Chamber Train, the Morning After

Williams, right, and Fuscarino

(Washington) — It looks like a very good breakfast, at least by hotel standards.

Lot of pastries and yummy looking fruit plus a really nice coffee/ tea setup will greet everyone this morning. It’s really early at the Marriott Wardman, site of the annual NJ Chamber Train trip to Washington DC. This trip is an opportunity for NJ political- and business leaders to make deals and reconnect with old friends and colleagues.

This event has come under scrutiny in the #MeToo era and rightfully so. There’s always been a very “boys club” vibe which sets not the best tenor, especially for women. But this year seems different than years past. There was less rowdiness and fewer drunken shenanigans than I usually observe.

There was no booze on the train. And convention-goers have a phone number on the back of their name tags with a number to report harassment. I’ve heard people criticize those measures as too little too late and maybe that’s true. But a quieter, mellower, less boozy train ride is GREAT by me. As for the hotline, well, that feels like an important step. There are people I care about who could have used a hotline in years past, especially at the League of Municipalities event in Atlantic City which (IMHO) is a lot bawdier than whatever this train ride serves up.

(Hopefully the League is watching and learning.)

I overheard that the hotline, active through March 6, only got one call last night, from someone who missed the train. But still. Having a hotline provides recourse. And it helps to chill the whoever negative impulses lead to harassment.

So as I sit here in a (mostly) empty hotel ballroom waiting for the 8am breakfast to begin, I’m reflecting. This is my 6th Chamber Train event and my 3rd time on board the actual train. I’ve heard the calls to cancel this event and events like it. That would be unfortunate. This year’s event was gayer than years past (see pic. Garden State Equality’s Christian Fuscarino and Union Co Freeholder Rebecca Williams) with many more women onboard than usual.

To me, more LGBTs and more women is just what the doctors ordered.

Who ordered the Brownies?

My favorite part of this trip is the chance to visit one of DC’s medical cannabis dispensaries.

NJ’s medical marijuana program remains plagued by high prices, long line, and crappy selection. I spent $200 for an ounce of medical cannabis here which is half the price of whatever they’re selling in NJ.

Going out of state to spend my money is not what the NJ Chamber of Commerce had in mind when they sponsor this trip, ostensibly to boost commerce and business back home. Hopefully someone from the Chamber is reading this and asking themselves how they can make NJ a better, more hospitable place for cannabis commerce. But I digress.

Reporters Roundtable.

I was really enjoying my eggs -n- cheese croissant in peace when the tech crew arrived for sound checks. NJTV is here hosting a Reporters Roundtable-like panel from DC, an annual tradition.

CHECK CHECK CHECK!! TESTING ONE TWO ONE!!! TWO!!!

I’m glad I didn’t drink last night because sound checks and hangovers are not a winning combo.

The room is starting to fill up. NJTV’s David Cruz and Stacie Sherman of Bloomberg are here. They’re panelists on today’s show but they don’t seem nervous. I would probably be a nervous wreck if i was about to go on TV but they’re holding court with ease.

I should go mingle. I always pretend I’m super busy at these events to hide my crippling anxiety and mask the social awkwardness I usually bring to the table.

I promised myself I would mingle more this year so let’s go do that.

 

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