Friday, October 7, 2011

'Chocolate Face' discovers mass transit

Lincoln Tunnel - NJ EntranceImage via Wikipedia
NJ Transit could double the number of bus seats into Manhattan, if the
Port Authority added a second, reverse bus lane into the Lincoln Tunnel.
But the agency refuses to give up more toll revenue from cars and trucks

When reporter John Cichowski won the newsroom competition to take over the Road Warrior column, he was supposed to become an advocate for commuters -- both drivers and mass-transit users.

But in the past eight years, Cichowski apparently has never taken a bus or train during rush hours to see first-hand how the system reached capacity and how commuters have been standing in the aisles for far too long.

Cichowski was hand-picked by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, who likely is just as out of touch with the commuting woes of North Jersey residents.

So, Cichowski has written almost exclusively about driving rules and regulations, lines at the MVC office, potholes and all the other minutiae he could uncover while not straying too far from his computer.

Meanwhile, mass transit has gone to hell -- with a big push from Governor Christie, who killed the Hudson River rail tunnels a year ago, rubber-stamped big toll and fare hikes by the Port Authority and refused to raise the low gasoline tax to fund road and transit improvements.

Face darkens 

Cichowski? He had his head up his asshole for so long, his face has taken on a darker, feces-like hue -- to the point where he is referred to as "Chocolate Face" around the office.

Lo and behold. Today, the Road Warrior column on the front of Sykes' Local section is about mass transit.

But Chocolate Face expresses "outrage" at the cancellation of a parking garage for buses in Manhattan -- a project that would do nothing to expand the number of buses carrying commuters into the city or improve creaky local bus service.

For years, the Port Authority has tried to distract The Record and other media from what bus riders really need -- a second, reverse bus lane into the Lincoln Tunnel to virtually double the number of seats during the morning rush.

Clueless newsroom

And the bi-state agency has succeeded on the bus lane -- just as the media never questions why the agency doesn't expand the PATH system. 

The answer: The Port Authority is doing everything in its power to undermine mass transit in favor of its main revenue sources -- cars, trucks, airports and ports.

Of course, Chocolate Face, Sykes, Editor Francis Scandale, Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin, Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza, Port Authority reporter Shawn Boburg, transportation writer Karen Rouse and others run around covering train delays, toll and fare hikes, and other related stories while missing the big picture.

If you try to read Cichowski today, it is basically a rehash of Boburg's and Rouse's recent news stories about the bus garage. He calls buses "behemoths," not letting on that none are as big as his swelled head.

The front page

Scandale really tops himself with today's crummy front page -- led by the incredibly inept Yankees.

But with the world economy in the tank, Congress paralyzed, New Jersey saddled with Christie until at least 2014 and all the other problems we have, does anybody outside of a small minority of readers really give a shit the Yankees' season has ended?

How does Scandale hijack Page 1 like this? Does anybody have the cure for his jock itch? 

Three more corrections on Page A-2 today add to the parade of boo-boos readers have been told about this week, but, of course, not every screw-up is acknowledged by a correction.

More Job 1

The passing of Apple's Steve Jobs was all over Page 1 on Thursday. 

Today, his death yields at least three more stories, an editorial, an editorial cartoon, a tech column and an Op/Ed piece, but millions of senior citizens who have been left behind by his tech revolution are wondering why the media are making all this fuss.

Contrary to what the pundits are saying, Jobs didn't change my life or the lives of millions of others. And I wish Scandale and The Record would have paid as much attention to my news copy desk colleague, Michael Thaler, before he died of cancer in 2008 at age 45.

As for the Jobs stories on A-17, the main Business page, the headline is atrocious. It uses awkward jargon -- "tasked" -- a word that should be banished from newspapers.

Readers in Hackensack and many other towns will look in vain for stories about their towns in Local today.

For early birds

In Better Living, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung faults the service at Amici Family Restaurant in Bergenfield -- an unusual choice for this snooty, fine-dining reporter. 

She gives the Italian-American restaurant with big portions and low prices a lukewarm, 2-star rating, but doesn't advise readers to do what I and other Amici customers do: 

Go early to avoid the crowds, the noise and the service glitches. If you want, you can take advantage of the $11.95 early bird special Mondays to Thursday before 6 p.m., and you don't need a reservation.

The review, however, is revolutionary in one sense. This is the first time Ung, who is addicted to sweets, has advised readers dessert is "totally unnecessary."  

Blog comments

At least one reader of Eye on The Record and Do You Really Know What You're Eating? is reporting problems with posting comments.

Comments come to me in the form of e-mails, and I have the option of publishing or deleting them. I've noticed a decline in comments recently, but have published the few I've seen.

The technical problems readers encounter are beyond my control. All of us are at the mercy of Google's blogging platform.

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