Half of the Local news section today is covered with a story and photos of a new spiritual center at Ramapo College in Mahwah -- the latest example of what head Assignment Editor Deirdre "F.U. Hackensack" Sykes uses as filler to replace local news her staff doesn't file.
Gee-whiz, would you look at that wild design. But it's not open to the public, so readers in Hackensack, Teaneck, Englewood and lots of other towns Sykes ignores can't even go there and pray for better coverage of what local officials are doing or not doing.
This has been going on for a couple of years now, and one could argue the lack of scrutiny can lead to what we have seen on the front page of The Record of Woodland Park the past two days: another federal trial of a petty potentate who runs one of Bergen County's 70 towns. Why is this on Page 1?
Haven't we read this story a hundred times before?
Ridgefield Mayor Anthony R. Suarez meets with a developer at a restaurant, when the former knows he should be meeting the developer nowhere else but in town hall.
Even when it's a great Turkish place like Beyti Kabob, that's one strike against the mayor.
Today, we get a report on the informant's testimony, envelopes stuffed with cash, the go-between or bag man, transfers of money in a parking lot and protestations of innocence.
How routine, how predictable, how boring.
Doesn't Editor Francis Scandale realize he's been working in New Jersey for nearly a decade or does he still talk about what he did in Denver, what he did at Reuters?
How about a story on how the home-rule system fosters corruption?
Hey, Desk Warrior John Cichowski, when is the last time you noticed the weather? Today, his L-1 column, which is supposed to explore all aspects of commuting, is about the dangers of driving with flip-flops.
What would The Record do if it couldn't fill its columns with wire service stories or contributions from The Star-Ledger and Daily News? Unfortunately, they dilute the paper's local flavor.
You can see that today on the front of Business (L-7), where the major story is about foreigners buying Miami real estate for cash (they sound like money launderers), and inside Better Living, where the major "food" story on F-2 is about a globe-trotting wine maker from France, not one of New Jersey's wineries.
Does Publisher Greedy Stevie Borg even read the paper?
Or does he make the short hop from his Tenafly mansion to the Englewood wine bar he and his big sister have invested in, sip an old Bordeaux and tell himself how great life is?