Did You Hear the One About the Drunken Ironworkers?

Jersey City Mayor Fulop.

Jersey City Mayor Fulop.

The rest of the universe is busy taking about Governor Chris Christie’s underwhelming performance on the campaign trail. So blessedly, we’re able to focus on more important things like fruit smoothies, drunk ironworkers, and real live political leadership.

Testing Trenton’s Culinary Inhibitions

Trenton’s abysmal restaurant scene got slightly less awful with the recent opening of a new eatery called Weedman’s Joint. It’s located at 322 E. State Street, across from City Hall, just blocks from the State House, in case you’re wondering. Owned by local activist/entrepreneur Ed “Weedman” Forchoin, Weedman’s Joint serves up yummy sandwiches, fresh fruit smoothies, and vegan pasties. There’s even a ‘Chris Christie Burger’ on the menu if you’re hungry for a double turkey burger + mac-n-cheese served between two glazed donuts.

You’re supposed to notice the marijuana theme here.  After all, Ed Forchoin has been fighting to reform our pot laws since the Reagan era. He even ran for NJ Governor in 2005 on a “Legalize Marijuana” ticket.  Long dismissed as a fringe outlier — a big black dude in dreadlocks smelling of patchouli — with each passing year New Jersey’s venerable Weedman becomes increasingly mainstream. Ed would probably tell you he hasn’t changed much in the last couple decades. The rest of the world is simply catching up to him. He’s got the Assembly resolution and Wall Street Journal creds to prove it.

Ironworkers Keep it Classy

A political event down in South Jersey turned farcical when ironworkers and local politicians came to blows. Quite literally. According to the Press of Atlantic City “Union President Roy Foster confirmed that first there was an incident involving (Democratic) Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo and four members of Ironworkers Local 350, and that later in the night, a fight broke out. Foster said former Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans was hit by a punch intended for someone else.”

It’s easy to chalk it up as drunk men behaving much like you’d expect them to. But this incident provides a useful peek into the increasingly hard-fought South Jersey assembly races that’ll be settled in November’s election. New Jersey’s 1st and 2nd legislative districts are so-called ‘split districts’, meaning they’re represented in Trenton by both parties. That’s not a huge surprise based on the area’s voter demographics where Republicans slightly outnumber Democrats and unaffiliated voters outpace both parties. By the numbers both are quintessential swing districts. Hence, the hyper-competitive atmosphere that gave us this week’s drunken nincompoopery. And if you think watching 2 parties battle for four 4 seats is bad now, just wait till all that SuperPAC money starts to flow. Or should I say gush?

Sadly, after the punches are thrown and (unprecedented) dollars spent, not much will change regardless who wins in southernmost Jersey. Three things could happen: 1) the lineup remain ‘split’ as is, 2) the Democrats narrowly expand their Assembly majority by picking off a seat or two, or 3) the GOP shrinks the gap by knocking off one (or both) Dems. In a body of 80 legislative members, moving the needle one or two notches right or left won’t much affect the overall tally.

In an ironic twist, a GOP sweep of these four seats would actually most benefit liberal democrats in the Assembly. With their two most conservative Democrats sidelined, we’d see the Assembly Democratic caucus take a big step leftwards.  

(But enough about my fantasies…..)

Fulop 1, PSE&G 0

Last time PSE&G came to my ‘hood to lay some pipe, they left the roads in dismal shape. Neighbors dodged mini craters and accidental speed bumps for ages before Cherry Hill township mended our pockmarked street. Which feels a heckuva lot like local taxes being used to clean up PSE&G’s mess! But if you think PSE&G gets messy in suburbia, you should see their urban handiwork. (Here’s a hint: it’s a lot worse!)

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop agreed. If you read this site on Monday you know that “the mayor shut down all of the utility company’s non-essential projects in Jersey City because, according to the mayor and other local and county officials, the company is doing an inadequate and unacceptable job in terms of repairing city streets that have been dug up in order to perform maintenance underground.”

Two days later, Woodlawn Park Mayor Keith Kazmark followed suit. “The streets are left in disrepair,” Kazmark said. “Residents are starting to get frustrated.”

On Thursday PSE&G cried “uncle” and promised to mend its messes by November.

“We’re very happy we could come to an agreement with PSE&G, and we look forward to working with them to keep Jersey City infrastructure in a state of repair we can all be proud of,” Fulop said. (Other mayors, take note!)

“The Mayor took a stand on an issue facing townships all over New Jersey,” Fulop’s office tells PolitickerNJ. “This model is exportable. Jersey City will have great streets. But we hope great streets don’t stop at Jersey City’s edge.”

Amen to that.


Jay Lassiter started covering NJ politics in 2005 as a blogger for BlueJersey.com. After a stint as America’s first State House blogger, Jay did communication for Congressman Rob Andrews and Congressman John Adler. Jay’s best known for his work legalizing medical marijuana and gay marriage and for working to end NJ’s death penalty. He’s on Twitter at @Jay_Lass.

Did You Hear the One About the Drunken Ironworkers?