Monday, May 31, 2010

Moving tribute -- and trash

Picture of graves decorated with flags at Arli...Image via Wikipedia

On rare days, the editors of The Record of Woodland Park get it right -- such as today's touching Page 1, A-6 and A-7 tribute to the 19 service members from North Jersey who have died since 2003. This was a great staff effort, led by local obituary writer Jay Levin. Then, the editors turn around and insult readers' intelligence with an A-1 story on a group of inconsequential right-wingers who call themselves the Tea Party.

Are the tea baggers more important than the Gulf oil disaster? Herb Jackson, the paper's Washington correspondent, actually quotes one saying, "We're a loose affiliation of patriots." Patriots? What a joke.

Today, we learn the oil will be gushing until August. What incompetence. I suggest we revoke the visas of all these bumbling Brits at BP and ask for assistance from some of the big oil producers, such as the Saudis.

The Local section devotes most of its space today to non-profits and veterans, and there was no room for Hackensack, Englewood or Teaneck news, assuming the assignment desk suffocating under Deirdre Sykes generated any. A box on failed school budgets does include Englewood and Teaneck, but there is no explanation why councils in these diverse districts enacted such severe cuts.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

You wouldn't know it's Sunday

Map showing the Jersey Shore shark attacks of ...Image via Wikipedia

My news sections are here, but they are so boring, you wouldn't know this is the The Record's Sunday paper -- once filled with special stories reporters slaved over.

On Page 1, there is the obligatory Memorial Day weekend story on the shore economy, but Local contains no Teaneck, Englewood or Hackensack news. 

I'm glad to see the Gulf oil spill fiasco is on A-1 for the third day in a row. That's where the story belongs. Now where is the editorial slamming BP and the government for this colossal failure?

See previous post: No news sections today
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No news sections today

I didn't receive the main news and Local sections with The Record of Woodland Park today, so let's look at Real Estate and the other sections I did get. (Customer service promised delivery of the news sections within two hours.)

In Real Estate, Staff Writer Kathy Lynn reports that in 2007, 143 homes sold for more than $2 million in Bergen County. Of course, one of those was the $3.65 million estate in Tenafly purchased with a company mortgage by Publisher Stephen A. Borg -- only months before layoffs and the departure of many veteran employees.

The greed of some home owners is clear. Eddie Murphy was asking $30 million in 2004 for an Englewood home he bought in 1985 for $3.5 million. (Borg sold the home he bought for $865,000 with his first company mortgage in 1999 for $2 million.) What does Michele Kolsky of  Coldwell Banker in Fort Lee really think of buyers? "All last year, [they] were under a rock." So I guess she is saying they are nothing more than bugs.

Better Living has a recipe for tomatillos as the only food coverage today.

In Opinion, the most interesting reading is in letters to the editor. The paper also found room today to print guidelines for writing letters, without mentioning the volume of readers' letters is so great, letters from employees, including editors, reporters and copy editors, won't be accepted or published.

That policy hasn't really been a problem at The Record because few newsroom employees believe in anything or are willing to go out on a limb to support others employees whose rights have been routinely violated.
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where is that editorial thunder?

kingston, jamaicaImage by marco sickofgoodbyes via Flickr

The lead article in The Record of Woodland Park today might make you question the accuracy of the byline. Is it Staff Writer John Reitmeyer or John Wrongmeyer?

The story -- on the possible shutdown of state government -- reviews Republican Governor Christie's and the Legislature's positions on budget cuts and tax hikes, but completely ignores Christie's refusal to raise the low gasoline tax. Even a one-cent hike would generate millions for roads, bridges and mass transit -- and, more importantly, allow the governor to restore cuts in other areas.

But the reporter doesn't bring it up, and Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin can't be torn away from preening in front of the mirror to thunder editorially about the need for more revenue from the gas tax. Unfortunately, clothes horse Doblin has already made it clear he sides with Christie on not raising taxes on the Borgs and the state's other millionaires. No "shared sacrifice" for the fat cats.

The gushing oil in the Gulf is on Page 1 for a second day in a row, but The Record clearly is not ready to commit its own staff to assessing the magnitude of the damage to the fishing industry, beaches and so forth, and the outlook for the future. (There was a story in Business the other day on the impact of the spill on New Jersey seafood distributors by Staff Writer Hugh Morley.)

The third story on A-1 -- about an autistic man in Fair Lawn -- continues the paper's age-ism editorial policy of not covering Alzheimer's disease to anywhere near the same extent as autism. (Counting this story, Staff Writer Stephanie Akin has four bylines in the paper today from Fair Lawn or Saddle Brook. Some of her colleagues go a week or longer without one byline.)

The editors have already tired of the hunt for a reputed drug kingpin and gun runner in Jamaica. I had to ask another customer in a Jamaican restaurant in Hackensack about the latest news, which doesn't appear in the paper today. Nor were the lazy editors interested in what Jamaicans in North Jersey have to say about their island's violent reputation.

Local leads with yet another lawsuit against suspended Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa. The story, by Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado, is way too long, in view of how little other news about the city appears in the former Hackensack daily. I also wonder why The Record was completely in the dark about allegations that are at least five to six years old -- especially those relating to Zisa's campaigns for the Assembly. 

Was head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her minions sleeping off their long lunches at their computers?

Two stories on Englewood appear under the byline of Staff Writer Joseph Ax and not Giovanna Fabiano, who was covering that city and Leonia. Ax is, or was, the Teaneck reporter. Karen Sudol, the Tenafly reporter, also wrote an Englewood story the other day. Sykes will pull a reporter off his or her beat at the drop of a hat -- a disservice to readers who look in vain for coverage of their towns.

(Photo: Kingston, Jamaica.)
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Friday, May 28, 2010

Decisive victory for home rule

Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico (NASA, International...Image by nasa1fan/MSFC via Flickr

There it is on Page 1 today in The Record of Woodland Park -- a huge victory for home rule. The Christie administration is reversing its stance on merging school districts. The proposal would have eliminated 250 of the state's 600 districts at an average savings of 3 percent to 6 percent of a district's budget.

Preening Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin was too busy shopping for clothes to write an editorial taking Governor Christie to task for squandering this huge savings opportunity. But he did have enough time to craft a highly favorable column about Christie on A-23 today. With Doblin in the governor's corner, the paper compromises its objectivity and credibility. (Just a couple of months ago, Doblin was screaming bloody murder when Christie's state aid cuts boosted the editor's train fare.)

How is it that Staff Writer Pat Alex can handle this big education and home-rule story, with the assistance of one other reporter, while Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado needs much more assistance on stories about Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa? Alvarado doesn't even have a hand in today's Zisa story, but head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes needed four other reporters to get it onto the Local front. (Zisa and a detective have been suspended without pay.)

Meanwhile, Hackensack residents have to rely on the weekly Hackensack Chronicle -- not Alvarado -- for details of the city's proposed budget, which could raise taxes 7.5 percent. The weekly today reports on a City Council budget meeting 10 days ago. (The weekly paper is delivered with The Record to subscribers in Hackensack on Fridays, so why is a second copy thrown in driveways?)

The 38-day-old oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico -- the nation's worst ever -- finally makes it to Page 1 today, but this is clearly too big a story for The Record staff -- as was Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The paper has been relying on the wire services for all of its coverage of BP's fumbling attempts to stop the gushing oil, and Doblin's editorial page hasn't been of much help to readers. Why hasn't he condemned the company for apparently hiding the magnitude of the leak?

Where are the clueless editors? Courthouse reporters could be assigned to give readers a preview of the legal battles that lie ahead on the liability of BP and the operator of the drilling platform for negligence. You know the families of the 11 dead oil workers will be suing for hundreds of millions of dollars, as will commercial fishermen, state and federal governments, and others. Could the companies be charged with criminally negligent homicide? Is there any precedent for barring a foreign-owned company from doing business in the U.S.?

Why don't the editors get off their lardy asses instead of always following the wire services' lead?

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jersey pride and punishment

BP British Petroleum Co., Ltd., 1922 Union Jac...Image via Wikipedia

Today's Jersey-centric front page in The Record of Woodland Park even has an authentic whiff of corruption -- another charge against suspended Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa. But what about all the other stories the Super Bowl-giddy editors are ignoring?

What about the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Has this important environmental story ever been on Page 1? The inability of BP to stop the leak after more than a month has everyone feeling powerless -- including readers who never see news of their towns in the paper. 

Why doesn't The Record ever identify the company as British Petroleum or report it is a foreign company? Are drivers boycotting BP stations, as people of my generation have long boycotted Exxon stations for the Alaska spill? Is this payback for the American Revolution?

What about the Jamaican community in Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood? Aren't their views on gun violence in their homeland of legitimate concern to head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, who has eaten her fair share of Jamaican rum cakes from an Englewood baker? Have those cakes made her lazy?

I appeal to Sykes, Editor Frank Scandale and others to get their heads out of their asses, and to Publisher Stephen A. Borg to tear himself away from his palatial estate in Tenafly and pay some attention to the many stories that are going unreported out of laziness, incompetence or worse. The Record is dying a slow, journalistic death.

A story on the hunt for a reputed drug lord in the island capital of Kingston -- way back on Page A-19 today -- has an incorrect headline. The Jamaican death toll stood at 48; the head says "reaches 50." And why is the wire editor wasting space on frogs closing a road in Greece (A-15)? Baffling.

Hackensack readers are so bored with coverage in the past year of the police chief's legal troubles, and Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado is such a timid reporter, she can't even get Zisa to comment on the occasions she has seen him. Pathetic. It's Alvarado, likely at Sykes' request, who has ignored just about all other Hackensack news in the past two years. 

Joseph Ax, the Teaneck reporter, has a strong story in Local (L-3) about pay-to-play and the township auditor and an Englewood budget story (all six paragraphs) is credited to Karen Sudol, the Tenafly reporter. It looks like Englewood reporter Giovanna Fabiano was pulled off her beat to help Alvarado with the Zisa story.

In Better Living, it is food-less Thursday.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our worries are over, aren't they?

New Meadowlands Stadium: Touchdown ClubImage by babyknight via Flickr

If The Record of Woodland Park covered Hackensack and other important Bergen County communities, I wouldn't begrudge the editors covering the front page today with New Jersey winning the Super Bowl -- despite the stupid headline and the distance of the event.

If The Record's clueless assignment desk asked Jamaicans in North Jersey how they feel about gun battles in Kingston, it wouldn't be so bad that air-headed Staff Writer John Brennan quotes Governor Christie as saying the NFL decision is a "great vote of confidence in the government of New Jersey." What did government have to do with it? Why does Brennan allow Christie to hog the spotlight?

If The Record hadn't declined so much since Stephen A. Borg took over as publisher from his father, it wouldn't be so obvious the paper missed the real importance of the story, even to readers who aren't sports fans -- long overdue credibility for New Jersey after so many years of hosting New York teams.

So, are our worries over? Will Hackensack's Main Street suddenly recover from the move of The Record and North Jersey Media Group to Woodland Park? Will Hackensack readers now find coverage of education, development and municipal news in the paper every day?

Check out that Page 1 photo of Christie dwarfed by two football players. You'd think he went on the same crash diet he is demanding for teachers, police officer and just about everybody else in the state -- except for the Borgs and other wealthy residents. 

Brennan is such a great journalist. He launches his story by focusing on the reaction of the multimillionaire owners of the Giants and Jets, as they entertain visions of even greater riches.

Sort of reminds you how the focus at The Record during the recession has been on Stephen Borg buying a $3.65 million estate with a company mortgage just months before downsizing the paper and bidding farewell to a bunch of 20- and 30-year employees.

An editorial on A-22 conveniently ignores that it is Xanadu -- not the 2014 Super Bowl -- that has the greatest potential in terms of jobs and sales and income taxes to stimulate North Jersey. It's a puzzle why the editors and their chief spear-carrier, Brennan, are so down on the incomplete Meadowlands retail and entertainment complex, which likely will be a huge hit when it opens -- as well as a source for sorely needed display advertising in NJMG publications.
In Local, a Teaneck story appears today on the purchase of land along the Hackensack River, but there is no Englewood municipal, development or education news. A second day-care center was shut down in Hackensack, but today's story wasn't written by Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado, who is assigned to the city.

What does head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes have Alvarado doing now?

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why is this on the front page?

Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, NJImage by birdphone via Flickr

Aren't we all sick and tired of the belly aching by Ridgewood residents opposed to the expansion of The Valley Hospital (photo)? This controversy is more than two years old, and there have been numerous stories about it, yet here it is again today on Page 1 of The Record of Woodland Park.

Were the editors desperate to put something -- anything -- on the front page? Did they ever play similar protests over the expansion of Hackensack Medical Center on A-1? What's so special about the Ridgewood protest? Is this journalism by demographics?

The news copy editor probably thought the headline was really clever: "Hospital expansion called a health hazard." And the reporter actually quotes residents alleging years of construction will expose children to "potential hazards." One hallucinating protester refers to Ridgewood as "our little village." Can't you hear the violins?

I can think of several construction projects in Hackensack on school routes (there is no busing in the city). What about the hazards Hackensack kids walking to school are exposed to? Don't black and Hispanic kids count in the eyes of the editors?

Another headline on Page 1 appears to suggest teachers are stalking the state education czar. Was this head intended to be ominous?

Teachers track their target

Some observers would suggest it's the teachers who are the targets of state aid cuts and pension reform.

In Local, there are detailed stories on two trials in Superior Court, Paterson, but none on cases in state court in Hackensack. For another day, news of Hackensack , Teaneck or Englewood is missing, likely due to the incompetence of the assignment desk under Deirdre Sykes. But there is a long story on a murder in Butler -- outside the paper's circulation area.

For at least the fourth year, Food Editor Bill Pitcher has prepared his annual guide to grilling -- which appears today in Better Living -- and for at least the fourth time, he omitted any mention of how processed meats, such as hot dogs, and charring food have been linked to cancer. Good appetite.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

The pro and the hack

Official seal of Las VegasImage via Wikipedia

I love today's front page in The Record of Woodland Park, showcasing the work of one of its strongest reporters and one if its weakest -- side by side. The editors inadvertently provide more  evidence of what a poor job former sports writer John Brennan is doing on the Xanadu story.

When I was still at The Record, the news copy editors could hear Brennan loudly talking up his stories in the late afternoons with one of the editors, Tim Nostrand. Brennan always seemed to be talking compulsively. Now, he somehow convinced the editors to send him to Las Vegas to cover a new backer's attempt to find tenants for the retail and entertainment center in the Meadowlands. What a waste of money.

This is a non-story, as you can tell from Brennan desperately mentioning Sarah Palin in the lead paragraph. The story is poorly reported and written, and doesn't belong on A-1. Yet, Brennan and The Record can't hide their eagerness to write Xanadu's obit. Palin and Brennan. Dumb and Dumber.

Of course, the paper still is capable of good journalism, as readers can see from Staff Writer Jeff Pillets' story on alleged state pension abuses by powerful lawyers -- right next to the Brennan fiasco. Pillets knows his craft. He is as much of a pro as Brennan is a hack.

Look at some of the beautifully crafted paragraphs on A-1 that bring readers up to speed, such as the one that begins this way:

"New Jersey's public pension system is famously packed with political insiders, party loyalists and professionals who entered the state benefit system via part-time public jobs."
Then Pillets goes on to name names, and report the state attorney general is reviewing the cases  for violations of the law.

An editorial on A-11 praises Governor Christie for restoring cuts to programs for low-income seniors and the disabled, and dismisses the viability of the Democrats' millionaires tax, which the governor vetoed -- more kowtowing to the Borgs and other wealthy residents. How responsible is this kind of journalism?

There isn't much else in this thin Monday paper, certainly no Hackensack, Englewood or Teaneck news in Local. If there weren't graduation photos to blow up and cover the front of the section with, what would the incompetent assignment desk under Deirdre Sykes do?

In Better Living, the continuing focus today on celebrity chefs is a disservice to readers looking for information on how they can buy good ingredients, and prepare and serve healthy meals to their families. Look at this juvenile lead paragraph about Marcus Samuelsson, who will appear in New Jersey for a cookbook signing:

"Marcus Samuelsson is a busy dude."

I guess Food Editor Bill Pitcher was too busy to notice this kind of mindless promotion has no place in the paper.
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Record's limp editorials

McMansionsImage by anselm23 via Flickr

In the growing confrontation over state budget cuts, readers are criticizing Governor Christie for, as one put it today, "preserving the wealth of the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class." Where is the editorial condemning this approach in The Record of Woodland Park?

Preening Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin is fastidious about his clothes, but he doesn't appear to be spending as much time on his editorials and columns, most of which sound like he is taking direction from the wealthy Borgs.

Doblin is no fan of the Democrats' millionaires tax, and I got the feeling he condemned Christie's cuts to mass transit only because the editor's train fare went up.

Today, an editorial on O-2 urges a new windfall tax on retirement payouts for unused sick and vacation time, but don't public employees already pay income taxes on this money? Why not just cap the payouts, as Hackensack did, or negotiate new contracts without them?

Maybe Publisher Stephen A. Borg should pay a windfall tax on the $3.65 million he got from his Dad's North Jersey Media Group to buy an ostentatious, custom-built  McMansion in Tenafly (his existing $2 million home, also purchased with an NJMG mortgage, must have been getting a little cramped). Maybe the Borgs should pay a windfall tax when they sell that huge pile of bricks and surrounding land on River Street in Hackensack (NJMG's and The Record's old headquarters).

Some of any windfall tax should be paid to the city, which suffered economically when the Borgs decamped to Garret Mountain, not the mention the decline in Hackensack municipal, education and development news.

The younger Borg's home is larger and more expensive than father Malcolm A. Borg's place on the East Hill of Englewood, where he had a privileged and pampered upbringing, including private schools (I guess Mac didn't want his children rubbing shoulders with black students). Is this about shelter or which Borg has the bigger nut sack?

Did Stephen's huge mortgage have anything to do with the layoffs that occurred several months later (in 2008), including the exodus of 20- and 30-year employees with barely adequate severance payments? Is that why new jobs were created with much lower salaries? And were those lower salaries designed as strong incentives for these loyal, older employees to leave and accept severances, which barred them from alleging age discrimination?

It's The Record that needs editorials with bigger balls.Why is it readers (not editors) showing the way?

The letter from Roberta Sonenfeld of Ridgewood on O-3 today puts the confrontation between the Republican governor and Democrats in perspective:  
"[Governor Christie's ] many choices of where budget cuts should be made continue this assault on the poor and middle class, as does his attack on teachers and civil servants. [His] continued reference to shared sacrifice during these tough times is at best deceptive."
Local news in today's paper? Don't look for any from Hackensack, Teaneck or Englewood. Food news? One cake recipe (with fruit) from Bill Pitcher, the exhausted food editor, who can't seem to muster enough energy to write a Sunday column while his restaurant reviewer is on leave.

The front of Local is dominated by a story on how difficult it is for ex-cons to get jobs, written by Staff Writer Giovanna Fabiano, who is assigned to cover Englewood and Leonia. This assignment apparently hurt her town coverage, and you have to wonder why an even less-productive reporter wasn't given this job by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes or one of her minions.
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

There's more to the story

Photo of the Borough Hall in Leonia, New Jersey.Image via Wikipedia

I enjoyed reading the census story on the front page page of The Record of Woodland Park today, especially because it was the only scrap of local news about Hackensack (A-8), where I live. But I didn't feel the reporter fully captured the experience of being an enumerator or a respondent.

For one thing, she forgot to tell readers that enumerators hand out an information sheet in English or Spanish to concerned residents, pledging that answers are confidential and protected by law. "Your answers will only be used for statistical purposes, and no other purpose."

 Staff Writer Matthew Van Dusen has four stories from the towns he covers in the Local section today, and Staff Writer Nick Clunn has two. Clunn also wrote a Hackensack story last week (apparently, Monsy Alvarado, the Hackensack reporter, was overwhelmed). Reporter Giovanna Fabiano has a story about Leonia today, but nothing about Englewood, which also is her assignment. There are no Hackensack or Teaneck stories today.

Wide variations in productivity in the newsroom appear to be of no concern to Editor Frank Scandale, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes or the Borgs, who control North Jersey Media Group. So-called investigative reporter Jean Rimbach has averaged only one byline a year in recent years, and Alvarado has gone a month or more in not filing a story.

When I was still at The Record, the only reporters scolded about their productivity by Managing Editor Frank Burgos were older. The salary of one veteran reporter was cut $10,000 unilaterally, and she was assigned to cover towns -- considered to be a demotion. Were any young reporters called on the carpet?

You might be able to attribute all of this to the mobile-journalist system that Scandale championed. Many reporters were given laptops and cellphones and scattered -- hanging out in diners or even working out of their apartments. This served to empty the Hackensack newsroom to the point where the entire operation was picked up and shifted to office space in Woodland Park and the offices of NJMG weekly papers -- following the move of all printing to Rockaway Township.

The decline of productivity and local news coverage seemed inevitable.

Friday, May 21, 2010

This must be some sort of record

Panera BreadImage by BlueJeff via Flickr

A fifth straight day with Hackensack news in The Record of Woodland Park. What gives? Especially after the move to Woodland Park, the editors appeared to have declared dead the city where the newspaper was founded in 1895 and where it prospered for more than 110 years -- while making Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg one of world's richest men.

Thanks to Hackensack's suspended police chief, the city is in the news again today. But is that all there is? How many stories about Ken Zisa are we going to see from Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado? Who, but Alvarado and head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, is interested in so much detail from yet another lawsuit filed against the chief by a police officer?

Isn't there anything else going on in the city worthy of news coverage? When was the last time Alvarado covered a City Council or Board of Education meeting? Has the Record published a photo essay on the city's architectural gems? What about Hackensack as the epicenter of pizza in Bergen County? A taste-off would attract thousands of readers.

The front page is a puzzle. Republican Governor Christie vetoes the Democrats' tax on millionaires -- in a salute to Borg and other wealthy residents -- but most of the page is devoted to the value of homes where murders occurred.

Only three homes are featured. I've always wondered about the resale value of the home on the East Hill of Englewood where a man killed his mother and father with an ax. I guess I'll have to wait for the next time The Record does the story.

The Local section leads with a sensational Passaic County story -- a teenage boy claiming he had sex with his nanny when he was 12. But there is no municipal, education or development news from Teaneck, Englewood or Hackensack.

Maybe if Staff Writer Giovanna Fabiano spent more time in Englewood, where she is assigned, she might wonder why businesses like Panera Bread closed and why there are vacant Palisade Avenue storefronts. Could one landlord be demanding rents many merchants consider just too high to pay?

Today's Better Living contains the bulk of the week's food coverage, including a flawed review of a French restaurant in Edgewater. Food Editor Bill Pitcher says the view from Le Jardin "is the envy of every other restaurant in Bergen County." 

That will come as news to the owners of the stand-alone Japanese restaurant that is part of the Mitsuwa Marketplace complex just down River Road. Even the cheap seats in the food court of the Japanese supermarket have a better view of the Hudson than Le Jardin.

I applaud freelancer Amy Kuperinsky for noting the origin of the beef served at Segovia Steakhouse in Little Ferry (Starters on Page 19 in Better Living). Unfortunately, she isn't aware Certified Angus Beef is raised conventionally and pretty much amounts to a marketing campaign.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just like the old days?

Xanadu (film)Image via Wikipedia

Hackensack news for a fourth day in a row might lead you to think The Record of Woodland Park has suddenly decided to repent for the neglect of the past few years. But today's story is about yet another suit filed against suspended Police Chief Ken Zisa, and it's reported on Page L-3 in far too much detail by Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado.

No. This is business-as-usual for The Record, using a dramatic photo from Thailand all over Page 1, despite having basically ignored the protests there for months; running another nonsensical column by Mike Kelly, who for some unfathomable reason is rehashing the history of Xanadu and speculating on whether the retail and entertainment center can be saved; and reporting on Zisa's continuing legal problems at the expense of other, more important Hackensack news.

In Local, a story on the Englewood Council's school budget cuts is the first municipal story from that city since April 22, when a follow on the defeated tax levy was published. 

No food coverage can be found today in Better Living. Food Editor Bill Pitcher apparently was too exhausted after writing his restaurant review, which will appear tomorrow.

Judging by salaries in the newsroom that have become public record, Deirdre Sykes and Barbara Jaeger, the editors in charge of Local and Better Living, respectively, likely are paid more than $100,000 a year. Your guess is as good as mine as to what they do, because there is little evidence in the paper itself that they are earning the money.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hackensack is front-page news again

Hackensack, New JerseyImage via Wikipedia

I hope Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado doesn't get writer's cramps from turning out two stories about Hackensack in as many days -- today, the A-1 lead on huge payouts to city workers for unused time. Of course, far less clear is the motive of The Record of Woodland Park in highlighting how well-off public workers are.

The main element on Page 1 is a weird story on a moon-rock sliver brought back in 1972 that New Jersey officials apparently have lost, by Staff Writer Elise Young, who has done such great work on state pension abuses. Where did this story come from, is it really A-1 news and is a student trying to find the sliver related to Managing Editor Frank Burgos? 

Apparently, a retired NASA investigator, now teaching in Pheonix, assigned student Jaime Burgos, 32,  of Philadelphia to track down the one-28th-of-an-ounce sliver. Frank Burgos, who lives in Hackensack during the week, is from Philadelphia and his wife and children apparently still live in their home in that city's suburbs. Is Jaime related to Frank? Bizarre. And even if the sliver is worth millions of dollars, as the reporter asserts, is the paper suggesting the state sell it to help ease budget cuts?

Road Warrior John Cichowski's column today on the front of Local is actually historic. He writes about a Fort Lee bus shelter before lapsing into his usual pandering to drivers' every little, e-mailed complaint and question about state motor vehicle rules and regulations. His column has become boring and repetitious, and his punishment should be to ride buses and trains so he can experience some of the lousy service first-hand.

There is a second Hackensack story on L-3 -- about an unlicensed day-care center -- and a Teaneck story reports the school board will have to cut $6.1 million from its budget. But Englewood readers come up dry again.

In Better Living, Food Editor Bill Pitcher has put readers on a starvation diet. Pitcher apparently has dropped, or been told to drop, Marketplace -- the weekly column on new markets, bakeries and other food businesses that was written by free-lancer Amy Kuperinsky. The last Marketplace I saw ran at the end of April.

If Marketplace has been dropped, it's a definite sign that less space is being devoted to food coverage and good nutrition during the obesity epidemic. (Publisher Stephen A. Borg folded the Food section nearly four years ago, in favor of so-called daily coverage. But Better Living never actually had food stories or even recipes on a daily basis.)

Pitcher, who is being paid more than $70,000 a year, is producing far less than his lower-paid predecessor, Patricia Mack, who wrote a weekly column in addition to frequently writing the section's lead article. Pitcher, on the other hand, is mostly a recipe editor, and he's writing restaurant reviews now only because the full-time reviewer, Elisa Ung, is on leave.

Pitcher spends a  lot of time -- wastes a lot of time, that is -- driving around North Jersey so he can chronicle the opening and closing of every bagel joint, pizzeria and restaurant -- first in the Second Helpings blog, then in Friday's Better Living section. Features Director Barbara Jaeger, his supervisor, must imagine readers sit poised and ready to dash to their cars as soon as they get word a new bagel store has opened somewhere.
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A little Hackensack news -- finally

Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado has finally reported and written some non-Police Department news from Hackensack. Today's L-3 story on 19 teachers and 34 para-professionals facing layoffs is the first education story about the city where The Record was founded since Dec. 14 -- if you don't count the routine school elections coverage in April.

Readers in Teaneck and Englewood go begging for yet another day.

Below Alvarado's story in Local is one from Wyckoff by Staff Writer Shawn Boburg, another member of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' investigative team. With Sykes' blessings, the core members -- Alvarado, Boburg and Staff Writer Jean Rimbach -- have wasted years and hundreds of thousands in staff salaries with little to show for it.

In recent years, Rimbach has had the fewest bylines of any other staffer, although she is likely one of the highest paid reporters in the Woodland Park newsroom. The key is her close relationship with Sykes -- which I observed personally.

When I was still a news copy editor at The Record, I edited a three-part series Rimbach and another reporter had worked on for six months, and it was filled with holes and other problems. When I asked Sykes about these flaws, her answers invariably were: "We're not going to go there" or "We didn't get that."

Maybe Boburg should find out why Wyckoff refuses to release restaurant inspections to The Record, which publishes the ratings on Fridays in Better Living. Food Editor Bill Pitcher seems not to have noticed that the Wyckoff inspections are always missing.

Pitcher, who is paid $70,000-plus a year, had a hard day Monday, as today's food coverage shows. The 15 Minute Chef now runs on Tuesdays without a big color photo -- pushed to the margin of F-2 by shopping news. Is that even his recipe or did he conveniently leave off the credit? 

The paper should sponsor a contest to see which reader can actually prepare this meal in 15 minutes. The prize: An extension of his/her subscription.

(Photo: The book by the original 15-Minute Chef, Patricia Mack, onetime food editor of The Record.)
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Monday, May 17, 2010

But where is the local news?

Thomas KeanImage via Wikipedia

Bloated county payrolls, a tax-evading mayor and wife, and a politically connected insurance broker make up a classic North Jersey front page today, but they only distract readers from the continuing lack of news from Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood in The Record of Woodland Park.

The story on the North Arlington mayor facing a judge for evading a measly $5,300 in federal taxes doesn't really deserve A-1 play, but apparently the editors didn't have anything stronger.

With all those weighty stories out front, the Local section is almost completely devoted to non-profits and fund raising. Memo to editors: Another story about the Hackensack Police Department isn't news to residents.

Check out the lead paragraph of Mike Kelly's column on L-1. What can he possibly mean by the "uneven history of America's environmental movement"? Don't all movements have uneven histories, especially his journalistic bowel movements? This is a veteran journalist who cannot manage anything more than banality.

But I have to at least give him some credit for doing a decent job on this heart-warming subject (monk parakeets) -- which is basically a repeat of a column he did last year -- in contrast to all the drivel he has turned out about homeland security, Tom Kean Sr. (photo), Bernard Kerik and the Times Square bombing suspect.

Does The Record need Bill Pitcher, the $70,000-plus food editor, to produce a couple of vegetarian recipes for Better Living today? That's all the food coverage you'll find. What a waste of money.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Worst transportation reporter?

NJ Transit Newark Light Rail #104 crossing Bro...Image via Wikipedia

 Most experts agree that more mass transit is the solution for traffic congestion in North Jersey and that buses, trains and light rail aren't expected to pay their own way. But not so-called transportation reporter Tom Davis of The Record of Woodland Park, which on Page 1 today publishes its third negative mass transit story in six months.

 Davis is probably the worst transportation reporter The Record has had in the past two decades, and that's saying something, in view of Dan Sforza's elegies on highways of the future that he wrote -- instead of reporting on the quality of train and bus service -- when he was a transportation reporter.

Sforza may now be Davis' assignment editor, which would go a long way in explaining why the latter selectively reports on the debate over extension of light rail into Bergen County. Davis, in today's piece and in an article in December, portrays light rail as negatively as possible -- completely omitting all the positives. He must think readers are fools.

It's only in the last paragraph of today's story -- on Page A-12 -- that he finally acknowledges no transit agency in the United States was ever set up to make money. So why does almost his entire story make such a big deal of light rail's financial losses?

Under Editor Frank Scandale and head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, the former Hackensack daily seems to have appointed itself as taxpayers' watchdog. While ignoring coverage of Hackensack, Englewood and other major communities, these editors and their obedient reporters have been drumming a relentless beat -- teachers make too much money, cops make too much money and, now, mass transit loses too much money. 

In Better Living, the only food news appears to be a Chicago Tribune piece on biscotti and mandelbrot. What did $70,000-plus Food Editor Bill Pitcher do, take a three-day weekend? Does anybody miss Restaurant Reviewer-on-Leave Elisa Ung's Sunday column, which often amounted to little more than free advertising for a restaurant owner or chef?

How much longer can Travel survive as a section with barely any information readers can use to negotiate arcane airline rules, find the best deals possible and select decent hotels? 

The Record on the Road -- photos of travelers holding the Travel section -- is such a waste of space. The only thing of substance in the section today is a column by the klutzy travel editor, Jill Schensul. Let's hope the paper paid for her 15-day trip to Europe or was it one of those cushy, free familiarization trips the travel industry is notorious for lavishing on writers? 

Is that all there is to Travel? During the obesity epidemic, Publisher Stephen A. Borg, in his wisdom, folded the Food section, but kept Travel. That must be the "responsible journalism" espoused by North Jersey Media Group from its mountain-top headquarters.
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Journalistically distracted

Juan CarreƱo de Miranda‎'s "La monstrua d...Image via Wikipedia

There are some subjects the editors of The Record of Woodland Park won't touch, including the obesity epidemic and the frustrating, expensive and bureaucratic legal immigration system, which is likely the cause for a great deal of illegal immigration.

Yes. The all-seeing, all-knowing editors prefer safe, innocuous subjects, such as the Page 1 centerpiece today on how many hours kids spend on game systems and cell phones, and watching TV.  Of course, digital distraction isn't news to any parent, and our civilization won't be ending any time soon.

Frankly, I'm more interested in what my athletic 13-year-old eats at school and what impact state aid cuts to lunch programs might have on his diet. But good nutrition isn't a top priority of editors at The Record, including Food Editor Bill Pitcher, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and Projects Editor Tim Nostrand, all of whom are dysfunctional eaters.

Months after Governor Christie took office, I'm still waiting for a story on what the state is doing to address childhood obesity. But I guess because obesity is more prevalent among minority children, the overwhelmingly white editors feel comfortable ignoring it. 

This is what North Jersey Media Group must be referring to when it claims to embrace "responsible journalism."

Yet another Local section was published today without news of Hackensack or Englewood.

Much of the cover of Better Living today is devoted to a piece on expensive sun glasses. In the past few weeks, shopping news has increased while food news seems to have been shoved to a back burner.

(Painting by Juan Carreno De Miranda is called "The Nude Monster.")
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Friday, May 14, 2010

How Christie caters to the rich

The Star-LedgerImage via Wikipedia

An editorial in The Star-Ledger today says Governor Christie has distorted facts to hide how he plans to shift the tax burden onto middle-class families. I wonder if we'll see this editorial in The Record of Woodland Park?

Meanwhile, the Democrats in the Legislature have advanced a new levy on people with income of more than $1 million a year. Presumably, those people include the Borgs.

The editorial unmasks Christie as just another Republican who is trying to help his wealthy friends and supporters from paying the higher taxes they surely can afford. Here is the link to the editorial as it appears on

Governor distorts facts

See earlier post, More rehashing of the news
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More rehashing of the news

The Seal of the United States Federal Bureau o...Image via Wikipedia

Should we praise the FBI for finally recognizing the threat of homemade bombs nearly a decade after 9/11, as The Record of Woodland Park does today by putting the story on Page 1? And who else brings us the news but Columnist Mike Kelly, chief rehasher at the former Hackensack daily.

If you want background on a big story, Kelly is the guy to go to. His column today is filled with lots of old news, but not much perspective on the failure of homeland security officials -- until now -- to recognize a threat that Israel and the rest of the world has known for decades -- the crowd-murdering, almost impossible to stop suicide bomber. Lucky for us -- and for homeland security officials -- the suspect in the attempted Time Square bombing was such a klutz.

The last time I saw Kelly, outside the paper's old headquarters in Hackensack, I told him the updated photo that runs with his column is unflattering. Is that a smile or a smirk? Is that his sport or suit jacket thrown casually over his shoulder? Is he trying to strike the pose of a model journalist or just a model?

Is he saying, Stick with me for the latest insight on the news, or Stick with me while I push words around and never go out on a limb with strong opinions columnists are supposed to express? It's the latter, of course.

The Local section is devoid of any news from Hackensack or Englewood, but Road Warrior John Cichowski has yet another column on teen driving decals and actually quotes adults who fear the decals will help sexual predators find their victims. I was a reporter and news copy editor at The Record for nearly three decades and worked on numerous stories about teen sex victims -- no one needed a decal to find a teen in those days, and no one needs one now.

In Better Living, Food Editor Bill Pitcher says you pay for quality -- not quantity -- at Rocca in Glen Rock, but never backs that up with any information about the provenance of the food, so readers can make an informed decision. (Pitcher and the other restaurant reviewer, Elisa Ung, who is on leave, have the word "quality" on a save/get key and throw it around with abandon, usually with no basis in fact.)

For example, a Rocca entree of four scallops for $31 seems high, as he suggests, but if they are from a day boat, they would be the freshest you could find and free of preservatives, and might be worth the price. Surely, the $70,000-plus food editor has heard of day-boat scallops?

He's not the only overpaid editor at The Record -- there's Frank Scandale, Deirdre Sykes, Frank Burgos, pals Barbara Jaeger and Liz Houlton, and on and on. The paper is top heavy with editors who attend a lot of meetings, but who have failed to stop its slide into mediocrity.

Today, hype is king -- as in Publisher Stephen A. Borg's "The Trusted Local Source" and North Jersey Media Group's "responsible journalism."

Sadly, the joke is on readers.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

More truly boring news

Title page to Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning...Image via Wikipedia

Page 1 of The Record of Woodland Park is telling us today that a bid for a Super Bowl at the new Meadowlands stadium in 2014 is more important than our kids' education now. I see Super Bowl and think Toilet Bowl. 

The editors are telling us a tedious story on highway workers who can cash in vacation and sick days should concern us more than the possible layoffs of thousands of teachers. By comparison, the newspaper's own vacation and sick-day policies were a slap in the face when I was a news copy editor there.

No matter what story Staff Writer John Brennan works on, he sounds like he is doing public relations for the subject -- whether it's Jayson Williams, who killed his limo driver after a night of drinking, or the Jets and the Giants. Today, he is true to himself -- 99.6% public relations man and .4% journalist.

I can't get too excited about employees for an agency that doesn't use tax money who decide to work, then cash in unused vacation and sick days. At The Record, if you didn't use sick days, you'd lose them, and the newsroom had an antiquated system for requesting vacation time. 

At one time, the paper offered $100 to any employee with a perfect attendance record. After a few years, the reward ended and the number of workers taking mental-health days soared. Even today, some reporters manage to write one story a week -- or in the case of Staff Writer Jean Rimbach, an average of one story a year -- and the editors don't seem to notice or care. Rimbach is said to be a favorite of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, the newsroom's clucking Mother Hen.

For many, many years, one of my colleagues on the news copy desk fell asleep regularly and had to be awakened to write headlines. He also came in late 20 minutes every day, claiming he was delayed by traffic, but it was clear he didn't leave the house until 5:30 p.m., the start of his shift. He wanted to be paid for his commute, but in the process, he worked two weeks a year less than the rest of us. Another colleague edited three or four stories a night, while the rest of us did 10 to 15, yet the slacker was given supervisory duties.

The place was so dysfunctional and short-staffed that when I wanted to go on vacation for three weeks or more, I needed special permission from Editor Frank Scandale. If my early November birthday fell on the same day as the general election, I had to get special permission to celebrate with a night out.

The A-1 story on teacher layoffs reports that Englewood handed out 88 this week. Surely, fewer teachers will improve education in the segregated elementary and middle schools the paper has ignored for years. The story makes no mention of layoffs in Hackensack.

Inside Local, there are education stories about Dumont and Ringwood, but when was the last time a Hackensack education story appeared?

A story on the election Tuesday of a new mayor in Paterson -- which usually is covered far better than Hackensack -- apparently was delayed for a day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oh, that's not news

Map highlighting Englewood's location within B...Image via Wikipedia

It's 2010, and Englewood's elementary and middle schools are segregated. "Oh, that's not news," head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes says between shrieks of laughter rolling across the Woodland Park newsroom. Downtown traffic often is nightmarish, because the city has been glacially slow about installing turn lanes. "Oh, that's not news," Sykes says. An open-air police firing range rudely awakens hundreds of residents. "Oh, that's not news."

The only stories about the city's hard-working, God-fearing Jamaican community that appear in The Record are the occasional arrest or shooting. "Oh, that's not news," says Sykes, who has eaten her fair share of rum cakes from a Jamaican takeout shop on Palisade Avenue.

Two of the sub-editors working for Sykes once were assigned to cover Englewood as reporters. Dan Sforza broke no new ground and Christina Joseph apparently didn't know the city police use an open-air firing range, because she failed to notice that a round-up on such ranges that she was editing had completely omitted Englewood (map).

So, what is news in Englewood? Well, it's right there -- all over A-1 and L-1 today. Staff Writer Giovanna Fabiano emerged from her journalistic hibernation long enough to report that a black bear spent a pleasant three days in the city before its capture on Tuesday. It's her first story about Englewood since April 22.

I lived in Englewood until 2007, and over the years saw a buck and doe, and wild turkey in the city, probably from the Palisades. They were enjoying the verdant East Hill estates. Was that front-page news? I didn't think so.

Englwood is one of the most diverse communities in Bergen County and a good reporter could probably write three stories a week about it. Now, readers get three stories a month, if that. Teaneck and Hackensack are no better off.

Today's A-1 story about lawsuits against suspended Police Chief Ken Zisa is yet another example of how the Police Department is just about the only news Hackensack readers get from Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado -- apparently under orders from Sykes.

Why this story is on the front page is a puzzle in view of how the paper has abandoned and ignored the city where it was founded, and Alvarado's conclusions are arguable.

Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg, North Jersey Media Group chairman and onetime publisher of The Record, has lived on Englewood's East Hill for decades, but has he or his newspaper ever done anything to improve life for all of its residents? Mac sent his spoiled children, Jennifer and Stephen, to private schools, such as the two in Englewood attended by most of the city's white kids, to the detriment of the public schools. Mac has also opposed the expansion of a Jewish congregation that bought a house on his block.

In the past, the paper's Englewood reporters have largely focused on integration efforts at Dwight Morrow High School, while ignoring the elementary and middle schools. In fact, a Sept. 20, 2008, editorial praising the high school for integration and academics completely ignored continuing segregation in the lower grades.

"Oh, that's not news."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More prize-winning journalism

View from an aircraft on approach to Newark-Li...Image via Wikipedia

Wow. Check out that prize-winning photo on the front page of The Record of Woodland Park. Editor Frank Scandale really knows his journalism. Three Wayne police officers -- one armed with a refreshing drink -- are shown standing around with gas-station workers.

When you're locked into putting a big, color photo on A-1 every day, you're going to run a lot of crap. Today is a perfect example of why Scandale is unfit to be editor. He was the one who relegated Staff Photographer Thomas E. Franklin's unique, flag-raising photo on 9/11 to a back page -- in favor of the same image every other newspaper and TV station had.

What's next for a front-page photo? People waiting for a bus in Hackensack or a train in Secaucus?

You'd think the looming budget confrontation between Republican Governor Christie and the Democrats who control the Legislature would be enough for a strong Page 1, but the story is crowded into a two-column space. Now, the governor wants to cap local property tax increases at 2.5%. I thought he promised to cut property taxes.

There's more coverage on Page 1 of the drunk-driving accident after a soccer game in the Meadowlands, but instead of reporting whether the nine injured pedestrians had been drinking at the game, Staff Writer John Brennan turns out a piece about the alcohol policy at the new stadium worthy of a highly paid public relations man. An editorial on A-12 refers to the accident as a "tragedy."

I really don't care about two of the three A-1 stories -- a dozen, possibly related holdups and the injured pedestrians -- and the stuff I do care about is consistently ignored, like any news about Hackensack outside of the Police Department or suspended Chief Ken Zisa.

You also won't find any Englewood news in Local today (the last story from that community ran April 22) and Teaneck gets a brief on L-3.

The A-1 story about 12 holdups belongs on the front of Local and women hailing a law to help others with postpartum depression would have made a good front-page story in its place.

But women aren't always held in favor at The Record. The newspaper paid Bill Pitcher, its new food editor, $70,000 a year when he was hired in 2006 -- even though he was 31 and didn't have any food-editing experience. Patricia Mack, his predecessor, who had 20 years of food-editing experience, was paid thousands less. That's depressing.

 Jerry DeMarco's Cliffview has a link to a video that illustrates the dangers faced by police officers, such as the Wayne cop who was grazed by a suspect's bullet. (The A-1 story could have been far more dramatic if it led with a retelling of how he pursued the suspects even after he was wounded.) Click on the following link:

How'd you like to be a cop for the day?

(Photo: New and old stadiums in the Meadowlands.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's the home-rule system, stupid

labeled outline map of municipalitiesImage via Wikipedia

When is The Record of Woodland Park going to expose the home-rule system as the real reason our property taxes are so high and when is Governor Christie going to put pressure on towns to join their neighbors in seeking more efficient ways to run schools and keep streets safe? Probably not in our lifetime.

Instead, the former Hackensack daily will continue to publish articles on the high salaries of school superintendents (on the front page today) and the governor will try to get laws passed to put a cap on those salaries, as well as on the salaries of teachers, police officers and, presumably, police chiefs.

Any sign of cooperation among towns gets headlines in the paper, as Park Ridge does today on its plan to hold meetings with Woodcliff Lake and Montvale to discuss saving money. What about bigger towns -- such as Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood, which have a lot in common? 

In place of the local news editors didn't have for today's paper, a big photo showing the continuing demolition of the old Giants Stadium appears on the front of Local. An A-1 story on drunken fans at the new stadium had too much detail about an accident Friday in the first few paragraphs -- when the focus should have been on the nine fans who tried to cross a highway and whether they had been drinking.

More than a decade ago, The Record launched a project to expose the folly of home-rule finances, including the incredible duplication of services among the 70 towns in Bergen County (map). 

The series, which went by the acronym MUNFIN around the office (for municipal finance), ran with an explanatory note from the editor that the newspaper wasn't trying to bring reform to the broken system. Predictably, the series brought little or no change.
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Shame on Columnist Mike Kelly

Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th ...Image via Wikipedia

When a columnist is deliberately dishonest just so he can make a point, you know you are in trouble as a reader. Why it keeps on happening with Mike Kelly -- and none of the editors seem to notice or care -- just shows you how far The Record of Woodland Park has fallen.

In his column on the Opinion front today, Kelly sets up a deeply flawed comparison of the New York City and Hackensack Police Departments -- claiming the former is focused on terrorism and the latter was dominated by cronyism and run by a chief who didn't hesitate to commit fraud.

But if you look at the New York event Kelly focuses on -- the attempted Times Square bombing --you realize no one was hurt because the suspect was inept. It had nothing to do with good police work. And you also realize how conveniently Kelly omits any mention in today's column of disgraced New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.
This is what I wrote in February about Kelly's affection for Kerik, whose crimes were far more serious than the allegations against Zisa:

"On the front of  Opinion, Columnist Mike Kelly perpetrates another fraud, the second installment of his attempt to rehabilitate his pal, Bernard Kerik, the convicted felon who once was New York City's police commissioner. Kelly had the chance to ask bosom buddy "Bernie" the hard questions, but didn't. This isn't confrontation. It's masturbation.

"Kelly loves to push words around to create a mood and ask lots of unanswered questions, but this so-called veteran journalist is afraid to use the appropriate words for Kerik: greedy and arrogant. I wanted to throw up reading Kelly's nonsense and the ridiculous, unchallenged quotes from Kerik."
Hey, Kelly, what about all the unarmed civilians reduced to Swiss cheese by trigger-happy New York City police officers over the years? 

 Kelly couldn't compare Hackensack to the police departments in Teaneck, where he lives, and Englewood, because they are dysfunctional in their own ways. But he could have written a good column without indulging in what amounts to another Jersey joke.

Kelly must think this is what the Borgs and North Jersey Media Group mean by "responsible journalism." You'll make them proud, Kelly.

What does the rest of today's Record have to offer? Not much. Just two stories on Page 1.

Most of A-1 is taken up by a hit-and-run accident involving an allegedly drunken driver and nine idiots who tried to cross a highway after a soccer game in the Meadowlands, while Governor Christie's bid to cap the raises of public workers is squeezed into a one-column space. 

The Local section has another dreadfully boring infrastructure story on the front. The reporter neglects to mention that Christie has consistently refused to raise the low gasoline tax to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund. There are five police or fire stories in the section.

No Hackensack, Teaneck or Englewood municipal news appears.

 (Photo: Times Square.)
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