The Republican freeholders in Ocean County went on the attack during Wednesday's meeting, criticizing Gov. Phil Murphy's pandemic executive orders. One of them called the governor a "left-wing socialist dictator."

In an edited video of the comments posted by the Asbury Park Press, Freeholder Jack Kelly said that if the board had the authority he would opening all restaurants in the county.

"The problem is this governor shows what he'll do. He'll send the State Police in and put people in jail for opening their restaurants," Kelly said. "However, if you want to riot and break into the restaurants, if you want to burn down the restaurants, burn down the stores we won't arrest them or send them to jail. That's legitimate protest. Bulls**t. It's time to open the businesses of this state and of this county and allow people to live their lives and make their own decisions."

There have been no reports of buildings being burned as a result of civil unrest in New Jersey and in the few cases earlier this summer of reported rioting, vandalism or arson, local and federal authorities arrested and charged suspects.

Kelly also said that people who want to eat inside a restaurant, go to a movie or exercise at a gym, all of which are still prohibited, should be able to do so.

"It's time for this left-wing socialist dictator to stop telling the people of this county and of this state what we're allowed to do," Kelly said.

Freeholder Virginia Haines said that Murphy is wrong not to allow indoor dining.

"It doesn't speak well of our governor, I don't think that he is really thinking about the small business owner that we have who's really the backbone of America. I think more people have to speak up and say something," Haines said.

Freeholder Gary Quinn mentioned the Lakeside Diner whose owner has defied the executive order since June. Brian Brindisi has been ticketed over a dozen times by Lacey police and hit with a contempt of court order after repeatedly serving customers indoors.

"He is hanging on by a shoe string right now trying to keep the business open, keep the ability to feed his family, pay his mortgage and live his life as he is very well entitled to at this point in his life being that he's an older gentlemen," Quinn said. "I think what the governor did was wrong in every way possible. Add in the fact that he put the burden on the Ocean County sheriff to try and do the dirty work the governor is trying to keep himself away from by having our people go out there and shut this restaurant down."

Murphy on Wednesday announced that gyms and indoor amusments will be able to open on Tuesday. He hinted at lifting the ban on indoor restaurant dining by Sept. 14.

"I hope that we've got some indoor dining before then," he said, adding the caveat that "I'm not hanging my hat on that."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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