Asbury Park — the city that finally came back.

The idyllic seashore town that people said would never be able to recover from the blight and riots of the early '70s. The little city that could.

And in one fell swoop, the governor takes it down again.

Reeling from its already suffering economy, Asbury Park’s council voted to reopen its restaurants despite Gov. Phil Murphy‘s executive order keeping them closed — and now allowing only outdoor dining. If you saw how he punished gym owners after one struggling businessman tried to defy him, you know the governor’s MO.

After the Atilis Gym debacle, in which the governor punished all New Jersey gyms for the sins of that one by allowing them to languish, shuttered, until he feels like re-opening them, you know how it goes when you don’t play by Murphy‘s rules. And now the same happened in Asbury Park. While it probably would’ve been difficult to make up for the last couple months of being closed, Asbury tried to kick it into high gear when its town council voted to allow local restaurants to open at limited capacity despite the governor’s “order.”

Murphy wouldn’t hear of it, immediately dispatching his attorney general to bring suit against the town for daring to try to go back to work and to catch the important and lucrative summer business.

The New Jersey Globe quoted Murphy saying “We have worked with the governing body of Asbury Park to try to amicably resolve the issue of their resolution regarding indoor dining. Unfortunately, they have not done so. We have one set of rules, and they are based on one principle, and that is ensuring public health.”

Is that really the principle? Or is the principle really “I’m the Governor. Don’t mess with me!”

(As an aside, we do not have one set of rules when it comes to protesting.)

A judge sided with Murphy about Asbury Park’s resolution, and the rest is history. The obvious solution to the problem, of course, would be to open the restaurants and have people who don’t feel comfortable patronizing them stay away. Or don’t go to Asbury Park at all if they’re fearful.

But no, as much as the governor would try to claim this is about public health, it’s becoming obvious that it’s about his power. Asbury Park will now continue to struggle after all the years of work on its renaissance. Now the only question that remains is this: will the governor now punish all New Jersey restaurants the way he did gyms by taking his sweet time to re-open them just to show who’s boss?

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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