Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The real story: Failure of government

Walt Disney World ResortImage via Wikipedia
Today, a columnist praises Governor Christie for not going to Disney World.

Editors Francis Scandale and Deirdre Sykes had staffers at The Record knocking themselves out covering the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, yet all but one of them missed the real story.

The weekend storm exposed state and local governments' failure to fund a long-term solution to flooding or pay for the routine maintenance of roads, trains and even catch basins.

I've been quick to criticize Road Warrior John Cichowski for inaccurate reporting and advice -- and for neglecting his commuting beat -- but today, he's the only reporter to pinpoint the real legacy of Irene and all the other storms we've weathered (L-1).

You have to plow through Cichowski's florid writing and his lead paragraph comparing Irene to a World War II "pinup girl" -- an analogy so ridiculous the columnist felt a need to explain immediately who that was.

Enemies of transit

But if you read closely, he runs through the many failures of politicians, including Governor Christie, to expand mass transit and pay for road and rail maintenance.

Christie cancelled the Hudson River rail tunnels, then snatched $1.8 billion in tunnel funds away from the Port Authority to fund New Jersey's Transportation Trust Fund for roads and mass transit -- rather than raise the low gasoline tax.

Does anyone doubt Port Authority toll and fare hikes would have been lower, if the agency still had that $1.8 billion?

Road to ruin

Scandale came to his senses today, following Monday's tits-and-ass photo on Page 1 with a huge, overhead image of a flood-damaged Route 287.

A dramatic photo I don't see in the Woodland Park daily today would be the Great Falls in Paterson, swelled by Passaic River flood waters, with both a rainbow and an American flag highlighted by the sun.

In contrast to Cichowski, Political Stile Columnist Charles Stile delivers a vigorous blow job, praising Christie for not making a second, ill-timed visit to Disney World and for helping state residents get through the storm (A-9).

Also on A-9, a photo caption inexplicably has the borough of Oakland "knocked off its foundation by Ramapo River flooding and later deemed unsafe."

It's Liz Houlton's news copy desk that's unsafe and should be condemned.

Tunnel vision

The editorial on Irene gives state and local officials a pass (A-10) and ends lamely: "Hurricanes come and go. The water remains." 

So does Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin's view from a toilet seat.

You might recall The Record editorial opposing a tunnel that would safely funnel flood waters to Newark Bay, because it "would cost too much."

On the front of Better Living, Staff Writer Sachi Fujimori makes a game attempt to dissect Middle Eastern cuisines, but ignores history and geography in saying the food in Syria is "much like Lebanese food."

The two countries once were one, called Syria, ruled first by Ottoman Turks, then by the French.

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  1. Looking at northjersey.com's coverage today of the flooding along the Passaic River and comparing it to nj.com's shows just how little this newsroom understands how to use the web bordering on dereliction of civic duty.

  2. The Record's Page 1 photo of 287 was from The Star-Ledger.

    I guess Publisher Stephen Borg was too cheap to hire a helicopter for the photographers; I heard he's saving the money to put a wing on his $3.65 million mansion in Tenafly.

  3. On the article about Middle Eastern food, one reader had this to say:

    "I read the article about an hour ago, I wasn't too fond of several things in the article, one of them being the term Levantine. That term is often imposed by outsiders on the region. I also wasn't too fond of the writer referring to the "cuisine of the Palestinians" yet using the names of the other countries. The other thing was the word daa, I think she meant the word bahar or baharat, referencing 7 spice. Overall the entire article was on the sloppy side and was kind of all over the place. I found it odd that the writer didn't mention how certain cities or countries specialize in certain cuisine or how certain dishes such as say ful [fava beans] differ from Lebanon to Syria to Palestine."

  4. I sense another Litter Patrol/Road Warrior column: "How debris left by receding water can endanger your commute".


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