Friday, May 3, 2013

Voter apathy stifles reform in Hackensack

Voters will find this flier in today's Hackensack Chronicle, which says it has a circulation of more than 20,000 in Hackensack and South Hackensack.

Victor E. Sasson and other reform candidates in the May 14 Hackensack City Council election are fighting an unseen enemy.

Voter apathy in "Zisaville" may prove to be more powerful than allies of the ruling family who are trying so desperately to hold onto power.

That 5-person slate is headed by alleged sign-stealer Kenneth Martin, a retired African-American police detective who boasts of having been the first resource officer at Hackensack High School.

His dumb move -- caught on Hackensack Market's video-surveillance camera -- is a cautionary tale for the few voters who are paying attention to the campaign.

Read it and weep

Another lesson in the sad state of democracy in Hackensack can be seen in the number of registered voters and the turnout in the 2009 and 2005 City Council elections.

On April 24, 2009, the number of Hackensack residents registered to vote totaled 19,868, according to figures released by City Clerk Debra Heck.

Only 3,731 of them voted in the May election, giving victory to all but one of the Zisa-backed candidates. 

That vote total was actually down from the May 2005 election, when only 4,568 residents voted out of about 19,000 who were registered.

On March 6, 2013, 21,090 people were registered to vote in Hackensack, Heck said.

Official apathy

Apathy isn't reserved for Hackensack voters.

Last week, an aide for state Sen. Loretta Weinberg told Sasson, the only independent cadidate, the senator does not get involved in municipal elections.

Sasson wanted Weinberg to pay for robo calls, urging Hackensack voters to back reform candidates in the May 14 election.

Sasson called Weinberg's Teaneck office again this week, hoping the senator would at least issue a neutral, get-out-the-vote message. But his call hasn't been returned.

Apathetic editors

More apathy is evident at The Record, which so far hasn't covered the Hackensack campaign, except to report on the arrest of Martin and related news.

The Woodland Park daily doesn't see voter apathy as the big story of the municipal election, because voters "everywhere" are apathetic.

Two other news outlets, News 4 New York and WNYC-FM (New Jersey Public Radio), also have declined to cover the campaign.

Borgs and Zisas  

Here is a fascinating glimpse into the relationship of the Borgs -- owners of The Record -- and the Zisas, including mention of Jack Zisa, Lynne Hurwitz and other Hackensack movers and shakers:

The Zisas and the Borgs 

End alliance now

The number of empty storefronts on or near Main Street in Hackensack and the limited jurisdiction of the Upper Main Alliance are two powerful arguments for disbanding the public-private partnership formed in 2004.

In The Record today, Jerry Lombardo, president of the real estate firm C.J.L. Lombardo and the alliance board chairman, discusses redevelopment efforts in Hackensack (L-8).

Lombardo doesn't disclose whether he owns property in the 163-acre zone and how much profit he will realize from redevelopment, which has been endorsed by the City Council.

When the alliance is disbanded, city employee Albert H. Dib, its executive director, should be ordered to devote his full time to economic development of the entire city, not just part of Main Street.

Dib also should be ordered to stop being the "Editor" of Hackensack, a Community Message Board.

Today's paper

Editor Marty Gottlieb devotes a huge part of Page 1 today to a "major heroin bust" that targeted spoiled brats from wealthy North Jersey suburbs who drive to Paterson to buy drugs (A-1).

You won't find a word in all this coverage (two stories, photos and a chart on A-1 and A-6) about the Paterson Police Department's lame efforts to control the drug trade or gun violence in the Silk City.

To be fair, 125 officers were laid off in 2011 after Governor Christie cut state aide to Paterson and other cities, part of the GOP bully's campaign against minorities. 

In June 2012, 37 were rehired.

More manure

Why is Gottlieb wasting precious front-page real estate on Ahmed Zayat of Teaneck, a multimillionaire gambler who gets high on the smell of horse manure (A-1)?  

And why does head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes keep on publishing anti-mass transit rants from Road Warrior John Cichowski, the self-appointed booster of drivers, cars, driving and related subjects (L-1)?

Today, Cichowski raises the "who will pay?" boogeyman in discussing extension of NJ Transit's successful light-rail system to Englewood.

He knows the real problem is not federal money, but lack of commitment to mass transit by Christie and Tenafly officials, and so-called journalists like himself.

Hackensack news

When I wrote this post, I overlooked an L-1 story on repairs to the Fanny M. Hilliers School, and an L-3 filler photo of the collision of a bus and "a vehicle" on Thursday at Summit Avenue and Passaic Street.

As usual, the photo caption is completely devoid of any information about whether either driver ran a red light or received a summons. 


  1. What is the relationship between the Borgs and the Zisas today? Who is Mac Borg close to? And why?

  2. I don't know, but Hackensack seems unusually patient with the Borg family and their eyesore on River Street. Officials should threaten to seize it if the wealthy publishing family doesn't announce redevelopment plans soon.

    Albert H. Dib, a city employee who also serves as executive director of the Upper Main Alliance, also seems protective of the Borgs, and has censored comments about them on Hackensack


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