Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reporters are off chasing penny ante savings

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The Record's news staff has adopted Governor Christie's conservative agenda.

If you need further evidence The Record's editors are marching to Governor Christie's orders, just look at three news stories -- two on Page 1 -- and an L-1 column today trumpeting the Republican's penny ante savings campaign.

Day after day, reporters are sent chasing leads on wasted state clothing allowances, so-called pension abuses, and waste and corruption at independent boards, agencies and commissions.

But that's exactly what Christie wants them to do.

More than a year into his first term, he has successfully distracted the media from exposing his real program: 

Giving tax breaks to millionaires and wealthy small-business owners; pitting middle-class union members against middle-class homeowners desperate for property tax relief; and cutting programs for seniors and low-income women and children.

Anonymous supporters

I am still waiting for a story naming the millionaires and wealthy businesspeople who are being rewarded with lower taxes for supporting Christie financially, or even a story clearly laying out how much revenue is being lost.

On A-17, a photo caption on the Pizza World Championships in Italy doesn't tell you who won.

On A-19, the Religion page carries a wire-service story on Passover after the editors failed to find any North Jersey Jews who celebrate the holiday.

Governor gets a pass

On A-20, an editorial wholeheartedly supports President Obama's deficit-cutting plan, going as far as suggesting a temporary rollback of Bush-era tax breaks for those who earn more than $250,000.

To be fair to Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin, several weeks ago in another editorial, he timidly suggested Christie should tap new sources of revenue to help the state out of its fiscal hole -- such as raising taxes on the wealthy and adding a few cents to the low gasoline tax to fix roads and improve mass transit.

But that was buried deep in the editorial and was the last readers heard on the topic. He probably got a good spanking from Editor Francis Scandale for straying from the Christie line.

A letter to the editor from Stephen Nix of River Edge corrects the apparently deliberate distortions in a letter a few days ago that cited a study on why the rich leave New Jersey (A-20). 

Pants on fire

Scandale and head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes do everything they can to avoid rocking the home-rule boat, so often celebrate small savings, such as a joint municipal court in the Pascack Valley (Local front).

But when Teaneck tried to replace its police and fire chiefs with a civilian public safety director last year -- projecting a $250,000 annual savings -- Sykes neglected to do any follow-up stories on how neighboring Hackensack and Englewood could do the same for even greater efficiencies. 

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