from the Chair
The one hundred members of Sacramento Seminar form one of America’s few truly bipartisan
political and civic discussion groups. We are proudly bipartisan, not nonpartisan. Except for the
few of us who are political independents, most of our members strongly identify with either
the Democratic or Republican parties.
Sac Sem members have spent their lives in and around elective politics. Our roster includes
former California legislators, mayors, district attorneys, councilmembers, judges, lobbyists,
journalists, campaign consultants and academics. We even have two members of President
Richard Nixon’s Enemies List as members.
Each Friday we gather in our secluded club room at San Francisco’s North Beach Restaurant over wine and a fine lunch to discuss public affairs ranging from international developments to Bay Area issues. Our name, Sacramento Seminar, stems from our members’ experiences in California’s capitol and their abiding interest in all things relating to the Golden State.
Depending on the week, our sessions are either round table discussions on a topic picked by the chair, or prominent speakers who submit themselves to vigorous questioning. All of our sessions are “off-the-record.” We strictly follow Chatham House Rules whose key provision provides that“participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”
In recent years, members’ interest in international affairs has grown. Perhaps this is due to membership by both the British and Canadian consul generals. Sac Sem Members have made political trips and attended high-level briefings in Washington, Ottawa, Bangkok, Cairo, Ankara, New York, Hanoi, Mexico City, Rome, Berlin and London (at Number Ten). We even occasionally travel to Sacramento as we did this past January to watch a senate floor session honoring our three distinguished cofounders.
Membership is by invitation. Dues are a modest $125 per year. Visitors may attend only as guests of a member. As our website is upgraded, look forward to our oral history project and even more detailed information about upcoming speakers.
Dick Spotswood, Chair
The Sacramento Seminar