Busted! NJ state senator caught parking in handicapped space
WOOD-RIDGE — A state lawmaker from North Jersey has fessed up to illegally parking his Cadillac Escalade in the handicapped spot in front of his district office.
It happened almost two years ago.
A local gadfly snapped a picture of the transgression by state Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, and shared it with marijuana-reform activist Jay Lassiter, who finally made the photo public Friday on his Facebook page.
"Every time I don’t vote on something that’s really liberal he threatens to blackball me," Sarlo, who is not disabled, said Friday when reached by New Jersey 101.5. "I’m glad it’s out there so he can’t extort me anymore."
Although he tried to joke about the situation, Sarlo says he's sorry he did it and that he "should have known better."
He also said it wasn't as bad as it looks because it happened after business hours, when his district office in Wood-Ridge had closed, so it was unlikely a motorist who needed the spot would have showed up. The leased office is below apartments.
Sarlo says he was unloading stationary that he had brought up from Trenton.
"Unlike some other senators, I drive myself," he noted.
"I should have used my back and lifted a bit more. I should have parked 10 to 12 feet further away."
Lassiter finally put Sarlo on blast because he's upset with him siding with Gov. Chris Christie in a legislative deal that will allow the governor to profit from publishing a book while he is in office. State ethics rules prevent that now.
In exchange, Christie is expected to sign legislation giving 700 top-level public workers raises that will cost $10 million a year. He'll also sign a bill that will allow local governments to post legal notices online instead of in newspapers. The newspaper industry warns that move will kill journalism jobs and put smaller-circulation weeklies out of business. Some lawmakers have claimed the bill is Christie's way of sticking it to the press.
Lassiter tagged Sarlo in his post, calling him a "loathsome a--hole" and the "most self-serving loser in the history of Bergen County" — among other colorful descriptions.
Sarlo, who also serves as the borough's mayor and the chief operating officer of one of New Jersey's largest construction companies, is no fan of New Jersey 101.5.
Back in November, the lawmaker held a news conference in which he said "shame on the radio stations like 101.5," whose on-air hosts were drumming up public opposition to a ballot question tied to Christie's gas tax increase, which Sarlo supported.
New Jersey 101.5 morning host Bill Spadea also has been leading the #NoBookDeal campaign.
"Don’t you have anything better to write about?" Sarlo said Friday. "I'm glad I don’t listen to your station."
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email email@example.com.