What’s Wrong With Wiggins?

by AVA News Service, August 13, 2008

STATE SENATOR PAT WIGGINS, whose increasingly erratic public behavior was recently noted by the AVA, startled a public hearing last week when she suddenly and inexplicably swore at committee witness Pastor Robert Jones. Sen. Pat Wiggins interrupted Jones' testimony to say, "I think your arguments are bullshit." The exchange left Jones, the senior pastor at Oak Park United Methodist Church, stunned and offended. "It is a slap in the face," he said in an interview. The outburst occurred as Jones, 46, testified at an informational hearing on how California will cut global warming emissions. Jones, who is African American, said he went to urge lawmakers to consider minority communities when drafting those regulations. "Our communities are the ones who suffer more than any other communities — the poor and the underrepresented...," Jones said. "It is important to have our perspective." But less than two minutes into his presentation — and before he could finish — Wiggins blurted out, "Excuse me, but I think your arguments are bullshit." A stunned Jones turned to Wiggins and could muster only a "well..." before Sen. Christine Kehoe, a San Diego Democrat and the chair of the hearing, hastily interjected. "Let me step in here, Pastor Jones, we very much appreciate your presence here today and you're right. The community should be part of the discussion and it is," Kehoe said. In an interview on Saturday, Jones called Wiggins' comments "extremely disturbing" and said he had not yet been contacted by the senator, or her staff, to apologize. A plan, he said, was "in the works" to "respond to this affront." "There's a way to disagree without being disrespectful," Jones said. "As a public servant, particularly a lawmaker, there is a standard of ethics that they should be held to." Jones added that Sen. Kehoe had called to apologize on Wiggins' behalf. Wiggins' office issued a statement in response to a request for comment from Capitol Alert in which the Santa Rosa Democrat said she "deeply regrets her comment and looks forward to apologizing to the pastor personally." The statement added that she had "already attempted to do so through his representative" and would do so again soon. "She very much believes that the process of drafting regulations, as well as the pursuit of environmental justice issues generally, should be all-inclusive," her office said in the statement. "One of the main reasons for holding a legislative hearing is to seek input and testimony from a broad range of groups and individuals." The whole episode could have escaped notice in the frenetic final weeks of the legislative calendar. But on Friday, someone posted the Wiggins-Jones exchange on YouTube, the popular video-sharing Web site. As of Tuesday evening, the video had been viewed almost 3,000 times. (Courtesy, the Sacramento Bee)

WIGGINS, 68, is a career officeholder out of Santa Rosa, and much loved by that town's degraded newspaper which, with obvious, foot-dragging reluctance finally printed an account of Wiggin's wig-out in Tuesday's edition. The paper quoted their favorite solon's office as saying, "The senator deeply regrets her comments, but feels that this issue is between her and the pastor to whom she is seeking to apologize personally." A public outburst is a personal matter?

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