Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our local newspaper is flying off the rails

Teaneck calls this patch of grass next to Route 4 a "park." Walkers and runners are advised to use gas masks.


Today's front page is filled with stories only Editor Marty Gottlieb of The Record, his sub-editors and his reporters care about.

Residents of North Jersey and, especially, of Bergen County are trying to stifle yawns as they rifle through today's edition for anything relevant to their lives.

On A-2, two more corrections appear, but for every two corrections, 10 errors go uncorrected by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, Production Editor Liz Houlton and her absentee copy editors.

Open questions

The story (A-3) and editorial (A-10) on the failed open-space referendum didn't answer obvious questions:

Does Governor Christie support dedicated funding to preserve land and buy flood-prone properties, and did he, in fact, call Republicans and ask them to vote down the bill?

Aching teeth

The simple-minded media's continued reference to "sugary drinks" confuses the public and even some journalists about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign against soda with super-sweet, high-fructose corn syrup, a trigger in the obesity epidemic (A-4).

Christie isn't the only one who disdains mass transit, as shown by another Road Warrior column on handicapped parking (L-1).

Given how many errors and omissions appear in Staff Writer John Cichowski's work, can anything he says today be trusted?

Bored editors

Sykes leads her Local section with a story on the "media throng" at the initial federal-court appearance of those cafones, Teresa and Joe Giudice, who face a 39-fraud indictment (L-1).

The TV bimbos also are featured in the biggest element on Page 1 today -- as readers wonder how they can indict Gottlieb, Sykes and other bored local editors on fraud charges.

After running a local obituary on L-1 on Tuesday, Sykes buries two more among the death notices today (L-6).

Better than butter

After a series of meat- and fat-heavy recipes from Upper Saddle River food blogger Kate Morgan Jackson, Better Living today runs one for SUMMER VEGETABLE RIBBONS (BL-1).

If you know what's good for you, substitute extra-virgin olive oil for the 2 tablespoons of artery clogging butter she recommends (BL-2).

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bergen-Borg parking pact may cost taxpayers $1M

The dumpsters are gone, and now the cars of visitors, attorneys and jurors fill the parking lot at 150 River St. in Hackensack, former headquarters of The Record. Bergen County is paying $1,440.11 for each one of the 540 spaces it is leasing through July 2015. A 6-story Justice Center is being built on the nearby Bergen County Courthouse parking lot.


The cost of the new Bergen County Justice Center Parking Lot -- at The Record's old Hackensack headquarters -- is far higher than reported in the Woodland Park daily.

The story on Sunday's L-2 reported only that "freeholders approved $777,660 last month to lease 540 parking spaces at the River Street lot until July 2015" to clear the old lot for construction.

But Staff Writer Kibret Markos didn't include the cost of shuttle service or how much revenue from the old lot the county will lose in the next two years.

It's likely the total cost will approach or exceed $1 million.

More pollution

I saw 3 large shuttles idling at 150 River St. on Monday afternoon a little before 3, but no cars entered the lot and no one used them.

I also saw an attorney on foot, wearing a suit and lugging a heavy briefcase and files, coming from the courthouse and cutting across the Heritage Diner parking lot to reach his car.

Hidden costs

There are other costs to Hackensack taxpayers, who already shoulder the crushing burden of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-exempt county property, and are getting more in the planned Justice Center and parking deck.

The deal between Bergen County and the wealthy Borg family -- owners of The Record -- apparently will delay development on 20 acres along River Street, as well as payment of full property taxes to the city.

Leave it to the greedy Borgs to find a sucker willing to pay so much for empty parking spaces.

Today's paper

You know Editor Marty Gottlieb has written off Democratic challenger Barbara Buono by the size and placement of the story reporting her choice of a running mate, Milly Silva, a Latina union leader (A-1).

Those bimbos, Teresa and Joe Giudice of "Real Housewives of New Jersey," actually lead Gottlieb's garbage front page today.

More on the conservative pissing match between Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Governor Christie appears above the fold next to a big photo showing Pope Francis' airborne news conference.

Can Gottlieb craft a front page that is more irrelevant to North Jersey voters?

Women to the top

Buono's choice of another woman as her running mate is significant given Christie's abysmal record on women's issues.

Brigid Harrison, one of The Record's Opinion columnists, wrote in June:

"Apparently, though, emerging from November's election [and into] the 2016 presidential race with boasting rights of a double-digit victory is more important to Christie than saving the lives of women in New Jersey."

Slanted reporting

But in today's Page 1 story, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes barely mentions the state's women, and doesn't discuss Christie's cuts to health programs for them. 

Buono teaming with Silva gives Democratic voters one more reason to elect her.

And they'll likely be the best-looking governor and lieutenant governor the state has had in a long time.

Imagine not having to look at Christie -- a fat, mean-spirited bastard who wages war on the middle class and is the butt of jokes -- or having the GOP bully represent New Jersey.

Errors galore

The Local section usually is filled with errors, especially when the Road Warrior column runs, but a few jumped out at me today.

They are a testament to what a good job of fact-checking is being done by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza and Production Editor Liz Houlton, who supervises the copy editors-cum-spell checkers.

Staff Writer Jay Levin's obituary of Jerlando Graceffo Sr., who ran his family's Whooppee Soda Works in Garfield, would have been fine without dragging the old guy into a modern-day controversy he had no part of (L-1).

Levin writes that Graceffo "made his living in cane-sugar-sweetened soda, the sort of drink that causes Michael Bloomberg to go apoplectic."

But that is incorrect: 

Mayor Bloomberg's campaign isn't against the few sodas still made with sugar. 

It's against drinks with the cheaper high-fructose corn syrup, a super sweetener identified as one of the causes of the obesity epidemic.

Levin's local obituary and an L-1 feature on a weekly dance held by the Widows and Widowers Club of Northern Valley are what pass for news about seniors in The Record today.

Hackensack goof

There are two Hackensack stories in Local today, a police story (L-1) and another on the City Council posting meetings online (L-3).

On L-3, Staff Writer Hannan Adely mangles the name of the city's information specialist, Albert H. Dib, calling him "Alfred Dib" and later "Dibs."

Also on L-3, a police story on a driver who overturned his car on Route 4 reports he was driving a "1998 Subaru Legend."

Subaru never made a "Legend," Acura did.

A large photo on L-3 updates readers on the latest utility pole news.

Rough road

Despite a concerned reader's numerous e-mails to Gottlieb and other top editors -- and even to Vice President and General Counsel Jennifer A. Borg -- Staff Writer John Cichowski continues to fill his Road Warrior column with errors and omissions.

Here are some of the errors that appeared in his Sunday column on the NY Waterway Ferry:

  • NY Waterway has many ferry routes -- and picks up passengers in Edgewater -- but Cichowski only mentions the line between Weehawken and midtown Manhattan.
  • The column omits senior discounts and monthly passes that bring the daily fare to just above $6, as opposed to the $9 he cites.
  • There's no mention of free bus service in Manhattan.
  • The prices for parking were incorrect.
  • The comparative cost of taking light rail to the dock and driving was so far off as to be ludicrous. Light rail is not "half the cost" of parking; a one-way ticket is $2.10 and $1.05 for seniors, compared to $10 to $12 a day for parking.
  • There are other problems, as discussed on the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Road Warrior can't add, count or write

Monday, July 29, 2013

Will River Street be vacant for 2 more years?

Since The Record left 150 River St. in Hackensack, this marker has resembled a tombstone for local journalism. Now, Bergen County is leasing 540 parking spaces in the old Record lot from the Borg family's North Jersey Media Group.
This is one of the trucks and other pieces of equipment parked in the NJMG-owned lot near the U.S.S. Ling, generating more income for the Borgs.


After Publisher Stephen A. Borg abandoned the Hackensack headquarters of The Record and North Jersey Media Group in 2009, city officials anxiously awaited word of redevelopment.

The Borgs were rumored to be flirting with Wal-Mart for one of its super-duper stores peddling low-quality food and other goods, and paying its workers slave wages.

But that fell through and, in June, NJMG announced that about 20 acres along River Street would be sold to a developer who promises to build hundreds of luxury apartments, retail and even a hotel.

A bad deal

However, nothing apparently will change until at least July 2015 and expiration of a $777,660 lease for 540 parking spaces at 150 River St.

Bergen County will use those spaces to provide free parking for jurors, attorneys and others during construction of a Justice Center and parking deck on the old parking lot opposite Pep Boys (Sunday's L-2).

But this is a bad deal for taxpayers in Hackensack and the county:

Besides paying NJMG more than three-quarters of a million dollars for the spaces, the county will give up tens of thousands of dollars in parking fees generated by the old lot.

In 2010, the publishing company -- which prints The Record of Woodland Park, Herald News, weeklies, (201) magazine and other publications -- paid these property taxes to the city of Hackensack: 

  • 150 River St. -- $628,560 
  • 80 River St. -- $36,084 
  • 76 Bridge St. -- $12,238

The 2-year delay might give Hackensack officials time to figure out where to put schoolchildren from hundreds of new apartments on River Street, as well as a new residential building on State Street that is under construction.

Chris and Sandy

The lead story in The Record today reports that Governor Christie is funneling more Sandy aid to lower-income residents (A-1).

That's a real slap in the face to other low- and moderate-income residents in New Jersey, where Christie has tried and failed to abolish the state Council on Affordable Housing, and use $142 million in housing funds to balance his mean-spirited budget.

Leave it to readers

The GOP bully can do no wrong, according to The Record's editors, but readers like Bruce de Lyon of Dumont know better:

In a letter to the editor (A-11), De Lyon notes Christie has presidential aspirations and is "looking to firm up his standing with the extreme right of the Republican Party."

Contrary to being able "to work with adversaries," Christie cut state education aid "across the board" and "vilified teachers as 'drug mules' and public workers as the reason for the state's problems," says De Lyon, a retired superintendent of schools.

Readers in a funk

Editor Marty Gottlieb waste a huge amount of front-page space today on another silly piece from sports Columnist Tara Sullivan, the paper's own vagina monologue.

The sub-headline notes a "homer helps lift Yankees out of their funk."

Who will lift readers out of their funk?

Junk food on wheels

Certainly not the paper's food writers, who have been pulling out all the stops to promote a conclave of food trucks at Overpeck Park on Wednesday afternoon (Better Living cover).

Lots of unhealthy food will be offered -- strange, considering the main sponsor is Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

One of the trucks, Bacon on Wheels, appears to be offering fatty pork filled with harmful preservatives, antibiotics and growth hormones.

Maybe the hospital is trying to fill empty beds by luring unsuspecting people to the food trucks in the park. The trucks are  barred by many towns.

Fine food?

Food Editor Esther Davidowitz wrote today's cover story, claiming the mobil food vendors serve "fine food" and are "the rage ... in the new-rage-every-minute foodie world."

And that's just the first paragraph. 

Davidowitz, whose online photos appear to show a fit woman in her 60s, actually uses the phrase "like, duh," in her article.

More sloppy editing

Another food article -- the STARTERS feature on Pier 115 Bar & Grill in Edgewater -- was poorly edited.

Freelancer Joyce Venezia Suss describes a "miso Chilean sea bass featuring beer-battered cod fillet" (BL-3).

That's two fish in one dish, but the restaurant said today the specialty contains only oven-roasted Chilean sea bass -- which experts say is overfished and high in mercury.

Is cod on the menu?

Second look

Road Warrior John Cichowski appeared to be promoting NY Waterway ferry service in his column on Sunday.

But in his first paragraph, he associates the ferry with a sinking ship by comparing commuter Holly Wilson of Cresskill to actress Kate Winslet in "Titanic."


Ung is back

Elisa Ung, The Record's restaurant reviewer, has ended an extended leave with a post on the Second Helpings blog about a new Italian restaurant in Midland Park.

Readers should brace for Ung's multiple orgasms over all of those artery clogging desserts she loves to sample at restaurants.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Editors continue to play catch-up on Fahy suicide

A storefront on Palisade Avenue in Englewood has become an eyesore, remaining empty long after another failed restaurant vacated the premises. The Record continues to turn a blind eye to the struggles of the wealthy city's downtown, as it does to hard-hit business districts in Teaneck and Hackensack. 

By Victor E. Sasson

Editor Marty Gottlieb leads The Record today with another story that attempts to explain why former Bergen County Prosecutor Jay Fahy committed suicide on July 17 (A-1).

The story focuses on a letter informing Fahy that his license to practice law was about to be temporarily suspended because of a billing dispute.

But today's story is inconclusive. 

And readers don't know if reporters have even attempted to talk to Fahy's mother, wife or children since his death.

Why the Woodland Park daily is treading so lightly here is a mystery, given its reputation for intruding into the lives of news subjects.

Sloppy editing

Could the letter from the New Jersey Supreme Court be the same mysterious "piece of paper" mentioned in the lead paragraph of a July 19 story on Fahy's death?

Today's story reports Fahy shot himself on "a Route 17 walkway."

On July 23, an L-1 story said his body was found on "a dingy pedestrian walkway that runs under an NJ Transit bridge."

The news story that ran July 18 said he shot himself the day before "on a sidewalk along Route 17 south."

Floats his boat

Today's Road Warrior column reports on the NY Waterway ferry linking Weehawken and Manhattan, the most elitist and expensive form of mass transit in North Jersey (L-1).

The privately owned ferry has failed to relieve pressure on NJ Transit buses and trains -- which are SRO during rush hours -- but Staff Writer John Cichowski doesn't say whether it makes a profit or is subsidized.

He appears to be trying to drum up business for NY Waterway.

Still unreliable

But Cichowski can't be trusted when he discusses the cost of the ferry and associated travel.

He directly contradicts the ferry's Web site on free shuttle buses in Manhattan, claiming most commuters "must pay cab, bus or subway fare to make the last leg of their trip to work."

Cichowski apparently did the reporting for the column during the recent heat wave, and the column now seems stale.

In his column last Wednesday, Cichowski said only "a few states" exceed New Jersey's rate of seat-belt usage by back-seat passengers. 

In fact, 17 states do, according to the editor of the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers.

Canned copy

In Business, canned copy from The Wall Street Journal lists all of the deals available to seniors at fast-food restaurants, but omits the deep discounts they enjoy on NJ Transit buses and trains (B-4).

Does the NY Waterway ferry have a senior fare?

The perils of using canned or wire-service copy can be seen in today's Travel section cover story, which ostensibly is a column written by Travel Editor Jill Schensul.

How does Schensul explain why she fails to mention a single highway rest stop in New Jersey.

Is it possible she rewrote a travel piece supplied by a national wire service, personalized it a bit and then passed it off as her own?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

More -- much more -- sloppy and irrelevant reporting

Ten lanes of Manhattan-bound traffic merging into a single tube of the Lincoln Tunnel during Friday afternoon's agonizing rush hour.

By Victor E. Sasson

Only political junkies like The Record's Washington correspondent and Editor Marty Gottlieb are already thinking of the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.

Unfortunately for readers of the Woodland Park daily, Gottlieb leads today's paper with Staff Writer Herb Jackson's silly "primary preview" -- a face-off between Governor Christie and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. (A-1).

Politics are so irrelevant to the lives of North Jersey readers, who are caught in massive traffic jams and who pay exorbitant tolls and property taxes thanks to Christie's mismanagement.

And readers are bored to death by the media's obsession with which politician may or may not be a candidate for president in 2016.

All in the family

The D'Ercole family -- which "once wielded enormous political power in tiny Norwood" -- may remind Hackensack readers of the Zisa family, which ruled the city for decades and still has hooks into the school board (A-1).

But today's sympathetic Page 1 story on the family's decision to sell their garden center to developers doesn't discuss whether their Norwood reign was free of the corruption that is costing Hackensack property tax payers so dearly.

Another correction

A-2 carries another correction and another error:

The names of Nicole Polizzi and Jenni Farley appear in the wrong order under the PEOPLE IN THE NEWS photo.

Today's A-11 editorial on the U.S. Postal Service -- and all of the news stories I've seen recently -- never explains why the agency has to be self-sustaining.

Isn't that like asking mass transit to make a profit, ignoring the benefits of taking cars off the road, and cutting pollution and our dependency on oil imports?

Mail deliverers deter crime and keep an eye on seniors living alone, among other good things.

Local news 'glut'

There is so little local news that head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' had to fill nearly half a page of Local with wire-service obituaries of people readers have never heard of (L-5).

Most pages carry police and fire news, including the main element on L-1, which describes a bank robbery and pursuit of the suspects:

Crime and chaos 

Indeed. The "chaos" is in the newsroom, and the "crime" is against the reader.

Friday's paper

Page 1 on Friday put legions of readers to sleep.

Gottlieb, who does a good imitation of being The Record's global editor, demoted to L-1 continuing Hackensack River pollution from 26 towns' raw sewage pipes.

That wasn't the only shit in the paper.

Boosting Christie

Stories on Democratic challenger Barbara Buono picking another woman as her running mate, and a non-partisan office finding a $150 million shortfall in the state budget don't bode well for Christie (A-3).

That didn't stop The Record from promoting the GOP bully's bid for a second term.

The editors again ignore all of the vetoes he uses to get his way in New Jersey in a story reporting Christie blamed President Obama for the partisan gridlock in Washington (A-6).

And why are the editors hiding the identity of toll cheats, including an Englewood woman "who owes $43,000 in fees and tolls" to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (A-6)?

Local censorship

Staff Writer Hannan Adely reports Hackensack Mayor John P. Labrosse Jr. and fellow City Council members have named their campaign manager as the city's new public relations consultant (Friday's L-2).

Adely didn't report public comment at this week's City Council meeting that giving the job to Thom Ammirato "sends the wrong message" -- especially in view of decades of insider deals by the Zisa family.

The City Council also is sending another wrong message with a trial run to collect garbage twice a week in the 1st Ward (Friday's L-3).

The city can save money and reduce household garbage by encouraging more recycling and collecting food waste for composting, as much larger cities already do.

Freezer fresh

In Friday's Better Living, restaurant reviewer Bob Probert praises the "absolutely fresh sushi and sashimi" at Wasabi in Ridgewood (BL-16).

But he apparently didn't ask Chef/Owner Kazuhiko Takahashi whether the fish he serves raw at his 3-star restaurant has been frozen -- to kill parasites -- as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

See a 2004 article in The New York Times:

'Sushi Fresh from the Deep ... the Deep Freeze' 

Second look

The Road Warrior column on Wednesday contained a good deal of misinformation, including Staff Writer John Cichowski reporting that Hackensack's Court Street Bridge was replaced when, in fact, it was renovated.

For a complete rundown, see the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Broken journalist, broken column 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Where life and death are highly profitable

A congressional proposal to end door-to-door mail delivery -- reported on Page 1 of The Record today -- would intensify the war over the four metered parking spaces in front of the Hackensack Post Office on State Street, above.

By Victor E. Sasson

The owners of the for-profit Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center laughed all the way to the bank while stiffing nurses and the IRS, The Record reports today (A-1).

In less than three years, the 230-bed Secaucus hospital paid its owners $14.4 million, Staff Writer Lindy Washburn says.

Her shocking report identifies principals of investment syndicate MHA LLC as Woodcliff Lake anesthesiologist Richard Lipsky, Tamara Dunaev, Pavel Pogodin and Anastasia Burlyuk.

From the sound of their names, people entering the country illegally to compete for low-wage jobs that Americans refuse to do aren't the country's real immigration problem, as the media would have us think.

I'd also like to see Washburn report on salaries and profits at another hospital, Hackensack University Medical Center, whose tax-exempt status is a crushing burden for city homeowners and other property tax payers.

More partisanship

What is achieved by The Record and other media reporting every speech by President Obama as if he is still campaigning for a second term, as the Woodland Park daily does in today's A-1 photo caption?

By continuing to report on the partisan pissing matches paralyzing government, The Record cheats readers and neglects its responsibility to report on the issues they are most interested in.

Local schmooze

Another correction from the disoriented Local news editors appears on A-2 today. They can't get names right and don't know what town they're in.

Today's Local front is strong, for a change, but why focus on speeders on one Teaneck street when they are everywhere and enforcement is at an historic low (L-1)?

And why allow Road Warrior John Cichowski to encourage speeders, as he did in recent, negative columns about red-light cameras and so-called road hogs, who obey the speed limit?

Another copy desk screw-up appears in the photo caption with the East Cedar Lane speeding story. The caption calls speeding "reckless driving" (L-1).
Doing their jobs

Pages L-2 and L-3 resemble a Law & Order insert today, complete with a filler photo of a minor accident in place of legitimate news (L-3).

The copy desk came up with another stunning over line:


It could just as well say:


Why is this photo in the paper? 

Thanks, Bon Jovi

The Better Living cover story on the massive Buick Electra being used on Bon Jovi's concert stage only reminds some older readers of the unsafe cars produced by the Big Three in the 1950s, despite their size and weight (BL-1).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Editors try to paper over uncomfortable truths

Musicians scrambling to protect themselves and their equipment from a sudden, heavy downpour on Tuesday night during a concert on the green in downtown Tenafly.

By Victor E. Sasson

Will wonders never cease, as reported by The Record?

A Superior Court judge was called for jury duty in Passaic County, then excused at the request of the defendant's lawyer in a civil suit (Page 1).

Gee whiz. 

When is The Record ever going to report on the outrageous hourly rates charged by attorneys, and how they restrict access to the courts?

Hourly charges of $400, $500 and more prevent many people from ever bringing their grievances to court or force them to cut their losses and settle frivolous suits filed against them by such litigious companies as North Jersey Media Group.

In the fact-based HBO drama "The Newsroom," a lawyer for the cable-news network tells a producer she charges $1,500 an hour. 

Let's hope that's a piece of fiction.

Ay, caramba!

There are at least 5 stories about state campaigns, politics and, yes, the 2016 presidential contest in today's paper (A-1, A-3, A-4 and A-11).

During a campaign swing through Newark's Ironbound, Christie boasted of "his bipartisan record," Staff Writer Melissa Hayes reports with a straight face (A-4).

Of course, the reporter or her editors didn't dare mention all of the times he used vetoes to get his way on everything from an increase in the minimum wage to a tax surcharge on millionaires.

White noise

Readers might notice no African-Americans appeared with Christie in the conservative Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian neighborhood.

That's because Ironbound residents are likely to run for the phone to call police when they see a black person on their block.

Clinton v. Christie?

The story on the 2016 presidential race also is kind to Christie, who doesn't have a ghost of a chance to defeat Hillary Clinton, even if he is chosen as the nominee over Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and those other GOP morons (A-11).

Buckle up

The Road Warrior column often takes a back seat to accuracy.

Today, Staff Writer John Cichowski bores readers with a column on seat-belt use by passengers in the back seat, and fields questions from readers who seem as befuddled as he is (L-1).

So far, Cichowski has a perfect, nearly 10-year-long record of avoiding real commuting issues, such as massive traffic congestion and inadequate mass transit.

From hunger

Readers turning to Better Living for intelligent food coverage only get crumbs and crummy ones at that:

Two artery clogging recipes, one from Kate Morgan Jackson, a clueless food blogger in Upper Saddle River. 

One of the recipes has cream cheese, sour cream and heavy cream in it (BL-1 and BL-2).

And the cover story is on a celebrity chef taking part in one of those silly TV cooking contests (BL-1).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chris loves Sandy, but hates the rest of us

The new City Council, led by Mayor John P. Labrosse Jr., third from right, meeting at Hackensack City Hall on Monday night in an atmosphere of optimism for the city's future. A sign inside the 3rd Floor men's bathroom, below, seems to show the city has been conservation-minded, though it is just getting around to installing solar panels on its buildings, lagging behind Teaneck and other communities.

By Victor E. Sasson

Just imagine how Governor Christie is getting off every night thinking about Sandy -- the devastating superstorm he disguises as a siren who is luring unwary voters into giving him a second term.

The GOP bully is knocking himself out to convince voters he should be judged only by what he's done since Sandy -- and not on all of the promises to the middle class he has broken since he took office in January 2010.

And The Record of Woodland Park can't do enough to help him, continuing to run Sandy recovery news on Page 1, as it does today, or all over the Local front, even though more than 9 months have passed.

I have yet to see a story contrasting Christie's stand on the issues with that of Democratic challenger Barbara Buono.

As the bottom of today's front page shows, that's because Editor Marty Gottlieb continues to portray the contest as one that will go to the candidate who raises the most money (A-1).

Making babies

Gottlieb wastes more space today -- stories on A-1 and L-1 -- about the birth of the royal heir in Britain.

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' pathetic attempt to localize the story omits the names of any of the women who gave birth at North Jersey hospitals on the same day or the names of their babies (L-1).

Assume the position  

Filmmaker Michael Moore is a genius who has the courage to make documentaries no one in Hollywood would undertake.

But his well-known weight problem makes some readers wonder how Kathleen Glynn, his colaborator, managed to survive 21 years of marriage to him, unless he allowed her to be on top (A-2).

Some staffers have wondered the same thing about Sykes' husband, a tall, thin graphic artist who once worked at The Record.

Hackensack news

Today's Local front is dominated by a suspected gang member who tried and failed to take on the re-energized Hackensack Police Department early Monday (L-1).

Robert Leonardis, 22, fired one shot that narrowly missed Officer Joseph Ayoubi, but was severely wounded when four officers fired back, Police Director Mike Mordaga said.

At a Hackensack City Council meeting on Monday night, one resident said she now calls the police when she sees something amiss in her neighborhood, and they actually respond.

In the past, she said, she didn't bother to call because she knew police working under the corrupt police chief, Ken Zisa, would do nothing.

Solar-power lesson

A resident asked the council and City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono why no solar panels are being installed on city schools.

Lo Iacono said the profligate Board of Education has refused to meet with the council to discuss solar power.

The systems being installed on city buildings cost taxpayers nothing.

Coffee is hot and cheap

Sykes continues to rely on photos of minor accidents in place of legitimate local news, and continues to supply readers with no information on the cause.

Clues in today's L-3 photo suggest an older driver (Mercury Marquis, blue license plate and handicap space) couldn't wait to get a morning cup of coffee McDonald's sells to seniors at a special, low price, so he crashed his car into the fast-food restaurant.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why are we letting drivers get away with murder?

The new Hackensack City Council is meeting tonight at 7 on the 3rd Floor of City Hall at Central Avenue and State Street.

By Victor E. Sasson

The centerpiece on the front page of The Record today is a familiar story -- one I've probably read 100 times in newspapers or seen on TV news:

A car runs down and kills a pedestrian, but the driver tells police he "didn't see" the victim.

He wasn't speeding and didn't break any other traffic laws.

And the police say he didn't appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, so no charges are filed.

Life is worth little 

Look how cheap life is in North Jersey.

Emil Sous -- a North Haledon man whose 17-year-old daughter Michelle was killed in just this way -- is seeking mandatory drug and alcohol tests for all pedestrians and drivers involved in fatal accidents (A-1).

But why stop there?

Why haven't police and prosecutors long ago called on lawmakers to pass a law that would criminalize the actions of a driver who was so negligent that he took a human life?

The Sous family undoubtedly will file a lawsuit against Steven Timpone, 24, the driver of the pickup that killed Michelle in front of their home.

But the damages they win won't bring Timpone and drivers like him to justice. He probably won't even lose his license.

Paper is at fault

I have never seen an editorial in The Record calling for stiffer laws that would, in effect, charge a driver who killed a pedestrian with criminal negligence.

In fact, Staff Writer John Cichowski's Road Warrior column has criticized red-light cameras and other measures intended to catch and penalize speeding drivers.

Through laziness or sheer incompetence, the Road Warrior has championed readers who treat driving like a blood sport. 

Speeding kills

In two recent columns, Cichowski allowed lead-footed drivers to attack and denigrate so-called road hogs, who obey the speed limit.

I guess Cichowski doesn't know or doesn't care that speeding is the cause of most accidents and red-light violations.

Doesn't compute

In today's Local news section, a police brief raised a question that it never answered:

What were two 18-year-olds doing driving a Range Rover, and why did one of them have a $10,000 Rolex watch (L-8)?

Heart healthy

Readers of Better Living are accustomed to reading recipes oozing with butter and heavy cream or sizzling with bacon.

So today's feature story on Gary Oppenheimer of West Milford -- "Hunger Fighter" -- is a welcome relief (BL-1).

Oppenheimer actually served Staff Writer Sachi Fujimori a salad from his own garden. 

What a concept: Healthy food.



Sunday, July 21, 2013

That's titillating, but how does it affect me?

This sign, seen across the roof of a van, is a touch of civility at a Manhattan entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. Fortunately or unfortunately, congestion usually slows drivers to a crawl, giving them time to read the sign and yield to other drivers -- in marked contrast to what happens on New Jersey highways.

By Victor E. Sasson

An extra-marital affair, an angry husband, pay-to-play and a prominent Republican who has grown fat on his New Jersey connections.

You'd think today's Page 1 expose in The Record has everything a reader could want. But you'd be wrong.

The avalanche of words and titillating e-mails never explain why any of this is relevant to my life or the lives of thousands of other readers.

'Me news'?

Will the split between Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan and public relations guru Alan C. Marcus slow or end the reforms Donovan is known for?

Are my property taxes going up? Will this brouhaha lessen or increase the crushing burden of the county's tax-exempt property on Hackensack residents?

As far as I know, county sherriff's officers will continue to help Hackensack police officers fight crime under an initiative started by Police Director Michael Mordaga.

I have a lot of respect for the reporters who worked on the expose, but this is the kind of  story Editors Marty Gottlieb and Deirdre Sykes love to waste time and money chasing to bring a little excitement into their dull, newsroom-centered lives.

Stephen Borg speaks

Turn to A-7 for comment from Publisher Stephen A. Borg, who claims staffers "teach" at Bergen Community College.

Borg is referring to "In The Record," a class given by the college's Institute for Learning in Retirement for seniors citizens.

Road Warrior John Cichowski, Staff Writer Lindy Washburn and other staffers speak to the class about their jobs and their beats, and answer questions.

Calling it teaching, as Borg does, is a stretch. 

The front-page has another political "thriller" from Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson, who again fails to explain why readers should care about anything he reports in his column (A-1).

Downplaying protests

The outrage over the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case is demoted to A-3 to make room for all the tripe about politics.

I have yet to see an explanation from any media why the corrupt state of Florida allows 6-member juries to hear criminal cases.

In most states, including New Jersey, 12 people hear criminal cases and 6-member juries are reserved for civil lawsuits.

Local yokels

Today's Local section has Sykes' stamp on it: 

Two more filler accident photos without a word in the captions about what might have caused them (L-1 and L-3).

Was the SUV driver who ran off a curve of the Garden State Parkway speeding or texting? 

Did the 77-year-old man killed in a one-car crash on Route 46 in Lodi have a heart attack or some other health-related problem?

Readers don't have a clue.

More road noise

The Road Warrior column makes more noise about gaps in noise walls, but as in a previous highly exaggerated column, never explains why anyone would buy a house next to a highway and why readers should care when they do (L-1).

In his column on Friday, Cichowski answered readers' questions with a mixture of "clueless, unsafe, and false information" that conflicts with state statutes, according to a concerned reader.

See the full e-mail to management on the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers: 

The obituary of athlete, accountant and actor Dick Wieczezak of Wallington is good reading, but I'd like to see more of these local deaths on Page 1 in place of endlessly boring politics (L-1).

Not much else

The Sunday paper has 4 more sections, but I couldn't find much in them.

Today's consumer column from Staff Writer Kevin DeMarrais is a silly comparison of flying and driving to Disney World in Orlando, Fla. (B-1).

I really was on the edge of my seat reading about Jackie Zeman, a soap actress I've never heard of, and her problems sleeping anywhere but in her sister's house in Upper Saddle River (BL-1).

I kept wondering if she is related to John Zeaman, a former Record staffer and author of "Dog Walks Man."