Guest Column Bill Kastning Town Web site a tangled mess

Guest Column
Bill Kastning
Town Web site a tangled mess

Sir Walter Scott wrote, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" I find the quote rather descriptive about Millstone Township’s Web site.

At last week’s Township Committee meeting, some residents expressed concerns about the accuracy of the township Web site. Committeeman John Pfefferkorn, who recently took responsibility for the Web site, concurred. He indicated that there were significant problems, and he is taking the appropriate steps to rectify this indefensible situation as part of his promise for open government.

As the initiator of the idea that Millstone Township should have a Web site when I ran unsuccessfully a few years back, I was happy when Committeeman Cory Wingerter latched onto my idea and started the site. I’ve watched with special interest as the site was initiated and transformed over the years to what it has become.

Unfortunately the Web site fell far short of its full potential. Some of the blame lies with the lack of skill or carelessness by those responsible for maintaining it. However, there is a more disturbing side that I’ve observed and experienced firsthand: the mindful and calculated omissions that display a total disregard for the dissemination of accurate and timely public information. This is inexcusable!

Given my genuine interest in conveying accurate information through the Web site (my brainchild), and that I was a committeeman with firsthand knowledge, I knew what was genuine and what was not. I spent countless hours while in office reviewing the site’s accuracy and working with township personnel and volunteers to identify errors and misinformation, only to observe that not one iota of my corrective input was ever addressed.

I can only assume that someone either didn’t care or had ulterior motives. Whatever the reason, neither is a good one.

Wingerter had responsibility for the Web site’s condition and should be held accountable. He denies the assertions and pointed to the fact that Millstone won a League of Municipalities award for the Web site. I claim the recognition was ill deserved due to the fact that much of the Web site’s information is inaccurate, incomplete and out-of-date — something the league personnel were unable to evaluate, but had they known I’m sure their award would have gone elsewhere.

In my opinion, too much of the Web site is "all sizzle with little or no steak." I do not blame the township employees or volunteers for the Web site’s problems. They obviously took direction well as illustrated by completing those tasks Wingerter wanted done, whereas requests from elsewhere were left undone.

As author Paul Eldridge once said, "In the spider web of facts, many a truth is strangled." So it was with the township Web site of the past. I am sure that Pfefferkorn will undertake the necessary corrective action, but it may take some time for the inexcusable to be undone.

Bill Kastning is a former Millstone Township Committee-man