Monday, October 25, 2010

DPW Site Contamination: Announcement and Observation

The October 19 M&C Public Meeting had a surreal feel, both at the meeting and days afterwards.  First, the meeting was delayed by over 45 minutes.  Second, the mayor announced that major contamination that dated to the 1980's were apparently never remediated.  Comments followed from the borough administrator, borough attorney and council members. The usual committee reports were deferred; the borough administrator devoted all of his time to this issue.

I asked the mayor whether he could make any and all information related to this case available on the borough website without residents having to file OPRA requests. The council president could be seen nodding in seeming agreement to my request. The mayor responded that he would take it under advisement. There was silence from the council. I returned to my seat. Why would the mayor appear not to immediately honor my request for making information public?

An article appeared on the Record, but not until October 21, two days later.  The title took several turns, from "Dumont Tries to Address Its Past", to "Dumont Contamination Heats Up Race for Council", to the current "Dumont DPW Cited by State Over Contamination, But Paperwork is Missing".

As of October 25, there was no press release found on the borough website.  Why is news so important to health and property such as this being left exclusively to the newspaper for coverage?

A casual inquiry to the NJDEP revealed the following from their records search facility called "DEP Data Miner":

NJDEP "DEP Data Miner" Query for Dumont DPW Public Records

Take a look through the search results using "Data Miner" on the NJDEP home page.  The pages are specifically sequenced so that anyone having access to the internet can step through and duplicate the inquiry and results.  Perhaps the violations that were announced do not appear on the online database.  To the untrained eye, it appears that during both current and previous administrations:

  • Various permits were applied and granted; 
  • Periodic inspections were conducted; 
  • Violations were found during some inspections.

Again, I do not claim expertise in this area, so I will leave further interpretation to the reader.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dumont's Transparency - Lip Service?

Back in July, I emailed the Mayor and copied the full Council on a suggestion that, I thought, may benefit the mayor's self-proclaimed mission bringing transparency to borough hall.

This was not just a one-line suggestion that would have required much of the Ordinance and Resolution Committee's time or effort to complete.   With permission, a template crafted by the Open Government Task Force was used to minimize the effort and speed the adoption, rejection or the modification of the proposed resolution language:

Letter to Mayor and Council

Sample: Dumont Resolution To Enter Closed Session

I received no response from either mayor or any council member.

I then asked councilman Carrick at the August 17 Council meeting whether he received the e-mail.  He claimed he never received it and asked me to resend the message.  I did so and I have heard nothing since.

I am not sure why either the Mayor or any O&R committee member seems silent as to the suggestion's disposition.  Even if they were to respond "The Ordinance and Resolution Committee met and discussed your suggestion and has determined the Closed Meeting resolution will remain unchanged at this time" I would have respected the response even though it was not what I desired. Is the lack of response to a written inquiry considered professional?

Unfortunately this is one of many suggestions that remain unanswered, status unknown, perhaps pitched into the black hole of inconvenient questions and suggestions.

From a local blogger in Bergen County: " is perhaps time to start listening to constituents and begin to abandon the 'we know better than you mantra' before a desperate state treasury that begins to search for monies that have been misappropriated ,ill spent ,wasted ,ill advised and other wise foolishly squandered."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Missing Documents?

Recently it has come to my attention that some files appear to be missing from the Borough of Dumont Official Website.  It appears that certain files posted earlier this year for one reason or another did not make the transition from the previous provider (C3) to the current provider (

As a public service, files reported missing (meeting minutes, ordinances, resolutions) restored from the archive will be placed in this file folder until the file appears on the official website. The file will then be removed from this folder.

Remember:  Only files obtained directly from the borough website or via OPRA are considered official.  Documents found here are for convenience only.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Official Request?

Recently I received the following request from a council member:

I was looking at your website.  I am just curious why you have all of the Democratic Councilmembers and the Democratic Club reports but not for the Republicans?

Thank you.

As a result, the folder has been updated to include all R-1 forms filed with ELEC by all council candidates running in the 2010 Primary and General Elections in the Borough of Dumont filed in calendar year 2010.