It is not everyday as a citizen journalist your hometown mayor tries to silence you, but Wednesday was my lucky day. While scrolling through Delran Mayor Gary Camtrabone’s FB page the other day I was shocked to see he had written a completely untrue narrative about a debate I got into on FB regarding the costs regarding the Carli Lloyd retirement event in Delran on the 14th of October, which BTW, I think was a well deserved event.
Let me back up here a bit to give a breakdown of how things got to this point. I belong to a Delran FB group that is quite a lot of fun to watch. I normally do not comment, but after seeing some back and forth regarding the Carli Lloyd retirement event and the costs associated to it, I wanted to help answer some questions. I had no intention of finding possible improprieties, my only intention, originally, was to get the costs associated with the event and publish them. Which I did in this article.
Once the article hit the two Delran pages where I posted, it got hundreds of hits in just the first hour. The comments started coming in, with many people seeming angry that I would do such a thing as question a local government with a $56,000.000 budget that spends their tax money, and others in support of my investigation. Many said that they did’t care what the costs were, that the kids smiles made up for it all. With others saying it didn’t cost enough.
There was a third group of people though who were claiming that the $37,633 number I received directly from the Delran Clerk didn’t include the offests from the donations made by the donors, with one donor claiming they paid directly for the fireworks, which cost $12,000. At this point, I felt the best thing to do would be to reach back out to the clerk to get a list of all donations that were made towards the event so I could help clear up the question of how much of the 37k was offset by donations.
In record time the Clerk returned a financial breakdown of monies in and monies out, yet the monies out didn’t match the numbers from the prior chart. Since the lists did include donations, including the $12,000 from the fireworks donor, I posted the list on the two Delran pages for people to see the info that I was given, but since I knew it didn’t match, I requested a clarification from the clerk, this is where is got really strange.
The Clerk responded “The $37,633.88 in expenses from the first report provided were paid by the Township from the Recreation: Special Programs budget and were not offset by donations. I have attached another copy of the report.”. As you can see, that is quite a different response from the prior one that listed almost $35,000 in donations. So I went back again for clarity and received a third set of numbers that also didn’t match the other two, and also didn’t include the $12,000 expense for the fireworks. So I’m like WTF?
During the sharing of these numbers with the one Delran group that didn’t ban me, Delran Residents Official, a post was made where a donor that tagged and named me in the first two words and went on to claim that I “dragged her family and business name through the mud”, which was and is completely untrue. This post was piled on by dozens of people calling me all kinds of nasty names and questioning my integrity. One Nurse from Lourdes Hospital even checked my page and found out I had cancer and made a post telling me that it is because of my Karma. Now that’s a great bedside manner right there.
Beep beep, my phone alerts me of a new post. It’s the Delran Mayor Gary Camtrabone slinging accusations about a non-resident defaming a resident and donor to the Carli Lloyd event, but he didn’t directly name me. The Mayor shared it on his and the townships pages. That’s when my phone began to ring. “Yo Dude, what the hell is going on, is the Mayor talking about you?”. It was a lovely day yesterday, dealing with caner doctors and defending my name because I printed what the Delran clerk wrote.
What would make the Mayor of Delran want to attack me and try and have me end my investigation? I am a citizen journalist who just wanted to know how much an event costs were so I could share it with people who were arguing over air without any real numbers to reach a conclusion from. The Mayor could have taken the opportunity in his post to clarify the discrepancies in the accounting, but he didn’t. That was what all the debate was about, not the variance that he mentioned, yet the mayor decided to use his position of authority to throw a variance under the bus, why?
One thing is clear, the Mayor of Delran is trying to use his position of power to silence the media from investigating an issue of public concern, and that Mr. Mayor, is illegal. If I were the donor seeking a variance, I’d also be seeking an attorney. If I were a Delran resident seeking transparency, I’d be seeking a new Mayor.