Death With Dignity

Sorry for the lack of blogging this week, but I do have to work sometimes. Besides, what could I write about this week that others haven’t. Pot? It failed. Doesn’t matter, it’ll pass eventually and at this point all I care about is they admit the real reason they want it to pass – money. Spare me all the social justice nonsense.

I suppose I could have screamed and yelled about CWA State Director Hetty Rosenstein tweeting that she hopes U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos “dies a horrible death.” But what would I say that hasn’t already been said?

I have decided that I am going to chime in on the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, that Governor Phil Murphy has said he is going to sign into law.

There are a lot of folks who appear mad about this bill, mostly members of my own party. In the past I might even agree with them, but because of life experience I can’t.

Yes. I’m speaking out against my own party on this one and for once I agree with the Governor, sign the bill.

I will be honest – I even called my state Senator, who happens to be Senate President Steve Sweeney to voice my support for this bill. My mother called the Senate President and did the same, even offering to testify in favor of the bill. Truthfully, I think she more or less stalked him in the frozen foods aisle in Acme and begged him to get it passed.

So, back to my life experience and why I can’t be against the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.

It’s no secret that the last time I left this state I swore I was never coming back for anything more than a visit. Unfortunately, I was left with no choice. When I came back this time it was obvious my mother needed my help – help dealing with her husband who had been diagnosed with a rare, terminal illness.

My mother’s husband withered away to nothing right before our eyes. First, he lost control of his muscles, then his central nervous system went, then he lost his mind, then the ability to eat and finally the ability to speak.

The beginning wasn’t too bad, he had to retire from his career as a cop because he was unable to even hold his gun steady to qualify at the range. He took retirement in stride and started spending a lot more time at his trailer in the woods of Salem County. He would jump on his beloved Harley for long rides. Then he steadily declined mentally and physically. It was terrible to watch this man waste away before our eyes.

My mother promised him she wouldn’t “ship him off to die” so we made the decision to go with home hospice until the very end.

I still remember walking into their house every afternoon to give my mom a break and hearing him pray to God to just take him, to end it, to let him die peacefully. Many times I had to tell him to knock it off with the morbid crap.

Things just kept getting worse. As he was losing control of basic bodily functions, as well as his mind, he would rip his catheter out – I can’t tell you how many times I was called to help with that. Many other things happened that I just don’t want to detail. It got to the point where he couldn’t even feed himself, which was after the only thing he would eat was pudding.

Several times the doctors would tell my mother to get the family together because it was time. The man was given Last Rites more times than Father Mulcahy gave them during the entire run of MASH.

I honestly lost count of how many times I had to call my son to tell him to get his ass over there to see his “pop,” but I do remember seeing the pain on my son’s face. I hated it!

It was horrible watching this Harley riding cop waste away to nothing. A man who prayed to God for the opportunity to die on his own terms while he was still of sound mind.

Having lived through it I can say beyond any doubt that dying with dignity is something that should be left up to families.

Besides, one thing I learned is that we already have assisted suicide – it’s called in-patient hospice care. They just keep loading the patient up with morphine until they overdose and die.

So, this one and only time I’m siding with the Governor. Sign the bill!

Was The Recent News 4 I-Team Report On North Bergen Mayor And State Senator Nick Sacco Another Sweeney-Sacco Skirmish?

State Senator/North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco

State Senator/North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco

Generally speaking, The Bob & Steve Show doesn’t cover North Jersey politics, but the most recent NBC New York report on North Bergen Mayor and state Senator Nick Sacco cannot be ignored.

For some background, the last time this blog mentioned Sacco was after the release of Republican congressional candidate Seth Grossman’s first television ad against Democrat Jeff Van Drew. In that post I wrote that there was “grumbling in some circles within the Democratic party are that North Bergen Mayor, state Senator and Hudson County political boss Nick Sacco is somehow involved in this ad.”

In that piece I provided a little history to bring South Jerseyans up to speed as to why some Democrats thought there was a link to Sacco in that ad writing, For South Jerseyans who pay little attention to North Jersey politics you need to understand Sacco and Sweeney aren’t exactly best friends. The Jersey Journal’s Agustin “Augie” Torres put it into perspective in a column back in June. Torres wrote, in part (and misspelled Wainstein):

Oh yeah, and should the younger DeGise suffer a slaughter, the elder will still have to run - to continue depleting resources that may otherwise be used in the North Bergen May election against the incumbent administration.

Sources say money will not be a problem when it comes to the North Bergen election. South Jersey Democrats - read that as insurance guy George Norcross and Senate President Steve Sweeney -- so despise Sacco that you can expect to see a super Political Action Committee (PAC) pop up with $1 million available just to make certain there's a new mayor in North Bergen, say sources.

Larry Weinstein 's school board race went poorly but he still aspires to replace Sacco in Township Hall. You can't always translate school political success to a municipal race. In the last municipal election Weinstein received 5,000 votes. How much of an impact was that vote total? Ask yourself what would be Stack's reaction if he gave up 5,000 votes? It would be seismic.

In the present atmosphere it would not be difficult to come up with another 2,000 votes or more in anti-Sacco votes.

Of course, those of you who pay little attention to North Jersey politics need another piece of the puzzle. That piece of the puzzle is that the Grossman campaign’s ad was put together by political strategist and pollster Rick Shaftan. Shaftan is known for his work with Republicans, but he also happens to be North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco’s guy. Shaftan is Sacco's pollster, media buyer, and produces videos highlighting the North Bergen DPW's snow removal efforts.

With that background out of the way, take another look at the most recent News 4 I-Team report. In the report the News 4 I-Team makes clear:

The I-Team did a search for all political donations in New Jersey where the contributor reported being a teacher or working for any board of education in the state. Since 2010, there are a total of 11,000 contributions statewide. More than 6,000 of those went just to the political committee closely linked to Sacco. That is more than half of all individual education-related donations in the state.

North Bergen ranks 23rd in population in the state. Yet over that same nine-year time period, we found 317 individual donations in New Jersey’s three largest cities – Newark, Jersey City and Paterson – compared to more than 6,000 in North Bergen alone.

When the head of the state teacher’s union was showed this data, she said it is a big concern.

"Our students' education is too important to play politics with," Donna M. Chiera, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, said in a statement to News 4. "Educators… should not be coerced to donating to campaigns with the promise of favor or threat of retaliation."

Chiera called for "employment based on qualifications, credentials and merit rather than nepotism, cronyism or donations to political candidates."

Considering, that in North Bergen the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is the union of choice for educators, it makes sense that’s the union News 4 would go to for comment, but do not forget the AFT endorsed Sweeney for re-election when the NJEA opposed him..

And, let’s not forget a Star-Ledger column from back when the NJEA was trying to take Sweeney out. That column ended with:

Murphy's campaign won't comment, but the rest of the Legislature is watching. Some worry that this will create a rift between Murphy and Democrats allied with Sweeney and Norcross, one that could kneecap Murphy's agenda. Others are hoping for just such a rift, saying Norcross and his crew need to be brought down a peg after steering the party towards the center during the Christie years.

My guess is the NJEA is making an enormous mistake, that Sweeney will win, and that Murphy will emerge weakened as legislators see that he refused to throw a fellow Democrat a life-preserver in his hour of need.

There’s that and back when Grossman’s first TV ad launched I wrote, “One source close to the Governor told me Phil Murphy is happy with the ad because he feels it hurts Sweeney.”

So, I typed a lot of words for what in a nutshell is: Sweeney and Murphy aren’t best friends. Sacco and Murphy are allies. In June a Jersey Journal columnist outed Sweeney as being friendly with Wainstein, a challenger to Sacco for mayor. In October Democrats considered the possibility that a Republican campaign ad was being used by Democrats to weaken Sweeney. All this adds up to one question: Was the News 4 piece another Sweeney-Sacco skirmish?

Things like this are part of what makes New Jersey politics fun to watch. And, since there is a South Jersey connection to the upcoming May election for mayor in North Bergen we will keep watching.

New Jersey’s Newspapers Still Refuse To Call Out Gov. Murphy On His $15/Hour Hypocrisy

Governor Phil Murphy

Governor Phil Murphy

Lately, there has been a lot of news coverage of Governor Phil Murphy and his latest push for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

It’s been fun watching the Governor fight with Senate President Steve Sweeney over the issue. Sweeney accusing Murphy of “showboating” and Murphy’s comeback of, “That’s not showboating” was particularly entertaining.

Entertainment aside, once again New Jersey’s newspapers missed another opportunity to call out our governor over his hypocrisy on a $15 per hour minimum wage. Why do they continue to allow Murphy off the hook on this issue?

Murphy is a hypocrite on the $15 per hour issue. There is no getting around it. For example, there was the time Murphy’s soccer team tried to pay a professional with a master’s degree nothing, not one penny. Eventually, the league forced the team to pay the employee $15,000 for a season that lasts 6 months, but that is less than the $15,600 a $15 per hour employee would have made. Don’t take my word for it, this was well-documented by Deadspin.

Yet, when Murphy was busy whining about Sweeney saying he was “showboating,” according to NJ.com, Murphy had this to say:

"That's not showboating," the governor said. "That's people's lives. That's people's ability to put food on the table for their kids, to be able to afford health care."

That’s strange, Murphy didn’t seem to care about a guy with a master’s degree working for his soccer team being able to put food on the table or affording health care. Remember, Murphy tried to pay the guy zero.

Did any of the reporters at the press conference ask Murphy about that? Nope! Not one question.

Let’s not forget that prior to the 2018 season there was no way possible Murphy was paying soccer players less than $15 per hour.  Basic math proves that! RJ Allen at Backline Soccer wrote a piece that used basic math to explain that it was likely five players on a team were paid the league minimum of $15,000:

“It’s much more likely most players are making between $15,000 and $20,000 a season. To fit under the $315,000 cap, five players could be making about $20,000, while eight players make $17,500, and the remaining five players make the league minimum of $15,000.”

So yeah, up until 2018 Murphy paid at least five players on his soccer team less than $15 per hour and paid professional staff less than $15 per hour. During at least part of this time he was campaigning for governor on $15 per hour. New Jersey’s newspapers never once called him out on his hypocrisy and still fail to call him out.

If two guys at The Bob & Steve Show could figure out Murphy is a hypocrite on the $15 an hour issue why can’t New Jersey’s newspapers?

Maybe they simply choose to ignore the hypocrisy because they want what the governor wants.

Bottom line: Murphy is a hypocrite in this issue and New Jersey’s Newspapers don’t care.