Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Assemblyman Don Wagner, that silver-tongued devil, offends Italian Americans, nearly causes a fist fight

LA Times

Fight Breaks out on California Assembly Floor during Budget Talks (KTXL.TV Sacramento)

See also SacBee's VIDEO

Don "Mad Dog" Wagner
     Two lawmakers got into an argument on the California Assembly Floor while debating redevelopment bills.
     It all started when Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, compared the bill to the HBO hit “The Sopranos.” He said, “Let’s not buy the insurance policy that Tony Soprano is selling us.”
     Then, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, stood up, saying he was offended by Wagner’s comments. “As a proud Italian-American, I resent that and would respectfully ask the commenter to make an apology to Italian-Americans in California.”
     Wagner took the bait, saying, “I will apologize to any Italian-Americans that are not in the Mafia and engaged in insurance scams.”
     That comment brought murmuring from the Assembly floor, prompting Wagner to go even further. “My apology is sincere,” said Assemblyman Wagner. “My reference is not lost on anyone here. This is not an attack on anyone. This bill is a bait-and-switch.”
     The speaker tried to move the conversation on, but then Assemblyman Warren Furutani confronted Assemblyman Wagner. The two had to be broken up by colleagues.
     Eventually, the redevelopment bills were passed and handed over to Governor Jerry Brown.
     The state Legislature plowed through a package of majority-vote budget bills Wednesday afternoon, approving a plan to close the $9.6 billion deficit with more than seven hours left until the deadline for both houses to pass a budget.
     You can watch the scuffle in the [above] video. The comments begin about 3 minutes in.

See also:
SacBee
LA Times
SF Chronicle

15 comments:

  1. Don has always had some problems with impulse control. He isn't ready for the big time. Temper, temper.

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  2. From the SF Chronicle:

    "One of the Italian-American members, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, told us he had spoken with Wagner. When asked if he was offended by the comments, he said, "the first comment, absolutely not, the second, absolutely."

    Gatto said the second comment seemed to insinuate that all Italians are in the mafia.

    "He came and talked to me, but he still doesn't seem to understand," Gatto said. "I told him to watch the tape." "

    HOW CLUELESS can Wagner be? And he said that second remark with such an ugly tone...

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  3. Sac Bee has some footage of the confrontation with Furutani - and Wagner saying after "We're cool." Yeah, right. There's a arrogant thug-like quality to him I've never liked.

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  4. It took San Mateo, Menlo Park and Coachella to hold back Gardena from kicking Irvine's a@#.

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  5. Don looks a little heavy - and yes, clueless. He doesn't get it. And he doesn't like when people point it out to him.

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  6. Anyone really surprised?

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  7. hey, Don! You're not in Orange County anymore.

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  8. I think Sacto is a new experience for Don - for once he is not in the majority and it must be hard for him to deal with this. Let alone a dominant culture that is multicultural...he gets ugly so quickly.

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  9. I happened to see this live on TV because I was watching the Cal Channel. The original comment was no big deal, but the second one was massively offensive! (I am not Italian.) Wagner doesn't seem to know about the first rule of holes.

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  10. Don shouldn't dabble in rhetorical stylings - its shows his, uh, weaknesses too well.

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  11. Don doesn't get out much, does he?

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  12. It's really unfortunate because Don's first comment is merely a loose analogy; he's arguing inductively and -- because we have to be careful taking analogies too literally -- he made a provocative comment that, in itself, isn't offensive. It illustrates a point, it provokes thought. His "apology" afterwards was revealing and the really offensive part. If he had actually apologized, or explained himself, I think much of the near-fisticuffs would've been avoided. I think this incident happened due to the perfect storm of someone taking Don's analogy too literally/sensitively, and Don fueling the fire. I emailed Don a news story about an Italian-American fisherman-musician who is (to my knowledge) neither Mafia nor in insurance scams.

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  13. I agree with Mr. Snope - the initial analogy was not well chosen, but the "apology" and the remarks that followed -- GEEZ. Lord knows what he said to Furutani - someone, unlike Wagner, not known for his temper.

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  14. Perhaps Don's title is accurate, then, eh? Ass. Don Wagner.....

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  15. Good one, Matthew!

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