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You know the editors of a local newspaper have lost their way when letters from readers and OpEd pieces expose official incompetence or corruption more than the paper's own editorials and columnists.
Three letters to The Record's editor today blast Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan for giving a $53,000 raise to a "crony," who is already making $121,350 (A-18).
His job is to head an office that fights waste. What a farce.
Four other letters comment on the sickening partisan gridlock over extending the nation's debt ceiling.
The Record has printed one story after another filled with Republican he said and Democratic she said, but Herbert Jacobs of Teaneck says, " ... Republicans are ready to plunge the world into another Great Depression unless they get their way."
Hear Scott W. Stahlmann of Ramsey: "House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., the tea partiers and the right-wing fringe are trying to sell America with another 'big lie' ...."
It's time for President Obama, Stahlmann continues, "to stop negotiating and come out swinging. Raise revenue [by] taxing the wealthiest, close the corporate loopholes, reduce military spending and foreign aid, and leave Social Security and Medicare alone."
Another letter, this one from J. Andrew Smith of Bloomfield, calls Rupert Murdoch's empire a "God-awful propaganda machine that redefines bottom-feeding for conservatives."
An OpEd piece exposes Governor Christie's attempts "to allow municipalities where the wealthiest New Jerseyans live to continue to keep out working families" by imposing large minimum lot sizes (A-19).
Compare all this compelling reading to what Editor Francis Scandale had to say at the screening of an HBO documentary, "Mann v. Ford" on the decades-long struggle of the Ramapough Mountain People against Ford Motor Co.
Scandale took a break from golfing to moderate a panel discussion with the filmmakers and said not a single quotable word (L-1, L-6).
In fact, the cowardly editor left it to one of the filmmakers, Micah Fink, to put the saga in perspective: "It's a very powerful story. There are basic themes of injustice, racism, poverty ...."
How could Scandale be at a loss for words? He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff salaries on The Record's "Toxic Legacy" series in pursuit of a Pulitzer Prize, but failed to win one.
There's also no mention today of how The Record's editorial page quickly abandoned the community when the largest civil suit in New Jersey history was settled -- netting Ringwood residents a maximum of $34,500 a person -- and urged them to take it and move on.
Today's front page
The newspaper's tarring and feathering of BCC President G. Jeremiah Ryan may lead to his firing, even though he spent "significantly less" than his annual $50,000 expense account and raised $3.8 million last year for the community college (A-1).
What the paper calls an "investigation" included a scurrilous attack on Ryan for buying "top-shelf liquor" for himself and donors.
This from editors who once labored under a now-reformed drunk, Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg, and who now work for his spoiled children, investors in an Englewood wine bar. How rich.
The grisly A-1 story on the murder and dismembering of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky by a member of his ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Borough Park, Brooklyn, delicately avoids any discussion of homosexuality among unmarried Hasidic men.
On A-4, a photo caption doesn't say whether the giant sand dragon shown won the contest in Belmar on Wednesday.
In Better Living, the owner of Pearl Restaurant in Ridgewood doesn't explain why he serves artificially colored farmed Atlantic salmon when wild-caught salmon is abundant and cheap this summer (Starters, F-1 and F-8).