|Times Square in Manhattan on Sunday night, when shoppers and tourists packed city streets.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
After more than three months of prodding and probing by Democrats and the media, sworn testimony by Port Authority officials suggests closing Fort Lee toll lanes on the George Washington Bridge was political payback by the Christie administration.
The story on Page 1 of The Record today reports Christie appointee David Wildstein ordered the lane closures in September, presumably to punish Fort Lee's mayor, a Democrat who didn't endorse the GOP bully's bid for a second term (A-1).
No surprise here, given the Portly Authority's lack of support for traditional Democratic initiatives, such as expanding mass transit, curbing air pollution and providing affordable health care (A-1 and L-3).
Now, Governor Christie's 2010 decision to kill the Hudson River rail tunnels can be seen in political terms:
The project to expand the number of train seats into Manhattan would have benefited commuters from Bergen and Hudson counties, where Democrats have a big edge in voter registration.
Another A-1 story today, decrying the metropolitan area's uncoordinated transportation system ahead of the Super Bowl in February, is likely the first time The Record has even mentioned that in more than a decade of reporting.
Transportation reporter Karen Rouse, who wrote today's story, and Road Warrior John Cichowski have done their best to ignore the lack of coordination, as well as packed buses and trains, and mounting traffic congestion, in the past 10 years.
Failed editors, too
Indeed, an editorial today condemns NJ Transit -- "which remains firmly under the thumb of the Christie administration" -- for not changing "despite its massive failure of leadership during Superstorm Sandy" (A-10).
But NJ Transit failed commuters long before that by not being able to provide enough rush-hour seats into Manhattan.
The same lack of leadership is evident in the performance of Editors Marty Gottlieb, Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, whose assignments also ignore major commuting issues.
Another issue the editors have ignored is Christie's role in sabotaging the enrollment of New Jersey residents for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Today, the editors buried a story reporting the anger of Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, who said Christie "stinks on this issue."
Pascrell said Christie's refusal to set up a state marketplace left unspent $7.6 million in federal funds that could have been used to educate and enroll New Jersey residents (L-3).
Stuck in line
Staff Writer John Cichowski appears to be stuck in line at the Motor Vehicle Commission, just one of the many driving -- not commuting -- issues he has obsessed over in the last decade.
Cichowski, hand-picked by Sykes to take over the column in September 2003, mostly has demonstrated RWI -- reporting while incompetent -- as his three-times-a-week farce demonstrates.
Here is a brief description from the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers of errors in his Sunday column on DWI:
"In his Sunday column, the Road Warrior stumbles through mistakes about penalties and statistics for driving under the influence and new devices to prevent a car from starting for drunk drivers.
"Road Warrior indicates penalties are greater for driving under the influence, if blood-alcohol concentration — the ratio of blood to alcohol in the body — reaches beyond 0.08 percent.
"Actually, the penalties are greater, if the ratio of alcohol to blood reaches 0.10 percent and beyond.
"Anyone with a blood to alcohol ratio of 0.08 percent would have 99.92 percent alcohol in their blood stream. How absurd is that scenario!"
Reporting While Under the Influence of Error
On the Local front, Staff Writer Hannan Adely reports Hackensack City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono (pronounced LOW-yack-a-no) has agreed to step down this Friday after holding the job since 2005 (L-1).
Critics charge Lo Iacono didn't do enough to stem problems in the Police Department under the corrupt rule of Ken Zisa, who served as police chief and as a state assemblyman.
They noted that he kept Zisa in the job, despite numerous lawsuits alleging the chief ruled by intimidation and retaliation, including forcing officers to support his candidacy for political office.
Zisa remains under house arrest during his appeal of his 2012 conviction for official corruption and insurance fraud, and a 5-year prison sentence.