TOMS RIVER — The much-anticipated township council meeting Wednesday night held on Zoom that was to include a vote on a police funding ordinance ended abruptly after several technical snafus and snipes culminating in an anti-Semitic comment from a member of the public.

The meeting was being held electronically because of an anticipated crowd seeking to be heard on the mayor's plan to use the salaries of retiring police brass to hire more EMTs. Mayor Dan Rodrick has characterized the chief's criticism as a "tantrum."

A crowd supporting the police gathered outside the Toms River municipal meeting. A large screen TV was set up for them to watch the meeting.

The plan is opposed by the chief of police, the union representing the high-ranking officers, as well as two Republican councilmen at odds with the mayor of their party.

An ordinance that would shift the pay from two retiring police captains to paying for new EMS staff still needs a second reading. EMTs are part of the police department. Agenda items authorizing the payment of bills also did not receive a vote before the abrupt end.

Anti-Jewish slur ends meeting

After the person who was providing tech support for the meeting introduced Councilman George Lobman, a member of the public began speaking.

The male voice asked if he could talk about “the tunnels.” When told he could only comment about the ordinances on the agenda, he said there was a problem with “the Jews in the tunnels where they suck the baby’s penis’.”

In response the comment, most council members stared blankly while one laughed.

A voice off screen said "ya gotta cut the meeting."

All participants were muted for several seconds.

"We can't get the people who want to speak unmuted," Council President Craig Coleman said before the call ended.

Chaos mars mayor's plan

The meeting, which started late, was contentious from the start with councilmen talking over each other, disagreeing about how the meeting should be run and one member being unable to log into the meeting as the mayor urged the council to maintain decorum.

Councilman James Quinlisk unsuccessfully tried to read a letter explaining that fellow Republicans Rodrick and Lynn O’Toole were ineligible to be part of the meeting because of campaign finances law.

After taking votes on several items, there were more technical difficulties during public comment, which drew the ire of Rodrick, who complained the meeting did not have the proper technical support.

The council president is supposed to preside over the meetings but Rodrick, who is supposed to be an observer, shepherded it along.

Video of Toms River township council on a TV outside the municipal building
Video of Toms River township council on a TV outside the municipal building 1/31/24 (Bob Vosseller, Jersey Shore Online)

Protesters held signs supporting Toms River Police outside the municipal building 1/31/24
Protesters held signs supporting Toms River Police outside the municipal building 1/31/24 (Bob Vosseller, Jersey Shore Online)

When will the meeting continue?

Former Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni, who now runs a private practice, said that under the state Open Public Meetings Act "everything that they got through on the agenda" is legally binding.

As for the rest of the agenda, the council can call an extra meeting with at least 48 hours of notice to the public.

In response to New Jersey 101.5, township spokesman Phil Stilton said Coleman is responsible for the next step and any additional comment.

Toms River ambulances
Toms River ambulances (Toms River Township)

Mayor says police chief is having a "tantrum"

Rodrick in a statement Wednesday morning doubled down on his support for the ordinance and the need for more police on the street

"I invite the chief to come to his senses and return to the negotiation and do his part and not to have a tantrum because he’s being asked to tighten his belt, like all of the other departments in our town. Nobody is being defunded and he knows this. The unions knows this."

The mayor in his email said the retiring police captains "make more money" than the NYPD police commissioner, the governor of New Jersey or the NJ State Police superintendent.

According to, NYPD police commissioner Edward Caban earns a "rate of pay" is $242,592.

Gov. Phil Murphy earned a salary of $175,000, according to their tax forms for 2022 released in October. State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan earned $174,330 as of Dec. 2021, according to payroll records available through

Quinlisk during a rally in downtown Toms River on Tuesday, said that if the ordinance passes, a petition drive will begin to collect 5,000 signatures in 20 days to get a referendum.

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