Monday, March 7, 2011

A boatload of mixed messages

Official Seal of Rutgers UniversityImage via Wikipedia
A reader wants to know why Governor Christie doesn't rein in excesses at the state university.

Governor Christie unveils a proposed 2012 budget that calls for sacrifices by tens of thousands of public employees -- while preserving the wealth of his supporters -- but doesn't tell taxpayers he's relying on $240 million in federal funds other Republicans have voted to cut. (See Page 1 of The Record of Woodland Park today.)

Still, Christie calls on President Obama to rein in federal spending, or as he put it on "Face the Nation": 
"The spending has been out of control and not as advertised when he ran for president," the Republican thug said of Obama.
You can't have it both ways. What other misery is he planning for middle- and working-class New Jerseyans, while he refuses to tax millionaires? 

Christie has plenty of company in sending mixed messages:

If you can get past the Hollywood and Broadway references again today (Charles Heston, "Kumbaya"), Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin throws a fit over the home-rule system -- in a column that seems to argue taxpayers can no longer "afford" to carry public workers' generous pension and health-care plans (A-11).

But you have to work to find the paragraph about home rule, because it's the penultimate one:
"The target should not be cops, firefighters or teachers. The target should be home rule with its petty, parochial thinking, its maze of unneeded bureaucracy and its bloated budgets packed with political cronies. Fix that and you fix everything else. Fix that and unsustainable contracts are never awarded. Fix that and you consolidate overlapping departments and agencies while preserving fair salaries and benefits for fewer workers. "
If you're not already confused, read the editorial just above his column today that is unequivocal in calling on uniformed public workers to be flexible and accept inevitable changes in their pay and benefits. For all we know, Doblin wrote this unsigned editorial, which doesn't even mention home rule.

A letter to the editor on the same page today blasts Christie for not reining in the excesses at state-owned Rutgers University, which has hired "a politically connected Republican insider as vice president for public affairs at an annual salary of $230,000" -- or $55,000 more than the governor makes and $55,000 over the cap he set for school superintendents.
"It's hard to understand why the taxpayers need to pay our state university to lobby the very state that owns it," David L. Rutherford of Ridgewood writes.

Columnist Mike Kelly hits a rare home run with his column on L-1 today -- about how a teen helped his grandfather, who was haunted by his World War II experiences.

Fading features section 

The front of Better Living is dominated today by a feature on community cookbooks, but not a single recipe from them appears in the article. 

Yet, Features Director Barbara Jaeger found room for some pablum: a wire-service piece on healthy foods, including bananas, eggs and canned beans (F-2).

Also on F-1, Staff Writer Jim Beckerman says an electronic tablet for to-do lists and meeting notes is good for "serious environmentalists fretting about waste-paper," but the reporter recommends "you simply throw it away,"  including the battery.

I guess he never heard of recycling.

Really poor timing

Just as gasoline prices are approaching $4 a gallon, the paper urges more environmental damage by publishing an elaborate story on luxury RVs and campgrounds, replete with photos, by Travel Editor Jill Schensul, a vegetarian whose love for animals doesn't extend to the air we breath.

This reads like a paid advertisement aimed at the wealthiest of readers, such as the Borg family and their jet-setting pals.

The headline on the front of Travel on Sunday trumpeted, "The Luxury RV Experience," but if you read the article, it doesn't seem as if Schensul actually spent any time in one of these polluting behemoths, and she's careful to avoid any mention of the dirty diesel fuel they use or just how wasteful they are.

There's no way to know, but many paragraphs in this nearly two-page article seem to have been lifted directly from RV manufacturers' press releases.

We have to thank Jaeger, Editor Francis Scandale and head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes for Sunday's and Monday's great papers. Keep up the good work for your advertisers.
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  1. The worst kind of journalist is one who likes to hear himself speak, or see himself write. I would put Doblin, who has a bloated perception of his ability as a wordsmith, in that category.

  2. I agree. You should have seen him strut through the office in Hackensack when he first was hired from the Herald News.

    He's a clotheshorse whose confident in his ability to coordinate an outfit, but far less sure when it comes to composing a column, and it shows in all the gimmicks he employs.

    He's also got to lose all the Hollywood and Broadway references. "Kumbaya"? Give me a break.


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