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City Web site under police investigation

Originally appeared in The Jersey Journal

By Daniel Schiff
Journal staff writer

07/23/01

Jersey City's official Web site is now the focus of a police investigation.

The Jersey Journal reported in Saturday's editions that www.cityofjerseycity.com, the municipal government's official site, had a banner promoting former Mayor Bret Schundler's campaign for governor on its Liberty State Park page link. As of 10 p.m. Friday, the banner linking computer users directly to Bret2001.com was still on the site.

But by Saturday, those hoping to log on to the city's Web site were unsuccessful. The site was down, and remained unreachable as of last night.

Mayor Glenn Cunningham yesterday said that the Jersey City Police Department's Special Investigations Unit is now looking into not only who posted the political banner on the city government site, but is also probing the mysterious disappearance of technical equipment used for operating the Web site.

"Whoever put up the banner was wrong," Cunningham said. "It's not legal to put up a political statement on an official city site."

Cunningham denied the possibility that Bret Schundler's campaign was involved with the Web ad or the missing equipment.

"It's the work of a zealot," he said.

A Schundler spokesman said last week that they (the Schundler campaign) had nothing to do with the posting of the banner on the site.

Cunningham spokesman Bill Ayala attributed the sudden shut-down of the city's site to a routine update. He said the site had been scheduled to be down as early as Friday so that the city's new webmaster could update the site for the new administration. As of Friday night, the site still listed Schundler as the mayor.

Ayala said the site will remain down for several days.

The flashing, multi-colored banner ad appeared at the top of a page that details the history of Liberty State Park, and says, "wanna stop paying Parkway tolls?" In an instant, it changes messages, reading, "Vote. Schundler 2001." Those who clicked on the flashing message were taken to the Schundler campaign's official site, Bret2001.com.

A number of users who accessed the site were upset to see Schundler's ad, which many suspect was placed on the site just before Cunningham entered office on July 1. Still, Cunningham is trying to downplay the incident's importance.

"It's number 51 on my list of important items for the city," he said.

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