|Hackensack and Bergen County.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
How much more evidence do we need that head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes is squandering the time and salaries of three reporters at The Record of Woodland Park, chasing allegations against Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa but never publishing the blockbuster everyone expects?
This recalls the nearly three-year pursuit by these same reporters (the paper's three blind mice) of Michael Mordaga, who was chief of detectives for Zisa before he took a similar job with the Bergen County prosecutor.
What did the expenditure of an estimated $500,000 in staff salaries on the Mordaga vendetta produce? A single story Dec. 16 -- not even good enough for the front page -- more than two years after Mordaga's alleged conflict ended.
The Zisa story -- charges of insurance fraud leveled by the prosecutor -- also comes more than two years after an accident invovling the chief's then-girlfriend.
And former Breaking News Editor Jerry DeMarco makes a good argument that his CliffviewPilot.com beat The Record to the story and ensuing developments Thursday and Friday.
With three reporters chasing Zisa, the actual story by Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado was botched in typical Record fashion:
It was crammed into Page 1 under a clunky, two-column headline that didn't even contain Zisa's name -- next to a gee-whiz photo of a toppled crane that was cropped so tightly, it was difficult to make out.
A photographer should have accompanied the reporter who spoke to Zisa, and gotten a photo of the chief leaving police headquarters Thursday evening.
And the story should have been spread across the top of A-1. Only the lazy, incompetent editors -- Sykes is chief among them -- can say why it wasn't.
Maybe it would have cost too much to remake the front page -- just the reason cited when boneheaded Editor Frank Scandale relegated Thomas E. Franklin's incredible 9/11 flag-raising photo to a back page -- likely sinking Franklin's chances for a Pulitzer Prize.
A paragraph that should have appeared on Page 1 (high in the Zisa story) doesn't appear until the end on Page A-8 -- above tag lines for Staff Writers Shawn Boburg and Jean Rimbach, two of the least-productive reporters in the newsroom:
"[Ken] Zisa is a member of a Hackensack political dynasty. His family members have served, at various times, as mayor and deputy mayor, deputy police chief and city counsel."Why hasn't The Record -- even during all its years in Hackensack -- ever published an expose of the Zisa family, the nepotism and the police chief's alleged use of police officers to conduct his private business?
Did the powerful Borg and Zisa familiies come to some understanding? Is this the kind of "responsible journalism" North Jersey Media Group claims to be so proud of? (Map: Hackensack.)