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 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 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.


Kai Chen

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, 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, 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.

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 ( 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 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.


Kai Chen

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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:, and 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

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