In the coverage of how Assemblywoman Nicole Parra was kicked out of the Capitol (she is now the only one of California’s 120 legislators without an office of the building) for the crime of abstaining on a meaningless budget vote because a water bond was not attached, I was struck by this quote from Parra’s Democratic Assembly colleague Patty Berg (D-Eureka). It speaks volumes about the mindset of legislators here. And for those who want to know why Californians favor direct democracy over legislative action, it should give you a sense of why we Golden State voters choose the ballot over our lawmakers.

From this Sacramento Bee Story:

"We have spent millions of dollars ensuring that Nicole comes back three times in a row. The way it’s done here is that if you are in the majority party, and you are a Democrat, you vote on the budget."


I put the first sentence in bold. Think about it. Yes, Parra is in one of the few competitive legislative districts in California. (Almost every single member of the legislature, Republican and Democrat, is protected by a bipartisan gerrymander enacted in 2001). And yes, the party and her colleagues helped raise money for all three of her competitive races. (She’s termed out this fall after three, two-year terms).

So these legislators assume that her loyalty should be to them and the party on a vote (even a symbolic one on a budget proposal that had no hope of passing). Not to the state, which needs water infrastructure. Not to her constituents in her Central Valley district, which has big agricultural interests and big water needs. And certainly not to her conscience or sense of right and wrong. Berg’s message is: we bought Parra’s election. She must stay bought.

Perhaps some legislators need to be kicked out of the Capitol. But Nicole Parra isn’t one of them.