It's been over a year since Phil Murphy single-handedly took over our democratic process and began ruling like a dictator.

Some of you may not think of it that way, and just assume he's doing his best to keep us safe from the "killer virus." Well, the virus has turned out not to be the bubonic plague we all feared at first but that realization hasn't made him give up his iron grip on power and control.

It also has put many small businesses into bankruptcy or severe decline. Ask any bar or restaurant owner, especially at the shore, if any of his secret police have come by to make sure they're "following orders."

Several bar and restaurant owners have told stories of "lone wolf" customers coming in and asking for something that is clearly a violation of Murphy's executive orders. It would be one thing if there were blatant, flagrant violations that people may have noticed and reported, but these are random visits with intent to entrap and then punish hard working independent small business people. Most of them are family owned and struggling to make it through this ridiculous lockdown, with it ludicrous, nonsensical rules.

Here's how it went the other night at a popular bar/restaurant. A man in his 40s walks in and says, "I see you're busy, so I don't want to take up a table. Can I order takeout and just sit at the bar and have a drink while I wait for my food?"

There are no stools or chairs at the bar. You can't even hand someone a glass of water across the bar to a customer. Those are the rules.

The bar owner says, "no, but you can order your food and wait on the bench in the back of the place while your food is being prepared."

The man asks again, "Why can't I just sit at the bar"?

"Sorry, it's against the executive orders, you'll have to wait in the back of the restaurant".

The man says OK and asks where to go. He heads to the back and then out the back door never to return. It was obvious to the restaurateur what he was up to and its sickening.

The bar and restaurant owners, for the most part, have been at this a long time and know when someone isn't "being straight" with them. They also know there has been an army of state employees looking to entice them to break the rules, so they can fine them or worse.

It's bad enough these businesses have had to jump through hoops with ridiculous regulations and at great expense, just to remain open and make a living. It's yet another thing when the people whose salary you pay for, with a big check you write to the state every quarter, are looking to trick you into a "violation" of these draconian, foolish rules.

It's infuriating, insulting and downright despicable, just like Murphy's first term in office. But he seems like such a nice guy...

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

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