He channeled 80s TV star Mr. T in threatening his town’s retailers, but Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera is the fool to pity.
LaBarbiera picked a fight with Gov. Chris Christie last week about the governor’s order to suspend Bergen County’s blue laws, which normally prohibit retail shopping on Sundays. Christie issued the edict in the wake of Hurricane Sandy so residents could purchase supplies and household goods they needed after the storm.
Paramus retailers soon started complaining they were getting mixed messages from LaBarbiera about whether they could open Nov. 11 and what they could sell. LaBarbiera told NJBIZ that Paramus stores must limit sales to specific items on Sunday and he promised strict enforcement of the blue laws for anything else sold.
“We will be going around making sure every store and every mall tenant complies with the rules that only certain items can be sold, and I pity the tenant that willfully continues to sell products that aren’t covered within the limits of the law that was written,” LaBarbiera said.
One has to wonder if Paramus officials strolling malls looking for a retailer selling fancy shoes or other nonessentials is the best use of time. Couldn’t those officials help with storm recovery efforts instead? Even though blue laws are a preciously guarded tradition in Bergen County, the optics are lousy for Paramus to spend resources trying to bust retailers when the post-Sandy need is so great throughout our state.
But the most foolish move has to be LaBarbiera, a Democrat, thumbing his nose at Christie, who is known for having a long memory. Christie is riding a wave of popularity now for his leadership before, during and after Sandy, with some even calling him “America’s governor,” echoing a similar label given to Rudy Guiliani after 9/11.
Christie is on the A team of politicians so far this month. LaBarbiera has hurt himself with his blue law ban bluster. He doesn’t even make the B team.