(Asbury Park, NJ) — There’s a word for someone who says one thing and does another: hypocrite. There’s no shortage of ’em in Trenton — from both parties — who “talk the talk” but don’t “walk the walk.” No doubt, whoever takes the Jersey Hypocrite of the Year Award in 2014 will richly deserve it. It’s too early to give out the award now, but it’s not too early to make nominations. Which is why I submit, for your gracious consideration, my nominee for Trenton Hypocrite of the Week: Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini.
Would you like a Jell-O-shot with your Bucket of Rum?
Last night Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini held a $2,000-a-table fundraiser at one of Asbury Park’s booziest party spots: The Beach Bar. A quick peek at their Yelp review page reveals mostly pictures of the Beach Bar’s signature specialty: the “Rum Bucket”, a 24oz. concoction of booze, booze, booze and sugar water. One reviewer put it succinctly:
“If you require a bucket full of the hard stuff you won’t be disappointed in the Beach Bar. But because the restroom locations are not suitable to manage large amounts of vomiting, in my opinion, I had to pass on this drink special. Perhaps the bucket could serve two purposes?”
Got that? This is where one goes in Asbury Park to get hammered.
Now it’s hardly newsworthy when a politician holds a fundraiser at a bar. But when you combine this particular politician with the bawdiest watering hole in town, it adds up to hypocrisy. As a foot soldier in American’s failed “War on Drugs,” Mary Pat Angelini never missed an opportunity to “just say no.” She said no to medical marijuana for sick and dying patients (likening hospice nurses to drug dealers.)
Mary Pat Angelini SAID NO to a needle exchange program in New Jersey as well. “This sends a clear message that there is no hope of recovery for intravenous drug abusers,” Angelini said at the time, never mind the scientific fact that needle-exchange reduces both healthcare costs and HIV transmission rates.
Her rationale was a familiar one: access to clean needles sends a message that society condones IV drug use. Which is like a doctor saying to a grieving mother, “Sorry about your dead son. I couldn’t treat him when he overdosed. It would send the wrong message to society.”
Clearly Mary Pat Angelini’s not worried about the message we send with 24oz buckets of liquor. But harm reduction measures that curb AIDS and hepatitis rates in NJ? That’s apparently a bridge too far. Were taking about a politician here who represents Asbury Park and Neptune, both among the highest HIV transmission rates in the state. Which is where hypocrisy makes bad policy for the rest of us.
Sex, (no) Drugs and Rock&Roll
Last night’s high-dollar rum bucket-fuelled fundraiser was’t the first time Angelini was at once incoherent and hypocritical. Just last month Angelini was busy “rocking for a good cause” at Jersey’s most raucous and venerable music venue, the Stone Pony. The good cause you ask? Drug and alcohol abuse.
Because nothing says “Just Say No” like the greatest honky-tonk in Jersey Rock-n-Roll history, right?
Mary Pat Angelini’s “do as I say, not as I do” attitude is bad enough. Apparently drugs and alcohol are a menace is (unless it’s in service to your campaign to go back to Trenton to tell others not to drink.) That’s why she’s my nominee for Trenton Hypocrite of the Week.
Jay Lassiter is a long-time New Jersey political gadfly. You can find him on twitter @Jay_Lass.