Tag Archives: Nicole Parra

There’s more than one crisis: Water situation grows ominous

We might have mentioned something about the budget crisis in California, but it’s not the only thing that’s trying to push California into the ocean.  For example, this whole water (or lack thereof) issue seems to be exploding on us:

The Lake Tahoe Basin snowpack on Thursday was only 2 percent of average for the date. The situation is similar to last year, when the Tahoe Basin snowpack was only 1 percent of normal on the same date. (cbs5.com)

Of course, these two crises collide in the physical form of Nicole Parra, who tried her best to make sure that if we couldn’t solve one, we wouldn’t solve the other.  Beyond Parra’s juvenile and ineffective tactics, the underlying truth remains. We are living in a dangerous time. Last year about this time, similarly scary things were said about the snow pack in the Sierras.

As a skier and an overall big fan of the Tahoe region, this hits me hard in a somewhat selfish sense.  But in a larger sense, this is a disaster.  If we don’t get some serious snow this season, our reservoirs will get to dangerous levels.  There will be strict water rationing across the state. You hear that folks…not just brown lawns, but moving to the yellow mellow alert level.  You might as well cut it with the bright green lawns and the hosing off the sidewalks now.

We’ve been living in something of a glory era for rain in California over the last 125 years. Are we returning to our drier past or is this a short burst of the desert days? Is this climate change here to stay? Who knows, but one thing is clear. This is more than just a disastrous winter sports season, this is a full-fledged crisis. We risk the sight of houses falling into the ocean and the growing risk of cutting off water for crops in the Central Valley.

Welcome new legislators, you’re going to love this job.

Apathy Has Its Consequences

The LA Times has decided to expose, not before Election Day but a month after, the juicy little fact that 1/4 of all state lawmakers have outside jobs which can cause direct conflicts of interest with their lawmaking duties, as they often vote on legislation that directly impacts their private income.

There can be a case made, though not a compelling one, that the shortness of legislative terms requires lawmakers to have some backup income in place for the future beyond their $150,000 a year salary.  However, when termed-out legislators can grab highly sought and lucrative state board positions, that point becomes fairly moot.  Not to mention the fact that political donors can continue to fund termed-out politicians for “strategic purposes,” a perfectly legal enterprise.

Assemblywoman Nicole Parra may have found the perfect antidote to life in the Assembly doghouse – travel to political bashes in Maui, Las Vegas, Chicago and New Orleans, courtesy of political donors […]

Campaign disclosure statements show that Parra, a lame-duck lawmaker who did not seek election to another office, largely emptied her campaign coffers this year – in part by spending thousands of dollars on travel, meals, parties and conferences […] Parra spent more than $150,000 in campaign funds this year, including donations of $30,000 to WEAVE in Sacramento, $15,000 to the California Democratic Party, and $3,600 apiece to about a half-dozen legislative colleagues.

California law allows legislators to spend unlimited campaign sums for a political, legislative or governmental purpose.

My larger beef is with the 38 million who permit this activity through our collective silence, relatively speaking.  Without an independent media dedicated to exposing sunlight and ferreting out these ugly deals inside Sacramento, and then without significant follow-up from citizens and groups to force consequences, we basically get the government we deserve.   California’s media landscape shrinks almost by the day, as a nation-state of 38 million has a number of political reporters that you may not even have to go into double digits to count.  The “watchdog” groups are competent press release factories, but extract little in the way of consequences.  And everybody has so internalized the concept that state elections are essentially a formality, including both sides of the political aisle, that the public wastes its own opportunity to have a voice on these matters.  The perfect example is AD-30 this year, a hotly contested race with millions of dollars spent on both sides, which attracted an appalling 84,804 voters total at last count, less than half of the number for a similarly contested race in AD-10, and close to 1/3 of eligible voters, registered and unregistered, in the Bakersfield-area district.  And this was a Presidential election!  If I were elected from there I’d be embarrassed to serve.

This outright apathy allows corruption to slip through the cracks, as an unwatched Sacramento goes about its plunder.  The byzantine series of rules have made California ungovernable because so few people show a legitimate interest in changing them.  The future of California lies only in finding more people who care about the state than currently exist.  Otherwise, a narrow political class will continue to take profits, and nobody will even notice.

State GOP Bugging Out Of Unwinnable Races

Much as we’ve seen on a national level, the California Republican Party is leaving its candidates on the side of the road and playing pure defense this cycle:

Democratic and Republican sources have informed CMR that the GOP has pulled the plug on future ads for Assemblymember Greg Aghazarian’s bid to replace termed out Democratic Senator Mike Machado in California’s 5th Senate District. Aghazarian’s Democratic opponent, Assemblymember Lois Wolk, is up around 20 points in internal polling, so Republicans have decided to cut their losses.

This means that there will be no more than 15 Republican Senators (and probably less) and no more than 32 Republican Assemblymembers (and probably a lot less).  They will not pick up a single seat at the state level.

Unless you think they can still win in AD-30, where an intra-party feud has left drama queen Yacht Dog Democrat Nicole Parra to endorse the Republican in the race between Danny Gilmore and Democrat Fran Florez.  Florez’ response ad to Parra’s endorsement is hilarious, check it out at the link.

The truth is that while AD-30 is competitive, it’s not a likely pick-up.  And the CRP had better get in the habit of cutting losses; a couple assembly seats are lost causes for them, too.

Campaign Update: CA-11, AD-80, SD-19, AD-15, AD-30, LA Board of Supes

Here’s what’s happening on the campaign trail.

• CA-11: Apparently trying to win some kind of award for the worst attack website in history, Jon Fleischman of the Flash Report (a terribly designed website in its own right) has put together One Term Is Enough, in all of its way-too-large masthead, ridiculously-spare with no action items or columns, design out of Quark X-Press glory.  Man, that’s ugly.  And I think the focus on Jerry McNerney’s earmarks, given the summer of scandal that Dean Andal has lived through which is entirely about a construction contract with a community college (if he was in Congress, that would be, basically, an earmark), is kind of silly.  Meanwhile, McNerney is up with his first ad of the cycle, focusing on his work on behalf of troops and veterans.

• AD-80: As soyinkafan noted, Manuel Perez and Gary Jeandron had a debate where Jeandron stated his support for a tax increase in Imperial County.  That’s not likely to help him with the conservative base, but clearly Jeandron understands that he has to move to left if he has any chance to win this seat.  The Palm Springs Desert Sun has a debate report here.

• SD-19: Tony Strickland’s latest endorsement is Erin Brockovich, of all people.  However, this could be less of a reach across the aisle as it appears.

Ventura County Star columnist Timm Herdt got Strickland’s Democratic opponent Hannah-Beth Jackson on the phone, who said she was “a little surprised” by Brockovich backing her opponent.

While Brockovich says she is a Democrat in the ad, she writes on her blog that she’s ready to leave the party and become an independent.

“I am ready to turn because both parties are acting foolish and judgmental and attacking,” she writes.

She also has kind words for GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

“I am proud to be a member of the same Strong Woman’s Club that Sarah Palin is in.” Brockovich writes.

• AD-15: As has been noted, Joan Buchanan released her first campaign ad of the cycle.  Her opponent Abram Wilson responded with his own ad, also biographical in nature, and his campaign has questioned the Buchanan spot and her commitment to fiscal responsibility.  I suppose signing a “no-tax” pledge is the height of responsibility, then.

• AD-30: We were all expecting it, and now Nicole Parra has officially endorsed Republican Danny Gilmore in the election to replace her.  This is a family fight moved into the political sphere – the Parra-Florez feud is well-known.  

Parra’s support of Danny Gilmore angered Democratic Party leaders, but comes as no surprise because she has been praising Gilmore for months.

“I will endorse Danny Gilmore in the near future and I will campaign for him and do commercials,” Parra said in an interview. Gilmore, a retired California Highway Patrol officer from Hanford, is running against Democrat Fran Florez, mother of state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, a longtime Parra rival.

• LA Board of Supes: Turns out that not only is Bernard Parks turning to Republicans to help him get elected over progressive State Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas, but for ten years he was a member of the American Independent Party (!).

According to voter registration forms certified by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder:

Bernard Parks left the Democratic Party and registered as an American Independent on February 12, 1992 – just in time to miss the opportunity to vote for President Bill Clinton.

He registered again as an American Independent on August 9, 1996.

President George Bush was elected in November 2000 – but Parks still wouldn’t become a Democrat for nearly a year and a half.

Parks was fired as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department on April 9, 2002. Shortly thereafter, he began to prepare to run for Los Angeles City Council, and re-registered as a Democrat on May 30, 2002. Less than a year later, he was elected to the City Council.

That is very strange, especially for an African-American to sign up with a party which is the legacy of George Wallace.

AD-30: Nicole Parra goes too far for a Grudge

Nicole Parra is about to make a huge mistake.  On Friday, she told pretty much anybody who would listen that she puts her personal vendetta against the Florez family over the well-being of the state and its citizens. How? Well, she plans on endorsing Republican Danny Gilmore in Assembly District 30:

“I will endorse Danny Gilmore in the near future and I will campaign for him and do commercials,” Parra said in an interview. Gilmore, a retired California Highway Patrol officer from Hanford, is running against Democrat Fran Florez, mother of state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, a longtime Parra rival. (Fresno Bee 9/20/08)

Parra defeated Danny Gilmore by about 3% in 2006, and apparently she grew to be quite fond of the guy during their interactions. Either that or she can’t put an election loss in the past in the past and endorse our candidate, Fran Florez for the district.  Here’s some background on the situation.

At this point, it’s hard to imagine what else can be done to punish Nicole Parra. She’s not even in the Capitol building anymore, after being told to pack her stuff and move across the street when she declined to vote for the Democratic budget. There’s not much else that can really be taken from her. If she plans on switching parties, well, good luck finding a lobbying gig.  And if she plans on running in another election, well, prey tell me which primary she could possibly win at this point.

Nicole: Think about this. Seriously, it’s a bad idea.

Dems Still Not Off the Hook

(cross-posted at Courage Campaign)

When State Controller John Chiang pledged to defy the governor’s executive order to slash state worker pay to the federal minimum wage (which is lower than the state’s minimum wage), Arnold filed suit in an effort to assert his authority to stop the budget deficit bleeding on the backs of hardworking public employees.

Today, Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley set a hearing date to consider the dispute for September 12th, effectively ensuring full pay for 145,000 state workers and their families for the entire month of August.

Of course, if Democrats could get the Republicans to compromise on a new budget before then, the September hearing is moot.

Ironically, Democrats are under their own pressure to get a deal done before the Democratic National Convention next week.  Many Assembly Democrats are delegates to the convention and most of them certainly want to attend to hear our next president’s nomination acceptance speech.

But if there is no deal completed by then, they will be faced with a P.R. disaster: 50 days past due for a new budget and no Democrats in Sacramento working to iron out a compromise with our Republican governor and his minority party in the legislature.

The state GOP is already priming the pump and since Assembly Speaker Karen Bass did the right thing to Assemblywoman Nicole Parra; the media will expect no less from the Dems.

Even though state workers have dodged buckshot today, California is still not in the clear and if Legislature Dems attend the convention en masse with no budget, they will unfairly be held responsible and Republicans will have gained the upper-hand.  The hand of the public’s support for their position during negotiations.

Nicole Parra, The Door. The Door, Nicole Parra

Yesterday, when the Assembly mustered a simple majority but not a 2/3 vote for the Democratic budget plan, Yacht Dog Democrat Nicole Parra did not cast a vote.  She has said that she would not vote for a budget unless it included a water bond for the November ballot.

Actions have consequences.

In the latest episode of Capitol punishment, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass tossed Assemblywoman Nicole Parra from her office on Monday morning after the Central Valley Democrat failed to vote for the budget on Sunday.

In a twist, Parra hasn’t been reassigned to more cramped quarters in the Capitol itself – but booted straight across the street to the Legislative Office Building. She will be the only member of the Legislature whose office is not housed in the Capitol.

“I knew going in Sunday that if I didn’t support the budget, something was going to happen,” Parra, D-Hanford, said in an interview shortly after receiving the news. The budget, now 49 days late, failed 45-30, with 54 votes needed for passage.

The state Assembly’s chief administrative officer informed Parra of the change shortly before noon and gave her staff until late afternoon to clear out of the office, she said.

“Boxes have been delivered,” said Parra, who added that she was unhappy she would be unable to pack her “personal stuff” because the Assembly was in session and she was on the floor.

Move her into Storage B for all I care.  Parra, who has all but endorsed a Republican to succeed her in the 30th Assembly district when her term ends in November, is putting her own interests above the needs of the state.  Water is obviously a crucial issue to the Central Valley but there are a variety of opinions on how to best deal with it.  There are no other Democrats in the Central Valley intending to hijack the state budget.  Parra, in short, is a selfish Yacht Dog who is comfortable with drawing attention to herself and being a media darling and uncomfortable with moving the state forward.

The quotes in the piece of Todd Spitzer coming to Parra’s defense are fairly nauseating, too.  Parra is done as a viable electoral prospect in the Democratic Party.  And when Fran Florez wins in November, we’ll at least have some leadership in the 30th Assembly district.  In my mind, that’ll be a pickup.

Props to Speaker Bass

The Speaker won’t tolerate patheticness:

In the latest episode of Capitol punishment, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass tossed Assemblywoman Nicole Parra from her office on Monday morning after the Central Valley Democrat failed to vote for the budget on Sunday.

In a twist, Parra hasn’t been reassigned to more cramped quarters in the Capitol itself – but booted straight across the street to the Legislative Office Building. She will be the only member of the Legislature whose office is not housed in the Capitol.

Love it! But don’t worry, Parra is acting quite mature in her budget negotiations:

“Is it worth it? Yes,” Parra said.

“If there’s no future for water, then let’s pave over the Central Valley and let’s import all our food,” she added.

I think Bass should start running local ads that Parra told the Sacramento Bee she wanted to pave over the Central Valley. What suggests do you have on how Karen Bass can stop the wankers from splintering the caucus?

WTF is up with Nicole Parra?

On June 3, I talked to Assembly womanNicole Parra in San Francisco. Nothing too important really, just a friendly, hi, I’m Brian, the evil blogger kind of thing. She was in town to support Asm. Mark Leno for Senate. It was all very cordial, despite the fact that she’s made noises about thinking the Republican candidate for her seat, she’s termed out, was better than the Democratic candidate, Fran Florez. By the way, I can’t seem to find a website for Fran Florez…strange.

You see, the Florez family and the Parra family have something of a grudge match going on in the Central Valley. State Sen. Dean Florez campaigned against Parra’s father for a county supervisor seat way back when, and Nicole is still smartin’ from that.

Well, today we hear that Parra is having a presser with a “Republican party official.” I honestly have no clue what this is about. Will she officially endorse Danny Gilmore, the Republican candidate? Will she switch parties? Vow to not vote for the budget?

Who knows? We’ll let you know when we hear something.

UPDATE: A bit more in terms of background. Kern County Democratic Party Chair Candi Easter (and Region 8 CDP officer) sent Parra a letter and voter registration cards inviting her to switch parties. More details at Bakersfield Californian.

UPDATE 2: Her statement, along with those of Republican former Asm. George Plesci and Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy over the flip. I guess Parra was a bit tentative about doing anything drastic due to her concerns about her future career plans (lobbying gig perhaps?). Either way, a joint statement with two Republicans won’t be all that helpful if she plans on running for anything else in the “Democrat Party.”


Assemblywoman Nicole Parra

Assemblyman George Plescia

Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Responding to statements by the Kern County Democratic Party that Assemblywoman Nicole Parra should be stripped of her credentials as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, and two former Republican Leaders in the California State Assembly said:

Assemblywoman Parra: “If it weren’t so ridiculous, I would allow myself to be amused by hyperbolic assertions that I am disloyal to the Democrat party. Especially since these assertions come from Democrats who stood by while Dean Florez actively worked against me in the general election in 2004. I am certain that they did not send him a Voter Registration form during that particular intra-party insurgency to recommend that he switch his party affiliation.

I am a lifelong Democrat who passionately believes in the precepts and principals represented by my party. I am and continue to be a person who believes in the ideas espoused by the Democratic Party.

I was elected to represent California’s 30th district as a Democrat but have proudly served all my constituents as their Representative in the California Assembly.”

Former Republican Assembly Leader George Plescia said: “”I guess that “loyalty” is selective and has a shelf life of milk left out of the fridge too long, since Dean Florez actively worked against Parra in 2004.

Nicole Parra has competently represented this district for six years, and I think that it is a case of her introducing the candidate who she thinks will best represent this district, in that tradition; in this case, Danny Gilmore”

Congressman Kevin McCarthy said: “Dean Florez worked to defeat Nicole Parra. He met personally with me.”

Get Yer Scorecard

The Capitol Weekly did their first annual legislative scorecard of members of the State Assembly and Senate.  They go into detail about their methodology and recognize that devising these types of scores is more art than science.  In addition the voting sample size is fairly small.  But I still believe there’s some value to them.

The full list (PDF) is here.  Some interesting tidbits on the flip:

You can pretty obviously see that we have an ideologically rigid legislature.  8 Republican Assemblymen have a “perfect” 0 score on legislation (fully conservative), and 13 Democrats have a 100 (fully liberal).  In the Senate, there are 2 Republicans with a 0 score and 5 Democrats with a score of 100.

The Republicans, however, are FAR more unified.  There are no Assembly Republicans with a score above 20, and no Senate Republicans above 30.  Put it this way, the 2nd-most “moderate” Republican in the legislature is right-wing loon Tom McClintock, I guess because he is occasionally libertarian.

By contrast, a handful of Democrats dip into the other side of the ocean.  Here are the Democrats with scores under 50.

Cathleen Galgiani 20
Nicole Parra 20
Juan Arambula 50

Lou Correa 40
Mike Machado 45

All 3 Assembly Democrats live in the Central Valley (Galgiani’s from Stockton, Parra’s from Bakersfield and Arambula’s from Fresno).  Mike Machado is also from this area (Stockton, Tracy).  Correa is the only exception to this rule.

Galgiani’s election site features the line “I’ll never raise your taxes.”  Machado endorsed Steve Filson in last year’s Congressional primary against Jerry McNerney.

I’m not making value judgments, this is all just somewhat interesting stuff and I’m trying to make sense of it, particularly in the context of yesterday’s discussion about the Central Valley.  The spotlight is not usually shined on this area; is that how we end up with Democrats like this?