David Quintana is the lobbyist and political director for the CA Tribal Business Alliance. For four years now, the California Tribal Business Alliance has put on the must-attend party of the year – the annual Back to Session Bash at Mason’s restaurant. The bash was the brainchild of CTBA lobbyist and master party planner David Quintana. Capitol Weekly caught up with Quintana to talk about the CTBA and of course, the party, which will happen again on Jan. 14.
What was the idea behind the creation of the California Tribal Business Alliance?
We all initially came together while working on our 2004 amended Tribal Gaming Compacts. We realized that after working together that these Tribes were unique in their perspective and very like-minded. I really thought that this was an opportunity to capture the momentum and move forward as a group. The Tribal leaders wanted to step out and pursue non-gaming business opportunities and relationships – the fact that they were all on the same page politically really allowed the CTBA to take off like a rocket. I’m serious when I say this, in all the years of the CTBA I can only remember one vote that was not unanimous, and I still think that was an accident.
CTBA also hosts the best party in the Capitol. How did that start?
OK, I had attended the “End of Session Bash” when I was a staffer and I noticed two things: 1) it was way too formal towards the end, it seemed to have lost the “bash” aspect, 2) you never really know when the “end” of the session is and usually by then people are too grouchy and or tired to party. So, I thought why don’t we have a party at the beginning of the year when everyone is still all happy, energetic and optimistic – and more importantly, everyone is anxious to meet all the new people. So, you take all those ingredients, add a foundation of good music and a pinch of adult beverages: now you got a real party. I also wanted to make sure that we didn’t lose sight of the fact that the party is supposed to be a party and not make it too structured – bottom-line, folks want to have a good time, they don’t want to sit through skits or listen to karaoke: we give them a good time. The Tribal leaders completely believed in my concept and wanted to be a part of bringing the whole Capitol together before everybody gets bogged down in the hard work and political bickering of the legislative session. Then it was good detail people who helped bring all the ideas together, oh, and a big ol’ ice sculpture, wouldn’t be a Bash without that.
How has the bash grown over the years?
Beyond anything I could have imagined when I proposed it. In the beginning we (the CTBA) underwrote the entire deal ourselves, but now, because it has become known as the party of the year we are in a position to hand-pick co-sponsors that get the spirit of the Bash want to participate with us. This year we’ve added three additional partners, Sempra, The CA Cable and Telecommunications Assn. and the US Cigar Assn. Also, I’ll have legislators and staffers come up to me throughout the year, stop me, and say “thank you” for putting on such a fun event, that never gets old.
Any surprises lined up for this year?
Absolutely. We’re proud this year to give a financial contribution, for every attendee, to the Roberts Family Foundation in Sacramento. Also, this year we’re going to present the first Capitol Achievement Award to an honoree that will remain a secret, here’s a hint, think “sports.” I have some more surprises but I want them to remain that – surprises. I will tell you this though, there will be a premium cigar tasting cabana on the patio and this year’s ice sculpture/drink luge will be one for the ages.
Anything else you want to add?
We all know this is going to be a tough year, so let’s have a damn good time and then get down to work.