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Nicole Parra: From the state house to the dog house

August 18, 2008 |  2:55 pm

In_the_dog_house What happens when you cross Karen Bass, the L.A. Democrat who leads the Assembly? Nicole Parra, the lone Assembly Democrat to refuse to vote for her party's spending plan on Sunday, shared the answer as her staff packed for a sudden banishment move to a small office across the street from the state Capitol. (That's Parra in the photo at right.) Nancy Vogel has the details:

Bass ordered Assemblywoman Nicole Parra of Hanford out of her fifth-floor Capitol office and into an office building across the street where legislative staffers work.

“They wanted us to have everything packed up by 4 p.m.,” said Parra’s chief of staff, Derek Chernow, as he ripped packing tape to seal a box of office supplies.  “We’re just doing what we’re asked by the powers that be.”

Parra, who is in her last few months in the Assembly, said she didn’t vote for the budget because it was not paired with a water bond to pay for additional dams to ease water supply troubles in her agricultural district. She said she had warned Assembly leaders weeks ago that she wouldn’t vote for a budget unless it also improved state water supplies.

“I knew I would be punished,” she said defiantly in the hallway outside the Assembly chamber. “I don’t regret it. I would do it again.”

Bass referred reporters to a couple of Parra’s Democratic colleagues, who expressed outrage at her refusal to vote.

“Every Democrat in our caucus [has] to put a vote up on the budget, and to hold the budget hostage . . .to me is intolerable,” said Assemblywoman Patty Berg (D-Eureka).  She added that fellow Democrats have spent millions of dollars helping Parra win election in her conservative district.

Assemblyman Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank) said, “We put up a budget last night that was balanced, that took a responsible approach to solving a $15-billion budget deficit and minimized the harm to California’s most vulnerable citizens. And for any member, Democrat or Republican, to oppose that because of narrow interests of corporate agribusiness is inexcusable.”

It probably didn’t help that Parra has offered more enthusiastic support of the Republican running to replace her -- Danny Gilmore -- than the Democrat, Fran Florez, the mother of Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter), with whom Parra has openly feuded for years.

Though legislators have been moved to smaller offices in political retaliation, no one Nancy spoke with could recall a colleague being expelled from the Capitol building itself. 

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Associated Press