Three senators suspended, and it’s a lose-lose-lose for Californians

In this Jan. 28 photo, state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) speaks on a bill in Sacramento while his colleague, state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello), works at his desk.
(Associated Press)

The state Senate voted Friday to suspend Sens. Leland Yee, Ronald S. Calderon and Roderick D. Wright. This was the right decision, of course. But it’s still a lose-lose-lose situation.

The senators will continue to receive their $95,291 annual salaries until they are convicted and expelled, resign or are termed out. No $163 per diem payments, though.

Yee, who was indicted this week on charges related to correction and conspiracy to traffic guns, and Calderon, indicted last month on charges of bribery and corruption, are termed out this year. Wright was convicted of voter fraud and perjury in January for lying about living in his district when he ran for office. He could be out after May 16 when he is sentenced, unless he persuades the judge to overturn the jury’s ruling. His term ends in 2016.

Until then, the constituents of the three legislators have no representation. The members have no right to cast votes, and it’s unclear what will happen to their staff members or their offices’ ability to respond to requests for community assistance. Yee is from San Francisco, Calderon from Montebello and Wright from Inglewood.


And, if you care about such things, the Democrats have no way to regain their supermajority through special elections as long as the three senators remain in office. All three are Democrats.

There was some good news from the Senate, though.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s office told reporters that he will introduce a constitutional amendment that would allow lawmakers to withhold pay when legislators are suspended. Voters would have to approve the amendment. Given the recent scandals, that shouldn’t be a problem.


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