Friday’s Political Medley (98% COVID-free content!)


It’s a beautiful Friday today. After I’m done with this angry column, I’m gonna mask up and head to Asbury Park for lunch with a friend. It’s been a long time coming. I hope there’s some of that sort of thing in store for you this weekend, too.

In the meantime, there’s a lot going on in NJ politics this week. Did you notice?

NorcrossTown I 

I enjoy waking up to headlines like this one: “Altman Allies Notch a Win in Ongoing War with Norcross.”

That’s Sue Altman btw, the anti-machine liberal from South Jersey and ongoing source of heartburn for George Norcross, the boss of the South Jersey democratic machine.

The “win” came in court when a judge nixed a Machine gambit that would force Ms Altman to pay the Machine’s legal bills. The Machine wanted to send the message to all comers that, if you run against us, we’ll fight to have you thrown off the ballot and then send you the legal bills for your own disenfranchisement.

Ms Altman, who runs NJ Working Families,  called the ruling “a resounding victory for ordinary citizens who, for too long, have been shut out of local politics by George Norcross’ political machine and its heavy-handed tactics.”

Altman’s resilience and fightback make her different than others who’ve drawn King George into battle. But she’s still an underdog against Norcross’ legal juggernaut.

“Norcross’ political allies, including his personal attorney Bill Tambussi (previously Donald Trump’s attorney) went into today’s hearing trying to send a message that anyone daring to run against the machine could be liable for six-figure damages,” Altman added.

By the way, did you catch the part about George Norcross’ personal lawyer used to work for Donald Trump?

(Note to the liberal firebrands: a good day in court masked an inability to field Freeholder candidates in multiple counties. Don’t blame COVID-19! All y’all needed was 100 verifiable signatures to avoid this amateur-hour spectacle!)

Pot Holes

We’re rapidly approaching the 1st anniversary of Jake Honig’s Law, legislation to improve NJ’s long-suffering medical cannabis program. Some bits of Jake’s Law have kicked in already. It’s easier and cheaper to qualify and to register for NJ’s medical cannabis program. New dispensaries have opened since last year bringing NJ’s total to 9. That’s still way too few in a state with 9m people, but after stalling at 6 for several years, 3 new dispensaries feels like a lot.

But it’s still expensive to get medical cannabis in NJ, a state whose supply side issues are legendary.

And the dearth of research investment 12 months out feels like a missed opportunity.

Jackie Cornell is Chief of Policy and Health Innovations at 1906, a cannabis start up based in Colorado. She’s also NJ’s former Principal Deputy Health Commissioner.

“Given the shortcomings of the existing operators, the greatest lost opportunity of a year of stagnation is the lack of clinical registrant permits,” Ms Cornell told InsiderNJ. “Hospitals are facing unprecedented shortfalls and these research opportunities would be a welcome influx of investment and new revenue.”

The ball’s in the Governor’s court on this one.

Jake Honig’s Law mandated the formation of a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee the medical marijuana industry in NJ. We’re still awaiting the Governor’s picks for the Commission before advancing the research opportunities that were promised a year ago.

Norcross II

Appointing a Supreme Court justice is perhaps the most impactful gesture a sitting Governor can make. If confirmed, these justices will serve years and often decades longer than the Governor who appoints them.

By all accounts, Fabiana Pierre-Louis is a prodigious legal talent with a unique and compelling back story. News that NJ Gov Phil Murphy nominated Ms Pierre-Louis to NJ’s high court drew high praise from most corners.

Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill is a former federal prosecutor who represents NJ’s 11th Congressional district.

““I applaud the nomination of Fabiana Pierre-Louis to the NJ Supreme Court,” Sherrill said on Twitter. “I worked with Fabiana at the US Attorney’s Office, as the Attorney-in-Charge of the Camden Branch Office, Fabiana broke barriers and worked tirelessly to serve our country and keep our communities safe”

Republicans chimed in as well.

“Ms. Pierre-Louis has an abundance of New Jersey-based legal experience and her credentials are par excellence,” said NJ Senator Mike Testa (R-Cumberland)

Notwithstanding some warm and generous praise from NJ Senator Troy Singleton (D- Burlington), most South Jersey Democrats had nothing to say about Ms Pierre-Louis’ nomination.

The South Jersey Machine will fire off a dozen angry Tweets about Sue Altman just became it’s a Tuesday. But hardly a peep about Ms Pierre-Louis, a South Jersey local  who’s poised to become the first Black woman to sit on NJ’s highest court.

Their silence, at this moment in American history, is voluminous.

Two hurdles remain for Ms Pierre-Louis: a confirmation vetting by the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee who will vote to advance her nomination  and then a full Senate vote.

Jay Lassiter is an award-winning writer, videographer, and podcaster who’s still fascinated by NJ politics after all these years. 

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One response to “Friday’s Political Medley (98% COVID-free content!)”

  1. God bless you, Jay Lassiter. You have been a tireless, fearless warrior against snakes in swamps all over!

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