Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Editors black out Hackensack election campaign

North Jersey Media Group, the Borg family's publishing company, hasn't disclosed whether the U.S.S. Ling, above, and a naval museum will be able to stay after it redevelops about 20 acres along River Street, including the old headquarters of The Record, below, empty since mid-2009.

The tallest part of the building at 150 River St., right, is an elevator shaft and stairs that would have accommodated the addition of a 5th floor. At least one editor arranged trysts with a secretary in the staircase above the 4th-floor newsroom, where no secret was safe.

Judging from coverage in The Record, readers outside Hackensack -- and thousands who live here -- might not know 11 candidates are involved in one of the most important municipal elections in city history.

The struggle between reformers and powerful allies of the ruling Zisa family is being played out in forums sponsored by the Prospect Avenue Coalition, Bergen County NAACP and others.

All 5 seats on the City Council will be decided on May 14 -- in an election that historically has never engaged voters, despite rising property taxes, declining city services and insider deals with a select group of lawyers that have looted the city treasury.

No campaign coverage

The Record hasn't covered any of the forums, and likely will publish a prefunctory pre-election story that will amount to little more than he said/she said.

That contrasts with more than 3 years of intense coverage of the city Police Department.

Starting in 2009, the paper printed a series of stories about Ken "I Am The Law" Zisa, the former police chief and state Assemblyman, culminating in coverage of his trial and May 2012 conviction for official misconduct and insurance fraud.

Long, detailed stories about state and federal lawsuits filed against Zisa by police officers -- and administrative hearings for cops brought up on charges -- filled The Record, to the exclusion of routine coverage of the proposed city budget, school board election campaign and other news.

That pattern continued through 2012.

Since then, routine coverage of Hackensack has been hit or miss, even though it is the county seat, the most populous community in Bergen County and the city where The Record prospered for more than 110 years.

Ignoring change

Mike Mordaga, who became the city's first civilian police director on Feb. 4, stepped up patrols to fight street crime and started a crackdown on moving violations by drivers, among several other, sweeping  changes.

Mordaga also has asked the non-profit Hackensack University Medical Center and Bergen County to give back to the city in lieu of paying property taxes.

Today, Hackensack readers will search The Record's Local news section for that story or anything else about the city, as they have on so many previous days. 

They're responsible

So, get up from your computers and put down your mobile devices and give a big round of applause to Deirdre Sykes, the six-figure head assignment editor who apparently spends more time planning her next meal than she does the next day's Local news section. 

And don't forget to cheer Steve McCarthy, the assistant assignment editor who supervises Hackensack news coverage.

Two restaurants on Main Street in Hackensack are outside the zone represented by the Upper Main Alliance, a public-private partnership that was set up in 2004 to promote the struggling shopping district.

Main Street boycott?

No restaurants on Main Street in Hackensack will be taking part in "The Taste in Hackensack 2013," a food-centered fund-raiser set for Sunday at The Shops at Riverside.

Two restaurants from outside Hackensack and the Stony Hill Inn, the lone city representative, will join shopping-center restaurants in serving samples of signature dishes to raise funds for a Hackensack High School scholarship fund.

The event is named cleverly. It's "The Taste in Hackensack," not "The Taste of Hackensack."

The lack of Main Street participation raises a question about the effectiveness of the Upper Main Alliance, a public-private partnership set up in 2004 to promote the city's struggling downtown.


  1. Jennifer A. Borg Esq. Owner and Vice President/Counsel at North Jersey Media Group is suing the Estate of former North Jersey Media Group Vice President of Information Technology Mr.Peter Van Lenten.Case L-00279-13
    was filed in Hackensack at the Bergen County Courthouse April 12,2013. Pre trial Judge Robert C. Wilson.There is no VP of Information Tecnology currently listed in the Record Newspaper.What is the lawsuit about? Eye on the Record Readers want to know.
    Thank You Mr. Sasson.


    1. Mr. Peter W. Van Lenten was a very hard worker for over 20 years at NJMG. His years of service and dedication were appreciated and highly commended. He was a proud man, had great work ethics and thought highly of the position he held at NJMG. Hats off to Mr. Peter W. Van Lenten. Thank you for all you have done for NJMG. Rest in peace...

    2. Thanks. I'll be going to the courthouse next week.

    3. I've heard lots of credible things about Mr. Van Lenten. From what I've heard, he was well respected and had loyalty to NJMG. I never met him in person but of all the wonderful things I've heard, my hat is certainly off to him as well.

  2. Tracy McCain worked for Pete Van Lenten and read all his e-mails, including the porn allegedly sent to him by Mac Borg after son Stephen shoved the old man aside. As for the suit, it will have to wait until after the Hackensack City Council election.

  3. Why did Mr.Van Lenten get fired from NJMG?
    PS. Good Luck with the Election.

    1. Mr. Van Lenten did not get fired, he was laid off.

  4. Replies
    1. Someone wrote a comment on your Blog that he got fired in April of 2009 on your November 4,2011 article.

    2. OK, thanks. But I don't know why. Mr Van Lenten wore his hair in a pony tail, and seemed like a nice guy the few times I encountered him in the parking lot in Hackensack. One thing that sticks out was an unusual number of bumper stickers on the back of his minivan, I think, many employing plays on words like "Give peas a chance."

    3. Mr.Van Lenten passed April of 2010 according to The Record Newspaper.My question is why would the Borgs file suit against his Estate in April of 2013,3 years later? You know that there not going after money,and what about the statue of limitations on filing such a suit?

    4. Depends on what the claim is. Could be 6 years in a contract dispute.

    5. Im sure you will find out.

    6. What exactly do you think they are going after?

  5. Mr. Sasson is completely wrong. The Upper Main Alliance has been planning a sizable presence at this event.

  6. Obviously, you did ZERO fact checking. If you made any inquiry with the Alliance, you would have learned about its participation. You chose, instead, to rely on the very newspaper you disparage for shoddy journalism. Even the article you cite says restaurants "include". It do not say its list was exhaustive or that the Alliance was not participating.

    I consider your remarks to be completely irresponsible.

  7. Thank you, whomever you are. Also irresponsible is the person at the alliance who failed to get the whole story in The Record's food blog.

  8. I just looked at the Hackensack Blue & Gold Scholarship Fund Web site, the group that will benefit from the fund-raiser, and don't see any mention of the alliance or any restaurants, on Main Street or elsewhere.

  9. This is a modified version of a previous comment by Victor E. Sasson:

    Why wasn't the Upper Main Alliance mentioned in the news release used to write a post on The Record's Second Helpings blog? Here is part of the post:

    "Serious foodies can sample signature dishes from more than 30 restaurants, mingle with local chefs and enjoy live entertainment when The Shops at Riverside host The Taste in Hackensack from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 5.

    "Participating restaurants include Martini Grill, The Melting Pot and Stony Hill Inn ...."

    You can read the whole post at the following link:

    As you can see, there is no mention of the Upper Main Alliance or any restaurants on Main Street. Hence, the alliance fell down on the job.


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