Speaker Wesson Plays Petty Political Games After being exposed for Waste, Wesson Retaliates by moving Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia to “broom closet”.

SACRAMENTO – While Governor Schwarzenegger has called for swift action from the Legislature to solve the staggering $15 billion budget hole, Democrats continue to resist change and continue politics as usual. Instead of working in a bipartisan spirit of cooperation demanded by the voters, Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson attacked Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia (R-Coachella) by striping her of office space. Following a tradition of past leaders, punished members are moved to the smallest office in the State Capitol known as the “broom closet”.

This following a recent protest of his visit to her district and another expose by the Desert Sun Newspaper chronicling his continued reluctance to answer questions or explain his motives for wasting taxpayer dollars by keeping his Coachella Valley office open. (Desert Sun, Valley Voice 12/6/03)

“It’s a shame that the Speaker has chosen to attack me personally,” Garcia said. “He can punish me under the guise of a “leadership office change”, and move me to a cardboard box in the hallway if he wants, but that won’t stop me from working on behalf of California’s neediest, so our schools can teach our kids, and our police and firefighters can protect lives. I am committed to fighting hard for my constituents, and will do everything I can to restore the golden dream to California.”

Since earlier this year, Speaker Wesson has been under fire for wasting taxpayer dollars by opening a satellite office in the Coachella Valley and hiring her opponent, Joey Acuna, to staff it. Costing taxpayers approximately $100,000 a year, this office allegedly provides outreach services on behalf of Speaker Wesson, but provides no essential functions or critical government services. Despite promising to close the office earlier this year, Speaker Wesson continues to keep Mr. Acuna employed at a salary of $40,008.

A recent survey of Coachella Valley residents conducted by The Desert Sun found that 87% opposed keeping the office open. According to an analysis by The Desert Sun, Joey Acuna’s $40,000 salary, plus benefits package, would pay for at least:

-28 Cal Grants to California State University ($1,428 each);

-12 Cal Grants to the University of California ($3,429 each);

-35 Children fully funded for Healthy Families Health Insurance, ($1,152 per year);

-196 student textbooks and supplies, ($204 per year, according to the California Department of Education

– 3 students receiving a UC education ($12,636); or

– 4 students receiving a CSU education ($9,246)