Sunday, April 21, 2013

Speeders get a pass from the Road Warrior

Cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park in Newark on Saturday, when hundreds of families, including many Asian-Americans, enjoyed a chilly spring day amid the annual natural splendor.

Branch Brook Lake is stocked with trout.

Driving to Newark on the Garden State Parkway on Saturday, I set my cruise control to 60 mph, and as usual, nearly every other car passed me, exceeding the 55 mph speed limit by 10, 20, even 30 mph.

Drivers raced one another, tailgating the car in front, or weaved in and out of slower traffic. 
But the scariest moments came when I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw a speeding car racing  toward my rear bumper, only to swerve into the next lane at the last moment.

On Friday evening, I saw two near collisions on both the turnpike and parkway as speeding drivers dove for the center lane at the same time. 

These experiences reminded me of a message I saw one day on an overhead sign near Exit 129 of the parkway: "66% of all accidents involve speeding."

Slow journalism

Speeding also is the cause of most red-light violations, but why do readers of The Record read so little about the problem or the apparent lack of enforcement that emboldens these violators?

The reason is clear: Since late 2003, Road Warrior John Cichowski has been stuck in the slow journalism lane: on lines at the MVC or measuring potholes or fielding complaints about E-ZPass.

Today's column is about one man's experience with getting his 2005 minivan inspected (L-1). How irrelevant can you get?

Out of steam

Cichowski long ago ran out of ideas for his column, which is supposed to appear three times a week, and he refuses to cover mass transit, though his mission is to report about commuting problems.

He now relies almost exclusively on e-mails from complaining drivers who get high from seeing their names in print, as well as studies, reports and other boring statistics that he often can't report accurately. 

The only way he can produce so much copy, it seems, is to devote as many columns as possible to odd circumstances that have no meaning to the vast majority of readers.

Burned-out staffers

Today's front page is dominated by news of the Boston marathon bombing suspect and victims, including a column by another burned-out Record columnist, Mike Kelly, that no one will read.

In head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, the only Hackensack news today is a reprint from Friday's edition of the weekly Hackensack Chronicle.

Police Director Mike Mordaga is proposing to hire Class II Special Law Enforcement Officers to supplement regular police officers, who are represented by a union (L-3).

City property tax payers would welcome those officers, who will be paid $15 to $20 an hour and receive no benefits, but who will carry guns and get the same training as regular cops.

Injuries have knocked out some of the 114 officers in the department, Mordaga said last week.

Another thin paper

Today's thin Sunday edition includes a Better Living section with no meaningful food coverage, and a Business section with a cover story on a small business in Bellevue, Wash.

Now, that's "local news." 


  1. Maybe lack of food coverage has something to do with lack of food editor. She's gone.

  2. Long live Susan Leigh Sherrill, who did such a poor job she made Bill Pitcher look good.

  3. Another Anonymous referred to "turnover" in Better Living. Anyone else leave that section?

  4. Check your source, Victor. Susan is not "gone."


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