Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Lawyers, lawsuits and legal fees
Image via Wikipedia
Reporters covering the death of a Hawthorne man in an SUV-train accident fill today's story with lots of quotes about what a "great kid" he was and what a great family he came from, but they fail to resolve conflicting information on whether warning lights were flashing at the Franklin Lakes railroad crossing Monday night (A-1 and L-1).
Police say they were working, but many paragraphs later, reporters quote a survivor's relative as saying he was told the lights weren't flashing. The crossing doesn't have a gate, but that's left unexplained, too.
Lawsuit around the bend
You can bet there's a big lawsuit coming against the driver, who has a spotty record and wasn't supposed to be driving two non-family members in his SUV at the same time; against the railroad for not providing a gate at the crossing and possibly against other defendants, but don't expect to read about it in The Record of Woodland Park.
More lawyers are lurking behind Governor Christie, who refuses to repay the $271 million in federal funds spent on the Hudson River rail tunnels before he killed them (A-4). The Star-Ledger story notes Christie has retained a politically connected law firm, Patton Boggs, at $485 an hour to contest the bill.
The former Hackensack daily hasn't questioned Christie's decision to hire that high-priced law firm or his naming of two pals from his days as U.S. attorney: a former New Jersey attorney general as chairman of the Port Authority (A-4) and a retired Somerset County prosecutor as executive director of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners (A-1).
Cops and robbers
There's so much law-and-order news in Local today, you'd think head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes planned it that way -- to fill the yawning space left from failing to cover municipal news.
Even Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado continues to boycott that city's municipal affairs, writing today about hiring by the beleaguered Police Department and a murder investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.
A second look
Monday's Page 1 story on renewal of the battle over the millionaire's tax in New Jersey has not one, not two, but three graphics filled with percentages, tax brackets and other related numbers (A-1 and A-10).
But nowhere in the the story do readers find any revenue projections from a proposed tax surcharge on the roughly 16,000 millionaires in the state. Was Editor Francis Scandale asleep or just running interference for his pal, the governor?
Now, income over $500,000 is taxed at a rate of only 8.97%.
Democrats want to raise that to 10.75%, but Christie is vowing to fight that, as he did successfully last year, lest his many wealthy supporters demand to know why they are no longer immune to the pain he has visited on the middle and working classes.