Hey Big Daddy,
So, Nicole Parra is now politically homeless. What are your thoughts on the merits of moving her out of her Capitol office?
— Fran in Fresno
I understand the Democrats' desire to throw Nicole Parra out of her office. She's been openly flirting with Republicans, professionally flirting that is, for months. She's all but endorsed Danny Gilmore in his race against the matriarch of the Florez clan, and we've even heard stories of Parra being ignored by her colleagues at a recent political dinner, and sitting instead with Republicans.
But really, Parra's sins pale in comparison to say, a true political traitor like Benedict Arnold, Judas, or Joe Lieberman. And Parra's recent trip into exile underscores a dilemma for Democrats across California.
Think back for a moment at the recent lawmakers to be punished by their legislative leaders. There was Juan Arambula, who was locked in a Capitol closet for refusing to support one of the Speaker's pet bond projects.
Over in the Senate, Lou Correa, Gloria Negrete McLeod and Ron Calderon were all locked out of their Capitol offices for sins against God, country and Don Perata.
Now, what do these five legislators have in common? Anyone needing a clue can check out the handy-dandy Capitol Weekly political scorecard located in these here pages. They're all moderates.
Yes, liberals like Patty Berg grouse that Parra "owes" her caucus her loyalty because of the millions of dollars they spent to elect her. Well, what exactly did they think they were buying? John Laird of Hanford? No, they were buying an assurance that Parra would vote with Democrats most of the time, not all.
Now, it was Parra's right to vote her conscience, and hold out for a water bond, just as it was Bass's right to kick her to the curb – literally. But Democrats might want to think about how they're spending their money before they start complaining about what they've got.
If you buy yourself a puppy, you can't really get too mad when it poops in the living room, or eats your favorite slippers. That's what puppies do. You knew that going in. Sure, you can try to train the puppy, and hope they outgrow it, but remember, puppies chew things throughout their first year, and since one dog year is equal to seven human years, and term limits for a new Assembly member are only six years, well, you do the math.
The truth is, throwing Parra out of her office is like throwing Br'er Rabbit into the briar patch. And she's made the most of this so-called punishment.
Political independence is a valued commodity anywhere – particularly in Yellow Dog country in the state's Central Valley. Parra now look likes the principled politician, holding out for her thirsty constituents, unwilling to bend to the petty wants of her liberal Los Angeles masters. It will serve her well if she ever runs for elected office again.
But it's also a win for Bass. It allows the new speaker to look tough, and this administration needed some discipline points. There
have been plenty of whispers about the lack of order in a post-Fabian Nunez Assembly. Exiling Parra helps Bass keep the liberals happy, as well as the Teutonic types who like to see a firm grip on the reins of power.
Sure, Nicole Parra may have lost her office. But both Parra, and the Speaker who exiled her, gained something far more valuable.