Saturday, December 27, 2008

Renewable Energy Confronts Reality

An interesting article in the New York Times talks about the challenges of using various renewable energy resources through winter weather and reduced temperatures. Among them is trying to use biodiesel under these conditions. In January 2007, a Colorado bus operator using 20% biodiesel stalled the vehicle and stranded passengers one frigid evening. Now the operator uses 5% biodiesel in summer and 0% in winter.

Yet Dumont claims up to 51% biodiesel use in their vehicles. Seems that Councilman Manna's pondering of fry grease powering DPW snow plows is really fantasy after all... or did they try fueling their plow trucks with it during recent storms?

Another New York Times article talks about how biodiesel production by-products may not be environmentally inert. Makes one wonder how and where Dumont disposes of their biodiesel production by-products. Could borough hall be creating new problems in trying to resolve existing ones?

An overview of biodiesel technology can be found here, courtesy of Edmunds, Inc.

Agree? Disagree? Discuss online or write a letter.

Welcome to the site

Gentle readers,

I am proud to be a resident of this town. Everyone works hard to contribute to the community. Until recently, I did not know what to offer. For now, this is what I humbly present: A chronicle of my inquiries and responses from Dumont officials over the Sounding Off section of the fine publication, Twin Boro News. I'll also throw in an occasional comment when the urge strikes.

Read separately, these letters do not seem related. Read together all at once, it unfolds like an ongoing story. In the beginning, I thought I was seeking trivial answers to my trivial questions. How was I to know that the very officials we elect to manage local affairs seem to challenge my integrity and motives at every turn, this to someone not seeking elective office? I mean, what is there to hide?

Whose questions and responses are carefully supported by facts? Whose rebuttals resort to diversion, innuendo and baseless accusation, supported by figures that do not add up? Who addresses us as if we seem ignorant? Who dismisses us as if we seem incapable of understanding? Read it here, look at my references. You be the judge.

For those familiar with reading web pages, you will notice that I have many embedded links. For those just becoming familiar, you will notice locations where the text changes color and when the mouse pointer (cursor) falls in that area the arrow changes to a hand with an extended index finger. An example is right here. These links point to a reference document or an attempt to make an action easier for the reader.

May I ask a favor? If what you read does not sit well with you, ask. Make noise. Join others in the discussion. Keep asking until the answers satisfy you. Feeling badly that you may be taking up valuable time of borough officials? Remember, we are paying for this right. May as well get our money's worth. Do this not for me, but for yourself. Write a letter to the editor. Shy? Use the online boards. Think borough officials do not monitor the board? I find it difficult to believe that this statement was issued merely because of the call volume flooding borough hall switchboard during those days.

Nevertheless, keep the comments coming. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

12/16/2008 Borough Council Meeting


Don't forget to answer our anonymous and unscientific poll at the bottom of this page.

Like what you see? Feeling okay? Discuss online or write a letter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Q&A at the 12/16 Borough Council Meeting

video

Welcome Twin-Boro News Sounding Off readers. Here is the video excerpt of my exchange with borough officials during the general public participation session. Involved in the exchange: Councilman Carl Manna, Borough Administrator John P. Perkins, CPM, Council President Robert McQuade and Councilman Marty Caspare.

Here are the references I cited. Note that clicking on the link will take you to the document, away from this page:

Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines. If nothing else, read document pages 1 and 2. Does McQuade's skepticism of the guide's source seem justified? What source can we trust? Perhaps the National Biodiesel Board, cited by Manna in the Twin-Boro article. What do they say?

Biodiesel Production and Quality. Where is the borough performing the chemical transformation from waste fats into biodiesel? Does the borough have qualified staff and equipment to engage in this effort? What company has the borough hired to perform the chemical analysis of what they are making so it can be qualified to be called biodiesel?

NJ Contract Fuel and Gas Prices. Now that fuel prices have collapsed some 67% from summer highs and half of December 2007 prices, why was McQuade heard claiming $27,000 in fuel expense overruns? What was the cost-per-gallon budgeted for 2008?

NJ Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Program. The NJBPU project manager seems unaware of any inquiries from Dumont, let alone having received any applications from the borough. Who then, at NJBPU, is the borough working with?

Dumont Green Initiative - Press Release. Now see whether any of these facts make sense or figures add up.

Meanwhile, a deafening silence came from Councilman Riquelme. Why he said nothing despite claiming to lead the charge on alternative fuels puzzles me.

After challenging me to have a "real discussion", Manna's seeming inability to speak for himself beyond his script speaks volumes about the concern he really has for his constituents. Honestly councilman, are you looking over the document as promised, or have you already buried it?

Agree? Disagree? Discuss on a forum or write a letter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sounding Off: Questions are OK, but why letters?

This letter originally appeared on the December 17, 2008 edition of the Twin-Boro News, Sounding Off section.

Dear Editor:

In last week’s edition of the Twin-Boro News, Mr. Kai Chen raised questions regarding upgrades to Dumont’s Memorial Field.

I commend him for his letter, although I was surprised to read it since he was in attendance at our last meeting of the Dumont governing body.

At that meeting, he received documents provided by Council President Bob McQuade, but failed to ask any questions.

I realize that Mr. Chen may want to take the information home with him and review it, but I do question as to why he chooses to use the editorial page to raise his questions. In fact, since Election Day, Mr. Chen has made it a point to attend our meetings, yet fails to ask any questions.
Nevertheless, the reason why the borough waited for the presentation regarding upgrades to the Memorial Park was twofold.

First, the borough, like many other communities in the Northern Valley, has multiple issues to deal with on a daily basis, let alone future planning.

Secondly, the borough was waiting to receive confirmation that it would receive some $171,176 funding from the Bergen County Open Space, Historic and Recreation Trust Fund. These funds would be in addition to the $485,000 already granted for the multi-year/multi-park upgrade program announced early in 2007 by Mayor Matt McHale and Recreation Liaison Councilman Marty Caspare.

Additionally in his letter, Mr. Chen referred to his letter dated Oct. 22, pertaining to the borough’s bio-fuels alternative pilot program for municipal vehicles.

Many of the questions raised are valid, yet Mr. Chen misses the key component of this program, that is that it’s a pilot program.

I am not a bio-scientist nor an engineer, but a member of the Dumont governing body committed to exploring new technologies with the hopes of a greener environment while saving Dumont taxpayers unnecessary expenditures for fossil fuels.

I sincerely welcome Mr. Chen to join the Borough of Dumont’s governing body in exploring this exciting and viable fuel alternative source.

However, I must question Mr. Chen’s motives. While I have no problem with a public discussion regarding the happenings of the Borough of Dumont, I again question why he resorts to the editorial page of the Twin-Boro News rather than ask his question and share his opinion at the meetings which he attends.

Democracy, and especially municipal government, serves its constituents best when there is an open, honest and equal exchange between those who are in public service and those whom the public servants serve.

I urge Mr. Chen to put politics aside, and have a real discussion, whether it be in public or private.

Regardless of politics, Happy Holidays to all the readers of the Twin-Boro News.

Sincerely,

Carl Manna
Councilman

Sounding Off: Digital TV switch caveat offered

Dear Editor:

I wish to thank all the volunteers who pitched in to make the Winter Festival in Dumont enjoyable for myself and my family. We had a fun time and appreciate Council President McQuade for reaching out and greeting everyone on the queue for the train ride.

On another matter, recently a certain television service provider knocked on my door and announced that free broadcasts over antenna would be discontinued by order of the federal government next year. I wish to let fellow residents know that this and similar representations are misleading, with service providers taking advantage of the confusion raised during the Digital Television (DTV) transition.

Should there be a need, as determined by the borough council, I will be happy to volunteer one evening at borough hall to let residents see for themselves what signals an old TV using "rabbit ears" antenna can receive for free.

In this time of fiscal restraint, being able to have one less expense is always welcome.

Sincerely,

Kai Chen
Dumont

Agree? Disagree? Discuss on a forum or write a letter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sounding Off: Proposal for turf raises questions

Dear Editor:

I read with interest a copy of the cost proposal for a synthetic turf field at Memorial Park in Dumont presented by Alaimo Group at the Dec. 2 executive session meeting. I was wondering why it took until now to evaluate a proposal dated Aug. 25. Have other firms submitted quotes? Since the project involves extensive work to the field, has the environmental commission weighed in with an opinion?

Just to be sure, I was wondering whether the borough plans to respond to my questions concerning the alternative fuels pilot (Sounding Off, Oct. 22), whether it seems prudent at this time to be funding what is essentially a science experiment.

Sincerely,

Kai Chen
Dumont

Agree? Disagree? Discuss on a forum or write a letter.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rafael Riquelme swearing in


Congratulations to Mr. Rafael Riquelme for being elected to the borough governing body as Councilman with 54.34% of total votes cast, a 650 vote margin.
Independent voice or obedient soldier? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sounding Off: Some questions on ‘going green’

Dear Editor:

I read with interest the many letters to the editor that Dumont residents as well as the candidates themselves have appeared in recent weeks.

While it appears straightforward to read the positions taken by the Kruger/Hakim/Dondero team — agree or not — I have been less than successful in reading the positions taken by the Caspare/Manna/Riquelme team.

While I agree that the incumbents have established a record and history in serving the town, if I may, I have some questions.

The pilot program for alternative fuels ("Alternative Fuels for Thought," Oct. 8) seems impressive and ambitious. However:
  • Regarding the biodiesel pilot for DPW diesel trucks, do Messrs. Manna and Riquelme, in their reserach, realize that the used cooking oil must be filtered, treated and stabilized before blending with diesel fuel, even then, at a maximum 20 percent concentration (B20) from established and reliable sources?
  • Does Mr. Riquelme, with his food management experience, overlook the fact that restaurants now consider their used oil a valuable commodity, worth about $2.50 per gallon just months ago? What is his plan to compensate restaurant owners if the borough is unable to pay for this oil? Does he realize that the grease cannot be stored for long, as oil going rancid renders it unusable, even as a fuel component?

In fact, the "Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines" prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy stresses, in part, that "...recycled greases that have not been converted to biodiesel are not biodiesel and should be avoided" due to engine damage at concentrations as low as 10 percent". While adventurous folks have received overwhelmingly positive press with their homebrew converted vehicles, the reality is that using waste fat to power a vehicle remains a hobbyist realm and risky business for municipalities unable or unwilling to add new maintenance tasks to already burdened staff workloads.

  • Regarding the propane pilot for DPW and police vehicles, do Messrs. Manna and Riquelme, in their research, reveal that setting up fueling infrastructure for propane is neither trivial nor cheap?

In "NJ Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Program" guidelines document, stresses, in part, that "Alternative fuels such as...compressed natural gas (CNG), propane...present different safety requirements than gas or diesel fuels. It is strongly recommended that any organization considering the use of alternative fuel vehicles have its vehicle maintenance and repair facilities evaluated to ensure that building systems, including lighting and HVAC, and existing operating procedures, are compatible with the use of gaseous or other fuels."

  • Is it a good idea to convert police vehicles, considering their use in security and life-safety, where even minor decreases in availability and reliability are not tolerated? Just ask our police force to see whether they agree on a tradeoff.
  • Regarding the program in general, have the conversion costs budgeted? Assuming Dumont receives the full rebate, where is the $3,000 per car difference coming from? How about the fueling facility, where only half the costs are rebated and capped at $50,000?
  • Could it be that Messrs. Manna and Riquelme put the cart before the horse? According to the project coordinator for New Jersey Alternative Fuel Rebate program, he seems unable to recall Dumont applying for any rebate programs. Current contracted fuel costs can be found at http://www.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/treasury/purchase/fuel/fuelsummary.pl. I find it difficult to find savings in biodiesel over diesel.

While it is laudable that Dumont is launching a green initiative, I challenge Messrs. Manna and Riquelme to scale back, share with adjacent municipalities or find a better way to "go green" without spending a lot of green, as what this pilot program seems to imply upon closer examination.

Switching gears, I am a bit dismayed to read that, in an earlier Sounding Off (Oct. 15, "Candidates cite positive changes"), Messrs. Caspare, Manna and Riquelme strongly object to their challengers’ call for making council meetings available on telecast, citing undisclosed cost and delay, defeating the purpose of such an idea. Could it be that the cost was undisclosed because there are none? There are a number of companies, in the spirit of Google, offering free services that allow live video streaming over the Internet without charge. For example, Ustream.tv is cited in the March 31entry of the Dumont High School principal’s personal blog as a way to save money.

  • Have the current council contacted their site contractor Xquizit to see if recorded video streams can be made available as soon as an event ends?

This should be a trivial task to put on the borough Web site. Anything less from the contractor would be a sign of incompetence.


Sincerely,

Kai Chen
Dumont

Agree? Disagree? Discuss on a forum or write a letter.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sounding Off: On C3, agreeing to disagree

Dear Editor:

I thank Mayor McHale for patiently responding to some of my questions regarding C3. I am a little disappointed, however, that he seems more interested in rehashing the Dumont C3 press release and associating me with a council candidate (It’s funny; I am not running for office) rather than refuting my findings should they prove false. To clarify:

  • Where is the value of GIS provided by C3 when Bergen County offers it for free, with a municipal-only area where area residents can also be, quoting Mayor McHale, "geo-coded for targeting purposes via GIS mapping technology" and found at http://gis.co.bergen.nj.us/default.htm?
  • Alluding to the "…possibility of better and improved municipal services," is Mayor McHale tacitly admitting that wireless coverage in the borough could be better? Did the borough squander opportunities in terms of needed revenue and servicing residents’ communications needs by rejecting formal requests from Verizon and T-Mobile in 2007 to provide coverage in Dumont, for Dumont?
  • If the C3 system is now, quoting Mayor McHale, "administered by the borough of Dumont." is it true that the system contract is actually much more than $1,500 monthly, when administration costs included under the old contract must now be performed by borough labor and consequently accounted for? What is this additional cost? Suppose that for three full-time borough administrative staff each spending, on average, 60 minutes per day at $50 overhead hourly rate and 20 days per month, that equals, on average, another $3,000 per month…$4,500 total monthly and $108,000 over the contract term. Yikes!
    Is it true that the borough is left paying a ton of money for some online storage and a license for glorified social networking software?
  • All kidding aside, now that a lot of detailed data is being collected from the 1,000 households participating in Dumont’s C3, submitting municipal service and other borough requests, when will the data be aggregated and compiled into reports used to measure borough performance (akin to a report card), made available on the borough Web site and utilized as a tool for future planning purposes? Similar software packages can generate such reports in minutes. Making this feature available would seem consistent with Mayor McHale’s pledge to "...new innovative ways and approaches of how the Borough of Dumont can better serve its residents".

While I have no doubt that C3 has some positive merits and is here to stay, frankly I think that the value of C3 remains questionable, given its cost, if only to send subscribers an overnight parking extension message. But that is just my personal view. Perhaps others may agree with the mayor over the course of this exchange. While I continue to challenge Dumont residents to consider our points, research our sources and decide for themselves, I guess I will just have to agree to disagree with Mayor McHale. Isn’t that the American way?

Sincerely,

Kai Chen
Dumont

Agree? Disagree? Discuss on a forum or write a letter.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sounding Off: C3 is more than just a Web site

This letter originally appeared on the October 8, 2008 edition of the Twin-Boro News, Sounding Off section.

Dear Editor:

Last week Mr. Joseph Hakim and Ms. Kai Chen submitted letters regarding Dumont’s newly implemented Citizens Communication Center (C3). I thank them for their concerns and questions.

As the Democratic mayor of Dumont, the free exchange of ideas and opinions is a priority of my administration. Along with my fellow colleagues on the Council, we have worked tirelessly to engage our constituents in the hopes of reaffirming and practicing our collective democratic principles.

Regardless, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to any controversies or implied controversies regarding C3 and the Borough of Dumont.

C3 is more than just a Web site as Mr. Hakim and Ms. Chen have intimated. Dumont’s C3 system is completely administered by the Borough of Dumont, which allows Dumont residents to receive e-mails, text messages, calls to their home and cell phones, updates on borough news, process municipal service requests, register their emergency contacts, refer friends, and provide special needs information, as well as a host of other services solely for and about Dumont.

Dumont’s C3 system is further complemented on the administrative side by managing this information for residents with full GIS capabilities and other important functionality like surveys, polls, content management, frequently asked questions, and by centralizing municipal services requests.

Upon signing up, registrants are geo-coded for targeting purposes via GIS mapping technology so in the event of an emergency, power outage or evacuation, the Borough of Dumont can identify affected individuals.

However, this technology is also helpful for non-emergencies and for the administration of borough services. For example, the recent notification that overnight parking would be extended from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1.

Other important mapping tools further allow the Borough of Dumont to zone alerts to particular sections of town, streets, or for that matter, target an individual property.

This feature is not covered under the County of Bergen’s contract with C3. The County of Bergen’s contract with C3 allows every municipality, so long as the municipality pays for usage, to administer voice messaging only.

The Borough of Dumont has full access to the previously described services, and not just the voice messaging.

The ability to communicate over various types of communicative devices affords the Borough of Dumont and its residents the possibility of better and improved municipal services.

The centralization of advance technological communications provides Dumont’s taxpayers with a value which would have had to been contracted with over five different vendors resulting in a lack of integration and higher cost. We have achieved this service at a monthly rate of $1,500 over a two-year period.

I am most dismayed by both Mr. Hakim and Ms. Chen’s lack of information and am happy to be able to explain further.

Having served as Dumont’s mayor for almost three years, I have made it a point to be available to all constituents, regardless of forum, whether it be meeting in person, answering questions at council meetings, or returning phone or e-mail inquiries, However, neither Mr. Hakim nor Ms. Chen have attempted to contact me.

Their inactions have led me to question their underlying motivations. Both individuals falsely imply facts and furthermore, as in the case of Mr. Hakim, make accusations regarding my and the council’s intent, as well as who owns C3.

As a candidate for council, Mr. Hakim especially should perform his public service by uncovering the facts before making such statements.

To date almost 1,000 household have signed up with the borough for this important and worthwhile service, C3.

I am happy to have an open forum and engage more residents on not only the benefits and attributes but also the new innovative ways and approaches of how the Borough of Dumont can better serve its residents.

I encourage all residents to visit www.dumontnj.gov and sign up for this groundbreaking initiative.

Sincerely,

Matt McHale
Mayor
Dumont

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sounding Off: C3 responses still raises concerns

Dear Editor:

I wish to take the opportunity to thank you for printing my questions in Sounding Off. I would also like to thank Mayor McHale for taking his time out of his busy schedule to try and answer some of my questions regarding C3 in the Sept. 17 Sounding Off.
It seems to me; however, he may have overlooked others and spawned new concerns I have:

  • Is Mr. Hakim’s claim in his Sept. 19 letter that the C3 contract cost $1,500 per month true?
  • Is Mr. Hakim’s claim that the borough is paying two contractors seven or more months for duplicative work true?
  • If Mayor McHale characterizes the work of www.dumontboro.org as "antiquated," why did he approve the renewal contract in 2007? In 2006? Were there attempts to negotiate a shorter term contract in 2007 to place the contractor on notice, if the work was determined by the council to be unsatisfactory?
  • Mayor McHale states that C3 features "state-of-the-art mapping technology." What specific need is currently being satisfied for a borough occupying less than two square miles? Are there any specific instances?

I have subsequently discovered that Bergen County now offers an alert system that is free to all county residents and appears to be indistinguishable from Dumont’s C3, located at http://www.co.bergen.nj.us/bcresources/reverse911.aspx. I now see why Old Tappan passed on this deal (Northern Valley Suburbanite, April 29) if indeed the county is generously picking up the tab.

  • Why is the Borough of Dumont paying for a service the county already purchased for its residents?
  • For those who either do not have continuous access to the Internet or choose not to register with C3, are these folks the newly underserved? Are there any plans to normalize the gap between the communications haves and have-nots?
  • Did the mayor and borough council consider the wisdom of sending photo, audio and video files to residents over commercial wireless networks when those very networks have historically been first to become unreliable and fail (Sept. 11, 2001, August 2003 blackout, April 16, 2007 flooding)? Since wireless carriers must serve Dumont from other municipalities, are residents living in fringe coverage areas lulled in to a sense that they will be notified when they may not be notified in a timely manner?
  • In the interest of open government often hailed by Mayor McHale, now that the borough has C3 in place for some time and have accumulated some historical data, will making various performance metrics such as time to open a case, response time, type of service and related parameters tabulated in monthly reports be posted on the borough Web site to gauge the performance of municipal service requests? What timetable can Mayor McHale commit to if this cannot be completed in 30 days?

I am puzzled as to why the mayor would think of my questions as criticism. I am a resident, and pay my taxes just like all the others in this fine borough. While I am unable to comment about the motivation of others, I can say that I care about where my taxes go, and want assurance that the borough gets the most bang for its buck.

Perhaps others feel whether arguing over what the borough spends on its Web site ($1,500 per month vs. $399 per month) is still chump change, either way but I think it is significant.
I think that an open forum where all sides can offer more thought-out questions and answers only benefits everyone, preferable over calling the borough and talking to a machine, or attending a borough council meeting where officials are understandably more interested in adjourning the meeting sooner than later in order to return home see their loved ones after a full day at the office.

I challenge all Dumont residents to verify the references I have cited. Decide for themselves whether this fellow Kai’s research is credible. If Dumont officials feel my questions seem unreasonable, they can simply ignore me until only I see my words in print.

Sincerely,

Kai Chen
Dumont

Agree? Disagree? Discuss on a forum or write a letter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sounding Off: Dumont’s C3 benefits hailed

This letter originally appeared on the September 17, 2008 edition of the Twin-Boro News, Sounding Off section.

Dear Editor:

Please let me take this opportunity to address the issues and questions raised by Joseph Hakim and Kai Chen in their letters published on Sept. 10 ("Light is shed on Web ‘confusion’ " and "Privacy vs. safety on Dumont’s C3" respectively).

Both individuals fail to understand that the fundamental attribute of the Citizen Communication Center (C3) is that it is primarily an innovative emergency notification system that happens to have a Web site component. While Dumont will continue to participate in the county-run "Reverse 9-1-1 System," C3 will better protect and serve the residents of Dumont in a number of ways:

By offering the ability to send e-mails and text messages in addition to phone calls, C3 dramatically increases the likelihood that all residents will receive important alerts.

In addition, C3 will actually notify residents more quickly then the "Reverse 9-1-1 System" because few people are around to answer their home phone during the day.

Learning about road closures and school closings is important to residents, but only serious emergencies are ever broadcast by the "Reverse 9-1-1 System." Conversely, C3 allows for non-urgent messages to be sent and for residents to customize the types of notifications they would like to receive.

By allowing borough officials to send alerts directly without having to go through the county, C3 saves precious time and money in the event of an emergency and prevents the possibility of miscommunication that arises when information has to pass through multiple channels, such as the case with the recent water main break.

Using state-of-the-art mapping technology, C3 gives officials the ability to send custom alerts regarding localized emergencies.

For instances, while reverse 9-1-1 would never be used for something such as localized flooding — because every resident in town would have to be called — C3 allows messages to the be sent solely to the residents of an affected area.

When registering for C3 at www.DumontNJ.gov, residents are given the opportunity to provide the borough with information about the special needs they or a family member might have.

In the event of an emergency, Dumont’s first responders will be able to use this information to make critical
decisions and perform their duties more effectively.

Given the clear differences between C3 and the "Reverse 9-1-1 System" and the antiquated Web site of www.dumontboro.org, most residents understandably welcome the more technologically advance notification system and web site service.

Criticism about the cost of Dumont’s new Web site is misguided – and I suspect politically motivated with Election Day approaching – because that cost includes everything discussed above, as well as countless other features of C3 beyond the borough’s new official Web site.

Old Tappan may have passed on C3, if Ms. Chen’s assertions are true, but other communities like Teaneck and Nutley have recognized its unparalleled benefits and decided to make this important investment in the safety of their residents.

While citizens are always encouraged to voice their opinions, I hope that in the future those who choose to do so in a public forum will research their claims more thoroughly rather than simply resorting to uninformed accusations.

For the public’s benefit, I strongly encourage Ms. Chen and Mr. Hakim to contact the Borough of Dumont at 201-387-5022 before they continue to unintentionally mislead their fellow residents.

Sincerely,
Matt McHale

Matt McHale is the Mayor of Dumont.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sounding Off: Dumont's C3 - Privacy vs. Safety?

Dear Editor,

I write today regarding Dumont's Citizen Communications Center on the borough's new website (http://www.dumontnj.gov/) introduced several weeks ago and featured in an earlier edition of this weekly.

The other day, I gave it a try. I clicked on the sign-up link and a new window popped up, taking me away from the borough website. Who is http://www.cyber-secure.net/? I noticed the site is patent protected. Good idea for the owner, but I think a patent certifies uniqueness, nothing else. A few more clicks took me to C3 Holdings, Xquizit Technologies and company president John Carrino, Esq. But I digress. On their privacy statement, a section states "Account holders may elect to deregister at anytime" then stops. Is my data removed from the database and from backup copies? Though the answer seems intuitive, it took an online uprising for Facebook to change their policy to do just that. I closed my online session without continuing.

The boro's June 19th press release ends with "This simple action could prove to be lifesaving one day". For those of us who have not registered yet, are we now less safe? It seems to contradict the press release itself by reiterating a reverse 911 system would still be in place.

I read in April that Old Tappan officials reviewed C3 but found their $18,000 annual fee too costly. Have Dumont officials conducted the same due diligence before choosing C3? In light of rising costs and losing our state aid this year, I go from feeling confused to worried about having to pay for this.

Sincerely,

Kai Chen
Dumont

Agree? Disagree? Discuss on a forum or write a letter.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sounding Off: Dumont Web sites found confusing

Dear Editor:

I read the Aug. 20 Page 3 article "Borough Announces New Web Site" with interest.

Quoting our mayor: "The fact that our Web site now ends in ‘.gov’ makes it obvious to members of the public which one of the many Dumont-related Web sites in existence is actually the borough’s official site." While I applaud the mayor’s initiative, I was wondering whether such confusion may be the borough’s own doing.

Specifically, were the following Web sites at one time official: http://www.dumont.us/, http://www.dumontboro.org/ and http://www.dumontborough.org/? When I log on to the latter site, I read "Official Web Site of the Borough of Dumont, New Jersey." Is this no longer so?
How much money has this cost the borough and how much is the borough paying now to have this online work performed?

Perhaps to other residents it seems clear; however, I remain confused.

Kai Chen
Dumont

Agree? Disagree? Discuss on a forum or write a letter.