Defiance in New Jersey
New Jersey is one of the bluest of states. All branches of government are controlled by the Democrats, including the Judiciary, and the educationally destructive teachers' union is among the most powerful lobbying force in the Garden State. Like other Democrat governors, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy is all in on the mask mandates, requiring that they be worn even outdoors along with harsh lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
But even in blue New Jersey, there is defiance. Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, owners of the Atilis gym in Bellmawr, have kept their gym open since May in violation of the governor's executive orders. They were arrested in July and now have been fined $130,000 by a judge.
To further make life difficult for this pair, the Bellmawr borough council voted 5 to 1 on August 11 to rescind the gym's mercantile license. In response, Smith and Trumbetti say they have always taken steps to ensure social distancing and other safety precautions and that Murphy's executive order was unfair and a violation of their constitutional rights.
Smith and Trumbetti fight on. They are now using their gym as a campaign headquarters and rally spot for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rik Mehta, a pharmacist, who is challenging incumbent Cory ("I am Spartacus") Booker for his Senate seat.
Then there's the Lakeside Diner in Lacey. The owner, Brian Brindisi, who has been in business for 27 years, is in violation of Murphy's prohibition on indoor dining. Last week, the Ocean County Sheriff's Office carried out a judge's order to change the diner's door locks as a way of shutting it down. What did Brindisi do but come back, change back the locks and reopen. Interestingly, Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, an elected Republican, later said he was sorry for enforcing the judicial order.
According to James Mermigas, attorney for the Lakeside Diner, police have served Brindisi 13 summonses along with a contempt of court order, which was served at his home at 11:45 P.M. earlier this week. (The class of the police state is something else, isn't it?) In speaking with New Jersey 101.5 FM, Mermigas went on to say Brindisi, a Vietnam War vet, will not back down and will continue to offer indoor dining. "They're physically going to have to pull him out of that restaurant." Brindisi plans to file a lawsuit claiming that the state is in violating his constitutional rights.
The Lakeside Diner has local support. Steven Kennis, mayor of Lacey, said on Twitter that he has declined a request by Trenton for the town's Department of Public Works to help board up the diner.
Interestingly, both the Lakeside Diner and the Atilis Gym are in South Jersey. There is a day-and-night difference in the political outlook between New Jersey's north and south. The north dominates because it has large urban centers in Hudson, Essex, Union, and other counties. These areas are hopelessly Democratic. And it is unfortunate that dividing line keeps getting pushed down farther south as people exit the north for the shore area. It's one thing having the north inundate the south in the summer with visits, but to have the "Bennies" as permanent residents with their politics, mannerisms, attitudes, and voting habits is another matter entirely.
Ian Smith, Frank Trumbetti, and Brian Brindisi, along with their many supporters, are to be applauded. They are profiles in courage. It would have been something to have one of these business-owners speak at the Republican National Convention. Instead, these small business–owners are being arrested, fined, and harassed under Democrat governance while violent rioters and anarchists run about with immunity, destroying neighborhoods and businesses in other Democrat enclaves. It doesn't take a Nostradamus to see that this is the type of America the Democrats have planned for us if Joe Biden wins the presidency.