Rich Gordon helps restrain assemblyman in skirmish on Assembly floor Wednesday


Assemblymen Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, helped restrain another Democratic assemblyman from possible physical contact with a Republican during a debate on the Assembly floor Wednesday.

The outbreak stemmed from remarks by Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, who associated part of the Democrats' budget proposal, a plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies, to a "Tony Soprano" insurance scheme.

Asked by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, to apologize to Italian Americans, Mr. Wagner said, "I will apologize to any Italian Americans who are not in the Mafia and engaged in insurance scams."

Some in the Assembly expressed displeasure with that "apology," and Mr. Wagner returned to the microphone and said: "My apology, if one is needed, is sincere," he said. "My reference is certainly not one that no one in this room gets. … I think my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especially one who seems to be extraordinarily outraged over this for reasons I don't understand -- my reference is not lost on anyone here. This is not an attack on anyone. This bill is a bait and switch."

Moments later, Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Gardena, who is not Italian American, rushed to confront Mr. Wagner and the two had to be separated by colleagues.

Click here to see the Los Angeles Times photo and story, and a video.

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