How petty of California Assembly speaker to punish fellow Democrat for oil penalty vote | Opinion

How petty and pointless of California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to punish the only member of his party in the assembly who voted against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to hold oil companies accountable for gas prices based on greed.

Pointless, that is, unless the goal was to show that even token dissent will not be tolerated, and that the authoritarian impulse is contagious.

Rendon removed Assemblywoman Jasmeet Bains, a family doctor and the daughter of Indian immigrants, from the Assembly Business and Professions Committee after she voted against creating a watchdog group at the California Energy Commission. The new group will collect data intended to improve transparency and keep companies from price gouging.

The law itself seems like a fine idea: It’s supposed to make oil companies provide information that consumers deserve. It could set a profit cap and impose a penalty against those who exceed it. I’d vote for that.

But Bains was voting her district: She is the only Democratic Assembly member representing Kern County in California’s biggest oil-producing region.


Would Rendon prefer that she march in lockstep, even if it meant losing her seat to a Republican?

The bill passed easily, so why was a public disemboweling necessary?

Don’t Democrats believe that tolerance of dissent is a strength and that imposing uniformity is counterproductive?

It’s also unfortunate and unseemly that Newsom’s chief of staff felt the need to pile on.

“Stand alone if you must, but always stand for the truth,” Bains tweeted. “As the lone Democrat to oppose the new gas tax, I will never throw my constituents under the bus. I will continue to fight for lower gas prices and a stronger Kern County.”

Dana Williamson, Newsom’s chief of staff, responded with snark: “Alone and confused you shall likely remain.”

What happened to Democrats being the party that can handle diverse views?