Senate confirms disgraced Shiroma for a fourth ALRB term
ALRB-boardmember-for-life Genevieve Shiroma, long accused of bias on the agricultural panel, got a party-line Senate confirmation this week for yet another term.
“It’s time for her to retire,” said Senator Tom Berryhill. “She’s been on that board a long time.” Governor Gray Davis first appointed Shiroma in 1999.
Headlining the news, the Sacramento Bee called Shiroma “controversial” and cited lawmakers who called her a shill for the UFW.
Shiroma got confirmed despite – or perhaps because of – her ties to UFW lobbyist Richie Ross. “After vocal objections from Republicans who questioned whether she could be ‘fair and balanced,’ Shiroma was confirmed 26-11 along party lines,” the Sacramento Bee reports.
Senator Berryhill led opposition to Shiroma’s fourth term on the Senate floor. “Noting that Richie Ross, a Democratic campaign consultant who lobbies for the United Farm Workers, had worked on Shiroma’s campaigns for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District board of directors, Berryhill said there was a perception among growers that she has a conflict of interest in adjudicating their disputes,” according to the Bee.
“Her [Shiroma’s] relationship with the UFW’s lobbyist, who is also her campaign manager, while not illegal, creates the perception, within the agriculture industry that she cannot be fair and balanced,” Berryhill said on his official website.
Agricultural interests – including farmworkers who oppose the UFW – “were angered in recent years as Shiroma refused to recuse herself in an ongoing conflict between UFW and Gerawan Farms of Fresno County, and blocked the counting of ballots in a vote by Gerawan workers on whether to decertify the UFW from their representation,” the Bee reported.
In an apparent reference to PickJustice.com, the Bee said, “They launched a social media campaign highlighting her connection to Ross following her reappointment by Gov. Jerry Brown in January.”
Senator Berryhill is concerned that public confidence in the state agricultural agency is breaking down. “Impartiality and lack of bias are the building blocks of the entire ALRB process,” he said. “When folks – on either side – lose faith in the ability to get a fair hearing, the process doesn’t work.”