m.

Dear Visdah,

I would have to disagree with your comment that comments regarding "Judge Judy's" recent misbehavior making recent history do not belong attached to this article. This historical article is of the origin of how the San Diego Good Ole Boys Club became the San Diego Good Old Boys and Girls Club. It seems to promote that what was done by some misbaving women 40 years ago should be viewed in a positive light.

But when you read the story and are aware of some recent history, the article details how the future antics of the misbehaving women could have been predicted as status quo for forty years and nothing for women to be proud of in history.

What it says is, some women with law degrees in the seventies walked into a restaurant in downtown San Diego, bluffed and intimidated a poor little a matrie d' by citing known irrelevant case law from New York and used this known irrelevant case law to demand a spot at the table of the Good Ole Boys Club. This was the birth of the SD Lawyers Club. Nice!

There is nothing terribly funny or anything to be proud of for women in that scenario. If anything, it illustrates the motivation and goals of the women with law degrees who did not set out to make the legal profession, professional. They merely set out to add a couple of more chairs to the table of politics and power grabs in our local legal and judicial system.

The reason one studies history is so past mistakes are not repeated in the future. Forty years later, Judge Judy's continued misbehavior making recent history is current living proof that this was the original goal. And THAT is the history lesson to be learned from this article for women in the legal profession in San Diego.

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Visduh Feb. 18, 2011 @ 8:28 a.m.

Well, now that you've elaborated on your reasons for your comments, it is clear that you have a point. BTW, if you reread my comment you'll see that I wasn't defending the judge at all. I did just the opposite. I'm no great fan of Lynn Schenk either.

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