Hempstead Administration Fails to Renew Town Web Domain, Exposes Residents to Fraud - Clavin Purchases Domain, Gifts to Town, Maintains Continuity in Water Bills, Parks’ Messages
When the administration of Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen redesigned the municipality’s website, it was assigned a new web address, automatically forwarding visitors who entered the previous web address to the new Town of Hempstead homepage. With thousands of residents continuing to enter the previous web address each month, the logical decision would have been for the town’s administration to maintain ownership of the address, www.toh.li, and continue to forward visitors to the new address, www.hempsteadny.gov. After all, the administration has sent out tens of thousands of water bills to customers with the previous address listed on the document. And, signs at local parks across the township still refer visitors to the www.toh.li site. Imagine Town Receiver Don Clavin’s surprise when he recently typed www.toh.li on his computer only to find a message that stated, “This website is for sale.” The first thing that came to his mind was the prospect of the site being purchased and misused by an individual who would seek to take advantage of innocent residents who were merely looking to avail themselves of town services or programs. Immediately, Clavin purchased the name to ensure that the site was not lost, which could have caused widespread confusion, or worse, among those residents who were referred to the site by Parks Department signs at dozens upon dozens of parks, as well as water customers who have received bills with the previous web address. Clavin observed that the town administration’s failure to update town water bills and signage could have been compounded by its failure to retain ownership of the township’s old website name if he had not stepped in to purchase the site and “gift” it back to the town.
Joining Clavin in his announcement on the website issue were Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, Councilman Bruce Blakeman and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, who sponsored local legislation that will allow the town to accept Clavin’s gift.
“The town’s administration has a responsibility to provide competent management of town facilities, mailings and its website,” said Clavin. “Sadly, the administration of Laura Gillen has failed on all three counts, and residents, as a result, were put at risk. The town failed to update town parks’ signage, and Water Department mailings continued to be mailed with the township’s previous web address. Compounding the blunder, the administration failed to maintain ownership of the old web address that was listed on the water bills and parks’ signs. As a result, thousands of residents continue to type in the previous web address on their computers and smart phones. If it were not for my purchase and ‘gifting’ of the previous domain back to the town, an unscrupulous individual could have misused the site to deceive and take advantage of neighbors who simply want to use town services and facilities.”
Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney thanked Clavin for purchasing the town’s previous website domain name and “gifting” it back to the town. She indicated that she, along with her colleagues, sponsored local legislation that allows the town to accept the gift and thereby maintain the continuity of web service for residents who might otherwise find themselves lost in cyber-limbo.
“Thanks to Don Clavin’s quick thinking and action, residents who have been directed to the previous town website domain, will continue to have easy and uninterrupted access to town resources and services,” said King Sweeney. “It is frightening to think that our residents could have been the subject of fraud or misuse through the previous domain name if Don did not purchase the domain and ‘gift’ it back to Hempstead Town.”
“Who knows what would have happened had the original domain name fallen into the wrong hands,” said Blakeman. “As there are still signs that direct residents to toh.li, we are truly fortunate that Don Clavin had the foresight to purchase this domain name in order to maintain ease of access for Hempstead Town residents.”
“Visitors to the Town’s website deserve to have confidence that the information they receive is accurate and genuine,” stated D’Esposito. “Thanks to Don Clavin for purchasing the previous town domain name and gifting it back to the town, users who visit ‘www.toh.li’ have been protected from potential misinformation, abuse and fraud.”
In unveiling the town’s new website, replete with the brand-new domain name, Supervisor Laura Gillen proclaimed, “My administration will continue to make public information more easily accessible and searchable, while simultaneously protecting personal information by addressing the growing risks associated in the complex world of cybersecurity.” Unfortunately, the failure of Laura Gillen’s administration to maintain ownership of the town’s previous web domain name while promoting the previous website in mailings and on billboards could have made it much more difficult for residents to access public information. What’s more, the claims of protecting personal information would have also been dubious had Clavin not purchased the site, keeping the site out of reach from would-be fraudsters or others who might misuse the domain name.
“Managing America’s largest township is a serious job that demands attention to detail and competence,” concluded Clavin. “Failing to update municipal water bills and Parks Department signage more than a year after the new administration has taken over the reins of government is disturbing. Compounding this issue by failing to maintain our municipality’s previous web domain, could have had very serious consequences. I am happy that I have been able to help prevent a possible serious problem by purchasing the town’s previous website domain name and ‘gifting’ it back to Hempstead Town. I want to thank my colleagues on the town board for passing legislation that will allow people who visit the town’s previous domain name to have access to accurate, complete and secure information from our town.”