JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina’s pattern of crude statements and harassment is catching up to him. This week, we learned Reina is the center of a wrongful termination lawsuit against a female worker at the Ocean County Bridge Department. Reina showed up unannounced at the Beaver Dam Bridge one night and starting harassing the woman, even taunting her to tell his boss and the county human resources director.
“I can do anything I want to anyone I want whenever I want,” the stunted former Brooklynite told the bridge worker. He then started saying how she has problems with other men in the county and questioned her about her choice of open-toed footwear. Shortly after his 3:45 am rendevous, she checked into a hospital short of breath. She was later fired after she lodged a complaint about Reina with her superiors.
This week, another one of Reina’s encounters with employees reared its ugly head as readers have been sending dozens of complaints against the mayor as former township employees in Jackson who says that sort of behavior is routine, even in town hall.
In 2010, Reina was in a room with a few Jackson Township cops. Reina, of course, thinks he’s one of the guys. After all, he served as an appointed special officer during his days as a house painter. That job was taken from him by then Mayor Mark Seda, but there’s always room for locker room talk when Reina’s in town.
In the presence of a former office who is gay, Reina said loudly, “At least I ain’t no homo.”
“I am embarrassed and hurt for the words you chose to say in my presence,” the officer wrote the mayor. “Saying ‘At least I am not a homo’ in the work environment is unacceptable.”
Reina said the officer had him all wrong.
“I am extremely sorry that you heard a comment that came out completely wrong and said out of context,” Reina groveled. “I have never felt more embarrassed in my life. My world has been upside down and I know that is not a reason for making that kind of comment. Once again, my sincerest apology and that kind of mistake will never happen again.”
Reina blamed his homophobic dig against the officer personal problems and being “overwhelmed with my current situation physically and emotionally.”
Then there’s that time a Jackson Township cop was doing his job and found an unregistered vehicle in the high school parking lot. That officer issued a citation and had the car impounded. It turned out the car belong to Reina’s son. Reina went on a rampage over the next few years against that cop, denying him his promotion and violating his rights as an employee to advance within the department.
Eventually, the cop sued the township and won. He was eventually promoted, given all his back pay kept from him for just doing his job and the town had to pay nearly $100,000 in legal expenses.
Reina is well known for his in-your-face attitude as has been documented by many, but lately, that attitude has been costing Ocean County taxpayers a lot of money with unnecessary lawsuits filed by employees. Reina is now also facing two additional wrongful termination charges. During the COVID-19 pandemic he fired the township’s Director of Public Works, who has been with the town for many years, allegedly over personal differences. Before that, he fired the township engineer, allegedly because he formed a union to protect management worker’s from Reina’s wrath in the workplace. Both men are also suing Reina. Reina is also the focus of Department of Justice RLIUPPA law. All of these lawsuits, allegedly borne by Reina’s (which means Queen in Spanish) temper may eventually cost Ocean County and Jackson taxpayers up to $1,000,000.
The lawsuit against Reina has been sealed by the courts to protect the Mayor from embarrassment as part of the settlement agreement. We do have a copy of the actual settlement (see below). Reina’s name has been replaced with “John Doe”. The town also paid the officer $80,000 to disappear. A sad way to end such a great career for one of America’s local police heroes and armed forces veterans.