Women’s Club leader reinstated


By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

At the Oct. 4 meeting of the La Jolla Woman’s Club, ousted club president Zy Dewey was reinstated, but the group decided to delay discussion of a requested audit, prompted by controversy over a preferred caterer. The group also delayed a decision to extend the club’s house manager’s suspension until a future special meeting.

Dewey presided over the meeting, despite having been “censured and removed” on Sept. 13 by a vote of nine club board members who presented a laundry list of complaints against her.

Club member Caral Gatchel spoke out at the luncheon decrying Dewey’s removal as “illegal.”

“I wanted to go on record as saying the board made an error in having Dewey removed as president and dropped from membership,” said Gathchel, who made a motion that the board’s Sept. 13 vote against Dewey be rendered “null and void.”

Only 10 of the approximately 100 club members present opposed Gatchel’s motion.

“New bylaws need to be put in place so this (dismissal) can never happen again,” said Dewey prior to the Oct. 4 club meeting.

Describing the Oct. 4 club action as “a new beginning,” Dewey said a special board meeting at an as-yet-to-be-specified date would be called to decide whether or not to retain her as president, as well as deal with other serious club issues which have surfaced over the past few weeks.

“Are these meetings going to be open?” queried past club president Hilda Berg from the audience.

Berg joined with La Jolla attorney Steve Haskins at a Sept. 17 press conference to call for an audit of the finances of the 260-member club. Haskins claimed the club has been operating at a deficit, noting $160,000 in revenues is unaccounted for over the past couple years.

The historic club has split into factions over Dewey’s dismissal, club finances and an allegation by Haskins representing Berg and a club faction that allege the decision to grant a “preferred” catering contract to The Abbey Catering & Event Design has “frozen out” other caterers, leading to less wedding and other bookings causing a precipitous revenue drop.

After the Oct. 4 meeting, Haskins said there continues to be no response from the club’s board to his call for a financial audit of club finances. The club is also contending with allegations brought against house manager Betsy Ring, who was suspended from the post she’s held for 12 years, following complaints from catering companies’ owners who said they were told to pay fees directly to Ring rather than to the club.

In an e-mail to La Jolla Woman’s Club members, Ring responded to those allegations saying, “During my tenure I have never been disciplined or written up. I was left to run the club as I saw fit with very little or no supervision from the board.”

Reacting to alleged conflict of interest charges regarding caterer The Abbey’s preferred contract, Ring said in her e-mail, “At a time when I have been given no advertising budget, The Abbey is using their considerable marketing skills to help the club obtain business in this very challenging business climate. Partnering with The Abbey was a business decision I thought best for the club.”