SACRAMENTO — Assemblyman Steve Peace (D-Chula Vista) and State Sen. Alfred Alquist (D-Santa Clara) exchanged angry words in a capitol corridor Tuesday after the Senate Appropriations Committee defeated a proposal by Peace to spend $3 million for school buses equipped for handicapped passengers.
The exchange riled Senate President Pro Tempore David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), who demanded an apology from Peace. It could mean the Senate will retaliate by defeating several pending bills introduced by Peace, whose 80th District covers Chula Vista, National City and Otay Mesa.
Peace said the confrontation was elevated to a loud name-calling incident by Alquist, the powerful appropriations chairman. But a spokesman for Roberti said the Senate leader had been given reports that Peace followed Alquist from a hearing room and angrily confronted him in a corridor.
Alquist even summoned a Capitol sergeant-at-arms, fearing Peace might need to be restrained, Roberti's spokesman said.
Based on those reports, Roberti, who did not witness the incident, feels that Peace owes Alquist an apology. "There's a pretty general feeling that Steve Peace has to explain himself . . . . An awful lot of people heard what he had to say. Right now, the attitude of the Senate is his name is a misnomer," Roberti told United Press International.
A Senator, who asked not to be identified, told UPI he witnessed the exchange and that Peace initiated the heated exchange.
"It was the worst conduct . . . I've seen from one member to another with the hardest language," the Senator said. "It was totally uncalled for in my opinion. He (Peace) took him (Alquist) on after we'd been very gracious in the handling of his bill."
Capitol sources said the shouting match might result in several bills authored by Peace being killed in the Senate in retaliation for the incident, and Peace acknowledged that was a likely outcome. "Sure, they're going to kill my bills. I know it," he said.
David Takashima, an aide to Peace, said the Senate is considering several measures authored by Peace, including three crime bills that would strengthen penalties against sex offenders, a bill that would authorize the Public Utilities Commission to inspect the books and records of phone companies operating in California, and legislation that would authorize financing for a proposed off-road vehicle park in Otay Mesa.
Peace said the confrontation began when he asked Alquist to explain why his school bus bill had been killed. "I fully intended to have an intelligent discussion," Peace said.
But instead, Peace claimed, Alquist was defensive and answered, "If ever there was a 14-karat asshole, you're it."
Peace acknowledged that he then called Alquist a "pitiful little creature."
The confrontation comes as the Legislature is laboring long hours to pass hundreds of bills before it adjourns in two weeks. Many of the bills must be considered by fiscal committees like Alquist's.