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

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.


Carl Manna

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.


Kai Chen

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.


Kai Chen

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