Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hey, Charlie, that's your job

Garden State Parkway - New JerseyImage by dougtone via Flickr
The state might save millions by privatizing toll collections, but tolls won't be cut.

Columnist Charles Stile is becoming increasingly strident in his assessment of Governor Christie -- a welcome antidote to Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin and others at the paper who have served as the governor's chief apologists in the past year.

On Page 1 today, Stile slams Christie's "hypocrisy" for being linked to the Republican-inspired Reform Jersey Now, which offered politically connected law firms and businesses a way to sidestep the state's landmark "pay-to-play" restrictions. In the next paragraph, Stile says:
"Reform Jersey Now had the reek of an old-fashioned slush fund oozing from Jersey's political sewer. It raised nearly $642,000 to do campaign hit jobs on Democratic legislators."
Stile's Political Stile column begins with his call for a new group to issue daily alerts on how "lawmakers and their naked hypocrisy have paralyzed campaign finance and ethics reform."

Hey, Charlie, that group already exists and you're in it. So are Editor Francis Scandale, The Record and the rest of the media, which have dropped the ball so irresponsibly on alerting readers to what you call "below-the-radar lobbying schemes" to defeat such reforms. 

Stile is not the only one reassessing Christie. On Sunday's L-1, Staff Writer John Reitmeyer actually juxtaposed the governor's loyalty to his wealthy supporters with his disdain for the middle and working classes, the first time I've ever seen that in The Record:

"Governor Christie ... cut education aid, picked a fight with teachers and other public workers, shelved property tax rebates, raised NJ Transit fares and came to the aid of millionaires while also taking away money from the state's working poor."

Toll lovers

Would you look at that huge front-page story on possible savings from privatizing toll collections in New Jersey. What a joke. Look at that banger head:

Road to savings? 

Oh, I hope that didn't hook you into thinking you'd get lower tolls. There's nothing in Staff Writer Karen Rouse's story about such savings for drivers. She reports that Florida -- in the fourth year after privatization -- saved $2 million and "put it back into the system." The system? 

She never explains why such savings aren't passed onto consumers.

Disorder in the court

The third A-1 story today is from The Star-Ledger, which reports Associate Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto has told Christie he won't seek renomination. 

Unlike recent stories by The Record, The Star-Ledger notes that John Wallace Jr., who was denied renomination last year, is black, and the departure of Soto, who is Hispanic, could make the high court a lot less diverse.

Of course, an editorial on A-8 today ignores the diversity issue completely, and doesn't even identify Wallace as black. Here's a brilliant line from it: "Although we believe Christie should have appointed Wallace to the court, he didn't." 

Huh? When and where did Doblin, the Editorial Page editor, lose his balls?
On A-2 today, a "Clarification" notes a Saturday article on prominent New Jerseyans who died in 2010 should have included Harold Dow, 62, of Upper Saddle River -- a five-time Emmy-winning CBS News correspondent.

That oversight is in keeping with the newspaper's report of his Aug. 21 death. The story failed to say he died of an asthma attack while driving in his native Hackensack and that his condition may have been linked to his coverage of the 9/11 attacks in Manhattan. 

Also on A-2 today, the former Hackensack daily finally corrects Friday's errors in an editorial on the size of the state budget and cuts in education aid, acknowledging they are in the billions, not millions.

Local yokels

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her clueless minions turn out a Local section with hardly any municipal news from Bergen County. Is the section still her pride and joy or is it a burden she has tired of bearing?

Besides police and fire reports, there hasn't been a Hackensack story by Monsy Alvarado in the section since Dec. 22, an Englewood story by Giovanna Fabiano since Dec. 21 and a Teaneck story by Joseph Ax since Dec. 16.

Eight days after the blizzard ended, The Record reports that angry Clifton residents are calling the cleanup effort "deplorable, pathetic" (L-2). 

Food for thought

Thirty years after the founding of Whole Food Market, The Record's North Jersey Market Basket Survey still does not track the prices of any organic or naturally raised food (L-7). Where has Staff Writer Kevin DeMarrais been?

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  1. Rouse is worthless.

  2. In her defense, she was an education reporter at the Denver Post when Editor Francis Scandale brought her here -- one of the minority recruits from his old paper.

    But the transportation beat apparently was shoved down her throat and she fell flat on her face during training for assistant assignment editor under Deirdre Sykes.

    Now, she is a transportation reporter who specializes in covering meetings, hyping reports and surveys -- anything to avoid writing about the actual buses and trains and the quality of service.


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