TOMS RIVER-The office of the Prosecutor in Ocean County has been run with class and dignity over the past 5 years under Joseph Coronato, but those days seem to be over. Now, since taking office, Phil Murphy’s handpicked replacement for Coronato, Bradley Billhimer has seemingly spent more time fighting over the department’s Facebook page than he has tackling the important issues facing the community.
Billhimer is still sour about outgoing spokesperson Al DellaFave archiving Coronato’s legacy in Ocean County instead of allowing the new guy on the team to use the veteran’s bat when he got to the plate. Billhimer accused Della Fave and Coronato of sabotage equaled only to the removal of the W keys on computers when Bill Clinton’s administration left office for George W. Bush.
Coronato and Della Fave had amassed 24,000 followers on the department’s Facebook page through their hard work and community outreach.
When Coronato left, Della Fave said he archived the old content and set up the new prosecutor with his own Facebook and Twitter accounts to memorialize Coronato’s departure and Billhimer’s arrival. Billhimer’s team felt DellaFave should have allowed him to continue riding the trail forged by Coronato.
That’s just not now it works, at any level in government. When Governor Chris Christie left office, Phil Murphy had to start his own following. When Barack Obama left, Donald Trump had to build his own. When Gurbir Grewal took office, he had to build his own following. That’s just how it works. That’s how it has always worked.
Della Fave told Shore News Network that he even went as far as setting up new pages for his replacement. At the end of the day, the office of the prosecutor is a political position. There is rarely any solid continuation between administrations, which is evidenced by the fact that Billhimer was already removing Coronato’s name from public places before his term officially ended.
Della Fave said the transition of power went smoother than it did when he took the position.
This week, Billhimer ran to the Asbury Park Press to complain about having to engage the community to build his own online persona.
“This man has a lot to learn if he’s ever going to fill Coronato’s shoes,” Della Fave said. “To state that the OCPO web page was decimated and that he was left with no social media presence is an absolute lie.”
Della Fave also said there was no change whatsoever to the website upon his departure.
“OCPO was left with a fully active website which is the envy of other agencies. With regard to Facebook, I personally left OCPO a fully functional Facebook page utilizing the prosecutor domain name,” he added. “The username and password were left with his administrative secretary and IT person not only for Facebook, but Twitter as well. I even posted content for them on my last day that would remain active into their administration. I made it so they could hit the ground running. They chose to not take the first step. Instead, they wanted to ride Coronato’s coat tails.”
The former communications officer for Coronato broke it down for Billhimer.
“I see it this way, when a minor league player makes it to the big leagues and replaces another player, they don’t get that player’s batting average. It’s up to them to prove themselves and earn their own legacy,” he said.
Billhimer went lower with the attacks claiming, “It defies common sense to believe that a full time, law enforcement media relations officer handled the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office’s social media on his own time.”
Della Fave, who was perhaps one of Ocean County’s most respected, dedicated and well-liked public information officers once again schooled the new prosecutor.
“This may be the view of someone who is not committed to go the extra mile for their community,” he said. “Talk to those in the media I served. They will tell you clearly what I did 24/7 off the county’s dime serving my fellow county taxpayers.”
During Della Fave’s tenure, it was not uncommon at all for him to answer calls from Shore News Network and other news agencies at all hours of the day. Della Fave would regularly field calls at night, weekends, even during special engagements. His accessibility as a public official was rivaled only by that of Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, who is also known in media circles for going well above and beyond the call of duty to fulfill the needs of the media.
Photo: Al DellaFave, former Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson.