Monday, May 6, 2013

Hackensack donors stray far from Main Street

Hackensack High School.

A fund-raiser for Hackensack High School students on Sunday offered food, wine and non-alcoholic drinks from more than 35 restaurants, caterers, bakers and liquor stores, but only eight were from the city itself.

And despite the participation of the Hackensack Main Street Business Alliance, a public-private partnership, only five of them are on or near Main Street, the struggling shopping district that has yet to recover from the pullout of North Jersey Media Group and The Record in 2009.

Tickets to "The Taste in Hackensack" were $75, and raised money for the Hackensack Blue & Gold Scholarship Fund. 

In addition, there were raffles, including a $100 ticket to win an all-expenses-paid Indy 500 weekend and "admission to the private Alfred Sanzari Enterprises Suite at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

The event was held at The Shops at Riverside, and there was no mention of the alliance, also known as the Upper Main Alliance, in an entertainment program listing sponsors.

Alliance budget

The $360,000 alliance budget is included in Hackensack's overall budget, and the city and the business group share a $64,000-a-year employee, Albert H. Dib, who is the group's executive director.

The $360,000 is raised through an assessment on Main Street businesses, in a limited zone between Atlantic Street and Clinton Place, that appears as a surcharge on their property taxes.

That surcharge is undoubtedly passed along to city residents and other customers as a cost of doing business.

The alliance was formed in 2004, but empty storefronts, traffic congestion and other problems continue to stifle the revival of Main Street. 

Some of the Hackensack businesses at Sunday's fund-raiser, including Solari's and Fusion Empanada, are outside the alliance zone.

Merna Georges, owner of Main Dish in Hackensack.

Ghost town

Main Dish, which replaced the shuttered Naturally Good, is in the zone, and served delicious mini crab cakes on Sunday.

But owner Merna Georges says she is open only for breakfast and lunch, because Main Street is too quiet in the evenings.

Dos Cubanos, which is on Route 4 in Paramus, served wonderful ceviche and a salad with diced fruit, but Hackensack's own Cuban restaurant, Habana Casual Cafe on Main Street, wasn't represented. 

Victor E. Sasson, editor of Eye on The Record, joined other Hackensack City Council candidates in attending the event.

Today's paper 

What do you think gripped readers more -- the cover price doubling to $1 or the second installment of a Page 1 series on white suburban heroin addicts?

As a former employee, Sasson pays $58.50 a year for 7-day home delivery -- or about 16 cents a copy -- compared to the regular price of $229.49.

Dissing Hackensack

The Local news section continues to ignore the City Council campaign in Hackensack, including false attack mailings by the Coalition for Open Government.

The coalition is backed by Lynne Hurwitz, the city's Democratic boss and the power behind the Zisa family political dynasty that has controlled Hackensack for decades, holding it up for ridicule as "Zisaville."

The lead coalition candidate, Kenneth Martin, a retired police detective, will stand trial for removing signs put up by a reform slate, Citizens for Change.

Another coalition member is Jason Nunnermacker, an active Board of Education member whose council campaign would appear to violate the board's own regulations against political activity.

In its latest attack mailing, the coalition lied when it claimed Kathy Canestrino, a Citizens for Change candidate, was involved in a lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Sasson plans to file a complaint with the Hackensack superintendent of schools over a coalition mailing sent teachers and support staff on a "confidential" list, in violation of school policy.

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