Chamber Bans Hard Alcohol on ‘Walk to Washington’

Following complaints from women about harassment, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce has banned hard alcohol from the Walk to Washington, an annual networking event in which lobbyists and business and political leaders take chartered cars on an AMTRAK train to Washington, D.C. for a banquet. (This year’s event is on February 27 and 28.)

The ban follows a December 29 report by the Star-Ledger about women who said they had been sexually harassed while doing politics-related jobs in Trenton. The report included the story of an unnamed 30-year-old lobbyist who said that on her first Walk to Washington train trip, an older lobbyist berated her for not hugging him and then asked what hotel she was staying in and what time she was going to bed.

Attendees told the Star-Ledger that the Chamber train has a reputation for being an event where women were groped, although that is less common than in the past. One woman said at last year’s event, several men stood at the end of train cars, loudly commenting on women’s bodies. Several women told the paper they skip the train ride, taking an earlier train or driving to D.C., in order to avoid harassment.

Chamber CEO Tom Bracken said the story prompted the group to make changes to address harassment, including banning hard liquor. It will also increase visible security personnel on the train and at the hotel where the banquet takes place. It also is establishing a phone number for discreetly reporting harassment, increasing sexual harassment training for Chamber staff, and creating a written code of conduct for all attendees.

“It is critical that the issue of harassment be resolved,” Bracken said in a statement. “The State Chamber stands ready to work with state leaders to help resolve this problem and we look forward to working with Sen. Loretta Weinberg and her committee as it looks into these issues.”

$3.6 Million Verdict for Staples Fall

A Bordentown man has won a $3.6 million verdict for a back injury he suffered from falling while shopping at Staples in Hamilton in 2015.

The lawsuit alleged that Jim Simmons’ back injury is still not resolved after multiple surgeries and was a result of violations of Staples’ own customer safety policies.

At the time of the injury on May 30, 2015, Simmons was 55. Simmons’ lawyers from Lawrence-based Stark & Stark said he was browsing computers when a Staples employee was called away, leaving a merchandise tote on the ground behind him unattended. He tripped over the tote and fell, suffering a herniated disc as well as pain and numbness in his lower back radiating into his right leg.

The victim was represented by Stark & Stark shareholder David M. Schmid, and the case was tried in Mercer County.

Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Building Two, Lawrenceville 08648. 609-896-9060. www.stark-stark.com

Deaths

Peter Radford Rossmassler, 87, on October 16. He founded Princeton Montrose Partners, a venture capital group focusing on agricultural and renewable energy advances. He also had his own consulting business, Grindstone Associates.

Franz Josef Moehn, 88, on December 15. He had a master’s degree in Germanic languages and taught at Princeton and Rider. He was also head chef at the Institute for Advanced Study.

Irvin Glassman, 96, on December 14. He was a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University, where he founded the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies.

Cornelis M. Wildenboer, 79, on December 9. He founded DataCon in Princeton and served as CEO for 20 years.

Margery Wyckoff Baruch, 94, on December 9. She founded Minute Press in 1971.

John J. Rizzo Sr., 92, on January 3. He was a chemist for FMC, where he was credited with two patents. Services will be held Thursday, January 9, at 10 a.m. at Wilson-Apple Funeral Home in Pennington.

Brenton K. Petersen Jr., 77, on December 23. He retired from Berlitz Corp. Services will be held Saturday, January 11, at 10 a.m. at St. Gregory the Great at 4620 Nottingham Way in Hamilton Square.

Antonia ‘Toni’ Gruerio, on December 28. She owned and managed Gruerio Funeral Home in Trenton from 1977 to 2019.

Robert J. Morris, 78, on December 27. He worked as a financial analyst for Bristol-Myers Squibb for 32 years.

Harry William Haenni Jr., 86, on December 14. He retired from the State of New Jersey as an assistant chief of examiners for the Division of Banking & Insurance.

Domenick C. Valeri, 84, on December 20. He was a union carpenter.

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