Saturday, December 4, 2010

More comment on health inspections

The KitchenImage by nayoung_kang via Flickr

Another reader of  -- a former restaurateur -- has commented on The Record of Woodland Park's decision to drop restaurant health ratings (see previous post):

Friday December 3, 2010, 4:42 PM - JuliaEnerson says:

I think this is a perfect opportunity for The Record to educate its readers about "what's behind those health inspection ratings", instead of not publishing them. True, the reports to The Record don't indicate why an establishment got a Conditional; however, neither does the placard in an establishment have anything other than the rating - up front. Any customer at any time can request to read the REHS' report and the establishment must have it readily available (usually kept in the frame with the rating). Also, an establishment should be proactive in explaining to its clientele what may have been the reason behind a less than Satisfactory rating. At the same time, a conditional is "the first violation of State Health laws" and does not include GROSS violations, such as vermin infestation, which usually call for either voluntary shut-down or a court-order mandate. Most conditionals are due to refrigeration temps, often off by one degree and easily fixed for the subsequent reinspection. I've always been more concerned about the 'conditional on reinspection' establishments, and Unsatisfactory is a no brainer. As a former restaurant owner (and yes, I got a conditional just once - and for the aforementioned refrigeration temp off), I think The Record should continue to publish Health Inspection reports AND explain in more detail what the ratings mean AND add "If you have specific concerns or questions about an establishment listed here, please contact them directly." 

The newspaper has always regarded health inspections as unimportant, and for years ran the list far from restaurant reviews and restaurant advertising. 

The job of assembling it was left to a news clerk, who worked from  faxes sent in by health departments, many of which refused to cooperate.

But the health ratings are important to any reader who eats out regularly, and they serve to keep restaurant owners honest. 

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes should have directed municipal reporters to visit health officials in towns that didn't send in the ratings and pick up the inspection reports. And if necessary, the newspaper should have sued towns that refused to supply the information, citing the open public records law.

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  1. Has NJMG or there lawyers ever tried to shut down Eye On The Record? Have you ever ended up in court over this Blog?

  2. NJMG has all the top lawfirms in NJ in there corner,including some Judges... Which lawfirms or lawyers like to do battle against NJMG? And why? And which Judges are in there corner? The Record picks and chooses the Judges they want to write a story on,how and why is this decision made?

  3. Do New York or NJ newspapers ever pay for stories or tips? And Is this legal? What is it like to survive working in a newsroom?

  4. NJMG has threatened to go to court to shut down Eye on The Record, but it was just bluffing.

    However, blog entries about the primacy of white, male columnists at the paper were used at the trial of my age-discrimination suit, and part of my appeal is arguing they were prejudicial and shouldn't have been admitted.

  5. You should let them take you to court,the publicity whould be great for your Blog.

    Do you really think your going to get a fair trial at the Bergen County Courthouse? Did you ever think about changing Venues?

  6. It's not "illegal" to pay for stories or tips, but it's not the practice in the metro area, especially now with papers on hard times and laying off staffers left and right.

    It never happened at The Record, and certainly not since Stephen A. Borg sucked out $3.65 million from NJMG to buy a bigger house.

  7. We were ready to defend the blog in court, but NJMG has backed down and now just monitors my posts.

    My lawsuit was tried this year, so it's too late for a change of venue. I didn't know of the relationship between the judge and Malcolm Borg until the last day of the trial.

  8. You can change Venues if there is a conflict of interest,Im sure of it. Why did NJMG back down to your Blog in court? Cause the Borg family does the same thing as you? In a product called THE RECORD!! Cheers to you VICTOR!!!!!!!

  9. How do you know the Record monitors your posts? Who is monitoring them and why? Are they fighting back at some of your stories?
    There was an old saying in the business world. The one with the most ink wins. Bill Gates leveled that playing field VICTOR!! Blog away!!!!

  10. After I started the blog in October 2009, my lawyer got calls regularly from The Record's lawyer, Dina Sforza, objecting to this or that, and threatening to go to court to silence the blog.

    After the trial of my lawsuit in April, NJMG had its hired gun, Samuel Samaro of Pashman Stein in Hackensack, open a file on the blog.

  11. And what will be in Samuel Samaro's file? I Know. The Truth.

  12. I saw Bill Pitcher across a few aisles at Restaurant Depot in Hackensack Saturday and meant to ask him what he thought about it but couldn't find him later. He screwed my place over good with those health reports.

  13. Don't you have to be a restaurant owner to shop at Restaurant Depot?

    I thought BIll Pitcher was living in the Adirondacks.

  14. My Employees can shop there with the business card. I've seen him there off and and on for the last year or two. There was a rumor he was cooking for a restaurant on the side. I assumed that is why he was fired. For getting caught in a conflict of interest.

  15. The reason Bill Pitcher left, according to everything I heard, was to move with his wife and daughter to the Adirondacks, where his father-in-law lived and was extremely ill, and to help take care of him.

    For many years, Pitcher cooked for a children's camp, I believe, but cooking for a restaurant? That's a new one. He also used to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for the newsroom staff who worked the holiday.


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