Thursday, May 30, 2013

For North Jersey readers, another dull front page

The 24 Hour Fitness gym off Route 4 east in Paramus was closed this morning. Firefighters said they were investigating a natural gas or electrical "odor."

Ex-New York Timesman Marty Gottlieb, editor of The Record, roamed all over the world to bring North Jersey readers an exciting front page today, but he falls flat on his face again.

And what is this, the fourth or fifth day in a row, with a Page 1 story about a new athletics brouhaha at Rutgers University? Give us a break, Marty.

It doesn't get much better inside.

A Star-Ledger story about what Governor Christie does or does not eat equates enjoying many kinds of vegetables to being "a health nut" (A-7).

Utility pole news

Every page in head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section is filled with Law & Order or minor accident news.

Sykes advances utility pole and DWI news with an L-2 photo.

Another driver who rented a patch of front lawn in Ridgewood as a parking space failed a sobriety test, according to the photo caption on L-6.

Wrong-way John

Now, readers don't have to read several Road Warrior columns to find contradictions from Staff Writer John Cichowski, who can't seem to remember what he reported a few days or weeks ago. 

He contradicted himself in his May 26 column, according to a concerned reader, who sent another e-mail to management: 

"The Road Warrior is unable to make coherent, mistake-free statements in his May 26 column about traffic enforcement and road fatalities.

"The Road Warrior continues to pull his made-up conclusions and figures out of thin air, even though they contradict well-known facts or what he reported in the very same column.
"He indicated that New Jersey State Police reported LESS traffic enforcement this year since they were still focused on Sandy recovery efforts. I am sure the same was true for local police.
"He then indicated that the reduction in road fatalities this year was due to MORE traffic enforcement. 

"He continues to make up fictional numbers based on fictional calculations that he expects will NOT be checked by anyone at The Record. 

"He continues to be unable to read reports and provide any sensible analysis or correct data.

"North Jersey readers are not content with the Road Warrior scourge, which continues unabated,  to mislead them and waste their time."

To read the full, bad-news e-mail, go to the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers at The Record:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Christie will never measure up to President Obama

Hackensack attorney Frank P. Lucianna, left, marching in the Memorial Day Parade in Englewood. In a letter The Record published on Monday, the Army Air Forces veteran paid tribute to fellow members of the Dwight Morrow High School Class of 1941 who were killed during World War II. He listed more than a dozen friends he "will never forget."

If you swallow Columnist Charles Stile's amateurish promotion of Governor Christie on the front page of The Record today, you might think the GOP bully was "auditioning" for the White House during a joint appearance on Tuesday with President Obama. 

What a joke.

Whether at the Jersey shore or as a leader, Christie will never measure up to Obama, a champion of the same middle class the governor has savaged since he took office in 2010.

Christie's massive public relations campaign to win a second term has hoodwinked Stiles and the rest of state media.

But voters won't forget how he's catered almost exclusively to his wealthy supporters, and broken his campaign promise to lower property taxes.

More corrections

Four embarrassing corrections on A-2 today are further evidence of how little fact-checking is performed by Production Editor Liz Houlton, her sleepy copy editors or the assignment editors who sign off on stories.

On A-3, a story on The Record winning statewide journalism awards doesn't explore whether the stories served readers or were written merely to impress fellow journalists.

A photo on A-3 -- showing Michelle Obama with  Jersey shore students in the backyard garden at the White House -- again demonstrates how little Christie or first lady Mary Pat Christie have done to promote healthy eating during the child obesity epidemic.

Readers brace

On the front of Local, a big photo showing the Franklin Lakes homecoming of disgraced former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik can mean only one thing (L-1).

Soon, burned-out Staff Writer Mike Kelly will land an exclusive interview with his pal "Bernie," and write an overlong column to rehabilitate Kerik's dishonest image. 

Litigiously speaking

What was the point of The Record's Page 1 story on Tuesday "on the propensity" of local police officers "to sue their employers over promotions and other work conditions"?

The takeout by star reporter Stephanie Akin seemed mean-spirited, especially in view of how often North Jersey Media Group sues or is sued by its employees and former employees.

None of those lawsuits are ever reported in The Record, but NJMG has started a blog to document its high-profile Freedom of Information cases:

Despite declining revenue from classified and other advertising, NJMG's legal expenses have soared in recent years from the use of outside counsel who command $400 to $500 an hour.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Clueless Kelly should visit Englewood real soon

A week ago, in a column on the front page of The Record, burned-out Staff Writer Mike Kelly compared downtown Hackensack unfavorably to Englewood and other towns, which reportedly "bustled with new businesses." But the reality is far different, as these empty storefronts on Englewood's Palisade Avenue show, above and below. 

This empty retail space is on the ground floor of a luxury apartment building.

All of the empty storefronts are on Palisade Avenue or on a side street, and all are within one block of each other. And there are others on both side of the railroad tracks that divide Englewood economically and racially.

In recent years, The Record has virtually ignored downtown Hackensack, Englewood and Teaneck, in favor of stories about Ridgewood, Tenafly and other wealthier towns. And the newspaper has never explored the impact it had on Hackensack's Main Street when it abandoned the city where it had prospered for 110 years. Kelly, of course, never mentioned The Record's departure in his Hackensack column.
In  today's Memorial Day Parade, the Englewood Police Department Honor Guard marched past a Palisade Avenue storefront that remains empty more than a year after Victoria's Secret closed (not shown).

Take a break from The Record of Woodland Park

A new public garden opposite the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack.

The Record today calls on burned-out Columnist Mike Kelly to report on a Jersey shore that still has a long way to go on the road to recovery (Page 1).

Of course, this piece was sorely needed as a counterpoint to the wildly exaggerated front-page coverage on Saturday that was orchestrated by Governor Christie and the "Today" show.

Now, it amounts to furious backpedaling by Editor Marty Gottlieb, a New Yorker who is so enamored of the GOP bully and so solidly behind his bid for a second term.

Superstorm Sandy damage on Palisade Avenue in Englewood.

This Memorial Day edition is a good time to take a break from all of this amateurish journalism.

As usual, readers' letters today tell you more about North Jersey than news and opinion editors do.

Edith and Gordon Wallace of Glen Rock bemoan the wrong-headed decision by Tenafly officials to reject light-rail service, and by some residents to oppose an education building at the nature center (A-11).

The Record's support for light rail and mass transit in recent years has been lukewarm at best.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Editors continue to swallow Christie P.R. and B.S.

The Church On The Green spire in Hackensack.

Two Page 1 stories, an editorial and an editorial cartoon today continue the editors' romance with Governor Christie.

The Record treats the GOP bully like a mighty chief executive who single-handedly brought back New Jersey from the ravages of Superstorm Sandy, and who will somehow make his foolish no-tax policies work. 

The editors -- from Marty Gottlieb to Alfred P. Doblin -- continue to promote Christie's massive public relations/reelection campaign despite his dismal record since he took office in January 2010.

Missing the story

On the Local front, Road Warrior John Cichowski continues to miss the biggest development affecting  road deaths -- the dramatic decline in enforcement by the New Jersey State Police (L-1).

Hundreds of troopers have left in the past 25 years and were never replaced. The force once had 3,000 members.

No longer, as any driver can tell from all of the speeding, tail-gating and weaving maniacs on the parkway and turnpike.

Thanks to Governor Christie's anti-mass transit policies, the one constant in North Jersey is traffic, as seen near the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee.

Mental paralysis

Cichowski reminds readers of all those seemingly able-bodied people they see using handicapped parking spaces -- especially at the gym. They must be mentally disabled.

In another e-mail to the reporter and managers, a  concerned reader points out Cichowski's crippled reasoning in his previous column. 

Click on the following link to the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers at The Record:

Exposing the Road Warrior handicap

From hunger

I looked at the Better Living section today to see if there is any interesting food coverage or if Publisher Stephen A. Borg had named a new food editor.

All I found was a piece on grilling artery clogging sausages on BL-5.

However, a bonus today was Staff Writer Lindy Washburn's heart-stopping cover story on the dramatic operation that saved Englewood cardioligist Jeffrey Mitchel (BL-1).

Talk about Gottlieb burying a Page 1 story to make room for more Christie B.S. The circle is complete.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

It's raining on Christie's Jersey shore parade

In covering his Port Authority beat, Staff Writer Shawn Boburg has written hundreds of thousands of words about the new World Trade Center, which has reached its full height of 1,776 feet, above. But he hasn't reported how little the bistate agency has done to expand mass transit and ease nightmarish traffic congestion.

Rain pounding down on my roof in Hackensack this morning made the sunny headline on Page 1 of The Record -- "THE SHORE IS OPEN" -- ring hollow.

And what do you make of the sub-headline -- "Jersey summer kicks off before eyes of nation"?

Editor Marty Gottlieb must be kidding. Hey, Marty, you're not at The Times anymore. 

Are the people in Oklahoma or Texas or California really on the edge of their seats, wondering about the shore's recovery from Superstorm Sandy?

Gottlieb isn't the only one bamboozled by Governor Christie's campaign to win a second term on the backs of Sandy survivors.

Christie got the "Today" show to broadcast live from Seaside Heights on Friday, giving national exposure to his uniquely Jersey freak show.

Christie is hoping his massive P.R. campaign makes voters forget how badly he's mismanaged state finances and broken his promise to lower property taxes when they go to the polls in November.

Old home week

Staff Writer Shawn Boburg's photo-and-text package on A-1 and A-7 today appears to complete three days of reporting from his old neighborhood in Moore, Okla., devastated by Monday's tornado.

Boburg's accounts, including takeouts on Thursday's and Friday's front page, are way more than any reader wants to know about the survivors or the reporter's boyhood.

Boburg's beat at The Record is the Port Authority, but he's managed to ignore how the bistate agency's only strategy for keeping commuters' cars off the road is exorbitant toll increases, which were rubber-stamped by Christie.

Wardrobe problems

Before I left The Record in 2008, Boburg dressed like a hayseed, recalling the old joke, "Why don't you throw a party and introduce your pants to your shoes."

That was in contrast to his stylish girlfriend, Staff Writer Stephanie Akin, who treated the newsroom carpet between her desk and the women's bathroom as if it were a Fashion Week runway.

Great reporters know legwork is a must, but a hack like Road Warrior John Cichowski stays glued to his computer, sifting through e-mails from readers. Some copy editors believe Cichowski has occasionally made up the questions he answers in his column.

Road worrier

The Port Authority reporter's failure is compounded by Road Warrior John Cichowski, whose obsession with potholes and MVC lines blinds him to commuting and mass-transit problems.

Cichowski's pothole-and-utility pole column on Wednesday was the 66th with problems since Sept. 12, 2012, according to a concerned reader, who e-mailed management yet again:

"Readers are  finding fault with the Road Warrior's same old mistaken stories and readers' questions about pothole-ridden roads and lost drivers using utility poles, as shown in his May 22 column.

"Road Warrior and his clueless drivers [readers] are NOT being truthful or are fools if they think anyone believes repeated archaic tall tales about finding their bearings when lost by getting out of their cars to check, many times cryptic or missing, municipal acronyms on utility poles. 

"Road Warrior continues his pompous behavior and asks insulting questions not deserving of answers.

"He continues to suffer from clueless syndrome and forgets what he wrote in previous columns that contradicts his May 22 column.
"He reports about a business owner, who repeatedly damages his car and tires, by endlessly driving his car into potholes near his business over a 5-year period. I feel sorry, but wouldn't trust such people."

See the full e-mail at the Facebook page for road Warrior Bloopers:

Road Warrior's 66th column with problems
More tax woes

Friday's front-page story on the failure of Mary J. Blige of Cresskill and other prominent African-American entertainers to pay federal taxes seems incomplete (A-1).

Are they protesting how previous administrations treated minorities? Did they also evade state income taxes?

Hackensack news

After years of neglect, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes is paying more attention to Hackensack news outside of former Police Chief Ken Zisa's lingering legal problems.

Sykes has commissioned unprecedented coverage of municipal affairs since the May 14 victory of a slate of City Council reformers took her and other editors by surprise.

But on L-6 today, the reference to "the new council majority" in a transition-team story is puzzling.

Councilman John Labrosse and his four running-mates won all 5 seats. Isn't that more than a "majority"?

The story says state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, has finally gotten off her duff, and agreed to serve as "honorary chairwoman" of the transition team.

Before the election, Weinberg refused to endorse reform candidates in the crucial Hackensack contest.

More news of poles

Also today, Sykes advances her photo staff's coverage of downed and damaged utility poles with the image of damaged traffic-light pole (L-6).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Road Warrior readers must fasten truth belt

Traffic backed up on Passaic Street in Rochelle Park.

Editor's note: The errors continue to pile up in the Road Warrior column from Staff Writer John Cichowski, who appears unable to perform simple arithmetic, as the latest e-mail to management from a concerned reader reveals:

 "The Road Warrior takes a vitally important safety issue about seat-belt usage and manages to make it into a senseless, head-scratching, mistaken, fictional account in his May 19 column.

"The Road Warrior was unable to perform third-grade math when he mistakenly guessed that 20% of drivers do NOT wear seat belts after reporting that 88% of driver do wear seat belts. 

"He was unable to explain there is more than 1 seat belt law and the relevant distinctions and details for the 2 seat belt laws that affect front- seat and back-seat passengers differently.

"Many of his reported statements were not supported by his reported facts. These statements made it seem like not using seat belts has relatively little impact on whether a person is more likely to be killed or injured."

Read the full e-mail, with a blow-by-blow comparison of fact and fiction, on the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers: 

More Road Warrior errors

Today's paper

The Local news section carries two Hackensack stories today -- one on the excellence of the Fire Department, the other about the popularity of Mike Mordaga, the new police director -- both generated by Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hackensack lame-duckers offer weak congratulations

Hackensack Councilman John P. Labrosse, left, is the only incumbent who will return when the City Council is reorganized on July 1. 

Mayor Michael R. Melfi and two other lame-duck City Council members offered weak congratulations on Tuesday night to the slate of reformers who swept to victory on May 14.

Councilman John P. Labrosse, who led the Citizens for Change team, is the only incumbent returning on July 1.

Quack, quack

Melfi, Councilwoman Karen K. Sasso and Councilman Jorge E. Meneses each spoke briefly to congratulate Labrosse and three other members of his slate, Kathy Canestrino, Rose Greenman and David Sims, who were sitting in the audience.

Melfi, Sasso and Meneses are allies of the Zisa family political machine. They were elected to the council in 2005, and chose not to run this year. 

Deputy Mayor Marlin G. Townes is the fourth incumbent whose days are numbered.

Low turnout

Despite a low voter turnout -- only 3,513 out of more than 20,000 registered voters -- the Labrosse slate defeated a new Zisa team, which was composed of 5 mental lightweights who called themselves the Coalition for Open Government.

One of their vocal supporters was Jack Zisa, who served as mayor from 1989 to 2005.

None of those losers attended Tuesday night's council meeting, which lasted all of 35 minutes.

Final numbers

The final tabulation of votes in the 2013 municipal election, including absentee and provisional ballots, as released by City Clerk Debra Heck:

Labrosse, 2,024; Canestrino, 1,924; Sims, 1,929; Greenman, 1,804; and Leonardo Battaglia, 1,820.

Open Government candidates Kenneth Martin, 1,657; Jason S. Nunnermacker, 1,685; Joanne Mania Colon, 1,666; Joseph A. Barreto, 1,664; and Scott Young, 1,639.

Independent candidate Victor E. Sasson received 344 votes.

Christie is losing weight along with credibility

Road Warrior John Cichowski continues to hang up on commuters, with another column on today's Local front that shows he can't get his mind out of the gutter and off of potholes. He gives a big plug to Jack Tewani, owner of a sportswear business, who blames "craters" for ruining his tires.

Many readers didn't think there was another politician who could make Chris Christie look good, but a  photo in The Record today proves them wrong.

Paterson City Council President Anthony Davis appears to the African-American version of what Christie looked like before he had lap-band surgery and lost weight (A-3).

But under all that body fat, Davis is really an Uncle Tom, a black Democrat endorsing Christie's bid for a second term, despite all of the GOP bully's anti-minority policies.

Who could forget Christie's recent veto of a hike in the minimum wage? 

Or, how about cutting state aide to Paterson, forcing the layoff of 125 cops in one of New Jersey's most crime-ridden communities?

Staff Writer Melissa Hayes, from the State House Bureau, does a masterful job of avoiding those issues, lest it darken her upbeat, Christie-is-great story.

And like the editors she works for, Hayes writes off the challenge from state Sen. Barbara Buono, the likely Democratic nominee, denying her campaign equal time and a separate story.

Page 1 news

After watching extended coverage of the devastation in Oklahoma on Tuesday night's local and national TV news shows, readers pick up the paper today, only to find the front page dominated by the same image (A-1).

The lead Page 1 story is about the Rev. Michael Fugee, who is getting more coverage than the new pope (A-1).

Editorial page

For the third day in a row, the editorial cartoon is about the Bengazi, IRS or AP "scandals" (A-8).

Where is Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin, and what happened to the cartoons'  New Jersey focus?

Get out of jail

On the front of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Syke's Local section, the lead story is about the manager of the Tick Tock Diner finally making bail, six weeks after he was charged with plotting to kill his wife's uncle (L-1).

There is more Law & Order coverage on L-3 and L-6, but no municipal news from Hackensack or many other communities.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Christie's 'Jersey Comeback' is really 'Jersey Come'

A "YES WE CAN TAX THE RICH" bumper sticker on a Toyota Prius, photographed on May 13 in Hackensack, the day before a slate of reformers triumphed in the municipal election. The state's financial problems are caused in part by Governor Christie's refusal to impose a tax surcharge on millionaires that could raise as much as $1 billion in new revenue.

You'd think $132 million in desperate "budget cuts and other spending adjustments" to balance Governor Christie's budget plan would be front-page news in The Record.

No. The editors of the Woodland Park daily see their job as promoting his "Jersey Comeback" reelection campaign, so the story is on A-3, the page for routine state news.

Today's piece by Staff Writer John Reitmeyer is filled with politics -- the biggest reader turnoff, by far -- and doesn't even list the $132 million in new budget cuts and "adjustments," whatever those are.

But residents know the cuts likely will be more bad news for them, as Christie's "Jersey Come" administration continues to royally screw the middle and working classes.

One of the many empty storefronts on Main Street in Hackensack.

Hackensack surprise

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her deputy, Dan Sforza, left the River Street newsroom and Hackensack news behind in 2009, when North Jersey Media Group moved to Woodland Park and Rockaway Township.

Despite scores of stories about then-Police Chief Ken Zisa's legal problems, those editors largely ignored city life and the decline of Main Street.

So, the victory of a slate of reformers and defeat of the Zisa political machine in the election last Tuesday took the editors and the rest of the media by surprise.

On Monday, a front-page column by Mike Kelly played catch-up, reporting the reformers parlayed discontent over declining city services into victory at the polls.

If it wasn't for Kelly's outdated column photo, complete with shit-eating grin, the piece was indistinguishable from a news story or analysis.

And it's stale news:

On Feb. 15, the Hackensack Chronicle published a letter from independent City Council hopeful Victor E. Sasson, editor of Eye on The Record:

"I joke I am running for Hackensack City Council to get my street paved.

"But the sad truth is that as property taxes have risen, the quality of life in Hackensack has declined dramatically."

Sasson's platform to improve city services, including street paving, eventually was adopted by the other candidates, including the victorious Citizens for Change.

Burned-out columnist

Kelly is a burned-out word-pusher who thinks of himself as a columnist who parachutes in to provide context for readers.

It's been a little more than a year since he last visited Hackensack, and put in many hours of ass time at Zisa's trial, which ended when the ex-police chief and former state assemblyman was convicted of official misconduct and insurance fraud.

Now, instead of peddling old election news, he should be looking into whether Superior Court Judge Joseph S. Conte erred in allowing Zisa to remain free while he appeals his conviction and 5-year prison sentence.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blogger, North Jersey Media Group settle lawsuit

Former headquarters of North Jersey Media Group and The Record in Hackensack.

In the face of mounting legal fees, Victor E. Sasson has settled a federal copyright-infringement lawsuit filed against him by North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record and the North Web site.

Sasson signed a confidential settlement agreement on Thursday, and admitted no wrongdoing.

The suit alleged Sasson violated several copyrights when Eye on The Record published NJMG photographs and a news story.

So far, Sasson has paid more than $16,000 in legal fees in connection with the suit.

A federal judge dismissed the NJMG lawsuit without prejudice in January, allowing the publishing company to file it again.

Jennifer A. Borg, NJMG vice president and general counsel, was listed as attorney for the plaintiff. 

Borg also hired an expensive New York law firm, Dunnegan & Scileppi, to handle the suit.

Click on the following links to earlier posts:

Judge dismisses NJMG lawsuit

NJMG harasses 'Eye on The Record'

'Great pride ... in responsible journalism'

Today's paper

The thin Sunday edition features four of The Record's burned-out columnists, and more from pundits who are playing catch-up to the victory of the reformers' slate in the Hackensack municipal election.

The upbeat "Shore's ready to roll" takeout on Page 1 plays into the hands of Chris Christie, who hopes voters forget what a terrible governor he was before Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey last Oct. 29 (A-1).

Hospital profits

The opening of Bergen County's first for-profit hospital in Westwood -- under the Hackensack University Medical Center name -- raises anew questions about HUMC's $130 million in untaxed property in Hackensack, and whether the medical center will give back to the city (A-1).

The best story in the Local news section today is the obituary of Betty Ersalesi, a Rutherford school teacher, whose death appears to be the making of a medical-malpractice suit (L-1).

The worst piece is the Road Warrior column on whether seat belts are "your thing" (L-1).

Self-promoting reporter

On the Business front, Your Money's Worth Columnist Kevin DeMarrais gives himself a huge pat on the back for 19-plus years of consumer reporting in a paper that long ago sold out to commercial interests (B-1).

Of course, DeMarrais' 1,000 columns virtually ignored the rise of organic and naturally raised food, which aren't listed in his monthly survey of supermarket prices.

And sadly, The Record's business editors still have to rely on a 4-page insert from The Wall Street Journal to make their Sunday section amount to anything (B-3 to B-6).

Kelly sells out again

On the Opinion front, Columnist Mike Kelly continues to fawn over Christie, calling the GOP bully "the political equivalent of the Kardashians" (O-1).

Have you ever read anything so ridiculously hilarious?

Playing catch-up

Brigid Callahan Harrison, a political science professor who writes a Sunday opinion column for The Record, and the newspaper's editors ignored the 3-month campaign of Citizens for Change, which won last week's Hackensack City Council election.

So did Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, who refused to "get involved" in the battle to decide whether reformers or the Zisa family political machine would prevail.

To the great surprise of everyone -- including apathetic voters -- the reformers swept the election for 5 seats on the City Council, unleashing a series of reaction stories and columns.

So, here is Harrison today taking Newark Mayor Cory Booker to task for forgetting his reform roots, and backing establishment candidates in Hackensack and Jersey City, where all of them went down to defeat (O-1).

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tea Party, Associated Press deserve what they get

A small parking lot and walkway on South River Street in Hackensack, above and below, will provide access to the Hackensack River.The new walkway, next to a large solar farm, was closed when I visited this past Monday.

I believe in the principle of certain groups being tax exempt, but not the Tea Party's radical, no-tax Republicans, who have sowed so much divisiveness in Washington (See Page 1 of The Record today).

Remember how the Tea Party compared President Obama's health care reform to the Holocaust?

The Associated Mess

I also believe in the principal of an unfettered press, but can't really get upset by the Justice Department issuing subpoenas for The Associated Press' telephone records (See Thursday's A-4).

The wire service's irresponsibly hysterical stories are used on the front page of The Record and hundreds of newspapers, and they form the basis of TV and radio news reports.

Look at Page 1 of The Record on Wednesday, when The AP reported "President Obama seemed to lose control of his second-term agenda."

Is that the same as losing control of your journalistic bowels?

On Thursday's A-1, the wire service reported the president "was hurrying to check a growing controversy."

Is it growing as fast as Governor Christie's waistline before he had lap-band surgery?

GOP plays The AP

All of these "scandals" and "controversies" are based on complaints from Republicans, who have set back America's middle class more than any other group.

Recall how bored wire service reporters caused panic among Obama supporters last year -- with daily reporting of polls and surveys that allegedly showed a real horse race in the presidential contest.

But the election wasn't close at all: Obama beat Mitt Romney handily in both the popular vote and in the Electoral College.

The story is politics

Yet, The AP continues to politicize every bill and every vote in Washington as a battle between Obama and Republicans, and rarely discusses issues -- just as The Record politicizes every story out of Trenton.

Today, political Columnist Charles Stile can't bring himself to criticize Christie for breaking his 2009 campaign promise to cut property taxes in New Jersey or to label re-election ads as deceptive (A-1).

Hackensack election

On the front of Local, Staff Writer Hannan Adely finally addresses voter apathy, which was a factor in the Hackensack City Council elections in 2009 and 2005 (L-1).

This week's historic victory of a reform slate, Citizens for Change, showed candidates were able to target discontent, despite low voter turnout.

The winning slate hopes to move the municipal election to November. It's about time.

Now, what about Hackensack's school board election in April, when turnout was less than half of the municipal election's?

Francis W. Albolino and two other candidates backed by the Zisa family political machine won.

That's a powerful argument for moving that election to November, as well.

Road Warrior peddles more fiction for drivers

An NJ Trantsit local speeding toward Trenton.

Editor's note: Road Warrior John Cichowski continues to spin fictional roadside controversies based on complaining e-mails sent in by his adoring fans, who love to see their names in print. Here is another e-mail from a reader concerned about these flights of fancy.

"What is it and what does it mean?

"Readers regularly ask these questions as the Road Warrior continues to  mistakenly report and grossly exaggerate utter nonsense, as he does in his May 12 column, about inconsequential roadside sights.

"The Road Warrior is unable to fill his column with anything relevant or accurate so he concocts stories with his senseless observations to make it seem like he is doing his job. 

"Road Warrior babbles endlessly about towers and high-rises, which are really only 6 and 8-story low-rise apartments being built next to the Lincoln Tunnel Helix roadway.  

"He never answers drivers' questions if the buildings will obstruct some of their Manhattan views, which they will.

"He exaggerates and falsely reports about drivers taking their lives in their hands when dealing with everyday roadside objects. 

"Road Warrior recommends NJ should buy up land for possible future widening of Route 17 south of the Garden State Plaza mall. 

"He makes his faulty assessment, even though he reports it is against NJ DOT policy to buy land if no project is approved. 

"He previously reported that NJ transportation fund has no money for capital projects."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Apathetic voters didn't derail Hackensack reformers

During Tuesday's election in Hackensack, a poll worker at the Fairmount Elementary School, above, told a woman who supported Victor E. Sasson for City Council to vote instead for the Citizens for Change slate at the top of the ballot. Sasson wrote a letter to the county Board of Elections, complaining about the alleged voter steering.

Voter apathy didn't stop a slate of reformers from sweeping Tuesday's City Council election in Hackensack.

Only 3,513 out of more than 20,000 registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday -- fewer than in both the 2009 and 2005 elections -- a spokeswoman for City Clerk Debra Heck said today.

In the past, low voter turnout doomed candidates who were seeking to oust the Zisa family dynasty, which has held power since the early 1990s.

But on Tuesday, incumbent Councilman John Labrosse led the 5-member Citizens for Change to victory -- denying a bid by 5 Zisa puppets to hold onto power in what is widely mocked as "Zisaville."

Sasson who?

Independent candidate Victor E. Sasson received 344 votes, some of which might have gone to members of the Coalition for Open Government, which he identified as "the Zisa slate."

The Record of Woodland Park denied Sasson a story announcing his candidacy -- unlike its treatment of the two organized slates -- then virtually ignored the campaign.

The victory of the Labrosse slate took the editors by surprise, forcing them to make it front-page news on Wednesday and to follow today with an interpretative story on A-1 and two related stories from Hackensack reporter Hannan Adely and her predecessor, Stephanie Akin.

'Daunting odds'

Today, the first paragraph of the Page 1 story reports the Labrosse team won "against daunting odds." 

But the total voter turnout, number of registered voters and Sasson's own campaign for reform are nowhere to be found.

Still, the story reveals how The Record and other media cover elections -- by comparing campaign donations, and usually giving more space and more favorable coverage to the candidates who amass the most cash.

Then, reporters call all those pundits and experts they have on speed dial, including a political science professor who also writes an opinion column for The Record.

Weinberg steps up

Even Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, belatedly got into the act, praising Citizens for Change on A-8, even though she had refused Sasson's request to make a robocall on behalf the reform candidates in the election.

That opened the way for Newark Mayor Cory Booker to make his own robocall for the Open Government candidates, bowing to their establishment ties and support from Lynne Hurwitz, Hackensack's Democratic Party boss.

Booker's clueless aide is quoted on A-8 today as calling the Hackensack contest "a tough race with good candidates on both sides, but ultimately the mayor supported what he believed to be the strongest overall ticket."

Christie reforms?

Those experts told The Record the Citizens for Change slate benefited from a reform movement sweeping the state, but how do the editors explain a quote from a professor of government at Fairleigh Dickinson University on A-8.

Prof. Peter Wooley alleges, "We are in reform period here in the sense that Chris Christie made real change the centerpiece of his first term as governor."

Of course, Christie loves to tout his "reform agenda," but the vast majority of his policies have hurt the middle and working classes, and catered to the rich.

The Borgs

So, it's no surprise Christie's war on the middle class is labeled "reform" in The Record, which is published by the elite Borg family.

The Borgs shut down the headquarters of The Record in 2009, abandoning Hackensack and dealing another blow to a struggling Main Street.

Their 20 acres along River Street have become an eyesore, and they haven't disclosed plans for the property.