Friday, October 23, 2009

'I'm not in this for the money'

When Stephen A. Borg took over as publisher of  The Record from his father, he called a meeting of the entire staff to introduce himself. No room in the four-story building on River Street in Hackensack was large enough, so it was standing room only when me and hundreds of others crammed ourselves into a second-floor space.

"I'm not in this for the money," said Borg, who was in his mid-30s. And then, in one of the most bizarre moments of my 29-year career at the newspaper, Borg projected a slide onto a screen to show us his home in Tenafly. It was an imposing mansion, painted white, with several columns in front.

I wondered what point he was trying to make. Was he so blinded by his privileged upbringing that he thought his home was modest, just like the ones many of his staff owned? I doubt that anyone else in that room in mid-2006, even top editors, owned a house as grandiose as young Borg's. I, for one, still lived in a cramped apartment on one of Englewood's noisiest streets.

Revealing personal details in a room full of poorly paid reporters is foolhardy. Soon, word circulated in the newsroom that Borg's house was worth nearly $2 million. But even that beautiful house wasn't good enough for Borg, his wife and children.

Many months later, Stephen Borg's mother called the head of The Record's photo department and asked him to take a photo of the young publisher's new house, a huge place with wings, also in Tenafly, so a painting could be made and placed over the fireplace.

Did Mrs. Borg know that Rich Gigli -- an assistant managing editor who ran the photo department and who had around 30 years' experience at The Record -- had been given his walking papers as part of a restructuring to cut costs?

When one photo staff member saw the photo, he speculated the new house cost $3 million to $4 million.

Borg grew up in a big house on the East Hill of Englewood, where his father, Malcolm A. Borg, still lives. Why did the younger Borg settle in Tenafly? Was he concerned about sending his young children to Englewood's segregated schools?

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