Policy Changes Prompt Website Overhaul in Hempstead, N.Y.

Cybersecurity and issues surrounding news releases prompted the Long Island town to redesign its official portal.

by Jesse Coburn, Newsday / August 16, 2018
Courtesy of hempsteadny.gov

(TNS) — The Town of Hempstead, N.Y., rolled out a new website this week that Supervisor Laura Gillen said is easier to use and safer against cyberattacks but that the town board said makes Hempstead news harder to find.

Hempsteadny.gov is the new URL, replacing toh.li, which a town news release Tuesday described as “functionally obsolete.”

“This new website not only presents information in a more easily navigable and organized manner for residents, it helps the Town respond much quicker in the event of a cyberattack,” Gillen wrote in the release.

Town spokesman Mike Fricchione said the website server is more secure.

The new website came a week after the Hempstead Town Board passed a policy, over Gillen’s objections, that elected town officials do not require approval from another town official to post content to Hempstead’s website or social media channels.

The policy followed a free-speech flap in June when a news release from Hempstead Tax Receiver Donald Clavin was removed by the supervisor's office. The release was titled: "Clavin Declares Victory as Nassau Assessor Reverses Plan to Halt Mailing Property Value Notices to Homeowners."

With the redesign, news releases no longer appear on the main webpage. Users must navigate to each elected official’s individual page to view his or her releases.

“Town news is now buried,” Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said of the new design in a written statement.

“I believe this is diminishing my ability to get my message out to residents,” said Goosby, a Democrat who had joined the five Republicans on the town board in voting for the social media and website policy.

Goosby also said she was concerned that the url does not make clear that the website is for Hempstead Town, not Hempstead Village.

Clavin, through a spokesman, declined to comment Wednesday.

©2018 Newsday Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.