What Others are Saying

March 20, 2007

Visitors to the MiddletownNJ.org Web site can download a parking permit application form, a bingo and raffle license application and numerous other documents, calendars and listings without registering. But they can't access Township Committee meeting agendas or minutes, municipal ordinances, resolutions or public notices without registering and logging in. And they can't register without providing their name, address, e-mail and home telephone number. Birth dates and cell phone numbers are optional.

Users have every reason to question why they have to jump through hoops to obtain information about the actions of their elected officials. They also have good reason to be skeptical about how officials will use the personal information obtained through registration.

Township officials say the registration process will allow them to build a database for the municipality to use in weather-related emergencies or for Amber alerts, road closings or other public service announcements. If officials want to know who is interested in receiving emergency notices, they should use the Web site to ask people to sign up - voluntarily.

When it comes to communicating about the public's business, government should bend over backward to be user-friendly. Registration is a put-off. As one critic told the committee earlier this month, "Honestly, it appears that Big Brother is in town." Yes, he is, and he's an unwanted guest. Township officials should drop the registration requirement and usher him out of town.

- Asbury Park (N.J.) Press

I and a number of others were critical of President Bill Clinton when he first came into office and almost immediately removed all U.S. attorneys. But that's not the same thing as what's happening now. We're seeing a president in his second term go after U.S. attorneys of his own party for reasons that are clearly political: not moving fast enough against targets on the other side of the aisle, succumbing to pressure from senators, for example. That is very, very corrosive, both to morale for U.S. attorneys as well as in terms of reducing the confidence that the public has that the system is fair and impartial and nonpartisan.

- Bob Barr, former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, on RollingStone.com

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