The sad truth is that Dandola has had continual and well-publicized clashes with local politicians and their subordinates over their plagiarism and copyright infringement of his work. Being very apolitical, he has successfully sued on multiple occasions for that type of theft.

"Imagine how jarring it has been to find my work—words or images—in books and in campaign literature without my permission and without payment. Copyright protection gives me the legal power to approve and set the terms of how and where my work is used. I don't own copyrights because I think I'm a big shot. I own copyrights to protect my creative output. That's what all professionals in the arts do."

So why did Dandola acquiesce to this police and fire project?

"I know both chiefs personally," he explains. "We have longtime ties through family and friends. I've had ancestors and relatives in both departments so I have a very human connection to such a request. For that reason, I presented the custom-framed photos as a gift because I personally felt that what the chiefs wanted to do was something both proper and respectful. I hope and pray outsiders don't make me regret it."

Besides personal ties, Dandola has also documented the foundings of both departments. He authored the West Orange Fire Department Centennial Album and in his mystery novel, Dead in Small Doses,
he solved the 1883 cold case that led to the founding of the West Orange Police Department in 1884. Now, he is not only writing a history about the origins of the WOPD but he is also contemplating doing a history about the municipal pool as it approaches its half-century mark. The latter would be most fitting since he was so closely associated as a lifeguard at that pool and he knows firsthand about the intricacies of its beginnings.

But in undertaking town history projects, Dandola has been faced with the fact that West Orange has never actually concerned itself with historical value. The vintage police photographs and files had mostly been destroyed in the late 1970's when a pipe burst and flooded the basement of the Town Hall. On the other hand, the fire department had stored its vintage photographs and files in the damp basement of one of the oldest firehouses; occasionally piecing together crumbling mementos with the use of staples and scotch tape.

Thankfully, through the years, Dandola had restored countless old-time photographs on his own time and at his own expense. The extent of restoration Dandola had to do meant that the resulting photos could be copyrighted and the photos are clearly marked as his creations. The vintage photos of the chiefs are protected as such.

"That especially means no posting in any way, shape, or form on the internet or social media," Dandola stresses. "Posting someone else's work online without permission causes complicated repercussions bringing about the very serious problem of strangers illegally earning money off of your sweat and toil. Respecting that is simple common courtesy."

Indeed, simple common courtesy is a reasonable expectation due to the fact that Dandola's gift involved quite a bit of time, talent, and money.

None of his concerns has anything to do with either of the chiefs since he is emphatic about trusting both of them implicitly and they were both extremely grateful for his work on their behalf. On the other hand, his hometown politicians always manage to get involved in everything and he is worried that it may happen again in this instance. Besides plagiarism and copyright infringement, they have subjected Dandola to some of the most outlandish shenanigans imaginable whenever he has been generous in municipal matters.

The most recent two incidents give vivid examples of the long list of offenses he has endured.

His assistance was sought not once but twice in order to locate the town's time capsule due to the fact that his aunt was involved with the original 1962 project. He was first contacted during the 1990's when it was realized that, in 1987, no one had heeded the instruction that the time capsule be resurrected every twenty-five years because no one had written down the capsule's exact location. Then he was contacted again a decade later for the same reason when the town's 150th anniversary was on the horizon. This time they were finally going to unearth the capsule, add to it, and re-bury it. Of course, when they added to it, they made sure not to include any of Dandola's three formal and accurate histories of the town nor any of his mystery novels based in town.

An even worse affront followed in 2014.

Dandola was the youngest and longest-running lifeguard at the town's Olympic-sized swimming pool. He ended his ten-year tenure as the assistant manager. Part of the job as both lifeguard and manager was to maintain the pool. It was something at which Dandola excelled. Twelve years after he left the pool's employ, he was contacted and asked to come back and use his expertise to renovate just about everything because a political appointee had allowed the pool to fall into a desperate state of disrepair. Even though by then Dandola had established himself professionally as a screenwriter, playwright, and novelist, he returned to do the repairs and restoration work because his ties to the pool were so strong. The experience became the inspiration for one of his sold screenplays. Flash forward twenty-four years to the summer of 2014 when the town named a portion of that pool for the very political appointee who had trashed it and from whom Dandola had to rescue it.

"You simply cannot make this stuff up and it's so West Orange," Dandola laments. "The mayor, council members, and recreation director even made sure to post their names on the dedication plaque but nobody seemed to properly vet who they were naming it for. Personally, I'm of the opinion that the only name that should ever appear anywhere on that pool is Ginny Duenkel, the gold-medaled Olympian it is named for. Not only is it inappropriate to honor someone who nearly destroyed the entire place, it's just plain offensive."

Does Dandola worry that his good deed of supplying the portraits of former police chiefs and fire chiefs will once again backfire?

"I undertook the photo project for two friends to honor men who actually needed honoring. If the three of us are the only ones to know and feel the satisfaction of that, so be it—it's an awfully good feeling," Dandola says. "I also have excellent copyright attorneys. Let's hope that this time out, maybe, just maybe, West Orange politicos can finally be courteous and appreciative and respectful."

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Copyright © 2016 by John Dandola, Ltd. All rights reserved.
The Man West Orange So Often Turns To…
But Always Fails to Give Proper Credit
PRLog  (Press Release) — Aug 2, 2016 — When the police chief and the fire chief of West Orange, New Jersey, each independently came up with the idea to hang portraits of their predecessors in police and fire headquarters respectively, they immediately contacted West Orange author/historian John Dandola.

Dandola, who not only continues to live in town but whose family has been here longer than there even was a town, has a long track record as the man who can get things accomplished when it comes to history and artistry. Unfortunately, he also has just as long a track record of being used by and then snubbed by generations of West Orange politicians. It is quite remarkably a case of municipal shortsightedness since Dandola has brought both national and international attention to the town through his
West Orange mystery novels.
The first Police Chief and first Fire Chief
of West Orange, NJ