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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino’s Local and Capitol Staff to be laid- off For Six Weeks – Open House and Food Drive To Be Held Wednesday, Oct. 5

State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino’s Local and Capitol Staff to be laid- off For Six Weeks – Open House and Food Drive To Be Held Wednesday, Oct. 5

by Terry Miller
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State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino’s Local and Capitol Staff to be laid- off For Six Weeks –

Open House and Food Drive To Be Held Wednesday, Oct. 5

Anthony Portantino’s office is being forced to close and all the staff laid-off for six weeks beginning October 21 – Nov. 30. The punitive action by Assembly Speaker Perez is apparently in retaliation for the state Assemblyman’s “no” vote on the budget.

11 employees and 2 interns are directly affected by this action and the state has advised those employees that they should apply for unemployment insurance. The medical benefits will remain intact according to Wendy Gordon at Portantino’s Pasadena office.

The initial warnings about the layoffs arrived in July.

Assembly leaders have accused Portantino of being over budget and subsequently ordered his offices in both the district and Sacramento closed. They have refused to release detailed budget accounts that would shed light on how Assembly budgets are handled. Portantino has voed to man the Pasadena office himself .

Here’s a timeline of events that led up to this situation:

June 29 – CA legislature passes state budget. Portantino is the only Democrat to vote no.

July 8 — Assembly Rules sends letter to Portantino claiming he is $67,000 over budget and that unless he does something, his entire staff will be furloughed without pay Oct 21 – Nov. 30, 2011

July 11 – Portantino responds accusing Democratic Assembly leaders of punishing him for his NO vote on the budget and demands spending records be released to show Speaker Perez’ claims are false.

(Office budgets for Assembly members cost taxpayers $146 million annually, which is allocated by the Rules Committee and controlled by Assembly Speaker Perez.)

July 14 – Portantino files a formal Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) request to Assembly Rules and Speaker Perez requesting all Assembly member budget records, committee budget records, all expenditures and writings concerning budget allocations.

July 28 – Assembly leaders respond to Portantino’s LORA request with formal denials citing confidentiality and saying: “ …those records are not subject to mandatory disclosure.”

Aug 5 – Sacramento Bee and LA Times file lawsuit requesting the release of all Assembly budget records challenging the Assembly’s refusal to release office budgets and spending.

Aug 12 – Portantino bucks Perez and releases his legislative calendar to the press/public.

Aug 15 – Portantino continues push for transparency in state government by introducing an amendment to Assembly House Rules calling for all financial records to be made public – immediately. Legislation is shelved by Assembly Rules Committee.

Aug 25 – Portantino introduces AB 1129, which calls on the State Legislature to comply with the same public records standards imposed on all other levels of government in California, including the Governor. The bill calls for the elimination of the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) and replaces it with the California Public Records Act which is used to disclose records by all statewide office holders and public agencies.

Aug 26 – Assembly Rules Committee releases some of the data on office budgets.(see website – www.asm.ca.gov. Information is on bottom, left side.)

Aug 29 – Stanford’s California Common Sense crunches the Assembly Rules data release and finds the data misleading and inconsistent. Portantino claims they “cooked the books”.

Sep 12 – Assembly issues formal denial of LATimes/SacBee budget records lawsuit. Portantino criticizes Assembly leaders for spending tax payer money fighting to keep Assembly spending records secret.

In the meantime, recognizing that there are others in California worse off than the district office – Portantinos’ staff is hosting an Open House and food drive for Foothill Unity Center and Friends in Deed next Wednesday, October 5 from 4 to 7pm at their district office, 215 N. Marengo at the Walnut Plaza Lobby and Suite 115.

“Recognizing that too many of our friends and neighbors throughout our communities are heavily impacted by food insecurity, we are asking the community to join us in contributing non-perishable food items to Foothill Unity Center and Friends in Deed at this event,” said Portantino. “It’s an immediate way for us to help them continue the wonderful work they do to combat hunger.”

The staff is asking people to bring non-perishable food items such as peanut butter, tuna fish, canned chicken and other canned googs which have a long shelf life.

The office will assist you in navigating state web sites and provide resources to obtain access to state agencies.

“We’ll be making and serving lemonade and cookies – as the saying goes: “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” said Wendy Gordon.

For more information: call (626) 577-9944

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