Saturday, March 12, 2011

Christie, aide escape stoning in flood zone

The current logo and Communication Mark of the...Image via Wikipedia
A fortress is an appropriate symbol for the embattled Army Corps of Engineers.

Flood-zone residents in North Jersey are so worn down by decades of official inaction and media attention that fades with good weather, not one of them threw stones or even raised an eyebrow when they heard more empty promises from Governor Christie and his environmental czar on Friday.

As reported today in The Record of Woodland Park, Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin "said [in Pequannock] Christie will be sending a letter to the [U.S.] Army Corps of Engineers in the next two weeks to ask them to start planing for a study of ... long-term solutions, such as levees and flood walls."

A letter? In the next two weeks? Start planning for a study? Are Christie and Martin kidding? There have been so many studies in recent decades, the paper they are printed on could be used to build levees.

Water torture 

Flooding has dominated the front page this week, but there hasn't been a peep from Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin or his minions on how little Christie has done since he took office 13 months ago or how decades of study have produced so little relief.

In fact, Martin's preposterous statement was left to the last paragraph of a flooding sidebar on L-2 today. Why has North Jersey been left behind, when even the governor acknowledged flooding is being controlled by a corps project in Bound Brook and another sidebar on L-2 today says the same of Oakland? 

Editor Francis Scandale often fails to put local voices on the front page, but he did so today with interviews of Japanese residents in North Jersey, reacting to the disaster in their homeland, coverage of which pushed the flooding story off A-1 (except for a refer).

But this is one time he should have found room on Page 1 for Christie's empty, public-relations gesture of appearing in water-logged areas of Passaic and Morris counties -- not bury the story in Local. 

Here is more evidence of Scandale's deeply flawed news judgment, which readers saw as recently as the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and nearly a decade ago on 9/11.

More copy desk follies

And the news copy desk keeps on overselling the flood coverage. The A-1 refer declares:

Rising floodwaters
overtake North Jersey

On Friday, the A-1 banger head warned:

Brace yourself

But the vast majority of North Jersey residents weren't flooded out or even had water in their basements.

The copy desk also keeps on violating a long-held rule against describing in captions what is obvious to readers by looking at the photo, such as on A-6 today, where a man is shown looking at debris left by the tsunami in  Japan and the caption begins, "A man early today looking over debris ...." 

You'd think the editors could have used as much room as possible today to report the natural disasters in Japan and North Jersey. 

So what's the explanation for a second, long story on the Bergen County prosecutor ending monitoring of the Hackensack Police Department just two days after the initial story (L-3)?

And because the copy editor apparently didn't read the story that led the Local section on Thursday, the main headlines on the two stories are almost identical. Instead of readers saying, Oh, here's why the prosecutor is doing this, they are left wondering where they read the story before.

Couple of kudos

You have to commend the local staff for coming up with good stories that have nothing to do with flooding, such as Deena Yellin's readable profile of a 106-year-old Clifton man and Michael Gartland's war of words between the Bergen county executive and the county sheriff over budget cuts, both buried on L-6.

It's a wonder, in view of their bosses' laziness and incompetence, namely Editor Deirdre Sykes and her local assignment desk minions.

Another story that deserved better play today appears on A-3, reporting that property taxes rose an average of 4% statewide in 2010, despite Christie's campaign promises. 

A comment from Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan, D-Union, is left to the last paragraph:
"At least now we can stop the ridiculous myth that Governor Christie didn't raise taxes. It's now a proven fact that ... Christie gave New Jerseyans their highest property tax increase since 2007."
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  1. Great rant. You should do that more often.


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