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Published in the Home News Tribune 7/21/01

One good techie worth a thousand advisers

A Home News Tribune editorial

When Bret Schundler left his post as Jersey City's mayor at the end of June, the city's Web-page designer went with him -- but not without leaving mischief, mayhem and plenty of pro-Schundler paraphernalia in his cyberspace wake.

And so, while the city's depleted technical staff has been rushing to get the new mayor and the new council members plugged in and online, the city has inadvertently been pushing the gubernatorial campaign of its former chief. Log on to what you think is the city's website on Liberty State Park, for instance, and -- boom! -- all of a sudden you're hit in the face with a Bret Schundler-for-governor ad and a link to his cyberspace headquarters.

It's all ingenious and legal, although not exactly above-board. And it's a reminder of how devious those tech guys can be, especially when most of the world has no idea how they do what they do.

In this case, users no doubt think they're still on the city Web site. But, in fact, they've been automatically moved to a private site, albeit one that looks exactly like the official one. And this site is controlled by the omniscient Web master -- a man not afraid to wear his Schundler advocacy on his sleeve, and on much of his Web page.

Yesterday, John Mercer, the city's flustered chief information officer -- and a nonpolitical civil service employee -- said he had pulled one of the techies off the job of getting the new mayor and his staff up to speed and they were removing the city's links to Schundler's campaign.

Meanwhile, of course, the official Web page still advertised Bret Schundler as mayor.

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