I have made it a little ritual that when I go to speak at council meetings, I find a nice spot to grab a bite to eat, and try and get a sense of the local chatter, which many times, is about my stories. Two nights ago was no different, when just prior to the Medford Township Council Meeting, I sat down at Braddocks Tavern to eat some spicy Thai Shrimp, and sip on a lovely craft beer.
When I asked the couple next to me if they heard about the issues between the Township and the Carns farm, the wife immediately knew what I was talking about, but the husband had no idea. When I told him the story about how the Mayor stiffed Carns on some wood, he said “Who, beer drinking Chuck?”, regarding Chuck Watson, the Mayor of Medford. As a beer drinker myself, I saw common ground, and knowing that the Carns brothers also liked beer, the idea of the Medford Beer Summit was born.
I entered the meeting a little late, with public comments just getting underway, and a Medford resident was asking that the Council rethink their position on not allowing cannabis dispensaries, which is an idea that I wholeheartedly support . The speaker, who is a Medford resident seeking to open a dispensary in the Township, mentioned that Medford residents voted for the 2020 legalization bill at a whopping rate of 74%, yet the Mayor and council said they still needed to wait to see how they do in other communities before opting in to allow them.
Both David and Brian Carns spoke, and both were much calmer in how they approached the Council and Solicitor, who at one point, barked at David Carns, “That’s Mr. Prime”, after David used just his last name in referring to him. David asked the council who the town paid to clean up the trees and debris at the Hartford Crossing trails, which is a Job that Carns had offered to do for free of months ago.
Brain Carns asked to please either drop the citations against the farm, or to at least reissue the citations to the brothers, so their 81 year old mother doesn’t have to be needlessly summonsed into court. When questioned, Watson and Prime said that they’d answer questions at the end of public comments, but never actually addressed any of the Carns issues.
In doing this work I get little tips from everywhere, and one of those alleged that Mayor Watson, who owns homes in both Tuckerton and Medford, has been spending a lot more time in Tuckerton than he has in Medford, which caused this person to question Watson’s residency in Medford.
When I had a chance to speak, I requested a sit down with the Mayor, and let him know that the guy at the bar called him “Beer Drinking Chuck”, a name he didn’t seems to deny when I said it three times. I asked that the Carns family be left alone, and let them know that the town is about to experience some extremely heavy costs due to litigation for their abuse of power, especially considering the Carns just filed a tort claim notice with the township. I then let the Mayor know that a lot of people in town had questions, such as, is the Mayor really a resident of Tuckerton, a question that seemed to make the Mayor a bit uncomfortable.
Next to speak was Scott Duzcko, a friend of mine and fellow first amendment activist, who pleaded with the township’s government body to explain just why they are harassing the Carns family. Duzcko spoke passionately, trying to appeal to the conscious of the members of the town government, but sadly, it seemed it just fall on deaf ears.
After the public spoke, the Mayor, and Council person, Frank Czekay, responded by only addressing the cannabis issue, as well as the issue of whether or not the Mayor lives in Medford, or Tuckerton, and again, for the 6th meeting in a row, refused to answer the questions posed by the Carns. Even Though David directly asked if the town paid a third party to clean what he had already offered to do for free, the Mayor claimed to not know the answer to David’s question, and skirted the question.
Frustrated with their responses, and knowing that they wouldn’t allow for anymore public comments just so they could get the last word, I yelled from the back of the room, asking them how could they not address the issues raised by the Carns? Watson said public comments were over and tried to silence me, which in turn I told the group that they were “WEAK”. Watson attempted to silence me once more, and at that point, I told them that they were like bunch of bad comedians, and Booed them accordingly as I walked out of the council chambers.
In Delran Township the Mayor and Solicitor decided they didn’t want the insurer to investigate their unethical and illegal activities, so instead of contacting them on time, which would have triggered an investigation, they paid $300,000 from the tax payers budget to Dunphy’s Landscaping for very similar treatment that the Carns are experiencing.
Medford’s Insurer, who is also the same as Delran’s insurer, can refuse and or deny a claim if it is learned that a government official abused their power and acted illegally, which we already know was done by Medford’s zoning Officer, Beth Portocalis, when she trespassed on both the Carns, and a customer of the Carns, properties. So if in the course of their investigation it is found that one of the government actors operated outside of the color of law, and willfully abused their power, the claim can be denied.
The feud has been going on for several months now, with no sign of either side letting up, and each time the Carns speak out, more citations and violations are added to the growing pile. The offer has now been made to Mayor Chuck Watson to sit down and find a resolution to what has now been dubbed, The Mayhem in Medford, but for now, the ball is in the court, of Beer Drinking Chuck.