Leland Yee loses No. 2 Senate postBy Mike Rosenberg
Shortly after seeing his name removed from a San Bruno disaster relief bill, state Sen. Leland Yee now has been stripped of his largely ceremonial post as the No. 2 ranking member of the Senate.
Although only the legislators know for sure why Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, is getting hit with political jabs, he is convinced it is because he was the only senator who voted against the recently approved state budget.
Just as he did last year, Yee refused to cast a vote in favor of the state budget because it included what he called "devastating" cuts to schools, social services and health care.
At the same time, lawmakers killed a budget bill Yee introduced to provide tax relief to victims of the San Bruno explosion.
The lawmakers then reintroduced the same bill and passed it without Yee's name, he said.
Then on Sunday night, the chief of staff for Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, e-mailed Yee's head staffer to tell him Yee no longer would be assistant president pro tempore.
Yee agreed to order new letterhead and office materials without the title.
"I'm a big boy, I understand it, I get it," Yee said Tuesday. "But no amount of punishment is going to deter me from voting with my conscience.
"If you cannot do what you think is right, then what is the point of being an elected official?" he said. "You might as well be in a communist country, and the dictator tells you what to do, and you salute the flag, and that's what you do."
Yee is not facing serious competition in his re-election bid Nov. 2 and has not ruled out running for mayor of San Francisco in the future.
Steinberg spokesman Nathan Barankin declined to comment Tuesday on the reasoning for the decision but mentioned the position had long been vacant.
Yee, who touts himself as the first Asian-American to get the job, was only the second person to fill the post.
Barankin said there are no plans to fill the position, which does not entail any specific duties.
"We were able to get along for 100 yeas without it before," Barankin said.
Copyright ©2010 San Mateo County Times. Published 10/19/2010.