TOMS RIVER, NJ – In their weekly county call, the Phil Murphy administration railed Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy after he reversed course on the administration’s effort to shut down the Lakeside Diner in Forked River. On Friday, Mastronardy’s officers showed up in the early morning cover of darkness to change the locks at the restaurant. The next day, Mastronardy reversed course and said he would no longer help the Governor’s office to shut down Ocean County businesses in violation of Murphy’s executive order.
That led to a contentious Monday morning Zoom meeting between county officials and Murphy administration officials.
Phil Murphy Deputy Chief of Staff Michael DeLamater had strong words with Mastronardy and Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholder Jerry Little. DeLamater was contacted on Monday, but refused to give many of the details of his conversation with Mastronardy and Little.
Today, it was learned that the state is now seeking to board up the restaurant and reached out to the township of Lacey for assistance.
Today, Lacey Township Mayor Steve Kennis was asked to use his Department of Public Works Employees to board up the diner today, Kennis told the state no.
Kennis said today, “The township was asked to use DPW employees to help board up the Lakeside Diner. We declined.”
With local officials opting out of the enforcement at the Diner, it is unsure if Murphy will utilize the New Jersey State Police and state resources to enforce his executive order that prohibits indoor dining.
According to county officials, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer has been the law enforcement conduit between the Murphy administration and local authorities. Billhimer was appointed by Governor Phil Murphy to the position, replacing Joseph Coronato in September of 2018.