July 22, 2007

Baby sitting message boards

The CountyWatchers blog used to have a message board. I quickly found it to be too much trouble to baby sit the anonymous posters so I took it down.

Nearly ten years ago Cranford resident Mark Dingelstedt founded a message board with the intention to provide good-natured Cranford discussion. In a recent article Dingelstedt is quoted as having stated that “the increasing prevalence of negative posts that insult and demean residents and other posters are the driving force behind the end of CranfordTalk”. Dingelstedt went on to say that a group of individuals who continually post offensive and unsubstantiated comments about local politicians and township residents has made the board all but impossible to police. "I've kind of had enough," he said. “That's the sad part about it if I asked people to sign their names; they wouldn't be talking the way they do,"

The decision is one he came to, Dingelstedt said, after it became clear to him that the forum had changed from a place to exchange ideas and information to a hotbed of innuendo and political potshots.

I stopped reading Cranfordtalk and other message boards like it a few years ago. I found that the boards went from being informative to just being a way for posters who use sign-in names to create personalities for themselves without ever having to claim them. And they would harass citizens, who have the courage to publicly stand up for what they believe in, with complete anonymity from the comfort of their homes and the County Administration building. About 120 people post on Cranfordtalk, yet there are only a handful of people that regularly speak out at public meetings and write letters to the editor.

A friend sent me a recent post by Cranford Commissioner George McDonough who is a tireless defender of Union County government. McDonough accused the Union County Watchdog Association of taking illegal contributions. This is wildly untrue, and a good example of why these message boards are bad for a community. Editors of newspapers have to be responsible when they print letters to the editor. No letters are published that are unsigned, and a good editor will make sure that the facts stated are backed-up with documentation. When CranfordTalk goes offline it will leave a void, McDonough is quoted as saying "There's no other source like that for Cranford," McDonough said. "I'll miss it."

I’d like to publicly thank Mark Dingelstedt for providing the community service and for hanging in as long as he did. But shutting down was the right thing to do. It went from being a great way to draw the community together to something that made our community look ugly and un-neighborly. Which isn’t representative of the good people of Cranford. Neither is George McDonough who is up for re-election. Hopefully my hometown of Cranford has had enough of him as well.

And Tina Renna questions the legality of taking text messages from citizens
Posted by George McDonough on June 13, 2007, 12:29 am, in reply to "interesting meeting"
User logged in as: George McDonough | Edit Message
I guess she's unaware of the fact that she runs a not-for-profit organization (501c3) "The County Watchers" which has ILLEGALLY accepted funding from the Union County Republican Committee. I'm so glad that the R's are tied to this inarticulate loose cannon.
Yeah, these are fine examples of open and HONEST government!

McDonough partying with the Union County Democrat party faithful at taxpayers expense.

At last year's Musicfest catering was provided for 425 people who were invited to the freeholders VIP tent at a cost to taxpayers of $5,525. The bill for the VIP tent alcohol hasn't been provided to date. The county has written that this was an in-kind contribution and no documentation has been offered as to who the contributor(s) were. No permit was issued for the serving of the alcohol in a county park.