Referee Stops Fight as Lobbyist Wilson, Senator Square Off


The state Senate’s chief sergeant-at-arms said Wednesday that he prevented lobbyist Bob Wilson, a former state senator from San Diego, from slugging a state senator during an argument over a judges’ pension bill.

Sergeant-at-Arms Tony Beard said the incident took place Tuesday afternoon in a hallway outside the Senate chamber.

Beard said he was talking to someone else when he overheard a conversation between Sen. Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward) and Wilson become “more personal than normal.”


Wilson started to take a swing at Lockyer, Beard said, but he grabbed Wilson’s arm and prevented him from landing the blow.

“I leaped and grabbed him by the biceps and held him up against the wall,” Beard said, adding that he walked Wilson down the hall to calm him down.

Neither Wilson nor Lockyer wanted to talk about the incident.

“The president pro tem (of the Senate) has suggested that it would be better not to have a lot of comment . . . ,” Lockyer said. “I prefer to not say anything and let the wounds heal.”

He did say that the dispute was over legislation dealing with whether counties should be allowed to pay judges’ share of payments to the judges’ retirement system.

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the behest of its chairman, Lockyer, had fashioned legislative language that officially rescinded an agreement calling for San Diego County to pay for $800,000 in annual pension contributions that would otherwise come out of the pockets of its 127 Municipal and Superior Court judges.

The special agreement was contained in a bill sponsored last year by former Sen. Larry Stirling (R-San Diego), who saw the measure signed into law a few months before he left the Legislature to become a municipal judge himself.

Stirling said he has also talked with his former colleagues, arguing against the pension change.

Wilson also wouldn’t discuss the incident in detail.

“Tempers flare at the end of the session,” Wilson said. “I feel bad about it. We’ve been friends. I guess it’s been 17 years. We’ll continue to be friends, I’m sure.

“My temper got the best of me.”