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After two days of intense front-page coverage on Governor Christie's White House ambitions, Editor Francis Scandale isn't taking seriously the strongest indications so far Christie may, in fact, launch a campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.
Scandale must have succumbed to a severe bout of jock itch to think readers of The Record are more interested in Yankees playoff games than in the Christie story, which he pushed back to Page A-3 today.
Anyway, North Jersey residents are concerned about bear -- not Tiger -- hunting.
This is some lousy front page, and Liz Houlton's news copy desk can't even dress up the off-lead dud on the federal debt hanging over the state after Christie killed the Hudson River rail-tunnel project, leaving Manhattan-bound commuters standing in the aisles.
Putting the word "still" in the main headline is an instant turn off for readers, as if the copy editor can't hide his boredom with a story that basically is an update of old news.
Of course, the news that should have been in the main headline is left to the drop headline -- the debt has grown to "nearly $274 million."
Day after day, Houlton's copy desk treats Page 1 and other section fronts with as little care as the back of the book.
The Paterson flood-overtime story, which had a long run on Scandale's front page, ends up on an obituary page today, but Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin's column unleashes all the piss and vinegar he can muster at Mayor Jeffrey Jones (A-23).
As North Jersey scandals go, $50,861 in overtime is chump change, but Doblin is not about to let on as he pulls out all the stops of his cutesy writing style to demonize Jones.
Look at the headline's ridiculous attempt to coin a word to describe the overtime controversy: "Otscam."
What a joke. Otscam? How lame. This has nothing to do with the much bigger FBI sting known as Abscam, so why invoke it here? It merely shows Doblin's desperation to both hook and hoodwink readers.
One of the milder criticisms: "Jones gets high marks for golfing; for being mayor, not so much."
Isn't that what many observers say about Doblin's golf-loving boss, Scandale?
Or how about this? Doblin gets high marks for output; for being a journalist, not so much.
You could forgive Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski for boring readers to tears, if he at least passed along useful information in his endlessly repetitive columns.
On L-1 today, he tells us charter buses are inspected for safety violations, as are school buses, but he utters not a word about inspections of thousands of NJ Transit commuter buses on Manhattan and local routes. Unbelievable.
Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section is dominated by news of Thursday's heavy storm in Leonia and nearby towns, complete with three photos of downed trees (A-1, L-1 and L-6).
Cops grab headlines
Have you noticed all the news about the police lately?
The promotion of Oradell Police Sgt. Frank Florio to chief is on the front of Local today. Below that, another story reports Lodi Police Chief Vincent Caruso ordered an officer to issue a ticket to the chief's wife for double parking.
On Thursday's L-2, Staff Writer Deena Yellin broke significant news -- council approval for the hiring of one police officer.
Also on that page, Staff Writer Denisa R. Superville reported a domestic-violence investigation of River Edge Police Chief Thomas Cariddi.
On Wednesday's L-3, an 8-inch story reported the hiring of an officer in Wood-Ridge, and a 4-inch story described how Cariddi, the River Edge chief, had been on a leave of absence since "last week."
On Tuesday's L-2, Yellin had more earth-shaking news -- Demarest Police Chief James Powderly is being honored for "his crime-fighting efforts."
Superville, the reporter, used her leave of absence story on Wednesday as a launching pad for assembling her story the following day on the domestic-violence probe. That's good journalism.
But is it really news when police chiefs do their jobs or is that Sykes' assignment desk desperately trying to fill the news hole in the absence of anything more legitimate?
In Better Living today, the biggest photo with the restaurant review shows a bull prancing through pasture, a seemingly appropriate mural for Wayne Steakhouse in Wayne.
But when you finish reading Staff Writer Elisa Ung's lukewarm, 2-star appraisal, you learn absolutely nothing about how the expensive beef is raised (Centerfold).
You have no clue whether it was grass-fed, as the mural suggests, or confined to pens in feedlots, fed grain and animal by-products, and pumped full of harmful additives, such as antibiotics and growth hormones.
Ung reports Wayne Steakhouse's high prices (steak for two is $81.95), but passes along the owner's explanation that customers can save money by bringing their own wine.
So, the owner saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by not buying a liquor license. Instead of passing along the savings to customers, he kept his food prices high, reasoning that at least he doesn't soak them with $10 glasses of wine or $300 bottles. How noble.
In the review, there is little quality control in matching text and photo.
Ung reports clams casino were "impressive, topped with huge slices of bacon." But no bacon slices appear in the photo. Perhaps, after her visit, the owner started cutting back to boost his profit on the dish.
The only menu item the dessert-obsessed reviewer found "mind blowing" was the house-made whipped cream served on apple strudel -- one of four desserts she tried. She sampled no salads or vegetables outside of creamed spinach.
I guess readers can conclude the bull mural is a tongue-in-cheek reference to all the bullshit hurled their way by Ung and the restaurant owner.