When a resident steps up to speak at city council meetings in NJ, they are asked to give their name and address for the record, something that seems so innocuous to most, so they just comply. They comply thinking that the personal information they supplied to the officials will only be used in good faith, for some type of record keeping or something, right? But what if they are wrong?
Rabble Rouser Media has acquired emails from Medford Township officials that show that the day after a US Marine, who is also a Medford Resident, spoke out against the commercial truck ordinance, Kathy Burger, Medford’s Clerk, sent an email to Mayor Chuck Watson as well as Council Person Frank Czekay, letting them know of any complaints or possible violations on the two individuals properties.
In March of 2019, Kathy Burger wrote “The addresses for the residents who spoke on storing commercial vehicles are as follows: Mr. Buchler , 276 Tuckerton Road, commercial vehicle with crane on top. Sean Holmes, 244 Church Road, Tri-axle Dump Truck (Beth has received one complaint on this vehicle).”.
Not to be outdone, Czekay writes back 40 minutes later, saying “Can you have Beth the 233 Church Road property to make sure the outbuilding in the backyard was built with all approvals and permits in place? It is a big building.”. Burger wrote back, “233 or 244”, to which Czekay responded “Sorry, 244.”.
Both residents politely addressed the council, sharing the concerns they had with the commercial truck ordinance, and for that, they become the target of investigations by the towns Zoning Officer, Beth Portocalis, who herself resides in Pitman. If these two were punished for being polite, I wonder how the Township officials would react if someone, let’s say, stood up at a public meeting and called the Mayor a “Tyrant”, as was done by Brian Carns on October 20th, 2020 when he and his brother, David, spoke out at a council meeting regarding an ordinance that forced them to stop selling firewood.
The Carns family has been selling wood from their farm for several decades, wood that’s gathered mostly from their tree service company, Cornerstone Tree Service, which was formed by their father with his partner under a different name in 1968. The ordinance they spoke out against in October of 2020, made it so they could not sell any firewood from their farm that wasn’t cut from their farm, making those same trees that they have used for decades for firewood, useless.
As Brian Carns admitted at that same meeting, the Carns brothers are “a little rough around the edges”, especially Brian. Brian and David are twin brothers who grew up in Medford their entire lives, helping their father and mother run their farm and tree service ever since they can first remember. The support they are receiving from the community is tremendous, with people cheering them on and chastising the township officials, yet that hasn’t stopped the harassment, and in fact, it has only gotten worse.
The Carns family has been dealing with issues with their neighbor, Susan McBride, since around 2016, when her and Portocalis began suspiciously texting back and forth regarding the commercial trucks on their property and other possible things they could be in violation of, which seems to have created NJ’s own version of the Hatfields and the McCoys. McBride filed several complaints with the township against the Carns, which in turn, the Carns chose to use their first amendment rights by placing a sign by the road that read “Crazy Lady Ahead!”, which didn’t sit well with McBride
On January 6th of this year, an email is sent out by Kathy Burger to Mayor Chuck Watson, with a picture attached showing an image that was captured from the Carns Private Facebook group showing the rear of the Carns family farm and their tree trucks. The email goes on to state that that Beth “will be addressing the numerous commercial vehicles being parked on the farm.”.
Section 501c of the Townships code clearly states that “the provision shall not be deemed to limit the number of commercial cars or trucks used in conjunction with a permitted agricultural use”, which is exactly what the Carns Farm is, so why is the township enforcing it?
In the same January 6th email from Burger to Mayor Watson, Burger goes onto say that “the Carns sister, Heather Carns, is running a boarding and grooming business on the property.”, and goes on to say “I want to make you aware that Beth will be sending a letter as they tend to reach out to you or post disparaging remarks about the township.”, referring to the Carns.
Two weeks later, on January 18th, the mayor asked David Carns to drop off 2 cords of firewood, with the mayor letting him know that he’d catch up to pay him the $450 later. After a couple weeks, David texted to remind him about the outstanding balance, to which Watson apologized and promised payment, but the mayor didn’t follow through. David texted once more requesting payment, to which the mayor again apologized and said he’d get the money right over to him, only that never happened.
On March 11th at 1:27 pm of this year, David received a message from Susan McBride, saying “Hi David. I’m going to be putting the house back up again in a month. Could you move that pile of wood for me please and we can work on whatever money you need. Please.”.
Just 3 hours later, seemingly frustrated that David didn’t respond within the three hour window she must have arbitrarily set in her mind, McBride sends an email to Porticalis, saying “Hi Beth, I am always the procrastinator so bare with me…I’m thinking I may have to file a small claims against Cornerstone to remove those large logs they left on my property. David doesn’t respond to texts Brian is being a very ripe Brian. I also, maybe would like to have you condemn their old barn which sits right on the road. The roof has been flying around for years, landing on the road and in my pastures. I know it’s historic, but it’s got to be replaced or torn down. What are your thoughts?”.
The next day, on the 12th, David responded to McBride, saying “Ok, I’ll let you know tomorrow”.
One day later, on the 13th of March, David replied and let her know that it would be $1,000 to remove the pile, a price that McBride didn’t agree with and fired back with a veiled threat, reminding Carns of her allowing them to park one of their trucks on her property to avoid any issues they might have with the township.
David let her know that normally a pile as large as the one in her yard, would cost $2,000 and suggested that she just leave the pile for the next home owner. Just three days later, on March 16th, McBride went to the Township building and made a request to have the barn on the Carns historic barn torn down. That same day, without the Carns knowledge, a zoning officer for the city illegally trespassed on the Carns property to take pictures of their barn, something they only learned of later through several OPRA requests made to the township.
Two days after the zoning officer trespassed, the Carns were approached by two men from the tax assessors office who claimed that they were there to help the Carns remove the barn from the tax map, which in turn, would help them save some money on taxes. The claim of removing the barn from the tax map never happened, and the Carns believe was only used to get close up photos of their barn, which were being used to try and condemn the barn
On March 21st, while David was working in a customers backyard, Porticalis illegally trespassed on the rear of the property without the home owners permission, screaming at David that he is cutting down trees on wetlands, an allegation which was proven to be false. That same day, Porticalis sent out a letter condemning the barn, demanding that they either repair it or tear it down.
On March 23rd, feeling frustrated and confused, and not knowing where to turn, David decided to reach out to a local reporter from the Pine Barren’s tribune to share his story, a story that included the Mayor stiffing him for $450. Just a short while later, he get’s a message from the Mayor, just saying “Call me right away”, a call that David didn’t make.
Three days later, on the 26th of March, David spoke at a budget hearing to let the committee know about how Portocalis trespassed on his customers property and maliciously cited him for violations that didn’t exist.
On March 28th, David was working at a different customers property, when he received a call from Portocalis, letting him know that she was coming over to inspect the trees that he was removing, and to let the property owner know that she was coming. David let the property owner know, but they still felt uncomfortable. When Portocalis arrived, she wised up this time and asked David’s customer if she can enter the property rather than illegally trespass as she did two days prior, a request the customer granted.
Portocalis claimed she was there to ask questions about the trees that David was removing, which David said a 10 year old could see that they were dead, but she instead engaged David’s customer, walking around the property asking if they had permits for work Portocalis, alluding to what might be possible violations.
Fed up, the Carns showed up on April 5th to let their voices be heard at the township’s council meeting, where David would come face to face with there Mayor for the first time since the reporter’s call. Interestingly, on the same day as the Carns spoke out at the April 5th meeting, Portocalis prepared a violation notice giving the Carns 9 days to remove their trucks of off the property.
The Carns went back to the next council meeting, yet the council still failed to answer, with the Carns promising to return every 2 weeks until they get some answers.
On May 1st, just two days before Council was set to meet, Medford’s solicitor, Timothy Prime, sent a letter threatening the matriarch of the family, 80 year old Carolyn Carns, with heavy fines and jail time is the tree trucks were not removed from their property.
When the Carns showed up at the meeting on May 3rd, they just wanted the solicitor to answer the simple question of when they could have their trucks on the property, yet the solicitor claimed they couldn’t answer them due to an outstanding citation that was before the court. This shocked the Carns, especially considering they had never received a citation yet, and they were told to go to zoning to ask those questions, questions that the zoning board on May 18th said, that they could not answer either, leaving the Carns even more frustrated and confused.
Since 2012, Susan McBride has called 911 at least 17 times, some being for requests for officers to help catch her lost ponies, others for neighbors who dare to try to use her driveway to turn around, and two very odd ones made that request police to be on alert about the Carns because her teenage children are home without her.
The Carns have also called 911 on McBrice twice as well, once for her dog being loose, and another time for trespassing, with all 4 calls between the neighbors being made since the Mayhem in Medford began some 2 months ago when David didn’t return McBride’s text message fast enough.
With the Medford council meeting looming next week on the 24th, the tension is building in the rural community, with many wanting answers. Many of the people on social media are wondering how a person who lives in Pitman, such as Portocalis does, can be harassing people who have lived and worked in Medford their entire lives?
Our theory is that when you arm a BBQ Becky with a badge, especially one that finds that it is her good friend, Karen, that is the one seeking assistance, that Becky will use her power to cancel the Karen dissenter by any means necessary, even if those means are highly unethical, and most likely, illegal.