Best Western International Spending Millions To Intimidate Its Own Stakeholders? March Court Case Could Tell the Story

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Best Western International, the parent organization of the internationally known Best Western hotel chain, prides itself on being the largest brand of hotels in the world. So why is Best Western spending millions (reference case # 2:06-cv-01537 US District Court for the District of Arizona) on an alleged campaign of harassment and intimidation targeting its own stakeholders, i.e., its owner-operators?

, which is quite improper. It refuses to operate openly and transparently, thus the Herculean effort to shut down any form of free speech, including the blog.

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Best Western International, the parent organization of the internationally known Best Western hotel chain, prides itself on being the largest brand of hotels in the world. So why is Best Western spending millions (reference case # 2:06-cv-01537 US District Court for the District of Arizona) on an alleged campaign of harassment and intimidation targeting its own stakeholders, i.e., its owner-operators?

As indicated in the active case referenced above, a dissident group of owners has been fighting for more transparency in Best Western's unorthodox corporate governance. When efforts at getting basic information from the company's board of directors were met with alleged stonewalling, the group turned to 21st century technology in the form of a blog at freewrites.net.

Defendants believe the board has taken a 'no holds barred' approach to stop the free flow of information among Best Western members (some 2200 in the US). When the dissidents, led by owner James Dial (himself a former board member and chair), began to use the blog to question revisions to Best Western bylaws, board reimbursement practices, etc., the board responded by hiring a firm specializing in computer forensics to track down the origins of the blog and posts.

A lawsuit by Best Western (filed in US District Court - Phoenix June 2006) followed resulting in seized computers, hundreds of subpoenas to members, allegations of veiled threats and gag orders on directors, as well as other tactics presumably aimed at silencing any questions about how the company does business.

When contacted Dial said, "I am reluctant to talk publicly about the case. I have the highest regard for Best Western. It is only in the past four years while the core of the present board has been in place that questions have arisen that the directors have abused their power, their expense accounts and the company's bylaws. They seem to get less than stellar advice from their in-house counsel, and it has been reported that the board counsel resigned over evidence in the blog case. The board is confused and appears to be trying to operate as a "for profit" board rather than a "not for profit", which is quite improper. It refuses to operate openly and transparently, thus the Herculean effort to shut down any form of free speech, including the blog."

While the courts have thrown out major components of Best Western's suit, Best Western persists and what remains is scheduled to go to trial on March 9th in Phoenix. Allegations of an extraordinary attempt to gut the basic right of free speech will be thoroughly aired.

Best Western International Inc. is The World's Largest Hotel Chain®, with 4,000 independently owned and operated hotels. Based in Phoenix, Ariz., Best Western employs 1,087 people and offers more than 303,888 quality guest rooms located in 80 countries and territories throughout the world. Some of the company's key marketing partners are NASCAR and driver Michael Waltrip, American Automobile Association/Canadian Automobile Association (AAA/CAA), Harley-Davidson®, AARP and MasterCard®

Case # 2:06-cv-01537
Trial coverage invited: March 9th, 2009, 9am
US District Court for the District of Arizona
Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse
401 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85003-2118

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Mark Riley
Mark Riley Media
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