TOMS RIVER, NJ – In the end, everyone is happy. Toms River Mayor Mo Hill and Maria Maruca are able to spend $8,000,000 of taxpayer money to purchase the long-abandoned Joey Harrison’s Surf Club owned by their good friend, Joey Barcellona. After being rejected two weeks ago by the Board of Chosen Freeholders, the board found a way to make all of the players in the game happy. The residents of Orltey Beach will finally rid themselves of the eyesore Barcellona left them with after Superstorm Sandy, the Barcellona family gets to sunset in sunny Florida with $8,000,000 in their pocket and all of the connected lawyers get paid. Maruca saved her 2021 re-election and the taxpayers of Toms River now have to spend a few million dollars more to continue the cleanup that never happened on the property and to connect the north and south portions of the Ortley Beach boardwalk together, undoubtedly both projects going to politically connected firms.
In the end, taxpayers will have paid about $11 million to $12 million to extend the boardwalk a few hundred feet. That cost includes $6.6 million in state Blue Acres funding, a couple of bucks throwing in by Mo Hill and Toms River, $1.8 million by the county, whatever the costs are to remediate the site that was abandoned by Barcelona and the cost to build a new boardwalk.
Virginia Haines, who is expected now to run for Lt. Governor under never-Trumper Jack Ciattarelli gets a political win and the board of Chosen Freeholders once again unite to make everything work for their friends.
What political bailout comes next for the county freeholders?
Next up, the freeholders will reappoint Jackson Mayor Michael Reina to an extended six-figure contract to run the bridge department. Reina who cried incessantly about not getting paid while working his patronage job at the NJ DOT was given essentially a no-show job by the county at the bridge department. It turns out, in those two years Reina cried the blues about not getting paid to be mayor in Jackson Township, an OPRA request this week revealed Reina was indeed paid a salary while trashing Chris Christie and singing the blues to anyone who would listen that Christie took away his township pay. Now, one of the county’s most highly paid double-dippers, Reina is looking down the barrel of an FBI investigation, three workplace harassment lawsuits at the county, two wrongful termination suits in Jackson, a federal bias discrimination lawsuit, and an untold number of civil rights and RLUIPA lawsuits in Jackson.