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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Bordentown City Mayor falsely accuses Internet site
 

Issue Detail:

 
In a Trentonian article written by Jeff Edelstein and published on May 24, 2010, Bordentown City Mayor James Lynch is reported to have said that postings on BordentownMayorReallySucks.com, a site that is critical of him and his administration, "were personal attacks on him, his wife and daughter, and a city police officer who suffers from a disability. After reading the Trentonian article, I visited the BordentownMayorReallySucks.com site but could not find any postings that were "personal attacks" on Mayor Lynch's wife or daughter or a disabled police officer. In order to determine the truth or falsity of Mayor Lynch's claim, I submitted an Open Public Records Act request to Bordentown City for the postings that the Mayor believed contained those "personal attacks." On June 9, 2010, I received a 111-page response from the City. I have placed that response, in its entirety, along with my two-page OPRA request on-line here. I will refer to page numbers within the resulting 113-page PDF file in the remainder of this post. First, in the letter that accompanied the responsive records (page 3), City Attorney Richard W. Hunt said that the alleged personal attacks against Mayor Lynch's wife and daughter were actually not on BordentownMayorReallySucks.com. Rather, he says, they were on a Facebook page with a fictitious name of "Jim Fibber." The anonymous person who posts on the page as "Jim Fibber" writes in the first person and pretends to be Mayor James "Jim" Lynch. Second, Hunt doesn't claim that the "Jim Fibber" page actually contained "personal attacks" on Lynch's wife and daughter. Rather, he says that the Facebook page contains "derogatory references to the Mayor" and that the Facebook page's anonymous author "sent this site to the Mayor's wife, daughter and other family members." Then, he claimed, "when the wife and daughter attempted to decline the Facebook invitation to Jim Fibber, they were directed to" an apparently innocuous site called Bordentownmayor.com. I have examined pages 61 through 80 of the PDF file (i.e. those pages that the City says are a complete list of Jim Fibber's Facebook pages), and I cannot find any postings that even mention Lynch's wife or daughter, let alone constitute "personal attack" upon them. Derogatory comments concerning the Mayor himself are present. Finally, the only references to a "disabled police officer" I could find are on pages 8 and 11 of the PDF file. The postings do not constitute a "personal attack" on the officer because they do not identify the officer by name. They note that the officer was issued a handicapped parking permit 10 years ago and question who in the City is responsible for ensuring that police officers are fit for duty. In sum, it appears that the Mayor falsely claimed that his wife and daughter were subjected to "personal attacks" on BordentownMayorReallySucks.com when they were actually sent invitations to a Facebook page that contained derogatory remarks about the Mayor himself. He also falsely claimed that the site's postings contained "personal attacks" on a disabled police officer. I welcome any comments or corrections to my analysis. John Paff, Chair New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project Somerset, New Jersey Paff@pobox.com

 

Documents:

 


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