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Senator’s Name Stripped From Bill After Speech

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a rare move, the Assembly Tuesday stripped a bill by state Sen. Don Rogers of his name in an effort to overcome animosity over his appearance last weekend before a group of suspected racists.

With Rogers listed as its author, the otherwise mundane bill to create a flood control district in the Antelope Valley was headed nowhere, Assembly members said.

Assemblyman William J. (Pete) Knight (R-Palmdale), who sponsored the amendment replacing Rogers as author with state Sen. Ken Maddy (R-Fresno), said he was asked to do so by Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco).

Knight said he was told by Brown that the bill stood no chance of winning Democratic votes as long as it bore Rogers’ name.

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“It was suggested by the Speaker primarily because the leaders of the Democratic Party were concerned about the speech that Sen. Rogers gave in Bakersfield,” Knight said.

Brown refused comment. But in addressing the Assembly immediately after the unusual parliamentary move, he told members that making Maddy the author allowed it to “be taken up on its merits. . . . Clearly you removed the liability of Rogers.”

Rogers was the featured speaker last Saturday night at the Fourth Annual Jubilation Celebration and Conference at a hotel in Bakersfield. The event was sponsored by a California-based newspaper called the Jubilee, which is the leading national publication for the Christian Identity movement.

According to watchdog groups that track extreme right-wing organizations, the movement promotes the belief that Northern European descendants are superior to people of color.

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In answering criticism about his appearance, Rogers said he spoke to the group, whom he knew only to be “patriotic Americans,” about the need to reaffirm states’ rights. The Tehachapi Republican said he does not condone racism.

Rogers said he supported the move to take his name off the flood control district bill if that action was necessary to get his bill passed by the Assembly.

“I heard that some Democrats were disgruntled because of the Jubilee thing and I guess they thought they were going to chastise me,” he said. “I’m elated. It’s one less bill for me to worry about.

“My reaction is that it seemed rather childish, but no one has ever accused the Legislature of being mature.” Meanwhile, members of the legislative Black Caucus were moving toward holding talks with Rogers.

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“We just have to have conversations,” said Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles).

As to whether Rogers has damaged his effectiveness as a legislator--at least in the Assembly--Moore said, “I think that clearly is the message that one hopes to send.”


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