The Week in NJ Politics, a Friday Potpourri

Dave Caetano, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin.

(Trenton) – Before we jump into Friday’s two-part politics potpourri, a hat-tip to the new crop of lawmakers sworn into office this week in Trenton.

None of them is a dual office holder.

Grandfather Clause 

I wrote about Trenton carveouts and loopholes this week. When I sent the link to Politico’s Matt Friedman for Morning Playbook consideration, he reminded me of the dual officeholder ban way back in 2007. Matt also noted the grandfather clause which allowed sitting dual officeholders to keep both jobs.

By unofficial count, four dual officeholders remain in Trenton. Brian Stack is the mayor of Union City. North Bergen’s mayor is Nick Sacco. In between mayoral duties, Stack and Sacco both represent Hudson County in the NJ Senate. Senator Paul Sarlo (Bergen) is also mayor of Wood-Ridge. Finally, Assemblyman Gary Schaer also moonlights on town council in Passaic City.

They’re probably qualified for both their  jobs and their constituent services game’s superb I’m sure, but that’s not really the point anymore, is it?

First of all, it’s a conflict when a state lawmaker is also mayor of a town in his own district. More importantly, these guys still hold multiple elected offices at once, hoarding opportunities and power and paychecks for themselves.

When this practice was banned by lawmakers in 2007, there were 19 sitting members who were permitted to keep their side gig. Some on the list, like Senator/Mayor Sharpe James, went on to jail. Others got promotions, including longtime double-dipper Steve Sweeney who resigned his Gloucester Freeholder post shortly before becoming senate president in 2010.

When I crowd-sourced names for NJ’s enduing double-dipper list, many replied that’s the wrong question, including Tom Wilson, who ran the NJGOP before Chris Christie burned it to the ground

“Isn’t the more relevant question who is drawing multiple paychecks from public entities?” he queried, perhaps rhetorically and that’s ok because he’s totally right.

Labor union leader Hetty Rosenstein went one better.

“Forget the paychecks,” Ms. Rosenstein replied. “Whose business or law firm or insurance company has how many no-bid professional contracts?”

If it looks like lawmakers use the time in office to enrich themselves, you’re not alone. Which surely means we add ‘grandfather clause’ to a list that includes carveouts, loopholes, and half-measures that Trenton’s famous for.

Swampy, isn’t it?

Sit Down Shut Up

Former Asbury Park councilman Jim Keady shot to prominence after a high-profile encounter with ex-Gov. Chris Christie after hurricane Sandy. Christie was strutting the Jersey shore like a peacock and Mr. Keady busted his balls for showboating while many displaced by Sandy remained homeless.

“Sit down and shut up!” Christie snapped, in a clip that went viral.

The encounter revealed Chris Christie’s true colors and also cemented Mr. Keady’s place as a progressive folk hero.

But according to emails he shared with the media, Keady is also quite the Lothario. And in an effort to prove he’s not a creep, Mr. Keady published private correspondence between himself and a sexual partner. He was trying to prove the encounter was consensual, but that missed the point by a mile.

Mr. Keady has been running for office for quite a few years. He’s currently running for Congress in NJ’s 4th district. Anyone who’s ever worked on an intense campaign knows that sometimes, in that environment, things get randy. Trysts on campaigns have generally been accepted and even encouraged.

I enabled one such encounter back in 2008 by hiding the evidence and discreetly telling my younger, hornier co-workers to knock it off. I was at least a decade older and missed the opportunity to impart some wisdom.

“At least they’re playing safe,” I told myself, ignoring the now-obvious fact that screwing your co-workers and leaving evidence behind is poor judgement.

But that’s a dozen years ago and a lot has changed since then. But Jim Keady missed the memo about sharing private information in an attempt to diminish and silence women.

Jen Fluharty is a progressive Monmouth County rabble-rouser.

“Sharing private and personal information in a group email was problematic enough,” Ms. Fluharty told InsiderNJ. “He fully understood the implications of his email and sent it anyway.”

This is, after all, someone who’s running for Congress. Which is crazy because congress members are entrusted with privileged information and Jim Keady can’t keep his own sex life discreet.

It’s not for me to revoke his status as a liberal folk hero. He did that himself by going to Art Gallaghar of More Monmouth Musings to air his business.

“Handing that email, in its entirety, un-redacted, to Art Gallagher is a new low,” Ms. Fluharty added. “And any other comment I have on the matter is likely not fit to print.”

(My advice to Mr Keady: Time’s up, bro. Perhaps take your many talents and go reinvent yourself for a while. New Jersey politics deserves a break.)


Jay Lassiter is an award winning writer, podcaster, and videographer. 




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  • hey now

    good piece. I’m not entirely sold on the dual office holding given state legislature is not a full time job and I believe in letting “the people” decide. I will say one thing that the ban on dual office holding has accomplished—-it’s made Legislators more beholden to special interests and to their Senate President and Speaker. Since they lost their “base” as Mayor, they now rely on their Leaders and less on Committee Chairs.

  • cecilia fasano

    Good job, Jay!
    It never ceases to amaze me how STUPID ‘people’ think we are.

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