Author Archive: Jay Lassiter

YO! Pascrell and Sires! Wake up and Smell the (In)Equality!

From Pam's House Blend:

The office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that she, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and 130 of their colleagues are going to court to defeat the Defense of Marriage Act, filing a brief in an ongoing challenge to the law.

Sixty Democrats choose to NOT sign on, including North Jersey Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Albio Sires. Let’s encourage Pascrell and Sires to join the rest of the New Jersey Democratic delegation and standing for equality.

In Pascrell’s case, since he’s a co-sponsor of the bill to overturn DOMA, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that his commitment to Speaker Pelosi’s amicus brief is forthcoming. But Sires stands alone in his decision to support neither legislative nor judicial attempts to overturn the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.”

So WTF, Albio? are you a hater or are you just not paying attention?

The Day Mary Pat Angelini’s Head Explodes

**UPDATE! (June25th) This bill was shelved in May, when this post originally aired. It’s back. And up for a full vote today.**

Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini will have a meltdown on the chamber floor today. Mark my words. Look for the sort of spectacle only Nancy Reagan would love.

It’ll probably happen around 4pm during the Assembly debate (and vote) to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in the Garden State. Most of Angelini’s Assembly colleagues will vote to pass the bill, thus striking a blow against the failed, costly, dangerous “War on Drugs.”The bill might even pass the lower house with a veto-proof majority.

But look for Mary Pat to show us that Reefer Madness is still very much alive in New Jersey. I’ll be tuning in just to hear how crazy she sounds because, frankly, it amuses me to hear her make a fool out of herself. And her track record suggests nothing less. Consider the following:

  • Mary Pat Angelini didn’t simply vote against medical marijuana. She gave an insane-sounding, desperate plea to everyone on the chamber floor to do the same. Her reasoning? Allowing cancer patients access to medically-administered cannabis would directly result in upper middle class white kids becoming addicted to crack, heroine and crystal meth.

    In Mary Pat’s mind, medical marijuana is the gateway to society’s ruin. She said so. In front of a lot of people wearing incredulous looks, self included. I could barely believe my ears listening to her woefully ill-informed conclusions about medical marijuana and the patients who are (literally) dying to use it.

    Assemblywoman Angelini’s hurtful comments equating a hospice nurse to a dope dealer drew gasps from the crowd. And her spiteful, mean-spirited characterization of people who use medical cannabis won’t be forgotten. Not as long as I’m around.

    The bill ultimately sailed by a vote of 48-14 with the most compelling arguments for passage coming from Angelini’s fellow Republicans. It would mark the beginning of a pattern where Angelini was a minority within a minority on Drug Policy issues.

  • Mary Pat Angelini voted against a needle exchange program in New Jersey. Never mind needle-exchange is PROVEN to reduce HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis transmission rates, her so-called rationale for the NO vote was a familiar one: access to clean needles for drug addicts sends a message that society condones IV drug use. Which is about as stupid and dangerous as a doctor saying to a grieving mother, “I’m sorry about your dead son. I couldn’t treat him when he overdosed on drugs. Wouldn’t want to send the wrong message to society, now would I?”

    Utter nonsense. Last I checked Mary Pat Angelini is neither scientist nor doctor. But she DOES represent Asbury Park, which has one of the highest HIV transmission rates in the state. With hysterical lawmakers like Mary Pat Angelini making policy in Trenton, it’s easy to see why.

    Follow me below the fold where I reveal what’s animating Assemblywoman Angelini’s modern brand of Reefer Madness….

  • Playing Offense with Marriage Equality

    *** *** *** *** ***

    UPDATE! Wed May 9, 4:30pm

    President Obama “comes out” in SUPPORT of marriage equality!

    *** *** *** *** ***

    To say that Vice President Joe Biden’s recent comments on Meet the Press “rippled the waters” of the marriage equality debate puts it mildly. In fact, by speaking his mind — like only he can –Biden has thrust the issue into the Presidential Campaign fray, creating a bit of a media circus in the process.

    Presidents Obama’s education secretary added fuel to the debate the very next day.

    Asked during an appearance on MSNBC whether he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in the United States, Arne Duncan gave a straight answer: “Yes I do.”

    Biden’s nuanced thoughts on the matter followed by Duncan’s emphatic “I do” are a stark contrast to President Obama’s “incoherent stance on gay marriage (equality).”

    But let’s face it, Obama’s not the only one likely wishing he could be left to privately “evolve” on the issue out of the campaign spotlight. Follow me below the fold where this gets Jersey-centric.

    Yo Christie! Don’t be like Corzine!

    In August of 2008, Multiple Sclerosis patient John Ray Wilson of Franklin Township, NJ, was arrested for growing medical cannabis in his backyard. According to news reports, Mr. Wilson was:

    “charged with ‘manufacturing’ 17 marijuana plants that he used to treat his Multiple Sclerosis. Wilson faced 20 years in state prison for this crime. At trial, Superior Court Judge Robert Reed would not let the jury hear the reason that Wilson grew the marijuana plants, essentially removing Wilson’s only defense.

    Four years after his arrest (and two years after NJ’s medical marijuana law was signed) John Ray Wilson — currently out on appeal — was ordered to return to prison TOMORROW to serve out his 5 year term.

    Senator Raymond Lesniak, who was a chief proponent of New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, had this appeal to Gov. Chris Christie:

    “I am disappointed by the recent decision of the Supreme Court to deny the appeal of John Ray Wilson. He was merely trying to alleviate the symptoms of a dreadfully painful and regressive disease. It is unconscionable that this Friday he will be behind bars. Three years ago, I called on Gov. Corzine to commute the sentence of Mr. Wilson. After inaction with the last governor, I was hopeful Gov. Christie would better understand the unfair reality of this situation. Unfortunately, Gov. Christie has been just like Corzine, refusing to use his and only his power to make things right when the true intentions of the law were misapplied. (Ironically) before John Ray Wilson completes his prison sentence, the State of NJ will have its medical marijuana program up and running, and Mr. Wilson may likely be using medical marijuana behind bars or the prescription pain killers he couldn’t afford, paid for by the state’s taxpayers. Governor Christie should commute his sentence immediately.”

    More reaction below.

    NON-SofS QoTD

    “I commend the sponsors for putting forward legislation that seeks to reduce injection-related diseases. Stopping the spread of injection-related diseases in New Jersey is a primary public health concern that requires a comprehensive approach.”

    –Chris Christie after signing over-the-counter needle exchange legislation.

    Kudos and it’s about time!

    Who Gets the Gavel?

    promoted by Rosi

    The new Senate committee lineups are taking shape and I just got my hands on the list of committee chairmen/women. Some seem like a natural fit (Vitale, Scutari for ex.) while other appear wildly out of place given their backgrounds and leadership skills. But that’s just my take.

    Anyway, follow me below the fold to learn who the Senate’s gavel-bearers will be for the next 2 years.

    Power&Politics lineup features BlueJersey Blogger Jay Lassiter

    If you're one of those political junkie types who can't get enough of the redistricting debate, you simply must tune into this weekend's edition of Power&Politics on News12. The show airs Saturdays AND Sundays at 10am and 3pm.

    Several segments discuss the state's new Congressional boundaries, and I get a chance to weigh in as well, debating my (mostly) friendly rival, Chris Russell from South Jersey. Monmouth U. Poll-meister Patrick Murray, Montclair State political scientist Brigid Harrison, GOP lobbyist Tom Wilson and PolitickerNJ's Alan Steinberg guest star as well.

    New Jersey’s new Congressional maps, live from Trenton. OPEN THREAD

    UPDATE 11:14, motion by Democrats to table map ’till next month fails.

    UPDATE 11:06 (Rosi Efthim): I just put up close-ups of the new districts in 3 sections – north, central, south. It’s close-up enough that you should be able to look, find your town, and see which district you’re now in – Find Your Town – the New Congressional Redistricting Map.

    Update 11am, Jeannine Frisby LaRue cites “serious problems” with the map. Specifically the slicing and dicing in NJ-3 and Bergen County. Go girl!

    Update 10:57, DuHaime and Roberts playing ping pong. Is the former Speaker planting the seeds for a lawsuit?

    UPDATE 10:47 (Rosi Efthim) Here’s the map:


    UPDATE 10:34 – The status is still listed as Pending, but when things get underway, you can listen LIVE to the session here, from Committee Room 11 at the Statehouse. (keep refreshing) – Rosi Efthim

    10:33 Cherry Hill moved to nj-1 is the pre-map chatter. Oy.

    10:26 and waiting for the new maps to be revealed.
    (pics to follow….)
    IMG_0571NJ-3’s new Cherry Hill-free configuration. Click to enlarge.

    North Jersey map below. Click to enlarge in detail.

    Paging Bill Pascrell

    Surely by now you’ve heard that Senator Bob Menendez has signed on to co-sponsor the (LGBT-friendly) Respect for Marriage Act.

    Good deal.

    Now I don’t have an official whip count, but based on lists I’ve seen, Congressman Bill Pascrell is the only Democrat in the New Jersey delegation to not sign on to this bill. Last I checked, fighting anti-gay discrimination is a part of the Democratic party platform, so surely the Congressman will be on board soon.

    So WTF, Pascrell? Don’t you want to come to my gay wedding?

    Senator Fred Madden: the WORST Democrat in Trenton

    Does the name Fred Madden ring a bell? Probably not. He’s a backbencher politician who represents the part of New Jersey that hardly anyone lives is. And judging from his voting record he’s a right wing tool.

    For example:

  • He voted against gay marriage equality.
  • He voted to keep the death penalty on the books.
  • He’s a member of the NRA-sponsored “”Hunter Caucus.”
  • And yesterday he voted against the bill to curb HIV rates (and charity care costs) by giving IV drug users over-the-counter access to clean syringes.

    Fred Madden was elected in 2004 to the NJ State Senate as a Democrat by spending a record 4.2 million dollars on his campaign. Now we all know you don’t get $4.2m in your warchest without being someone’s handmaiden.

    It’s just a pity that Senator Madden’s special someone is not a Democrat.