Thursday, October 30, 2014

A fading Christie lacks the temperament to be president

On Saturday, The Record reported twice on the front page that Hackensack University Medical Center's mobile treatment unit for potential Ebola cases is "behind" a McDonald's on Essex and South Newman streets in Hackensack. But that's not the case. The hospital-owned lot is actually between the McDonald's and NJ Transit's Essex Street Station.

In today's paper, a front-page photo caption says the mobile treatment unit is "near a McDonald's." City officials want the hospital to move the unit, above. 


"Sit down and shut up."

With those words, Governor Christie dismissed another protester, even though everyone but The Record thinks the GOP bully has bungled the recovery two long years after Superstorm Sandy (A-3).

"Why isn't he [Christie] in Ship Bottom today?" protester Jim Keady of Spring Lake said. "Why isn't he in Ortley Beach, where people aren't back in their homes? He's got to finish the job."

Keady held up a sign -- "STAY IN NJ & FINISH THE JOB" -- an apparent reference to Christie's travels raising money for conservative politicians like himself who have been waging war on the middle and working classes. 

Well, is there really any chance Christie will even get the nomination, given his far-from-presidential temperament and his low approval ratings in New Jersey?

If he can't veto bills, he just tells his critics to shut up and sit down.

Voter apathy

He was elected to a second term last November, but the turnout was the lowest for any gubernatorial election in state history.

Christie won, because droves of voters stayed home.

In fact, none of the election coverage so far has addressed how much voters are turned off by the partisanship in New Jersey and Washington, and the Woodland Park daily's relentless focus on politics.

Take today's Page 1 column on the challenge to Rep. Scott Garret, R-Wantage, in the 5th Congressional District, which includes Bergen County (A-1).

Columnist Charles Stile and other staffers give the most coverage and credibility to the candidate who raises the most money, but never say why that is so important.

And this year, I haven't seen one analysis of the distorted and false attack ads big campaign money buys.

Even such an eminence as Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson left out damaging information about Garrett in the first front-page piece on the challenge posed by Democrat Roy Cho, an attorney who lives in Hackensack.

What The Record reported as Garrett's initial opposition to federal Sandy aid is now being called  "raising questions about the potential for wasteful spending" (A-11).

Wednesday's paper

High school football has such a grip on Editor Martin Gottlieb that he ran a two-year-old story about a Paramus Catholic player and his mother all over Wednesday's front page.

Gottlieb again led the front page with lots more on Ebola, even though not a single case has been confirmed in New Jersey.

Two more embarrassing corrections appeared on A-2.

In Wednesday's Better Living section, clueless freelancer Kate Morgan Jackson continues to recommend recipes that turn healthy ingredients into artery clogging nightmares (BL-2).

Her Lobster Frittata includes five whole eggs, a half-cup of cream, 2 ounces of cream cheese and 4 ounces of Swiss cheese.

Jackson should visit a hospital cardiac ward, and talk to patients who have had heart attacks from clogged arteries before she pushes another unhealthy recipe.

Third look

How can Road Warrior John Cichowski be so wrong about so many things in column after column, escaping even basic fact checking by his assignment editor, the copy desk and six-figure Production Editor Liz Houlton?

In last Friday's column, which I discussed on Tuesday, Cichowski was relating the history of George Washington Bridge construction.

Then, the clueless transportation writer said:

"Until the Holland Tunnel was completed in Hoboken in 1927, the main method for drivers to get their cars across the Hudson River was by ferry...."

Of course, the New Jersey entrance to the Holland Tunnel is in Jersey City, not Hoboken.

And, of course, no correction appeared.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why is Publisher Stephen A. Borg's hair turning gray?

Shuttered businesses in Englewood, above and below, cast doubt on the strategies of officials there and in Hackensack to revive their business districts by building more apartments downtown, as reported today and Monday in The Record.

Landlords charging high rents could be causing business failures in Englewood in Hackensack, not the lack of foot traffic.


Stephen A. Borg of Tenafly is president of North Jersey Media Group and publisher of The Record, the company's flagship daily newspaper.

He lives in a $3.65 million McMansion bought with a mortgage from NJMG, and he's sitting on a pot of gold -- the 19.7-acre parcel that has been empty since the paper left Hackensack in 2009, as reported today in The Record (A-7).

That property might not be as attractive once Costco Wholesale closes its 20-year-old Hackensack warehouse store nearby and opens a bigger one in Teterboro (A-1).

But that certainly shouldn't be turning his hair gray.

You can clearly see the transformation in a photo on Page 112 of the October 2014 issue of (201) magazine, which celebrates the Dwight-Englewood School's Anniversary Gala in Englewood under the heading, "Giving Back."

Borg is shown with his wife, Monica, who appears in another photo on Page 102 of the same issue, one of four women in the "Best Dressed of the Month" feature.

Same old, same old

If anything, the hair of readers should be turning gray over the sameness of the front page today -- more boring news about the Ebola epidemic that isn't, and yet another tedious political column on Governor Christie's image (A-1).

The Costco story is the only one on the front page that could pass for local news, and that has been rumored for more than a year.

A bigger Costco is under construction near Teterboro Airport, about 3 miles from the Hackensack warehouse.

Second look

Road Warrior John Cichowski counts on his readers having memories as bad as his, especially when he repeatedly screws up the age of the George Washington Bridge.

Last Friday, Cichowski finally got it right, reporting the bridge was 83 years old on that day (Oct. 24) after four previous columns as far back as last December had already declared its age as 83.

According to the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers, the veteran reporter also messed up the name of the award bestowed on the subject of his column, Warren "Pops" Tashian, 99.

Cichowksi claims that in 2004, the Bergen County YMCA gave Tashian its "Man of the Year" award.

But the award has never been called that. The award is "Person of the Year," and Tashian didn't get that, either.

He was honored as "Most Inspirational Adult."

The Bergen County Y may add a "Most Incorrect Adult" award, and give it to Cichowski. 

See: Playing dumb and dumber again

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ebola hits newsroom, editors feed media hysteria

Park Avenue in Park Ridge also is called James Gandolfini Way. The Ridge Diner's coffee is good enough to drink black, but if you order a cafe latte, it will be served sweetened and with whipped cream on top. Yuck.


The irresponsible editors at The Record aren't even waiting for the first confirmed case of Ebola in New Jersey.

Joining the electronic media's hysteria, the Woodland Park daily today and Saturday broke out the big, black, doomsday headlines.

Transportation reporter Christopher Maag is back on the Ebola beat today, and the paper's medical writers also have entered the fray.

If you are already tired of Ebola stories, there isn't much else to on Page 1 today -- except another pedestrian political column, and a pissing match between two New Jersey architectural schools.

Is Editor Martin Gottlieb, the worldly former Timesman, this boring in person?

Joining Maag in not covering his beat is Road Warrior John Cichowski, whose L-1 column today again strays far from commuting issues.

Last Sunday, the Road Warrior column predicted Route 20 construction could be finished by December, as reflected in the headline and text, but others believe it will take longer.

See the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Road Warrior issues another dumb prediction

Noise makers

I get a kick out of photos The Record runs publicizing the charity work of Harley-Davidson owners, who cavalierly break every anti-noise ordinance on the books.

Today, the Bergen County Harley Owners Group is shown "during a benefit for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" (L-2).

So, modifying their motorcycle mufflers to be as loud as possible and cruelty to the eardrums of humans is OK. 

Word pusher

It must be hard being Mike Kelly, to echo the first line of the reporter's piece on Governor Christie (O-1).

Kelly rehashes the controversy over Christie's insensitive remarks about being tired of the Washington debate over raising the minimum wage.

But the burned-out columnist can't muster an opinion, and is reluctant to condemn the GOP bully, who has waged war on New Jersey's middle and working classes, and even vetoed a hike in the state's minimum wage.

"He needs to open his eyes," Kelly says lamely about Christie.

Kelly will be celebrating his 4oth year at The Record next year, if you can believe that.

'Cho in the 5th'

The Record's Editorial Board has finally come to its senses about Scott Garrett, the conservative Republican who has represented the 5th Congressional District for the past 12 years.

Today, an editorial endorses Democrat Roy Cho of Hackensack on Nov. 4 (O-2).

The district runs from the Delaware to the Hudson, and includes Bergen County.

Garrett voted "no" on the Violence Against Women Act and to end the government shutdown last year.

He also initially opposed federal Sandy aid, but lied about it in campaign literature.

Cho's highest priority as a freshman congressman would be transportation, an issue that has been neglected by The Record and ignored by Garrett and Christie.

Saturday's paper

The Ebola coverage on Saturday's front page mentioned twice that Hackensack University Medical Center's mobile satellite emergency department is parked "behind a McDonald's, in fact."

Is there a connection?

Symptoms of the African virus include "diarrhea, vomiting [and] stomach pain." 

They sound a lot like what McDonald's customers experience after eating the low-quality beef and other food.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Overplayed, incomprehensible and a huge waste of time

Aggressive police ready to pounce on any driver who doesn't yield to a pedestrian in the many crosswalks are the least of your problems, if you use Cedar Lane in Teaneck as a route to Englewood. The four-lane street through the township's main business district narrows, above, causing conflicts with other motorists, and the many slow, older drivers act as moving road blocks.


Readers who don't choke on the lead paragraph of the overplayed and overwritten turnpike story on Page 1 today are probably scratching their heads, trying to figure out what it says.

Is there something in the newsroom water at The Record or did Editor Marty Gottlieb rewrite Staff Writer Christopher Maag, exposing how out of touch the former Timesman really is (A-1)?

Anyone who has been caught in one of the region's massive traffic jams knows a wider turnpike isn't the "road to the future."

How does the new, 12-lane stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike below Exit 8 show the state remains "confident ... a place still unafraid to etch its belief in a brighter future into the contours of the land"?

A mass-transit corridor down the center of the 35-mile section, not more asphalt, really would have been forward looking.

Too little, too late

Where was Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, when Governor Christie killed the Hudson River rail tunnels in 2010, setting back for at least a decade expanded train travel between New Jersey and New York (A-1)?

The do-nothing six-termer seeking election on Nov. 4 from the 5th Congressional District -- which includes Bergen County -- is facing a formidable challenge from Roy Cho, a Hackensack attorney who has surged in the polls.

In a letter to the editor today, Bruce de Lyon of Dumont notes Garrett ducked debates, adding:

"As long as we allow Garrett to run a dismissive and underground campaign, he will continue to ignore issues crucial to the residents of northern New Jersey" (A-18).

Another Kelly error

Among the many embarrassing corrections published on A-2 this week is the one today trying to fix another Mike Kelly screw-up.

The burned-out columnist "misstated the year of a hazing incident at Holmdel High School" in his boring Page 1 piece last Sunday (A-2).

Desperate editor

A desperate local editor must have written the headline over  today's Road Warrior column -- "A commuter's tale" -- which reports the recollections of a 99-year-old man who took part in the 1931 ceremony opening the George Washington Bridge (L-1).

The rambling piece by Staff Writer John Cichowski has absolutely nothing to do with the ordeal of commuting, and is a colossal waste of readers' time.

Food coverage

Hackensack police should check hospital emergency rooms for two men who allegedly skipped out on a $100 restaurant bill (L-3).

The suspects, who spoke English and Hebrew, ignored Lotus Cafe and the fine-dining restaurants in The Shops at Riverside to rip off Applebee's on Tuesday night, police said.

They likely sought medical help for a huge case of indigestion.

Agita is in store for readers who bother with today's lukewarm, 2-star review of the 14-year-old Martini Grill in Wood-Ridge (BL-18).

Staff Writer Elisa Ung praises "the restaurant's focus on fish," but she chose poorly, "a thick fillet of swordfish flecked by capers and sun-dried tomatoes ($25.95)."

Swordfish contains a large amount of mercury, and isn't recommended for women of child-bearing age.