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.