Another Crazy Week in NJ Politics

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Atlantic City-takeover drama has (once) again sucked all the oxygen out of room. Last week’s rendition was especially fevered, allowing little bandwidth for much else. In today’s column, we’ll mine a few gems you might have overlooked amid this latest kerfuffle down in AC.

Say it ain’t so, Loretta!?
Senator Loretta Weinberg has earned her stripes as an independent-minded, lefty, reformer. That’s why news of her decision to fundraise for Sen. Steve Sweeney’s gubernatorial SuperPAC landed with a thud. Dark, unregulated money has a corrosive effect on the political process. And raising dark, unregulated money for the most conservative democrat in Trenton just seems inconsistent with Sen. Weinberg’s well-cultivated brand.
“I have always tried to make choices which will result in realistic change for the progressive values I support,” Senator Weinberg said. “I am sure this (fundraiser for Sweeney) will lead to more discussion in the future.”
She can surely count on that.
I know firsthand what a fierce ally Loretta Weinberg can be. I just hope Sweeney knows how lucky he is to have her.
Trust him. He’s a doctor. Literally
Assemblyman Tim Eustace is an actual doctor so his voice is critical as we pursue opioid-free methods to deliver pain relief. In that spirit, he introduced a bill that would make menstrual cramps a qualifying condition for NJ’s medical marijuana program.
“We expect bipartisan support in the legislature,” Eustace, a democrat, told PolitickerNJ.
Turns out, his cross-party rivals seems eager to embrace this idea. A few seem willing to go even further.
“I would be open to supporting medical marijuana for women with debilitating menstrual cramps if it is shown to help,” GOP Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg told PolitickerNJ.
“I’m not necessarily opposed (to Eustace’s legislation) but rather than piecemeal I’d like to see other conditions included,” GOP Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi added, citing migraines and traumatic brain injuries. “I’d much prefer people using marijuana than opioid-based painkillers for some of these conditions”
“We could solve the entire problem by getting the government out of the business of regulating marijuana at all,” said Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, another republican who has worked steadfastly to end marijuana prohibition.
Meantime, “we’re putting a spotlight on the fact that the (Christie) administration is hostile to attempts by patients, along with their doctors, deciding what is best course of treatment,” Assemblymen Eustace told PNJ.
If Chris Christie wants to deny helping women who suffer from menstrual cramps then he can veto the bill! I dare him to! I dare any man to vote against this bill. The NJ General Assembly has yet to override a Chris Christie veto. Maybe this is the one.
(Note to Assembly members: You know who Eustace’s people are. Call them and cosponsor this bill ASAP!)
Jitney Summit
“Your constituents would be better off with peep shows, strip clubs, and nuke plants than with a new casino,” the jitney driver told Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop as we began a tour of Atlantic City this past Wednesday. The driver was referring to all the chatter about casino gambling expansion beyond Atlantic City. Jersey City is frequently touted as a possible locale for a new casino if expansion actually happens.
This so-called Jitney Summit was organized by Atlantic City council president Marty Small, who’s better acquainted than most with the foul stench that came in the wake of casino legalization in Atlantic City.
“A tour of promises broken,” Small rued, gesturing towards dozens of prime oceanfront properties, all left abandoned, the sad legacy of casino gambling in Atlantic City.
Naturally the trip included a stop at the Site Formerly Known as the Revel Casino, that inglorious $2.7b boondoggle whose fate was surely sealed long before it even opened. To behold that big, costly, crumbling behemoth was truly heartbreaking. What a waste! Hearing about Revel’s demise is one thing. Seeing with your own eyes is quite another. It really takes your breath away.
“Maybe it is worthwhile to pause and take a step back from casinos in Jersey City.” Fulop told PolitickerNJ. “I was initially very fast to embrace (a new casino) thinking about all the positives. When you see Atlantic City it is hard not to say to oneself ‘maybe we should reexamine if this is actually something we want in Jersey City’.”
“I was 100% there until the Jersey City community moved me,” Fulop added. “The Atlantic City community has moved me too.”
Fulop and Sweeney are both on the shortlist to replace Chris Christie in 2017. So when Fulop’s excursion onto Sweeney’s South Jersey turf coincided with Sweeney’s appearanc in Jersey City, NJ political junkies went into overdrive. Who reaps more from these forays will be determined when democratic voters choose their candidate to replace the Governor.
Politics and tea leaves aside, if going to Atlantic City causes Steve Fulop take a more trenchant look at casino expansion, it was worth the trip.
Jay Lassiter started covering NJ politics in 2005 as a blogger for After a stint as America’s first State House blogger, Jay did communication for Congressman Rob Andrews’ and Congressman John Adler’s campaigns. 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.
Another Crazy Week in NJ Politics