Thursday, December 16, 2010

Democrats fix Christie screw-up

The Squirrels are back...:O)))Image by law_keven via Flickr
Squirrel is consumed in Upper Ringwood, The Record reports.

You'd think The Record of Woodland Park would have used a banner headline on Page 1 today to report on a deal with federal officials to nearly cut in half the $271 million bill for the Hudson River rail-tunnel project killed by Governor Christie.

But the compromise -- worked out by the state's two Democratic U.S. senators, not our Republican bully of a governor -- plays second fiddle to new revelations about Ford Motor Co.'s toxic dumping in Ringwood -- a story that readers thought was dead and buried after the paper ran A-1 takeouts on a legal settlement Sunday and Monday.

Now, readers learn, lead has been found in the food chain from 2006-09 samples of plants and animals commonly eaten by the residents, who call themselves Ramapough Mountain People. They live off the land, much of which is a Superfund site.


Has anyone asked Staff Writer Mary Jo Layton why the results of these tests are coming to light now -- more than a year after high-profile lawyers accepted a measly $12.5 settlement from Ford, rather than take the residents' illnesses and deaths before a jury and let the triers of the facts decide if they were caused by the automaker's pollution?

The standards of proof in a civil lawsuit, such as the one filed against Ford and the borough of Ringwood, are far lower than "beyond a reasonable doubt," which is needed in a criminal case. The lawyers kept $2.3 million, and the rest was shared by 633 plaintiffs.

Law and otter

I have seen little on the legal dimensions of this story. Editor Francis Scandale apparently never asked reporters to consult an independent expert to assess the decision by lawyers to make a deal with Ford, which continues to deny any responsibility for what happened to residents since the dumping of paint sludge began in 1970.

Sykes printed a stomach-turning recipe for bear meat on Sunday, but I don't see anything in the paper today on how to cook squirrel, mice, shrew or frogs.

Tunnel vision

Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez took credit for limiting the financial damage left in the wake of Christie's unilateral decision to kill the rail tunnels.

"I have been working since the day Governor Christie unwisely killed the project to clean up this mess and reduce the cost to taxpayers in our state," Lautenberg said.

It's typical in embarrassing moments such as these that the normally voluble Christie has nothing to say, nor do we know whether the state is still paying $485 an hour to a politically connected D.C. law firm the governor hired to fight the Feds' demand for $271 million already spent on the project.
Renovation news

In head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, Staff Writer and Interior Decorator John Cichowski delivers an L-1 evaluation of the Motor Vehicle Commission's new Lodi office. There are rumors Chick actually left the office to do this story.

Doesn't the first black fire chief in Teaneck deserve better play than L-3 and doesn't Chief Anthony Verley deserve a photo bigger than a thumbnail? 

Don't forget gas

Let's hope the retired pilot who was the first customer to pick up a Chevrolet Volt remembers to put gasoline in the tank of the car, which is misidentified again as "electric" (Business, L-7).  The Volt is a plug-in hybrid with batteries, electric motor and gasoline engine.

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