Five families were ordered under threat of arrest to vacate their beach homes neighboring the summer retreat of Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
After lawmakers were unable to pass a state budget June 30, Christie ordered a government shutdown, closing all state beaches and parks and furloughing thousands of state workers, excluding the police and hospital employees. The shutdown came just before the July 4 holiday weekend, leaving many fuming after their plans to visit beaches or parks were ruined.
Fueling public anger even further, Christie himself was spotted lounging with his family on Island Beach State Park, one of the closed state beaches. The governor's family owns a residence in the area and Christie himself admitted that he used a state helicopter to commute from the residence to the state capitol in Trenton.
"I traveled there and I traveled back and I'll travel back again," he said, according to USA Today. "That's where my family is sleeping, so that's where I'll sleep tonight. When I have a choice between sleeping with my family, and sleeping alone, I generally like to sleep where my family is."
He said that his use of the beach was perfectly legal, as his beach house was separate from the state park, and that he didn't request any state services such as lifeguards or garbage collection.
Meanwhile, five other families living in the area were ordered out of their homes as a result of the government shutdown, NJ.com reports. Residents were surprised when officers knocked on their doors telling them to pack up their belongings and leave.
"[The police were] good guys," said resident Howard Height. "They were just doing their job. But they said if we weren't gone by midnight, we'd be arrested."
The governor's mansion, however, still remains open. Christie and his family are staying in the area to vacation for the holiday.
When asked whether it was fair to stay in the state park during the government shutdown, Christie responded: "Run for governor and you can have a residence there."
Unfortunately for Christie's neighbors, their access to the area was not reinstated in time for the holiday.
"We're angry," said Height. "Shouldn't we be?"
On July 4, Christie announced that he had signed the $34.7 billion budget sent by the state legislature, and that the shutdown would officially end July 5. All state operations are expected to return to normal.
Sources: NJ.com (2), USA Today / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media via Associated Press