Portantino disappointed about losing post

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino of La Cañada Flintridge told the Valley Sun this week he was disappointed to be removed last Thursday as chairman of the Assembly higher education committee by Speaker Fabian Nuñez.

“I was given no reason why, just an e-mail from the clerk's office,” Portantino said.

The local freshman was one of eight members who campaigned for election as speaker, to succeed Nuñez.

Assemblywoman Karen Bass was elected to the post.

Portantino said he didn't know why he would be punished for campaigning for the post.

“I worked within the rules he set up,” Portantino said, referring to Nuñez. The local man denied he took any special steps to seek the job.

Another speaker candidate, Hector de la Torre, was removed as rules committee chair by Nuñez.

Portantino, who will remain on the committee, said he was disappointed to lose the chance to work actively on education issues.

“I have five community colleges in my district,” he said. The California Community Colleges just honored him as a Friend of California Community Colleges, along with two other legislators.

Portantino has also been active in working for controls on salary increases for University of California management, saying they were running ahead of increases for classroom personnel.

A spokesman for Nuñez, who has yet to announce when he will transfer power to Bass, declined to comment on the chair change, calling it an internal caucus issue.

Portantino is up for re-election this year, and has no substantial opposition apparent on the horizon.

He is launching an issues committee this year, separate from his campaign committee, and is expected to continue to be active on state issues.

It is not clear what effect the purge of the two committee chairs will have on caucus unity, with major budget, health and infrastructure issues facing lawmakers in the remaining days of the session.

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