By Dave Moran
As published in the Record Journal Tuesday February 9, 2010
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WALLINGFORD — Town Council Chairman Robert F. Parisi plans to establish a technology subcommittee to look into upgrades in town offices, but when the committee might meet and what impact it may have remain uncertain.
Parisi, a Republican who regained chairmanship of the council in early January, announced his plans at a Jan. 26 council meeting, when the subject of the town’s rudimentary Web site and town employees’ limited access to the Internet was raised by a member of the public. Monday, Parisi said he had no timetable or agenda.
The panel would “have no authority per se, but I think they’ll probably look into things and probably make suggestions,” Parisi said. “As to where it would go, I wouldn’t venture a guess.”
Parisi said several members of the council approached him with the suggestion of forming the committee.
“Several of us thought it would be a good idea,” Parisi said. “That’s how the committees come about.”
The committee will consist of the full Town Council, but will be co-chaired by Republicans John Le Tourneau and Craig Fishbein, Parisi said.
Le Tourneau said he hopes to have the committee’s first meeting in the next month or so, and that its intention would be to identify certain departments or areas of municipal service that could be improved through greater access to technology.
“What I would like to see the committee do is move forward and start looking at what the town has in the way of technology, what it doesn’t have,” Le Tourneau said. “Talk to some departments and see what they have, what they don’t have, what they would like, what they need.”
Letourneau said he does not foresee the committee’s recommendations being acted on immediately, due to cost and other restrictions, but that the committee could establish an outline, a time frame and a cost analysis of what it would take to upgrade the town’s technological infrastructure.
“This is not something that has to be done right away, but we have to start planning for the future,” Le Tourneau said. “This is not something that we say ‘oh wow, we have a technology committee so next month, we’re going to have Internet access for every department.’ That is not what this was designed to be.”
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. has repeatedly stated that he does not believe that all town employees need access to the Internet to do their jobs and having it in every office would only increase costs and inefficiency. Dickinson noted that the health, legal, fire, police and utility departments all have at least one computer with access to the Internet — sometimes because state laws mandate it — and that there are several computers in the Program Planning office of Town Hall with Internet access available to all town employees.
“It’s where it is needed,” said Dickinson, a Republican. “Where it isn’t needed, there’s no reason to be incurring that as a cost. Why would we want to have it in places where it’s not needed?”
Vincent Testa, the longest serving Democrat on the council who ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor against Dickinson in 1997, said he feels the real issue is not providing town workers with Internet access but making more of the town’s information and resources available to the public via the Internet, which he feels would help departments operate more efficiently and reduce costs.