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A CLEAN SLATE FOR redbankgreen COMMENTS

hot-topic rightToday, redbankgreen introduces a new reader-comments system.

Prompted by a rising tide of everything from petty name-calling to outright libel, nearly all of it from anonymous commenters, we’ve flushed our archive of comments posted prior to December 2, when we temporarily halted postings.

We’ve also adopted a registration system in the expectation that it will bring a greater degree of accountability to the commentary. With that, we hope, will be more civil and constructive behavior than we saw in the months leading up to the change.

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TIME FOR SOME FACEBOOK TIME

COMMENT8

Maybe we’re just in a wintry mood, with the furnace burning through the heating budget way earlier in the season than expected.

Or maybe it’s lingering remnants of the frustration that led us to impose radio silence on our comments forum last week.

But none of the comments posted between last Monday and late Thursday jumped out at us as particularly noteworthy. So we’re not spotlighting any this week.

Still, there’s some news about comments. As many readers know, redbankgreen has temporarily shut down its commenting function. For those who missed the announcement, go here.

Commenting will be back, though.

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A COMMENT ON LOOKING BACK IN TIME

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Our Comment of the Week this week is nice and simple: it’s just one resident communicating to another — and the rest of us, of course — while recalling a special moment.

And it’s all in the context of a story about a calendar created to preserve a bit of Red Bank history while raising a few bucks for a local charity.

That’s community, right?

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BRICKS-AND-MORTAR SUPPORT FOR A TRUCK

COMMENT8

Some weeks, the pickings are better than others, and this past week saw a good number of posts that might merit the Comment of the Week spotlight.

A couple of commenters, for example, made a strong case in calling on the borough of Red Bank to change the name of Drs. James Parker Boulevard back to West Bergen Place, seeing as how the borough government itself isn’t consistent in using the current name. Those appeared beneath our article about a detour on what even redbankgreen called “West Bergen Place” instead of Drs. James Parker Boulevard.

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RECALLING “A GOOD DOSE OF HUMOR”

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Our Comment of the Week comes from beneath the story “LEHNERT LAID TO REST,” about the funeral of the late Fair Haven Councilman John Lehnert.

The very publication of the article, which included three photographs from the funeral, miffed a couple of readers, while others saw it as as respectful.

But a reader who identified herself as Claudia stayed away from that debate. Instead, she took the opportunity provided by the comments to deliver an overdue thank-you to Lehnert, who served as a Fair Haven police officer for 14 years before retiring in 2006.

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ABOUT THAT TREE ORDINANCE…

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This week’s spotlight comment comes from Jen Gallagher, posted under an article about the proposed Fair Haven ordinance that would have required property owners who are denied tree-removal permits by the borough arborist to notify their neighbors when an appeal is filed with to the town council.

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REVIVING COMMENT OF THE WEEK

COMMENT8

Hopeless idealists that we are, redbankgreen today brings out of mothballs an effort to encourage civil discourse in its reader comments.

Comment of the Week, which we stopped running after three months a little more than a year ago, is back.

Why did we stop? Not sure, really. Perhaps because it seemed to attract very little attention, and did nothing to stop the nearly incessant flow of the kind of comments we hate to read. It fell through the cracks one week, and the idea of bringing it back generated nothing more than a shrug here.

So why bring it back now?

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TWO VIEWS ON ‘OBAMACARE’

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The national debate on healthcare insurance flooded redbankgreen‘s comments section last week, providing an abundance of strong candidates for this week’s spotlight.

The back-and-forth was spirited and civil, and perhaps surprisingly, not completely partisan. But there was no mistaking the passions on the various sides, including several commenters who called for less partisanship.

We’re splitting the ideological baby by making two selections for this edition of Comment of the Week.

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‘NOT THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD…’

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Once again, we’re glad to see so many good candidates for Comment of the Week in our files from last week. Thanks to everyone who posted something.

The comments we highlight here need not be shining examples of argument and the art of persuasion. Spelling, grammar and punctuation aren’t all that important, either. What we’re looking for is civility and a sincere interest in contributing to discussion of public issues.

The comment below was posted by “Lesley” beneath our article about the Cedar Crossing affordable-housing project getting $400,000 in a construction grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.

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‘SHE SHARED THE GIFT OF NATURE’

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We had at least three spirited debates running simultaneously on redbankgreen last week. It was good to see this site being utilized in that way.

The issues included the question, posed by a reader, of whether there should be speed bumps/speed humps on Waverly Place (this debate actually carried over from the prior week); the wisdom of Red Bank having allowed a photo shoot of a staged accident to slow traffic on Broad Street for most of a day; and whether Fair Haven should pay $1.2 million for a piece of waterfront property and turn it into a small park.

In all the back and forth there were at least five or six comments that might have been spotlighted  in this space, which is dedicated to calling out thoughtful and civil commentary. So a big thanks is in order to all those readers who contributed in that vein.

The comment below stands out, we thought, for the sense of history and emotion it evoked.

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ON BUMPS AND HUMPS

COMMENT8

Last week’s article about a plan by Red Bank to install more 4-way stops took a detour.

The discussion in the redbankgreen comments area turned to speed bumps and speed humps — apparently, there’s a difference — and their impacts on the values of nearby properties.

From a reader who identifies himself or herself as ‘Newcomer,” here’s this week’s selection as comment of the week:

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WATCHING THE WAVERLY GRAND PRIX

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This week’s spotlight comment is by ‘Ditch Waverly.’

Readers of redbankgreen comments may be familiar with Ditch’s occasional postings. Quite evidently written by a resident of Waverly Place in Red Bank, they’re framed kind of as dispatches from the front porch, but with some wild imaginings and mordant wit thrown in.

Here’s Ditch’s standout comment of last week, from a story about a truck that got stuck under the West Front Street railroad trestle:

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COMMENT: POSTER DIDN’T READ OWN LINKS

COMMENT8

Longtime readers of redbankgreen comments may be familiar with the postings of ‘Dan.’

Whether or not one agrees with him, he’s clearly an evidence-driven guy (or maybe a woman — who knows, right?). He looks to outside sources of expertise and often cites it in his comments. And if someone else offers up some documentation in support of an argument, he’s likely to check it out and see how it squares with that person’s characterization of it.

That approach was evident last week, when Dan replied to another commenter, “Just Sayin,” under our story, ‘Alleged West Side Shooter Rejects Plea Deal.’

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IN PRAISE OF TWO LOCALS

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This week’s selection as Comment of the Week comes from a well-known Red Bank figure, former Councilmember Grace Cangemi.

Here’s what she had to say under our story on Lou del Pra’s first year as athletic director at Red Bank Regional High, an interview in which we asked about low participation levels among Red Bank kids in school sports:

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WRITER QUESTIONS FUNERAL DETAIL

COMMENT8

Here’s our second winner in this new feature, which aims to spotlight reader comments posted in redbankgreen that say something well, whether or not we agree with the substance of the post.

This week’s selection appeared below an article reporting that Red Bank officials are mulling the possibility of making government employees take three unpaid days off by the end of the year. Posted by ‘notsureanymore,’ it drew a mix of support and rejection, with one poster calling it “petty” and another labeling it “disrepectful.”

I understand belt tightening.  I am living it personally. That said, can someone please explain the need this past weekend for the posting of police on rt 35/Riverside Dr for the viewing of ex mayor McKenna’s departed wife….rest her soul in peace.

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