It’s almost Christmas. For many this season marks the birth of Christ. For the rest of us, Christmas means spending money we don’t have, going somewhere cold, and listen to family argue about Donald Trump. But Christmas also means presents. Getting and giving them.
In that spirit, here’s my Christmas wish list for some of NJ most prominent politicos.
My Christmas wish for (next) Gov PHIL MURPHY arrived early: an Attorney General best equipped to take on NJ’s heroin crisis. Namely, Bergen Counrty Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal. When it comes to addiction, NJ policymakers mean well. But fixating on reversing overdoses and rehab beds does absolutely nothing about prevention.
As prosecutor in NJ’s most populous county, Grewal made prevention the centerpiece of his approach to opiate addiction. An ounce of prevention is worth a dozen expensive trips to rehab. That’s what makes Gurbir Grewal’s message of prevention so timely.
As NJ’s top lawmaker he’ll have wide-ranging influence over NJ’s opiate crisis. The AG can go after drug makers for dishonest marketing practices. And revoke the license of medical professionals who over-prescribe. All that in addition to the usual law-and-order stuff.
As Governor, there are dozens of plum job to pass out to friends. Props to Phil Murphy for knowing the AG spot is much more than a plum.
For TROY SINGLETON, VIN GOPAL, and DECLAN O’SCANLON my Christmas wish is very thick socks. For the big shoes they’re about to fill as they replace Diane Allen, Jennifer Beck, and Joe Kyrillos.
To Congressman DONALD PAYNE, I gift a super cute watch and a Trapper Keeper to better remember the time and the date. Payne’s attendance record in Congress is appalling. He’s missed 71 votes this year alone including five roll call votes on Dec 5-6 according to David Wildstein (whose Twitter feed is like catnip.) This very nearly matches the combined total of his 11 fellow NJ congress members.
Bah Humbug to that!
To Lt Gov-Elect SHEILA OLIVER, my Christmas wish is the dignity and agency denied her predecessor NJ’s current Lt Gov Kim Guadagno.
To PATIENTS in NJ’s medical marijuana program, I wish you a better medical marijuana program than what Chris Christie left you. More science, fewer costly regulations. First, let’s eliminate the 7% sales tax. Then double the monthly allotment, triple the number of dispensaries, and allow patients to grow their own cannabis. That home-grow bit is important because New Jersey’s program is too damn expensive for many patients who pay cash out-of-pocket for their meds.
The new Governor wants to legalize marijuana. Good deal. But let’s remember social justice and sick people in the mad scramble to cash in. Because it’s gonna be really hard for the NJ legislature to legalize cannabis without the medical cannabis community on board.
To Senator BOB MENENDEZ, who scored visas for his best friend’s off-shore “models,” my Christmas wish is a book called Paid For: My Journey of Prostitution by Rachel Moran. The book details the corrosive effects prostitution has on actual sex workers.
To NJ Sen STEVE SWENEY I give the perfect fashion accessory: a Petty AF rose gold enamel lapel pin. Sweeney emerged from his multi-million dollar election-day tussle as a pretty sympathetic character. The NJEA actually did that for him. But instead of cultivating that relatively positive image for a day or two, Sweeney immediately got to work undermining Phil Murphy and John Currie, the chairman of the NJ democratic party. Classic Sweeney, playing footsie with the GOP to undermine his own intra-party rivals. He’s actually weaponized bipartisanship.
After Sweeney drubbed the NJEA’s handpicked candidate, I told a disconsolate NJEA pal not to look on the bright side. Don’t worry, the argument went, Sweeney’ll show his true colors soon enough.
I didn’t think he’d reveal himself quite this quickly.
On my list for KEVIN McCABE Middlesex County Democratic Chair: Ethics for Dummies. Especially with his new patronage job at the NY/NJ Port Authority. I know what you’re thinking: a powerful county chairman handing out massive Port Authority contracts, WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
McCabe’s no dummy and I won’t suggest he’s unethical. But Ethics for Dummies is only 384 pages. That’s a small price to pay to not end up like Bill Baroni.
Jay Lassiter is an iconoclast, tech savvy media artiste, street warrior for LGBT liberty and marijuana reform, and an un-intimidated presence if the halls of Trenton power as he aggressively pursues liberal causes.
His award-winning podcast HEROIN UNCUT, the Truth About the Crisis is on iTunes and Google Play.