Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jock editor finds his soul mates

Official Seal of Rutgers UniversityImage via Wikipedia

Editor Francis Scandale leads The Record today with Rutgers University officials he can call soul mates: Blinded by their obsession with team sports, they threw money at athletics while cutting academics (A-1).

Scandale hypes sports on Page 1 to fill local news columns head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her minions can't.

Or he grabs desperately at Law and Order news as a substitute for local news, as he does today with the A-1 story on an 84-year-old psychiatrist charged with illegally issuing pain-killer prescriptions.

Hyping the case

It's readers who need pain killers -- to deal with the clunky main headline from Liz Houlton's news copy desk, which suggests the Wayne suspect is a drug "dealer."

And what purpose does the map of Wayne and Lincoln Park serve except to fill space? Why did three reporters work on this exaggerated story? Why is this on Page 1, except as another example of the editors' shoddy treatment of seniors?

How did one of the insensitive reporters get away with saying the woman -- handcuffed and in leg irons as she stood before a federal judge -- answered with "a meek 'yes'"?

The Record and other media have succeeded in making "unions" a bad word, but why do commuters have to subsidize workers' jobs by paying higher tolls (A-1)?

Are the media suggesting voters choose their president on the basis of how quotable he or she is (A-1 and A-5)? They seem enthralled with that Texas bigot, Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who loves to talk about guns and shooting.

Absentee reporter

There's no substitute for on-the-spot reporting, as readers can see from the sixth or seventh Road Warrior piece in recent weeks on long MVC lines, this one an interview with the head of the state Motor Vehicle Commission (L-1).

On Tuesday, I spent nearly two and a half hours renewing my license in Lodi, and noticed a few things I haven't seen in John Cichowski's many columns:

The building has a capacity of only 80, so people have to line up outside. Two of the eight cameras weren't staffed, and you have to wait even longer, if you don't re-use the photo on your old digital license and want a new one.

It's not clear why your I.D. documents are checked three separate times, but this is the drill: 

You wait outside until you and about 20 to 25 others are told to go inside and get on another line, where your credentials are checked two separate times.

Then, you're given a number and told to sit down and wait some more -- until three to six of you are called up to get on a third line to have documents checked a third time, get your photo and pay.

If you want a new photo, you have to sit down and wait some more, up to 30 minutes, before your license is ready.

New Jersey residents have to endure this every four years, but in New York, license renewals are good for eight years. How backward can we be?

More Law and Order news

Besides the same-old Road Warrior column, every other story on the front of Sykes' Local section is a police or court story -- cementing the assignment desk's reputation as the laziest east of the California coast.

More police and court stories appear on L-2 and L-3, including major Fair Lawn news: a car crashed, causing minor injuries. 

Two stories from Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado riff on the same subject, the Police Department.

Alvarado covered the City Council meeting Tuesday night, but only reported comments about the police (L-6).

On L-7, Your Money's Worth Columnist Kevin DeMarrais recommends drivers use off-brand gasoline to save money. But has he researched whether cheaper gas is harmful to car engines?

Bring home the bacon

In Better Living, Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill promotes a shrimp recipe that calls for 10 strips of artery clogging , preservative-laden bacon and 10 ounces of beef broth filled with antibiotics and growth hormones.

So, the recipe she ran a week earlier for a healthy cold vegetable soup
was a fluke.

On F-1, a story reports food at a Demarest wine festival costs extra -- something omitted from an ad that ran last Friday in Better Living.


  1. Thanks for the real reality reporting about the long lines and frustrating measures that citizens have to endure at MVC offices. There was also another fresh and poignant real reality reporting from a NJ citizen, Steven Clark, in the Op-Ed section of Thursday's paper about his frustrating misadventures and long waits at MVC offices. The reporting by you and Steven are in stark contrast to the clueless, misguided, and contradictory reporting by Cichowski about the MVC that also repeats whatever optimistic contradictory spin that is quoted by MVC officials. I was curious how many people were waiting outside the Lodi office when you went. Cichowski recently indicated lines had shortened to 30 outside the Lodi office vs up to 200 a little while back at various MVC offices.

  2. Almost as soon as I got on the line, 20 to 25 people seeking license renewals were ushered inside. I was in the next group to go in, so I'm guessing the line had 30 to 40 total after the first group went in.

    There was a second line next to mine for registration renewals, plates and so forth.

    When I finally left to go home, the line for license renewals was close to 100, but that would mean a wait of more than three hours for some people, bumping up against the 6 p.m. closing time.

  3. You went to the MVC in the middle of the week and the middle of the month when lines are supposedly shorter than at other times. So it seems like MVC officials and Cichowski are pulling our leg when they fictitiously claim that lines have gotten much shorter. Luckily, I don't have to deal with license renewal until 2013. Thanks for additional feedback about this MVC nightmare. Maybe we should be ready for another rude awakening when nothing at these MVC offices will supposedly dramatically improve again this year before the "first snowflakes fall" as promised by MVC’s Ray Martinez and his lackey reporter, Cichowski. God forbid if there is no snow fall this year.

  4. Yes, that's right, at mid-month, when lines are supposed to be at their shortest.

    Another driver I spoke to that day said that at one point before I got inside the building, an employee said the slow computers had slowed even more and discussed with another worker whether to send everyone home and tell them to come back another day for their licenses.

    While I was there, half the ceiling lights went off twice for several minutes before coming back on.

    And the parking is limited at what amounts to an active construction zone.


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