Thursday, March 10, 2011

Christie helps the rich get richer

PotholeImage via Wikipedia
No one fixing potholes in your town? Live with it, The Record says.

When Chris Christie was U.S. attorney, he steered hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal work to two other lawyers -- his former boss and a former federal judge. 

Now, New Jersey's governor has the state paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to a big Washington law firm that contributes to both Democrats and Republicans, according to a Page 1 story in The Record of Woodland Park today.

Even legal fees of $1 million to $2 million would be a good investment, if the Patton Boggs law firm manages to shave $100 million to $200 million off the $271 million bill the federal government handed NJ Transit after Christie canceled the Hudson River rail tunnels.

Of course, that doesn't answer the question of why a $485-an-hour law firm was needed in the first place. "There are a lot of good lawyers in New Jersey that don't charge $485 an hour," said  John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee (A-6).

What about the hundreds of lawyers already on the state payroll at the Attorney General's Office? If the state is broke, as Christie claims, why not use them?

Is the headline on the legal-fees story accurate? It reports the first month of legal services was billed at more than $333,000, and no other bills have been received. "Legal fees rising in tunnel fight" seems to assume too much. This is A-1. How sloppy can you get?

Office-loving reporters

On A-4 today, readers learn NJ Transit will conduct its first-ever customer satisfaction surveys on rail and bus service. 

But the paper's lazy transportation reporters -- Karen Rouse, John Cichowski and, until he left the paper recently, Tom Davis -- still hold the record of never riding and rating mass-transit or even seeking customers' comments.

Taxing editorial

Another editorial urges Christie and the Legislature to balance the 2012 budget "in bipartisan fashion," but doesn't repeat the call of a few weeks ago for new sources of revenue -- such as a millionaires' tax. 

Did Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin get a slap on the hand or a spanking from Publisher Stephen A. Borg for suggesting new taxes as a way out of New Jersey's fiscal mess, even though he buried it in another editorial?

You're not going to see the Borgs having anything to do with Christie's shared-sacrifice mantra. That's for the scum of the earth, such as their employees and union workers.

Didn't the younger Borg use a company mortgage to buy a $3.65 million house in Tenafly several months before laying off workers as part of The Record-Herald News merger and relocating to Passaic County?

Didn't his father, Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg, and pal Jon Hanson buy a private jet for more than $10 million, replacing an older aircraft? Did any of that money come from North Jersey Media Group?

Local yokels

Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado has another story about her favorite Police Department on the front of Local -- the second story about the department in two days. 

The wealthy but lazy residents of Allendale are back in the news, confronting once again the possible end of side-yard garbage pickup (L-6).

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes consider garbage pickup in a wealthy town far more important than budget deliberations, City Council meetings, the glacial pace of pothole repair and all the other Hackensack news Alvarado routinely ignores. 

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