Parra Kicked Out Of Her Office Juvenile Partisan Antics Irritates Voters and Demeans Legislature

21 08 2008

http://www.contracostatimes.com/opinion/ci_10255275

Rigid partisan antics
MediaNews editorial
Article Launched: 08/20/2008 11:41:21 AM PDT

IF CALIFORNIANS believe that the primary responsibility of their elected legislators is to represent the interests of the voters who elected them, they would be mistaken. At least that apparently is the view of Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.

Last Sunday, after Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Hanford, failed to vote the Democratic Party line in support of a doomed state budget proposal, the speaker booted Parra out of her Capitol office and into one across the street.

Parra abstained from the budget vote because she wants lawmakers first to approve a comprehensive water package that would benefit her Central Valley farm district. The $9.3 billion bond measure was proposed by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But the speaker could not countenance anything but rigid conformance to partisanship. That is particularly galling, when everyone knew well in advance that the budget vote was a meaningless exercise.

Republicans and Democrats remain deadlocked with the former opposed to tax increases and the latter opposed to spending controls.

Parra is not opposed to her party’s view on the budget. However, she put her constituents’ interest first in pushing for a vote on the water measure.

Kicking a wayward legislator out of his or her office is nothing new. Both parties have done it, but relocating a lawmaker to a different building takes such juvenile antics to an even lower level.

This is the kind of nonsense that understandably irritates voters and demeans the Legislature.

Perhaps if California had more competitive legislative districts, party leaders would allow lawmakers to have more latitude in representing the interests of those who elected them.

Unfortunately, that is not the case today as the speaker clearly demonstrated in penalizing a legislator for her independence.

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