The Record of Woodland Park today reports the increasing number of lawsuits filed against Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa, whose family has long controlled the city. The headline on Page L-2, in the Local section, says: 15 officers now suing Zisa.
What is surprising is that head Assignment Editor Deirdre "Laughs A Lot" Sykes, with the support of Editor Frank Scandale and the Borg family, squandered nearly three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff salaries on an investigation -- not of Zisa and his family -- but of Michael Mordaga, former chief of detectives for the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office who worked for Zisa at one time.
But it was clear from the single, weak story on Mordaga that ran in the Local section Dec. 16 that this so-called investigation was actually a vendetta, because the paper had to employ guilt by association as justification for printing anything at all. Indeed, the conflict alleged in the story ended in February 2007 -- two years and 10 months before.
The Zisa family's control of Hackensack is a subject The Record and Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado have done everything to avoid. Although Alvarado has reported individual suits against the chief and covered disciplinary hearings for officers, she has failed to make any connections to the big picture -- how the Zisa family rules the city. Meanwhile, she has largely ignored municipal, education, development and most other city news.
You know there is no local news in the paper today by all the wasted space. And you know some of the columnists are just treading water.
Precious space on the front of the Local section is given over to a "Newstracker" item on two districts looking for new superintendents. Did the saga on a hawk that flew into a store really deserve both a big photo and a story? Is that really environmental news?
Road Warrior John Cichowski has a detailed column on the annoyance of high-intensity discharge headlights, but never tells drivers to turn their eyes to the edge of the road on their side until the other car passes -- what drivers have been advised to do for decades to avoid headlight glare at night.
Restaurant Reviewer Bill Pitcher gives three stars to an expensive Korean butcher shop-cum-steakhouse in Fort Lee, without telling readers of Better Living whether the beef served there is naturally raised or pumped full of harmful antibiotics and growth hormones.
In the restaurant inspection list on Page 18 of Better Living, you'll again search in vain for ratings from Wyckoff.
Seventeen days after the earthquake hit Haiti, the newspaper finally is sending a reporter and photographer there with a Saddle River doctor. Let's hope the lazy, incompetent editors assign someone to cover Teaneck while Staff Writer Joseph Ax is away.