NJ Politics Holiday Hodgepodge


Remember being young when Christmas was so awesome you could barely stand it? Recall how those days before Santa’s arrival went by so slowly in anticipation of the big day? We’ll never get those days back. But if we’re really lucky, we’ll have a Christmas season filled with good, hearty political dish.

To that end, here’s my holiday hodgepodge.


A Manlier (Pictured) 2018?

It’s hard not to notice how many women will depart the NJ legislature next year. Senator Diane Allen finally retired. GOP Assemblywomen Maria Rodriguez and Gail Phoebus called it quits. Senator Jen Beck lost her seat. And Marlene Caride, Sheila Oliver, and Liz Muoio will curtail their assembly careers and join the Murphy Administration. In most cases the heir apparent to replace these ladies is a man. NJ always had a shockingly imbalanced male-to-female ratio. Apparently next year it gets more out-of-balance We’re going backwards. Minus four, if the math holds up.

Gender equality creates better outcomes. Ironically, anyone telling you otherwise is is almost always vastly over-represented in the halls of power.


He’s Naughty

The next time you hear Conservatives whining about the “war on Christmas”, please send them last week’s column where this godless liberal uttered the word Christmas a dozen times. It was fun doling out holiday wishes to the naughty and the nice of NJ politics. One name was omitted from the list by mistake: Parker Space, the confederate-waving, right wing assemblyman from Sussex County. He and I clash politically on everything. But I begrudge no one a good night’s sleep which is why my Christmas wish for Parker Space is this set of luxury bed linens. These 1020-thread-count sateen sheets, woven in Italy, are the hight of decadence.

They come in white so anyone wearing the top sheet to a Klan rally would fit right in.


A Swing & a Miss.

Assembly bill 5264 aims to curb NJ’s opiate crisis by handing out tougher sentences for heroin-related crimes. The bill got a hearing this week but after a torrent of of bi-partisan blowback, the Assembly Judiciary Committee declined to call a vote.

All the while, no one’s talking about prevention. Rather, this bill invokes the darkest side of America’s failed War on Drugs. 

The impulse to lock ‘em up and throw away the key is an expensive proposition. Those resources are better spent on prevention. Or funding a proper needle exchange program in the state. But needle exchange makes us feel uncomfortable to even discuss. No one talks about dirty needles and all the diseases they carry. Or that most addicts turn to sex work to feed their addiction. 

 Instead, the contents of this bill reflect the only thing about the heroin crisis that we’re comfortable discussing: the law & order piece. That unwillingness to legislate (or even debate) the darker side of addiction is why we’re failing at this.

I’m glad this bill was pulled. I’ll be more glad when it’s dead. 



I’ve lost track of how many times serial predator Bill O’Reilly was accessed of sexual harassment. It’s a lot. I mean how many pussies can you grab before losing a gig at FOX News?! Anyhoo, O’Reilly’s suing former NJ Assemblyman Mike Panter for $5,000,000 for “intentional, malicious, and bad faith actions in making defamatory and false statements in a publicly available social media post.”

Long story short: Panter previously dated a woman who accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment. As part of a settlement, O’Reilly and his victim signed a non-disclosure agreement. After watching “O’Reilly spinning his falsehoods almost daily… while suggesting he’s been persecuted,” Panter called out O’Reilly on social media.

“Bill should be aware that not everyone is bound by a non-disclosure … I am not,” Panter warned.

So O’Reilly sued for $5m. Panter’s response: Bring it. (paraphrased, of course)

First of all, “NDAs (nondisclosure agreements) are tools for the rich and powerful to sweep bad behavior under the rug,” Panter told InsiderNJ. “I spoke up because women had been legally silenced, while the alleged perpetrators continue to portray themselves as victims,” Mr Panter told InsiderNJ. ”

“When people like Rupert Murdoch and Bill O’Reilly make statements discounting the claims of women who settled, I believe they’re calling them liars. That’s why we’re seeing women file defamation suits,” Panter added

Behavior like rape or sexual harassment goes beyond sexual gratification. Mostly, it’s about about power, as Mr Panter noted.

“If a man earning $50k/year exposed himself or sexually assaulted women in the workplace, he’d be fired, led away in handcuffs to face justice,” Mr Panter told InsiderNJ. “When the alleged predator is wealthy, or his company’s golden goose, there is no justice for victims. He cuts a check, the company stands behind him, and the victim is silenced. Whether it’s the Weinstein Company, Fox News or NBC, they discounted the human value of women if they weren’t as profitable. ”

This one here’s an ongoing saga so watch this space for updates.

Meanwhile, Mike Panter’s quest to push back against rich, powerful sexual predators continues on Facebook.



Jay Lassiter’s award-winning podcast HEROIN UNCUT, THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CRISIS is on iTunes and Google Play.  You can binge-watch Season 1 in less than 3 hours. If you’re a lawmaker or a chief of staff or a legislative aide, this especially means you!




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