Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Hanford, was ousted from her Capitol offices by the Assembly Democratic leadership, and ordered to relocate in new space across the street from the Capitol. The move, ordered by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, takes effect at 4 p.m. today. It comes one day after Parra failed to vote for her own party's budget proposal.
That Democrat-backed budget plan needed 54 votes — the two-thirds majority required to pass a budget in California — but got only 45 votes. The vote came after four hours of debate during a special Sunday session. Not a single Republican voted for the budget bill, AB 1781 by Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz. Thirty of 32 Republicans voted against the bill. Assemblyman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, missed the vote due to illness, and Greg Aghazarian, R-Stockton, abstained.
Parra earlier said she would not support a budget until questions involving water delivery and agriculture — two key issues in her Central Valley district — had been resolved to her satisfaction. That position angered some Democrats.
"The speaker in her discretion makes those decisions. I cannot speak for her, but we are now a month and a half late delivering a budget. We've been working on this for seven months," said Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, D-Glendale. "We have a thoroughly vetted, 800-page long budget bill," he said, adding that it was "absolutely inexcusable" for Parra to tie her budget vote "to the narrow, corporate interests of agribusiness."
"She's asking the entire Democratic Caucus to take a backseat to her personal agenda, and that's completely unacceptable," noted Assemblywoman Patty Berg, D-Eureka.
Parra's chief of staff, Derek Chernow, said the staff was notified of the ouster shortly before noon. The move means that Parra will be the only legislator, of either the Assembly or Senate, who will be based in the Legislative Office Building, which houses staff members from both parties and both houses of the Legislature.
According to Parra's staff, the office will now be split up. Several staffers will move across N Street to accompany Parra, said Parra's chief of staff, Derek Chernow. Two of Parra's legislative aides will stay in the Capitol in room 5176, a small room across hall that was not currently being used as an office. The office Parra is moving out of–room 5155 in the Capitol Annex–is the 19th biggest out of 80 Assembly offices, at 1,106 square feet.
"They didn't give us a reason, and we didn't ask for one," Chernow said. "We are feverishly working to get this done by 4 p.m. We're packing up six years of being in this office."
"I haven't seen it, but I understand that it is about a third of the size (of the present office)," Chernow added.
Parra, an influential Valley Democrat, is chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, and sits on the Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee as well as Parks and Wildlife. She has gone on record as saying she would not support the budget until a water bond, designed to ensure the Central Valley's long term water supply, had passed the Assembly.
Known as one of the most conservative members of the Democratic Assembly Caucus, Parra has a history of sometimes bucking her party, particularly on social issues. She has repeatedly abstained or voted no on gender-neutral marriage bills, for instance.
In February, Parra made headlines by hinting that she might endorse her opponent in her 2006 re-election campaign, Republican Danny Gilmore. Parra is terming out this year. Gilmore is running again, this time against Fran Florez, the mother of Parra's bitter Democratic rival, Senator Dean Florez, D-Shafter.