Saturday, June 29, 2013

Developers still have their hooks into Hackensack

NJ Transit's Jersey Avenue local left New York's Penn Station a few minutes after its scheduled 2:29 p.m. departure on Friday. Seats on this older rail car freed up only after the train stopped at Secaucus Junction and Newark Penn Station. The discomfort of many rail and bus rider is of little concern to The Record.


By Victor E. Sasson
Editor

Even after a reform City Council slate is sworn in on Monday -- as reported today by The Record --Hackensack will be burdened for years to come by insider deals with developers.

A 226-unit development on Hackensack Avenue is now renting, a 222-unit building on State Street has broken ground and other developers have announced plans to replace The Record's old headquarters with hundreds of new high-rise and mid-rise apartments.

None of these developers have been asked to help ease the expected impact on Hackensack's badly crowded schools.

Ruling by veto

A heading on Page 1 today reports Governor Christie signed a "bipartisan" budget, but the full story on A-3 contradicts that with news of several vetoes the GOP bully used to get his way.

One of the vetoes killed $7 million in funding to Planned Parenthood and other women's health organizations. 

That's very "bipartisan" of Christie, just like his earlier vetoes of a hike in the minimum wage or a tax surcharge on millionaires.

Eat this

On Friday, in Eating Out on $50, freelancer Jeffrey Page managed to review a rare restaurant that uses antibiotic-free chickens, Flames Rotisseria in Ridgefield Park (Better Living, BL-24).

But when The Record reduced the number of people fed for $50 to 2 from 4, the review lost all value to readers.

If Page's cheap editor allowed him to spend $70 -- a little under $18 per person -- he could tell readers about plenty of places where they can get a decent meal for 4.

And even with only $50, he could make the money go further if he stopped wasting money on fattening, artery clogging desserts (BL-25).

Worshiping animals

Sunday's Travel section, delivered with today's paper, reflects Editor Jill Schensul's worship of animals over humans.

In her cover story, Schensul, a vegetarian and animal lover, reports on trips of a lifetime, complete with photos of some of  the four-legged and slithering creatures travelers can commune with.

I guess her way of dealing with all of the human misery in Africa is simply to ignore it.

Even though Schensul's section is down to only 4 pages on most Sundays, she continues to run vacation photos of readers in The Record on The Road feature -- a huge waste of space.

'Dangerous' Road Warrior

The Road Warrior column finally is starting to report that a lack of enforcement has resulted in growing abuse of cellphone use while driving -- not to mention speeding and numerous other traffic violations (Friday's L-1).

Red-light and speeding cameras may be the ultimate solution for the police.

The column, written by Staff Writer John Cichowski, no longer pretends to deal with commuting issue. 

It should be renamed to reflect an almost total focus on driving and reliance on reader e-mails.

In his Wednesday column, Cichowski didn't let a reader's question stump him; he simply  made up the answer, according to the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:


"In his June 26 column, the Road Warrior continues to endanger his readers with his contradictory, confusing, incomplete and inaccurate accounting of crosswalk laws.
"Readers are frightened and confused by his clear lack of knowledge about the confusing and poorly written, revised crosswalk statutes, which he has championed.
"He inferred that drivers would rarely be held accountable under the revised crosswalk laws for hitting pedestrians outside of crosswalks. 
"Unfortunately, the laws clearly state that it will be assumed the driver did not exercise due care for the safety of the pedestrian in the event of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian within or outside of crosswalks.
"In his responses to readers' questions about the requirements of the crosswalk laws, the Road Warrior simply made up answers, which are in contradiction to the crosswalk laws, or failed to provide key relevant information about the laws."


See the full e-mail a concerned reader sent to management:

'Our Dangerous Road Warrior'


A short break

Eye on The Record will return at the end of next week. 



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Editors wary of covering transportation on the ground

In a photo taken appropriately on April Fool's Day this year, the new World Trade Center taunts commuters who pay exorbitant Hudson River tolls to help  cover its huge cost overruns. Of course, if they try to switch to buses or trains, they won't find any rush-hour seats, thanks to the Port Authority's and Governor Christie's regressive mass-transit policies.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Is it really front-page news that Port Authority Commissioner Anthony Sartor owns and runs a large New Jersey-based engineering firm that has worked alongside some of the biggest contractors on the new World Trade Center project?

Or that as head of the bistate agency's WTC Redevelopment Subcommittee, he's bowed out of voting more than 100 times to avoid possible conflicts of interest?

Editor Marty Gottlieb of The Record thinks so, but readers are all too familiar with an agency that is packed with Governor Christie's cronies and powerful commissioners whose outside interests pose ethical dilemmas.

The coverage they haven't seen from Gottlieb and Staff Writer Shawn Boburg or any of the paper's transportation writers relates to on-the-ground commuting issues -- exorbitant and still rising tolls, and packed buses and trains.

That's all set against a background of Christie killing new rail tunnels into Manhattan, and the Port Authority refusing to expand bus or PATH service.

Page A-2 today carries the fourth correction in 2 days from The Record's hard-working editors and reporters.

Elderly drivers

Road Warrior John Cichowski and the editors continue to ignore the challenges faced by older drivers.

On head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local front today, a 71-year-old Korean-American woman tries to explain why she drove the wrong way on a one-way street, leading to a collision that killed her 84-year-old husband, who wasn't wearing a seat belt.

But the editors and their reporter didn't go far enough and explain how a 32-year-old woman in a 2012 BMW X5 couldn't avoid the head-on collision (L-1).

Was the much younger woman texting on her cellphone or speeding? Readers have no clue.

Today's column from Cichowski is yet another discussion of the 2010 law that requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks (L-1).

But his time would be better spent helping older drivers find refresher courses or places where they can go to learn more about defensive driving.

Got carcinogens?

On the Better Living front, doesn't that plate of burnt grilled chicken look yummy?

It's just what the doctor ordered for readers in search of more carcinogens -- harmful chemicals that form when meat and poultry are cooked over high heat.

In recent months, The Record has been publishing recipes from a bumbling food blogger, Kate Morgan Jackson of Upper Saddle River.

Here, Jackson combines chicken and buttermilk for a double dose of harmful, artery clogging animal fats, and doesn't even recommend readers use organic or antibiotic-free poultry (BL-2).

For tips on preparing healthy meals, see:

Do You Really Know What You're Eating?



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Borg siblings to Hackensack: Drop dead!

The Record's eyesore property in Hackensack, above and below, stands in stark contrast to the flattering photo that appears on Page 1 of the Woodland Park daily today.
A developer likely will pay more than $20 million for North Jersey Media Group's 19.7 acres along River Street. The terms of the deal weren't disclosed in The Record's story.

No dumpsters in this view, similar to the A-1 photo.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

If developer Fred Daibes follows through on plans to raze The Record's old headquarters and build apartment buildings, Hackensack's public schools won't be able to accommodate the children who live there (A-1).

The residential development would be the third to be built in the city in three or four years, and the schools are already bursting at the seams.

Avalon, a Hackensack Avenue complex, is now renting, and another developer just broke ground on a 222-unit State Street building.

The Borg family's North Jersey Media Group gave Hackensack a good screwing in 2009, when it abandoned the city where The Record had prospered for 110 years.

Now, the Borgs are telling city and school officials to drop dead.

Better uses for land

The wealthy publishing family could have offered the 19.7 acres to another developer, Richard Pineles, defusing a huge legal battle over a 19-story acute-care hospital  proposed for a small Prospect Avenue parcel.

Or, they could have sold the land to a retailer, such as Costco Wholesale, which is rumored to be leaving Hackensack to build a larger store in Teterboro.

Questionable deal

Instead, they are selling to Daibes, a restaurant owner and bank founder who has allegedly violated numerous state and federal regulations, and who has been treated gently by The Record. 

Publisher Stephen A. Borg claims in today's story,  "There always has been, continues to be, and always will be a separation between the business side and editorial" (A-7).

But that doesn't go for friends, lawyers and others who do business with the Borgs, judging from all the promotional stories about them in recent years.

Just the other day, Jon F. Hanson was identified as Governor Christie's chief adviser on the retail-entertainment monstrosity known as American Dreams Meadowlands (Sunday, A-7).

Hanson also is a real estate mogul who co-owns a private jet with his best friend, Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg.

Apartment plan

Daibes will need all the public relations skills of his politically connected spokesman, Alan Marcus, to market what today's story describes as "upscale high-rise apartment buildings along the Hackensack River."

The Record's old 4th-floor newsroom afforded a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline in the distance -- as long as you overlooked a hulking industrial building and oil tanks in the foreground, and the elevated New Jersey Turnpike in mid-distance.

No pollution?

Also in today's story, Jennifer A. Borg, NJMG's vice president/general counsel, pledges there are "no environmental issues that will prevent redevelopment."

Christie budget

The $33 billion state budget approved by the Legislature doesn't include expanded preschool acess, women's health care or a tax credit for the working poor (A-6).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Christie is boss and we are his faceless mob

Part of Euclid Avenue in Hackensack before it was patched a couple of months ago. City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono said today that contrary to recent press reports, all 5 blocks of Euclid, between Main Street and Summit Avenue, will be paved with proceeds from a bond. Bids for the work came in lower than expected, he added.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

Wilting under the endless coverage of actor James Gandolfini's untimely demise, readers got some good news in The Record today.

A story on A-3 reports his body will be flown back to the United States for services on Thursday.

If he's buried on Thursday, how much longer can Editor Marty Gottlieb keep the story of Gandolfini and mob boss Tony Soprano going?

Mobbed up

Everybody at the Woodland Park daily is getting into the act.

Today, a column by Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin claims Governor Christie "has gone one step too far and ordered flags to be flown at half-staff" to mark Gandolfini's death last Wednesday at 51 (A-11).

Is this really worth a column?

Why hasn't Doblin raised a bigger stink over all of the mean-spirited vetoes Christie is known for -- from shooting down a hike in the minimum wage to killing a tax surcharge on millionaires?

And today's short-sighted editorial, also on A-11, opposes dedicating a portion of sales tax revenue to the preservation of open space.

Give us a break

It was a real stretch on Sunday, when the Better Living cover story compared Christie to Tony Soprano, calling the GOP bully "a governor with a style, theatricality and swagger that Tony would have no doubt appreciated."

OK. Let's get something straight. Someone who is obese can't "swagger;" it's all flab. And Christie doesn't have "theatricality" or "style."

He's a conservative, veto-happy Republican who treats the middle and working classes with contempt, and in less than 4 years, he's proven to be the worst governor New Jersey ever had.

Journalists like Doblin and Bill Ervolino love him, but that tells you everything about the sad state of newspapering at The Record, where editors and reporters fall all over themselves trying to stay in Christie's good graces.

Second look

Although I didn't care for the dated subject, Staff Writer Jeff Pillets turned in a beautifully written story on Sunday's front page: "Not the same old Jersey mob."

But that couldn't save the paper from wallowing in mediocrity by publishing more crap from Columnists Mike Kelly and John Cichowski.

In trying to pillory Paterson Mayor Jeffery Jones for traveling to India in search of investors, Kelly offended readers and all Asian Indians:

"Can we all say 'Huh' -- in Hindi?" Kelly wrote on O-1.

Bad writing is one thing. But bad reporting is unforgivable, especially from a columnist who has been at this game for so long.

Kelly blames Jones for the layoff of 125 police officers 2 years ago -- roughly 25 percent of the force -- conveniently forgetting that it was Christie's cuts in state aide to Paterson and other poor cities that forced the layoffs.

Just hang it up

As for Cichowski, his exaggerated Sunday column was full of sloppy reporting on a bill that would allow police to check a driver's cellphone after an accident, according to a concerned reader:


"In his June 23 column, the Road Warrior leads readers astray with false worries about a preliminary bill, laws and potential limitations for cellphone activities and voice-to-text technologies.
"Road Warrior is frequently unable to comprehend most state statutes since he provides information that contradicts, misrepresents, or exaggerates issues related to bills or approved laws. 
"He repeated these types of mistakes with a bill under preliminary consideration to allow police to review a driver's hand-held cellphone call records at the scene of an accident, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a violation of cellphone law.
"He incorrectly reported that hand-held and hands-free cell phones could be subject to this bill. He reported new driving points and higher fines would be imposed on all cellphone violations when it would only be applicable for texting.
"He failed  to mention current law, which imposes imprisonment up to 10 years or fines up to $150,000, depending on whether it was a fatality or serious injury, due to a crash caused by a cellphone violation.
"That information could persuade drivers to restrict their cellphone use."

To read the full e-mail, go to the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Does anyone check the Road Warrior?


Low-rise reporting
Basically repeating an earlier Road Warrior column quoting hysterical readers, a Star-Ledger story published on A-3 of The Record today exaggerates the impact of an apartment building going up near Route 495 to and from the Lincoln Tunnel.

The building will only partially block the Manhattan skyline, but leave plenty of unobstructed views. 

Most of the view is already blocked by rocks, trees and other natural phenomena. 


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Long, involved stories that excite only the editors

A Juneteenth celebration on Saturday in the Ridgefield Park section of the new Overpeck Park, above, included a lot of great food, such as this fried whole red snapper prepared by the Church of God of Prophecy in Englewood, below.





Call them retrospectives or process stories, the three takeouts that start on Page 1 of The Record today excite only the editors and reporters who worked on them, and put the rest of us to sleep.

How can Staff Writer John Brennan go on and on about "equity," "tax abatements," "tax breaks" and "private financing," but never tell readers when that monstrosity called American Dreams Meadowlands is going to be repainted (A-1 and A-7)?

The ugly hulk visible to every driver on the turnpike has turned into a long-running Jersey joke.

One-track mind

Meanwhile, Staff Writer Karen Rouse continues to obsess over a safe haven for NJ Transit railcars and locomotives, ignoring the screams from rush-hour commuters who have to stand in the aisles (A-1 and A-6).

Check out the dated black-and-white photos and stale news in the Jersey mob story, which is linked to the death on Wednesday of actor James Gandolfini, who portrayed the boss in "The Sopranos," a TV fiction that ended 6 long years ago (A-1, A-6, L-1 and BL-1).

Those old photos remind readers of the dated thumbnails that run with columns by aging Staff Writers Mike Kelly and Virginia Rohan, and Travel Editor Jill Schensul.

Refreshing news

The only bright spot on the front page is the upbeat story on retiring Teaneck teacher Rosanne Ponchick, who used tea-bag tags as a teaching tool (A-1 and A-5).

More road error

On the Local front, Road Warrior John Cichowski continues to ignore North Jersey's nightmarish traffic jams and related commuting issues to go on and on about driving and cellphones (L-1).

His last column was far from accurate, according to an e-mail to management from a concerned reader:


"The Road Warrior returns in his June 21 column [Friday] to one of his many fiascoes and piles on even more of his confusing mistakes and advice about when to call 911 or #77 while driving. He contradicts state laws, police guidelines and Web sites.
"He advises and reports that drivers should call 911, when they should call #77, and vice versa. He advises and reports that drivers can also call local police, which is impractical since most people do not have police numbers for every town they drive in.
"The Road Warrior continues to repeatedly quote officials, who make false statements, which also contradict state laws or guidelines, without any fact-checking or counterpoints.
 "How does The Record management allow dissemination to its readers of such grossly unsafe, mistaken reporting and confusing advice, which does not comply with state  statutes and guidelines, and then not insist the Road Warrior make needed corrections?"

The full e-mail appears on the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:


Road Warrior is who ya not gonna call

Noisy bikers

Another driving-related issue Cichowski won't dare touch are all of those municipal anti-noise ordinances routinely violated by owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Those bikers modify their Harleys to make as much noise as possible, then thumb their noses at all of the people they disturb with their piggish behavior.

These menaces hoodwink The Record and other media with charity runs, such as the one reported today on L-1.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Too much 'Sopranos' fluff, too little substance

Construction on West 34th Street in Manhattan slowed New Jersey drivers heading to the Lincoln Tunnel on Friday afternoon, and some cars displaced pedestrians at this intersection. The Record continues to ignore the region's nightmarish traffic congestion and the need for more mass transit.



Newsroom boss Marty Gottlieb whipped his staff into a frenzy after the premature death of actor James Gandolfini, 51, a Bergen County native who portrayed mob boss Tony Soprano on TV.

Friday's coverage on Page 1, A-6 and the Sports front is way more than any reader wants to know about a single actor, and today's A-1 piece on Gandolfini and actor Don Draper is just a waste of space.

Meanwhile, the Better Living cover story today focuses on the medical aspects of Gandolfini's heart attack in Italy, and virtually ignores the dietary causes of clogged arteries (BL-1).

That's no surprise for a section whose food editors and writers promote recipes that rely on butter, heavy cream and other artery clogging ingredients.

Death has been in the news this week, so the L-1 obituary of environmentalist Ella Filippone, 78, should be on the front page today, in place of either the silly political or television column.

Racist fired

In a related development, it's too bad the Food Network didn't dump "celebrity cook" and racist Paula Dean long ago for pushing fried chicken and other unhealthy Southern dishes (A-1 and A-4 today).

Today's Local section also carries the obituary of Dr. Robert Manzi, 61, of Ridgefield -- the subject of a series in The Record -- but there is no explanation of how the paper missed his death 10 weeks ago (L-5).

Another obituary lists "pneumonia" as the cause of death for Scott Byers of Clifton, the "voice" of the world-famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

But a photo of Byers on Friday's L-6 leaves readers wondering whether obesity had anything to do with his untimely demise at 48.

Mean-spirited Christie

All of this hysterical coverage of Gandolfini's death forced The Record's editors to demote approval of Governor Christie's mean-spirited $33 billion state budget.

Running under a 1-column headline on Friday's front page, the story only mentions in passing cuts in women's health services, preschool education and tax credits for the working poor. 

With that fresh in mind, readers got a good laugh when they saw a quote from Christie on A-2 today, "When people are suffering, we're all Americans ...."

So, I guess we're to assume New Jersey's women, preschool children, the working poor and the middle class aren't "Americans," because the GOP bully treats them like shit.

Bipartisan lies

All of this "bipartisan" B.S. is coming from Christie, the King of Vetoes, and it's being regurgitated by the editors.

They, in turn, pull the strings of Staff Writers Herb Jackson, Melissa Hayes, John Reitmeyer, and Columnists Charles Stile and Alfred P. Doblin, editor of the editorial page.

Road Warrior errors

Friday's Road Warrior column neglects to tell readers that calling #77 to alert the state police about aggressive driving or road rage does little good, if you can't supply a license-plate number.

The problem lies in Staff Writer John Cichowski's almost total reliance on e-mails from drivers whose observation skills are questionable and whose  exaggerations are evident (L-1 on Friday).

Cichowski's previous Road Warrior report -- Wednesday's piece on Route 80 bathrooms or the lack thereof -- was the 14th column in a row with major errors, according to a concerned reader's e-mail to management

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

Road Warrior pisses all over himself again

Are they blind?

Production Editor Liz Houlton's copy editors keep on embarrassing the paper.

Today's Page 1 photo has an over line that could have been written by a 12-year-old, and neglects to report how the accident caused massive problems for commuters:



"TRUCK STUCK ON TRACKS HIT BY TRAIN"


If that's not bad enough, the photo caption describes the truck as a "tractor-trailer," when readers can clearly see a round tanker, not a square trailer (A-1).

I have an over line to suggest:



FIRE 6-FIGURE PRODUCTION EDITOR


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Don't expect a focus on the causes of heart disease

Hackensack Police Director Mike Mordaga got some good news today from a federal judge, who threw out a lawsuit filed by a dead mobster's family against Mordaga, who was then chief of detectives for the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, according to a front-page story in The Record.



Hit men couldn't bring down Tony Soprano, but the actor who portrayed him on TV was killed prematurely by "a massive heart attack" on Wednesday in Italy.

The Record apparently tore up the front page on Tuesday night to report the unexpected, late-breaking death of James Gandolfini, 51, who was from Bergen County.

How times have changed.

On 9/11, The Record's editors -- citing the extra expense -- refused to remake Page 1 for Tom Franklin's unusual photo of firefighters raising the American flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center -- a potential winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Photography.

The photo ran on a back page. Now, North Jersey Media Group spends tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees to sue outsiders who use the copyrighted photo.

Poor coverage

The Gandolfini coverage is full of holes.

I hate the headline -- "Jersey's family man" -- a play on the Jersey Mafia stereotype.

It's especially bad because "The Sopranos" never rang true. Leave it to television to turn a mob boss, one of the lowest forms of life on earth, into a likable guy.

Editors in denial

I don't expect to see any coverage in The Record of the causes of heart disease or whether Gandolfini's diet and weight had anything to do with his death.

The Woodland Park daily has at least two obese editors who are in denial, and a bunch of food writers who obsess over bacon, dessert and other unhealthy dishes.

Staff Writer Mike Kelly waited 7 long months before writing a column about his heart problems, but couldn't bring himself to do so in the first person.

And just try to follow today's editorial on the classification of obesity as a "disease" (A-8).

Real mobster

The Gandolfini obit runs today next to an A-1 story about a real-life mobster, Frank Lagano of Tenafly, whose family tried to pin blame for his unsolved 2007 rub out on county law enforcement officials.

Mike Mordaga, Hackensack's civilian police director, was the last defendant in the suit, which was dismissed Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Faith S. Hochberg.

The notoriously inaccurate copy desk and Production Editor Liz Houlton strike again with the headline:



"Lawsuit
against
officer
tossed"



Mordaga wasn't an "officer" when the suit was filed and he isn't an "officer" now.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Boring news, prostate problems and a recipe for pickles

Paterson Mayor Jeffery Jones is back in the news today, and it has nothing to do with the odd spelling of his first name. Recent stories about Jones in The Record have been supplied by Paterson Press, an online news site that has a content-sharing agreement with North Jersey Media Group, owner of the Woodland Park daily.



Today's front page from Editor Marty Gottlieb of The Record is about as dull as you can get, with stories or photos about Leonia, real estate, Paterson Mayor Jeffery Jones, Governor Christie and talks with the Taliban.

How's that for balanced boredom? What was left unsaid?

The colorful main photo shows minority children from the Bergen Family Center entering a 75-foot-tall hot-air balloon "inflated on its side and secured to the ground Tuesday at Mackay Park in Englewood."

The preschool children weren't allowed to go up in the balloon lest they get a bird's-eye view of the city's stark racial and income divisions or a glimpse of Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg's East Hill mansion.

Prostate report

Today's Road Warrior column on the number of bathrooms along Route 80 in New Jersey is based on an e-mail complaint from a reader with prostate problems (L-1).

Don't count on any accurate bathroom-location information from Staff Writer John Cichowski, whose recent list of gas stations supplying free compressed air was riddled with errors.

You can find an updated and corrected list of gas stations -- compiled by a concerned reader -- on the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Road-Warrior-Bloopers-at-The-Record/110506372452496?ref=hl

No heavy lifting

Esther Davidowitz, the new food editor, seems intent on following the example of the lazy woman she replaced,  Susan Leigh Sherrill.

Food coverage in today's Better Living amounts to little more than three recipes -- one from a food blogger and two from outside news organizations (BL-2).

I got a good laugh at how the "IN THE KITCHEN" cover piece on pickles was laid out next to the story on the unpleasantly sour Don Rickles, the comedian who, at 87, appears pickled.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Editors seem to be giving better play to the dead

Paterson Mayor Jeffery Jones is shrouding in mystery a proposal for a 22-story hotel above the Great Falls, The Record reports today. A photo of the design -- a cocoon-shaped mesh of steel and glass -- appears on L-1,  but the story doesn't tell readers until the continuation on L-6 it is a salute to the city's once-great silk industry. 



The obituary of Wilson R. Kaplen, a philanthropic real estate executive from Tenafly, appears on the Local front today -- the latest in a series of local life stories that are getting better play.

Too many expanded local obituaries have been buried among the death notices, especially on days when the local news report is weak.

As coverage of the living continues to decline under head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her deputy, Dan Sforza, readers are at least learning about prominent local people after they die.

Where's the fire?

What are readers supposed to make of the closing of the firehouse in Leonia, a sleepy town that seems to exemplify home rule at its worst (A-1)?

Residents of Englewood, Teaneck and Hackensack can only rejoice they have professional fire departments guarding their lives.

Minor mayhem

As usual, Sykes and Sforza weren't able to drum up much local news today, so to fill Local, they had to use photos of a minor accident on Route 17 (L-2) and a porch fire in Garfield (L-3).

Hackensack news

Parents with children in Hackenack's public schools are cheering the news the state rejected a charter school for Grades 7 through 12 (L-3).

That means the city's dysfunctional Board of Education won't have to use tax money to support the charter.

The board, including member Francis W. Albolino, who was elected to his 8th term in April, already spends more per pupil than Ridgewood, with little academic excellence to show for it.

But another L-3 story reports the state education commissioner has affirmed dismissal of a former trustee's complaint over the reappointment of three school administrators, an issue that caused gridlock on the board last year.

Second look

Who was responsible for the exaggerated and ultimately inaccurate headline on Staff Writer Mike Kelly's A-1 column on Monday?

"Soldier's story draws his family to the front lines" is a headline designed to attract readers, but Kelly couldn't deliver the goods in his meandering, overlong account of a fender-bender in Afghanistan.

Readers who managed to stay awake long enough to turn to the jump page discovered all of Kelly's word pushing was designed to hide a relatively minor incident that didn't occur anywhere near "the front lines."

Kelly finally reported that a speeding white Toyota Corolla "brushed by" Pvt. Joseph Kiernan Florito of Wanaque, "running over his left foot."

More corrections

Three more corrections appear on A-2 today, but none of them address all of the errors in a June 9 Road Warrior column on gas stations that provide free compressed air.

In an e-mail to management, a concerned reader said:

"He [Staff Writer John Cichowski] provided wrong location information -- including wrong towns, wrong streets, wrong cross streets, wrong spelling of station name or wrong address -- for 6 gas stations in his final list. 
"He provided incomplete information for 12 stations where he only identified their main road location without providing an address or nearby cross street. 
"It would be more difficult to find these stations since many of these roads are several miles or longer. 
"While he provided a street address for 3 locations, he did not provide a corresponding cross street.
"Street addresses would be nice to have for ALL listed stations since it would assist people with map programs or those who want to call the station. 
"However, as John is well aware of based on many of his previous reports street address numbers of businesses are frequently not visible or not displayed. 
"It makes it more difficult for drivers to concentrate on safe driving if they are searching/squinting for neighboring street addresses without knowing a nearby cross street.
"One of his locations is a dedicated auto repair shop, even though John indicated his list would NOT include locations that do NOT sell gasoline.
"The bigger question is whether John will do the necessary work, which his job assignment should require, to verify and publish the needed information for ALL stations or will he simply continue to ONLY rely on whatever unsubstantiated info is provided by his readers and simply hope that the info is correct or complete enough for any use by others, who would not be as familiar with the surrounding area of a cited station, or ONLY do a bare minimum check on info for only some of the stations.
"If The Record is to be considered a reliable newspaper, it would have the Road Warrior provide a complete, corrected list with additional necessary information, including cross streets.  It would certainly NOT knowingly allow multiple mistakes to go uncorrected." 

See the full e-mail on the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers at The Record.




Monday, June 17, 2013

Columnists Kelly, Cichowski are readers' real enemies

Commuting by car into Manhattan or around North Jersey has become a daily nightmare, above and below, yet Road Warrior John Cichowski continues to ignore the need for an expanded mass-transit system.

The headlights stretch for as far as you can see on antiquated, two-lane Passaic Street in Rochelle Park during a recent commute.



Columnist Mike Kelly still hasn't recovered from the heart surgery he had 7 months ago -- as his Father's Day confessional clearly shows.

On Sunday's Opinion front in The Record, Kelly appears so ashamed of the ridiculously unhealthy diet that led to his heart problems that he wrote his column in the third person (O-1).

Kelly was completely clueless about the harm of hamburgers, butter, bacon, ice cream, cake and lots of pizza before he went under the knife, and now his grown daughter is telling him what to eat.

Maybe his wife was trying to kill him.

His column could have served as a more powerful lesson to readers, if he wrote it in the first person and leveled with them about whether he had coronary bypass surgery to clear blockages from harmful animal fats.

Bridge to the truth

Sunday's paper also carried the second Road Warrior column on a new footbridge over Port Imperial Boulevard in Weehawken that Staff Writer John Cichowski is begging commuters to use.

NJ Transit told Eye on The Record today the footbridge was built to provide a "safer crossing" for users of its Bergen-Hudson light-rail line, as well as to provide handicap access to the NY Waterway ferry.

But there has always been a light to stop traffic and a crosswalk there, so most people simply cross the street -- information Cichowski deliberately omitted -- and not a single pedestrian has ever been injured or killed.

No need to cross

And many commuters park in a lot east of Port Imperial Boulevard and don't have to cross the street to reach the ferry -- likely a major reason the footbridge isn't getting a lot of use.

Below is an excerpt from an e-mail to The Record, exposing the many errors in Cichowski's Sunday and Wednesday columns.

It was sent by an anonymous reader who set up a Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers after his complaints about inaccurate columns fell on deaf ears at The Record -- from Vice President and General Counsel Jennifer A. Borg down to Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza, who supposedly edits Cichowski.

"These columns falsely promoted and over-hyped the newly opened pedestrian footbridge over Port Imperial Boulevard, which is near the Weehawken ferry terminal on the Hudson River.
"He simply ignored the most obvious fact, which is that there already is a convenient, safe crosswalk at an intersection with a traffic light.
"It is one of the undisputed reasons that most pedestrians will NOT need to use this footbridge."

For a blow-by-blow listing of all of the errors in the two columns, see:

Road Warrior shows more contempt for the truth



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Editors should end Road Warrior column now

A shortage of rush-hour seats on NJ Transit trains and buses, speeding drivers and lax enforcement of traffic laws are just three of the many pressing commuting issues ignored by Road Warrior John Cichowski, who continues to churn out inaccurate and exaggerated columns three times a week.



Today's Road Warrior column amounts to little more than Staff Writer John Cichowski's well-disguised correction of his first, wildly exaggerated  column on the pedestrian bridge over Port Imperial Boulevard in Weehawken that was published only 4 days ago.

It's time for Editor Marty Gottlieb of The Record to end the Road Warrior column, which continually violates the high standards of accuracy newspapers demand of their reporters.

Errors galore

I'm not talking about typos, the many math errors Cichowski commits or how he often contradicts himself from one column to the next.

Wednesday's Page 1 column intentionally created a transportation crisis that didn't exist, and strongly suggested that pedestrians were being injured or killed crossing Port Imperial Boulevard to reach the NY Waterway ferry. 

Nothing could be farther from the truth, as today's L-1 column sheepishly admits on L-6.

Even Friday's Road Warrior column on the first traffic signal installed in Ringwood carried an L-1  photograph that directly contradicted Cichowski's claim that "no more than 7" cars backed up at the new light.

See the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers, which discusses historical, mathematical and other errors in the Ringwood column:

Road Warrior keeps on lying to readers  

Dead stories

Today's front page keeps on beating dead horses.

Three of the four main element are follow-ups to stale controversies involving the allegedly dishonest Assemblyman Robert Schroeder, LG Electronics' high-rise plan for the Palisades and Big Data.

Cliff notes

Coverage of LG amounts to little more than endless reporting of who is in favor and who is against the South Korean electronic giant's headquarters plan in Englewood Cliffs.

Today's A-1 story quotes an angry Mayor Joseph Parisi Jr.

Isn't it time for The Record's editors to research lawsuits and talk to neighbors of other corporate developments to uncover what borough officials might have done in the past in their desperate bid for ratables?

More guesswork

The fourth main story on A-1 today is about a "serious incident" in Leonia that keeps readers guessing from beginning to end.

Sadly, the story amounts to a shameful admission by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes that she and her staff have so few sources in that town they have to wait for press releases to tell readers the full story.