PolitiCalON POLITICS IN THE GOLDEN STATESkirmish breaks out on Assembly floor during budgetdebate [Video]June 15, 2011 | 9:15pmBudget debates in Sacramento are often heated, but they don’t often require lawmakers to restrainone another in front of rolling television cameras to prevent them from getting physical.Except on Wednesday.It all began when Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine) likened a portion of the Democrats’ budgetplan, a plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies, to a “Tony Soprano” insurance scheme.Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) quickly rose to say that “as a proudItalian American, I resent that and I would respectfully ask the commenter to make an apology toItalian Americans in California."Wagner retorted, “I will apologize to any Italian Americans who are not in the Mafia and engaged ininsurance scams,” to audible murmurs and grumbling in the chamber.
Then Wagner rose again. "My apology, if one is needed, is sincere," he said. "My reference is certainlynot one that no one in this room gets… I think my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especiallyone who seems to be extraordinarily outraged over this for reasons I dont understand -- myreference 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, hustledover to confront Wagner and the two had to be separated by colleagues.The exchange begins at around the 2:45 minute mark in this video.-- Shane Goldmacher in SacramentoPhoto: Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-Gardena) is held back by, from left, AssemblymenManuel Perez (D-Coachella), Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), and Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park) as heexchanges words with Assemblyman Donald Wagner (R-Irvine). Credit: Hector Amezcua /Sacramento Bee