NJ POLITICS MEETS #METOO

February 22, 2020 at 4:45 am

New Jersey politics meets #MeToo after critics call the Garden State’s male-dominated political culture a toxic environment.

Aired on February 21, 2020. 

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>>> THE ME TOO MOVEMENT HAS
RESHAPED AMERICA'S WORKPLACE.
IN NEW JERSEY, SOME FEEL MAJOR
REFORMS ARE VERY MUCH NEEDED.
CRITICS HAVE CALLED THE STATE'S
MOSTLY DOMINATED POLITICAL
CULTURE TOXIC.
THEY HAVE DEMANDED SOLUTIONS TO
THE CONTINUING PROBLEMS OF
MYSOGYNY, HARASSMENT AND SEXUAL
ASSAULT.
IN FACT, JULIE, A FORMER SENIOR
ADVISER TO PHIL MURPHY'S
GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN HAS
PUBLICLY CHALLENGED THE GOVERNOR
AND THE POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT
TO TAKE SWIFT ACTION AND PUSH
FOR REAL CHANGES THAT BETTER
PROTECT WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE.
PARTICULARLY IN GOVERNMENT AND
POLITICS.
EARLIER THIS MONTH, GOVERNOR
MOEV APOLOGIZED FOR THE FEEL
YOU'RE OF HIS OWN CAMPAIGN.
HE ALSO RECENTLY ANNOUNCED HIS
SUPPORT FOR LEGISLATION THAT
WOULD BETTER PROTECT VICTIMS OF
SEXUAL HARASSMENT.
>> IT IS NOT ENOUGH FOR TO US
SAY WE ASSISTANT FOR NEW
JERSEY'S VALUES IF WE DO NOT
TAKE STEPS TO TURN THOSE VALUES
INTO MEANINGFUL CHANGE.
IT IS THEREFORE OUR OBLIGATION
TO MAKE SURE OUR WORK FORCE IS
PROTECTED FROM HARASSMENT AND
FEEL SAFE AND RESPECTED NO
MATTER WHERE THEY WORK OR WHO
THEY WORK FOR.
>> BEFORE THE GOVERNOR'S
ANNOUNCEMENT, I SPOKE WITH THE
CONTRIBUTOR ABOUT THE TOXECK
ATMOSPHERE IN TRENTON AND
BEYOND.
AND I BEGAN OUR CONVERSATION BY
ASKING STEVE, WHAT'S GOING ON?
>> A LOT.
AND FOR TOO LONG, IT'S BEEN TOO
SILENT.
JULIE, WHO YOU MENTIONED,
TRIGGERED THIS AS A LEADING
CONSULTANT TO THE MURPHY
CAMPAIGN IN 2017.
THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU CALL IT THE
MOST TOXIC CAMPAIGN SHE EVER
WORKED IN.
>> SHE DID CALL IT THAT.
IN MORE THAN A COUPLE DECADES.
I WANT TO DO THIS.
WE INTERVIEWED JULIE ON OUR
PROGRAM STATE OF AFFAIRS.
AND CHECK THIS OUT.
AS YOU LISTEN TO JULIE, HOW MUCH
HAS REALLY CHANGED?
>> THIS IS NOT A DIMINISHING
EXPERIENCE BUT I DON'T THINK YOU
GET --
>> DO WE HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT
YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT?
>> YOU DON'T.
YOU DO INTELLECTUALLY.
>> VISCERALLY.
>> VISCERALLY YOU NO MORE
UNDERSTAND WHAT WE GO THROUGH
THAN I UNDERSTAND WHAT
AFRICAN-AMERICANS LIVING IN AN
OPPRESSED SOCIETY MIGHT BELIEVE,
OR OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT
NECESSARILY FRANCHISED TO THE
EXTENT MEN ARE.
>> SHE'S RIGHT.
>> WE TALK ABOUT IT.
WE NEED TO LISTEN MORE.
WHEN JULIE SAID THAT TO US, IT
WAS BEFORE SHE SAID THE MURPHY
CAMPAIGN WAS VERY TOXIC.
THIS GOES WELL, WELL BEYOND THE
MURPHY CAMPAIGN OF 2017.
AND HE DOES GET CREDIT, BY THE
WAY, FOR APOLOGIZING.
I WISH HE HAD BEEN MORE PRECISE
AND SPECIFIC.
THE FACT IS THERE IS A SERIOUS
PROBLEM ACROSS THE NATION WHEN
IT COMES THE A WORKPLACE CULTURE
IN POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT AND
RELATED BUSINESS THAT'S FRANKLY
PUTS WOMEN IN A VERY
UNCOMFORTABLE AND POTENTIALLY
DANGEROUS POSITION.
>> ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT HAVE
CONTRIBUTED TO THAT PROBLEM IS,
SOMETHING YOU WRITE ABOUT OF
NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS.
ARE JULIE, IN FACT, GOT
TOGETHER, SET UP A NEW
ORGANIZATION, LIFT OUR VOICES,
THAT IS CALLING FOR THE
ELIMINATION.
>> YEAH.
THEY HAVE TO SIGN THEM OVER
THERE.
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
THEY BOTH WORKED THERE.
>> SO TALK ABOUT THAT.
WHY ARE THOSE SO-CALLED NDAs SO
RELEVANT?
>> YOU CAN TALK TO LAWYERS, JACK
FORD CAN EXPLAIN IT BETTER THAN
MOST AS A LEGAL EXPERT, BUT I
UNDERSTAND ON SOME LEVEL, YOU
NEED A NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENT.
THE PROBLEM IN THE MURPHY
CAMPAIGN AND OTHER CAMPAIGNS, A
LOT OF THESE WOMEN WANTED TO
TALK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED.
THEY WANTED TO TALK ABOUT THEIR
EXPERIENCE.
YOU COULD TALK ABOUT ANY SEXUAL
HARASSMENT OR ALLEGED SEXUAL
HARASSMENT WEST DON'T WANT YOU
GIVING AWAY PROPRIETARY
INFORMATION.
THEN GETTING LETTERS SAYING YOU
BETTER KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUTS.
THEY CAME OUT PUBLICLY AND SAID
THOSE NONDISCLOERK YOU ARE
AGREEMENTS ARE NULL AND VOID.
YOU CAN SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT.
MY OPINION IS IT TOOK TOO
LONGITUDE THAT.
THESE NDAs, NONDISCLOSURES, I
GET IT.
FOR TRANSPARENCY, IT'S A BAD
IDEA.
>> SO THIS GOES BEYOND THE PLOIV
CAMPAIGN OR EVEN BEYOND TRENTON.
>> A CREDIT TO THE STAR LEDGER.
THEY DID A COMPREHENSIVE ANALOGY
TALKING TO DOZENS OF WOMEN ABOUT
THEIR EXPERIENCES IN GOVERNMENT
POLITICS AND RELATED BUSINESSES.
YOU'VE 97 BEEN ON SOMETHING
CALLED THE CHAMBER TRIP.
NO DISRESPECT TO THE NEW JERSEY
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
BUT THAT CHAMBER RIDE WAS
CHARACTERIZED, A LOT OF ALCOHOL,
MEN AND WOMEN ON TRAVELING TRAIN
FROM NEW JERSEY TO WASHINGTON,
WHERE THINGS HAVE HAPPENED OVER
THE DECADES THAT MEN DID NOT
ACKNOWLEDGE PUBLICLY.
DID NOT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT
PUBLICLY.
MANY WOMEN CAME OUT AND SAID, IT
IS NOT A HEALTHY SITUATION.
THE LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES, A
BIG CONVENTION IN ATLANTIC CITY
NO DISRESPECTFUL BUT WOMEN KIMT
AND SAID YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT
IT IS LIKE TO BE AT THAT
CONVENTION.
>> IN SOME CASES, IT WENT AS FAR
AS RAPE.
>> LET'S BE PRECISE AND
SPECIFIC.
>> KATIE BRENNAN BROUGHT A CASE,
THE CHARGE OF RAPE.
>> SHE WORKED FOR THE GOVERNOR..
SHE CHARGED WITH AL ALVAREZ
SEXUALLY ASSAULTED HER.
RAPED HER.
PART OF THE PROBLEM WITH THAT
CASE, OTHER THAN THIS HORRIFIC
THING THAT ALLEGEDLY HAPPENED,
WAS THAT NO ONE WOULD
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO HIRED AL VALLEY
RES, WHO GAVE HIM A JOB IN THE
MURPHY ADMINISTRATION.
IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ACTED ON
MORE SWIFTLY.
WHEN A WOMAN CHARGES SHE WAS
RAPED, THE SENSE OF URGENCY HAS
TO BE A LOT GREATER.
NOT JUST IN THE MURPHY CAMPAIGN
BUT ALL OF US.
>> NOT ONLY HER BUT THERE WERE
WOMEN WHO TOLD THESE HE
REPORTERS ANONYMOUSLY THAT
THROUGHOUT THE YEARS, IT PARTIES
AROUND THE LEAGUE OF
MUNICIPALITIES, THERE WERE
ASSAULTS INCLUDING CHARGES OF
RAPE.
THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS.
>> IT DOESN'T EVEN HAVE TO RISE
TO THAT HORRIFIC LEVEL.
IT IS JUST THE CULTER.
WE HAVE TO BE MORE AWARE, LISTEN
BETTER, BE MORE EMPATHETIC.
FRANKLY, TOO MANY MEN IN
LEADERSHIP POSITIONS WITHOUT
WOMEN BEING AT THAT TABLE IS
DANGEROUS TO BEGIN WITH.
>> SO WE SAW THE GOVERNOR
APOLOGIZE.
>> YES, HE DID.
>> HAS THE GOVERNOR, HAVE
LEGISLATORS, THE LEAGUE OF
MUNICIPALITIES, THE CHAMBER OF
COMMERCE, HAVE ANY OF THEM COME
UP WITH CONCRETE STRATEGIES TO
DEAL WITH THIS SITUATION?
>> SOME HAVE AND I'LL BE MORE
SPECIFIC.
THERE IS AN AD HOC COMMITTEE
CHAIRED BY LORETTA WEINBERG.
AND WOMEN ARE COMING FORWARD.
NATURALLY, JULIE IS ON THAT
PANEL.
>> THESE MAJORITY LEADER.
>> TALKING ABOUT THEM ABOUT
LEADERSHIP POSITIONS.
NO ONE HOLDS HER BACK FROM WHAT
SHE NEEDS TO SAY.
ALSO THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR,
OTHERS TESTIFIED.
ALL WOMEN IN FRONT OF AN ALL
WOMEN PANEL TALKED ABOUT THEIR
EXPERIENCES.
WE NEED MORE OF THAT, MORE
SUNLIGHT, MORE TRANSPARENCY.
>> HAS ANYTHING COME OUT OF THAT
SO FAR?
>> SHE SAID SHE'S NOT LOOKING
BACKWARD TO BLAME ANY CAMPAIGN.
THE GOVERNOR OR ANYONE ELSE.
SHE'S LOOKING FORWARD TO ATTEMPT
ON PROPOSE POLICIES AND
PROCEDURES THAT WILL PROTECT
WOMEN AND CREATE A HEALTHIER
WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT.
AND RELATED INDUSTRIES.
>> THERE'S REASON TO BELIEVE IT
IS BEYOND THE ME TOO MOVEMENT
AND WE ARE MOVING IN A DIRECTION
THINGS WILL CHANGE.
WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO TO MAKE
UP FOR THE HORRENDOUS THINGS
HAVE HAPPENED.
>> THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.
>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY
JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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