Saturday, August 31, 2013

Every single Road Warrior column is a car wreck

An NJ Transit double-decker train at the Secaucus Junction on Friday. The extra seats are welcome, but the rail cars come with a dangerous interior design flaw: low luggage racks on the upper level that can crack a commuter's head.

By Victor E. Sasson

I pity North Jersey commuters who don't drive to work, either because they don't want to be stuck in massive traffic jams or can't afford a car, insurance and the exorbitant tolls.

They won't find any help from the media, especially The Record, whose transportation reporters are obsessed with the minutiae of driving in the Garden State or simply are too lazy to ride public transit and report on its many problems.

Another car wreck

On Friday, Staff Writer John Cichowski -- desperate for a column idea -- seized on a report from the New Jersey Public Interest Group "to confirm what most Americans probably either know or suspect" (Friday's Local front).

But the "nearly 7 percent" reduction in the number of drivers from 2005 to 2011 doesn't apply to New Jersey, and is probably outdated.

So, why is Cichowski -- aka "The Addled Commuter" -- wasting a Road Warrior column on it?

In fact, rush-hour traffic jams at the Hudson River crossings, and on the turnpike and parkway, seem as massive as ever. 

And the number of speeders and other maniacal drivers are even more numerous, likely due to an historically low level of enforcement.

Those are the real stories ignored by Cichowski and The Record's lazy local assignment editors.

Instant amnesia

In his Wednesday column, Cichowski couldn't remember what he had reported only three days before -- in his first column about a driver who was ticketed for flashing his lights to warn others of police radar.

According to a concerned reader:

"He [Cichowski] was unable to comprehend or remember his own reporting from Aug. 25, where he stated that the president of state Police Traffic Safety Officers Association came to the driver's defense, or that multiple readers' online comments on his Aug. 25 article came to the driver's defense."

Go to the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers to read the entire e-mail to Editor Marty Gottlieb and the other mucky mucks in management and the newsroom, including the addled reporter himself:

Road Warrior embarrasses The Record again 

Obama and Syria

I just saw the news President Obama will ask Congress for approval of his plan to bomb Syria for killing 1,429 in a gas attack (A-1 today).

That means readers will have to endure days or possibly weeks more of jaw-boning in the media -- a colossal waste of space.

With Syria coverage adding to all of the shore-Sandy stories (A-1 today and Friday), the politics, the adulation for Governor Christie and who knows what else, North Jersey readers are feeling neglected.

Another weird poll

Can anyone believe a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll reporting that 29 percent of Democrats prefer Christie -- the GOP bully -- over state Sen. Barbara Buono, a Democrat (Friday's A-3)?

The only Democrats who are going to vote for the worst New Jersey governor ever are multimillionaires who have been spared an income-tax surcharge -- thanks to Christie's repeated vetoes -- and business owners who are reaping millions in state tax breaks, but not creating jobs.

Always room for dessert

In Friday's Better Living tabloid (BL-18), Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung wastes readers' time with another forgettable restaurant -- Central Kitchen in Englewood Cliffs.

But Ung sampled two desserts anyway, explaining why her column photo hasn't been updated since she joined The Record nearly 6 years ago.

Her mouth and chin no longer fits in the thumbnail format.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Editors ignore GOP attacks on minority rights

Hackensack's Main Street often resembles a ghost town, despite the efforts of a public-private partnership called the Upper Main Alliance. Curiously, some of the empty storefronts are owned by C.J. Lombardo Co., whose CEO, Jerome J. Lombardo, is chairman of the very same Upper Main Alliance. On the 200 block of Main, a welcome sign of renewal: Attili's Grill & Cafe, above, will replace Pfeiffer's/El Potrero Grill.

A few doors down, a sign promises a new Hispanic bakery.

By Victor E. Sasson

The Record's elaborate coverage of the March on Washington's 50th anniversary sets up a phony comparison between President Obama's speech on Tuesday and the spellbinding "I Have a Dream" delivered by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (A-1 and A-18).

Mike Kelly's boring Page 1 column appears designed to obscure the president's basic message:

That sinister forces -- including Governor Christie, Tea Party crackpot Steve Lonegan (A-1) and other conservative Republicans -- are trying to dismantle the rights won by minorities over the past 5 decades.

"It was another humid August day," is the best Kelly -- aka "The Shit Eating Grin" -- can manage for his first sentence on such a momentous occasion. 

The column goes downhill from there.

The last paragraph of the A-18 editorial finally acknowledges the president's real message: 

"In the end, Obama [is] asking Americans to take up a new march for unity and equality."

Hackensack views

The victory of a reform slate in this year's Hackensack City Council election appears to have prompted head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and Deputy Assignment Buffoon Dan Sforza to end the drought on Hackensack news.

But the local editors continue to ignore two big stories:

1) The failure of the public-private Upper Main Alliance to revive the fortunes of Main Street, despite years of promotion.

2) The continuing, crushing burden of three, large tax-exempt entities -- Bergen County, Hackensack University Medical Center and Fairleigh Dickinson University -- on homeowners and other property tax payers in the city.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A truly boring newspaper -- from front to back

As a resident of Euclid Avenue in Hackensack, what do I get for the third-quarter property tax payment of $3,765.65 I made today? Mine was the only block of Euclid that wasn't repaved this month. I do thank Police Director Mike Mordaga for a newly invigorated Police Department, but other agencies fall short. The Building Department, in particular, has turned a deaf ear to neighbors' complaints about 177 Euclid Ave. and 311 Euclid Ave., two homes with numerous violations that have been evident for years.

By Victor E. Sasson

What is the point of the front-page story on how onetime inner-city deli owner Pedro Quezada is spending the $338 million he won in the lottery?

The multimillionaire moved out of his 2-bedroom walk-up in Passaic? That's Page 1 news?

What readers and former employees of The Record really want to know is how Publisher Stephen A. Borg has spent the many millions he has drained out of North Jersey Media Group, and whether that money could have preserved jobs or improved local news coverage?

If you think the front page is bad, you won't find much else in the paper that reflects life in North Jersey.

Cairo at night?

I read and re-read the hundreds of words on a curfew in Cairo (no, not the city in Illinois), and couldn't find anything on what time it goes into effect (A-6).

The story by The Associated Press also doesn't address how night workers in the sprawling Egyptian city get to their jobs and then home during the curfew.

When is The Record going to do a story about night workers in North Jersey, including the faceless drones who work on the Woodland Park daily's copy desk under the incompetent supervision of Production Editor Liz Houlton, "The Queen of Errors"?

Christie idolatry

Looking for a good laugh?

Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin -- the paper's Chief Bullshit Artist -- can't hide his affection for Governor Christie in an editorial claiming $1 million in federal seed money is "another example of Christie bipartisanship working for the good of New Jersey" (A-10).

Unfortunately, development of "smart-grid" technology for NJ Transit won't add a single rush-hour seat to overcrowded buses and trains.

And thanks to the GOP bully, expansion of the rail and bus systems is a decade away -- despite nightmarish traffic jams at the Hudson River crossings.

More road kill

Staff Writer John Cichowski, aka "The Addled Commuter," wastes another Road Warrior column on Don Quinn, the moron who tried to warn speeders about police radar (L-1).

Cichowski is breathing a sigh of relief that he was able to fool his clueless editors into running another silly column that didn't require him to leave the office and explore real commuting problems.

Still selling out

With the state's economy in such poor shape, you'd think the editors of the Business pages would have lots of localized stories for readers.

But that assumes they aren't lazy good for nothings who run stories promoting the Borg family's friends and business associates.

Today, they filled their pages with a big photo of a Mazda assembly line in Japan (L-8) that refers readers to another big photo and a long, wildly exaggerated story on the same subject on the facing page (L-9).

The claim that Mazda rolls out a vehicle "every 54 seconds" at a  plant in Hofu, Japan, couldn't possibly include the time it takes to stamp fenders and other body parts, and paint them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More Christie P.R., LTACH and the Zisa curse

Patrons can park for free in a lot or at the curb when using the U.S. Post Office in Teaneck, above. In Hackensack, the post office has no parking lot and patrons have to fight over 4 metered spaces out front or for others around the corner. The Hackensack Police Department is across the street, and tickets are not uncommon.

By Victor E. Sasson

Check out the phony photo of Staff Writer Herb Jackson with his NJ/DC political column on The Record's front page today.

Jackson -- the Woodland Park daily's so-called Washington correspondent -- is trying to give the impression he carefully considers every word, when, in fact, he writes off the top of his highly partisan head (A-1).

Jackson is part of the paper's public relations machinery for Governor Christie and other conservative Republicans.

Who can forget his Page 1 story on a Tea Party rally in Washington a few years ago, when Jackson conveniently ignored a large photo of dead Jews the Republican crackpots were using to compare health-care reform to the Holocaust?

Despite what Jackson says, Christie's true, partisan  nature is well-known. 

He set back a mass-transit expansion by decades when he killed two Hudson River rail tunnels.

And the GOP bully went to bat for wealthy business owners by vetoing a hike in the minimum wage (A-3).

Hackensack updates

Two Hackensack stories on the front of Local today update readers on long-running controversies (L-1).

As expected, a Superior Court judge ruled the developer of a proposed 19-story hospital on Prospect Avenue got "a fair hearing" before the city's zoning board turned down his application, 5-0, in January 2012.

A lawyer says the backer of the Bergen-Passaic Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH) will appeal the decision (L-6).

The Borgs, Zisa curse

Of course, the Borgs and North Jersey Media Group could have offered to sell their 19.7 acres along River Street to LTACH's developer, defusing the long-running controversy.

But the greedy publishing family has chosen developer Fred Daibes, who promises to flood the area with luxury apartments, putting further strain on the city's public schools.

In return, The Record fills its news columns with favorable coverage of Daibes, a multimillionaire from Edgewater.

The second story amounts to the curse of former Police Chief Ken "I Am The Law" Zisa returning to haunt Hackensack.

Another lawsuit

Zisa is under house arrest while he appeals convictions for insurance fraud and official misconduct, but now he is suing the city and the former president of its police union.

It is city residents who should be suing former City Council members and other city officials for not firing Zisa years ago, when problems in the Police Department first surfaced.

As it is, the LTACH and Zisa cases prove once again only the lawyers win as they rake in unconscionably high legal fees from both sides.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Editors miss the mark on home-rule reporting

Jitneys such as this one heading to Manhattan relieve the pressure on NJ Transit, which doesn't provide enough rush-hour bus or rail seats for North Jersey commuters.

By Victor E. Sasson

Mike Kelly pushes a lot of words around on The Record's front page today without coming close to answering some of the biggest questions about local police departments:

What exactly does the chief of a small department do, and why do we need nearly 70 of them in Bergen County alone (A-1)?

When The Record's Local section runs stories about a string of house burglaries, readers in such wealthy towns as Tenafly know what the chiefs don't do.

So, isn't it a good idea to empty the office of police brass and get them out on the street in Englewood Cliffs and other towns, where they can try to stop burglaries and enforce speeding laws?

But Kelly, aka "The Shit-Eating Grin," beats the subject to death, relying on one of the silliest comparisons I have ever seen:

"Think of this as the law enforcement equivalent of a restaurant with too many cooks and not enough waiters to serve the food."

No. Think of this as a columnist who long ago ran out of steam, and has been reduced to rewriting news stories.

Elderly and dead

Another front-page story today continues The Record's portrayal of the elderly as so demented they wander off for days -- or end up confined to a long-term care facility (A-1 and A-9).

The Record often ignores vibrant seniors who are living full lives until they die.

Still, I searched Local in vain today for an expanded obituary of a noteworthy North Jersey resident. In fact, I haven't seen one in several days.

Assuming Staff Writer Jay Levin is on vacation, why do the editors simply sit on their hands instead of assigning another reporter to write a local obit?

God knows, readers can't figure out why the Borgs are paying some reporters whose bylines are as rare as blue moons or why head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes keeps making excuses for them.

Help for obesity

The Better Living section today picks up more of Local's slack with a cover story on where families can get help for their obese children (BL-1).

Now, the paper should publish a story on where its obese editors can go for help.

The section also appears to have ended "STARTERS" -- a feature on new restaurants -- and substituted a streamlined column called "NOW OPEN" (BL-1)

Today's piece on Fiona's Restaurant in Midland Park is by Staff Writer Sachi Fujimori, whose straightforward reporting is far better than the hard sell of free-lancer Joyce Venezia Suss.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rehashing the past, trying to predict the future

The YMCA on Main Street in Hackensack.

By Victor E. Sasson

The Record's lazy, bored local news editors are expert at dwelling on the past or trying to predict the future, as today's front page demonstrates once again.

I spent about 10 minutes going through this Sunday edition, trying to find something relevant to my life in North Jersey.

The Local section from head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza was another disappointment, especially a Road Warrior column that shrugs at an epidemic of speeding.

Staff Writer John Cichowski glorifies morons like Don Quinn of Harrington Park who think they are doing "a good deed" by warning speeders of enforcement, as if breaking driving laws and not getting caught is some sort of sport (L-1). 

Drive, they said

The Corner Table column on the Better Living front (BL-1) and the lead Business section story (B-1) assume readers like nothing better than jumping in the car, fighting traffic and driving 15 miles to 20 miles to eat out and shop.

On the Opinion front, Columnist Mike Kelly (aka "The Shit-Eating Grin") can't seem to find a current issue to write about (O-1).

At least an editorial questions why Governor Christie isn't holding NJ Transit officials accountable for more than $120 million in Superstorm Sandy damage to locomotives and rail cars (O-2).

Of course, mass transit users are the lowest of the low, as far as The Record's transportation reporters are concerned, and a story on the quality of bus and rail service is an extremely rare find in its news pages.

Second look

The Road Warrior's Friday column tried to predict how many road fatalities would occur in New Jersey, compared to previous years.

And he showed once again an unwillingness to call the DOT and find out when the Route 17 north ramp to South Summit Avenue will reopen.

A concerned reader made that call and found out the ramp will open in early September. 

Cichowski also reported incorrectly that parents can't get discounts on insurance, if their children drive less than full time, according to the reader's e-mail to management and the editors:

"In his Aug. 23 column, the Road Warrior makes up his own estimates and facts that contradict the pace and tally of state road fatality statistics v. previous years.

"The Road Warrior indicates it is a myth that parents can get further discounts, if their children drive only part time and that insurance rates ares strictly based on the number of drivers.

"Based on insurance agents I spoke with, it is not a myth.  Insurance rates can be discounted further, if the child does not use one of the cars full time.

"Once again, the Road Warrior provides no answer on when the Route 17 north ramp to South Summit Avenue will open.

"His inability is striking since I was able to find out on Aug. 12 and again on Aug. 23 when the ramp will open, and instructed John on Aug. 12 about DOT personnel he could contact to get this info.

"Road Warrior then has the unmitigated gall to instruct readers to complain to Creamer and Sanzari company personnel since their companies were involved with the work, because John does not want or know how to do his job.

"Shame on The Record for allowing this ghastly practice due to the Road Warrior’s incompetence."

The full e-mail can be read on the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

For Road Warrior, facts are out of reach 

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

More national, state and local politics on A-1

Fort Lee's latest sore thumb.

By Victor E. Sasson

Does President Obama really have to come to New Jersey and point out that state Sen. Barbara Buono is the Democrats' best chance to end Governor Christie's mean-spirited campaign against the middle class (A-1)?

The Record's front page report today on Cliffside Park Mayor Gerald Calabrese -- an 88-year-old with big health problems -- is the most persuasive argument yet for dismantling the state's home-rule system of local government.

Missing in the seemingly comprehensive report on Calabrese's 50 years in power is the long list of the relatives and cronies who have enriched themselves with public jobs and contracts.

Friday's Page 1 carried another Charles Stile column fine-tuning Christie's squatting position over the toilet bowl of conservative Republican politics.

Editor Marty Gottlieb keeps on bombarding readers with boring politics, but little on the policy making or issues that really affect voters.

Keystone kops

Today's paper also includes reports on seemingly incompetent police departments in Paterson and Fort Lee (L-1).

Readers long have known the police in Paterson don't bother to protect minorities from gun violence.

Now, it appears they couldn't care less that a 2-year-old was killed last Monday by an SUV in the predominantly Middle Eastern South Paterson section (L-1).

The Record missed this story until Friday, when an initial report on L-2 said Adam Sheikh was riding a tricycle on the sidewalk when a "black truck" hit him.

Law and disorder

In Fort Lee, an unmarked police car was stolen from a motel lot, where, presumably, it was left running or with the key in the ignition. LOL.

Today's Local section is packed with Law & Order news and filler photos of accidents -- more evidence head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her incompetent minions can't find enough real news to fill their pages.

A photo caption on L-3 is barely coherent, ending with this sentence: "The teenage driver had made her way home and was taken to a hospital for observation."

The vehicle, described as "an SUV," appears to be a minivan.

Friday's paper 

The Road Warrior column on Friday relied completely on reports, surveys and e-mails from readers (L-1) -- with no guarantee the data was quoted accurately by the addled John Cichowski.

Cichowski's Wednesday column on the George Washington Bridge Bus Station in Manhattan was filled with many reporting errors, according to a concerned reader.

"The Road Warrior has reached the unimaginable milestone of 100 columns filled with an overwhelming amount of implausible and inexcusable mistakes in less than a year's time," according to an e-mail the reader sent to management and the editors.

The full e-mail can be seen on the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Road Warrior bus is out of service 

Also Friday, The Record continued to use "email" in a story about NJ Transit and Christie (A-4) instead of the far more common "e-mail," which was the paper's style for many years.

On Friday's Better Living cover, the editors hailed  "authentic flavors" at Thai Palace in Teaneck, but readers who turned to the review found themselves staring dumbly at a slice of chocolate pecan pie (BL-18).

Staff Writer Elisa Ung allowed her obsession with dessert to get the best of her once again.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

With Christie, the 'Dream' is a living nightmare

At a vacant house on Summit Avenue in Hackensack.

By Victor E. Sasson

The Record's front page today and other media are jumping the gun on the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington "for jobs and equal rights" (Aug. 28).

But it's typical of the Woodland Park daily to focus on the recollections of freedom marchers from Englewood and Paterson who heard Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech -- and not on how poorly minorities are doing since Governor Christie took office in 2010 (A-1).

GOP bully

Christie discriminates against the high (John E. Wallace, the black state Supreme Court associate justice he dismissed) and the low (all those workers denied a hike in the minimum wage by his veto).

You don't even have to be black or Hispanic. His mean-spirited budgets and his broken promise to lower local property taxes have hurt the state's middle class, too.

It's no wonder Democratic challenger Barbara Buono has loped 10 points off Christie's supposed lead in the gubernatorial election, according to a new poll (A-3).

Obama, Egypt

Christie's endorsement of Tea Party crackpot Steve Lonegan for a U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey was front-page news, but President Obama's backing of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the presumed victor, ends up on A-5 today.

A day after the Syrian government allegedly used chemical weapons to kill hundreds of innocent civilians (A-1), the editorial page is shedding tears over the supposed death of "democracy" in Egypt (A-18).

I am still waiting for the media to report on the true nature of the Muslim Brotherhood, its ties to Hamas and other terrorist groups, and the full extent of its persecution of Christians.

The media's continued inability to confirm who has used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians is a testament to their cowardice in not going to the scene of the massacres, reducing their reports to the level of "he said/she said."

Bathroom humor?

Also on A-18 today, three letter writers call for the firing of the NJ Transit officials responsible for failing to safeguard locomotives and rail cars from Superstorm Sandy damage.

"NJ Transit, the sixth-largest system in the United States, is still struggling to restore service to pre-storm levels," says Lisa Padron of Wayne.

Maybe, in the past 10 months, I missed The Record's assessment of NJ Transit "service" in the thousands of words written about bathrooms at the Hoboken terminal and Penn Station in Manhattan. 

Hackensack change?

Today, a follow-up to Tuesday's Hackensack City Council meeting reports the appointment of "a prominent ... lawyer with ties to the Christie administration" to guide redevelopment in the city (L-1).

Brian M. Nelson is another well-connected Republican hired by a council that was swept into office this year on a platform that pledged to end the insider deals of former Zisa family administrations.

The appointment of Nelson not only sends the wrong message about patronage.

More apartments?

He is wrong for the city, if he continues to encourage developers to build more apartments in a city whose public schools are already bursting at the seams, necessitating the lease of a vacant Catholic school building.

Today's story reports the city is considering "opening a municipal [parking] lot near Foschini Park" for development proposals.

The only development there should be a municipal pool.

That's what voters said Hackensack was sadly lacking during a forum for Mayor John P. Labrosse Jr. and the other candidates at Mount Olive Baptist Church in early May.

Of course, The Record didn't cover the forum.

Dead copy

The Record's wire editor has ignored the deaths this week of two giants of jazz piano.

I haven't seen obituaries for either Marian McPartland or Cedar Walton.

Yet, the local editors continue to run filler photos of fender benders and other minor accidents in the same section with obits and death notices. 


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

GOP politics dominate today's headlines

A tractor-trailer holding up traffic on Summit Avenue at Passaic Street, an antiquated two-lane road that is a notorious traffic bottleneck in Hackensack. Passaic is narrow and has no turn lanes on either side of Summit, unlike its intersection with Prospect Avenue and other cross streets.

By Victor E. Sasson

On Page 1 of The Record today, GOP bully Chris Christie endorses Tea Party crackpot Steve Lonegan's bid for a U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey -- a political marriage made in hell.

On the Local front, the Hackensack City Council retains City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono, despite his ties to the powerful Zisa family, which ruled Hackensack for decades.

And council members strongly suggested Republican loyalist Anthony Rottino will get the new post of director of economic development (L-1).

So much for Hackensack's non-partisan municipal elections.

But The Record's error-prone copy desk published an incorrect headline on the continuation page (L-6), catching Production Editor Liz Houlton napping.

"Hackensack retains key official"

The main headline on L-1, above, refers to Lo Iacono (LOW-yack-a-no), the city manager.

But on the continuation page, the headline says:

Rottino: Retained by council

Horsey set

What do you make of the silly front-page story about the imminent removal of the carousel at Paramus Park mall, and the social-media campaign to save it (A-1)?

Another, larger carousel is available a few miles away at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, though the story by Staff Writers Evonne Coutros and Joan Verdon conveniently omits that fact.

Why is this story on Page 1?

The mother of one bratty kid actually has the nerve to call the 18-seat Paramus Park carousel "a Bergen County icon," and The Record actually has the nerve to print the inane comment.

Another 'icon'

Today, one of The Record's "icons," Road Warrior John Cichowski, calls the Manhattan end of the George Washington Bridge a "lip" (L-1).

Imagine if you can get that "lip" to meet the other "lip" in Fort Lee? Certainly, they'd say, "Moron."

On a rare trip away from his computer, Cichowski reports on the inhospitable bus terminal at the Manhattan end of the bridge, and its delayed renovation.

He doesn't say whether commuters have any more success getting a seat on a bus during the rush hour than those going to the midtown bus terminal or whether the uptown terminal has seats that are any more comfortable than the torture devices downtown.

That's the real story: 

The continuing lack of commitment to mass transit by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which encourages commuters to drive and pay the exorbitant tolls that keep the wasteful bistate agency going.

Column hog

In his column last Friday, Cichowski "made-up perspectives, and his personal, unprofessional blogs in The Record continue to contradict facts, state statutes, studies, experts and rational experiences," according to a concerned reader.

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

Assessing the Road Warrior 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More flawed reporting on LTACH in Hackensack

Private homes at 324 Summit Ave., above, and 329 Prospect Ave., below, are among  four Hackensack properties that would make way for a 19-story acute-care hospital, in the unlikely event the controversial proposal is ever built.

The house at 329 Prospect Ave., which appears to be the only one of the four that is occupied, is across the street from the Prospect Heights Care Center, which is owned by the developer of the proposed hospital, called LTACH (Bergen-Passaic Long Term Acute Care Hospital).

By Victor E. Sasson

LTACH is an acronym that makes Hackensack residents' blood boil.

That's especially true if they live on Prospect Avenue, where the 19-story hospital would be built, many blocks from the medical center that has already swallowed big chunks of the residential neighborhood.

The developer is challenging the January 2012 denial of his application by the Hackensack Board of Adjustment, and oral arguments in a lawsuit being heard in Superior Court ended on Monday, The Record reports today.

About 20 opponents, members of the Prospect Avenue Coalition, and their lawyer attended the oral arguments.

In the run-up to this year's May 14 municipal election, the coalition sponsored forums to question candidates about what the city is doing to fight the lawsuit.

The Record didn't bother covering the forums.

Missing information 

Stories in The Record today (L-1) and last week report the proposed tower would require demolition of 2 homes, not the 4 cited by opponents -- 316, 320 and 324 Summit Ave., and 329 Prospect Ave.
The stories mention 10 floors of patient rooms, a dialysis center and an adult medical day-care center for up to 180 adults, but omit a proposal for 5 floors of underground parking.

That part of the plan really worries Prospect Avenue residents who fear blasting for underground parking may trigger another parking garage collapse, like the one that paralyzed the neighborhood in 2010.

The Zisa factor

The Record's story today also reports Judge Alexander H. Carver III asked one of the city's lawyers about "candidates for mayor and council speaking out publicly at the beginning of the application process [on April 15, 2009]."

The reference is to then-City Council incumbents Michael Melfi, Karen Sasso and Jorge Meneses, who were seeking second terms in the May 2009 municipal election.

"The lawsuit says the city and zoning board engaged in a political scheme to deny the applicant a fair and impartial review," The Record reports.

Melfi, Sasso and Meneses, allies of the ruling Zisa family, left the council on July 1, when a victorious slate of reformers were installed.

The Record says the judge "will make a decision by Aug. 30, his expected retirement date."

More brown nosing

The Record's editors have turned from polishing Governor Christie's image in the upcoming November election to promoting him for a White House bid in 2016 (A-1).

All of this coverage of the next presidential election is a testament to how bored the paper's editors and  reporters are, and how they need constant stimulation.

Of course, hidden motives could include getting a job in the next Christie administration and riding his coattails to a presidential bid, which many observers say is doomed to failure.

Tar and feathers

When was the last time Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, rode an SRO NJ Transit train to or from the city during the rush hour?

Never, judging from her call for a special legislative hearing on why NJ Transit didn't follow its hurricane plan in the days before Superstorm Sandy hit last October (A-1) -- a story that has been pursued relentlessly by The Record.

No-dessert zone

Record readers eager for tips on food shopping, nutrition, losing weight and dining out should consult my food blog:

Do You Really Know What You're Eating? 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Editors are doing a better job of covering the dead

The rush-hour stampede for a seat on an NJ Transit train at Manhattan's Penn Station is one of the unpleasant features of using mass transit, but The Record would rather write story after story on Superstorm Sandy damage to locomotives and rail cars.

By Victor E. Sasson

You can't exactly call a story about how many dead people are buried in North Arlington a bright spot, but there is so little else of interest on Page 1 of The Record today it will have to do.

Editor Marty Gottlieb keeps shoving Superstorm Sandy reports and politics down our throats, including a Herb Jackson column that pretends the U.S. Senate election between Democrat Cory Booker and Tea Party crackpot Steve Lonegan isn't a forgone conclusion (A-1).

Service is story

Staff Writer Karen Rouse has been scooping other media on NJ Transit's incompetence in storing equipment in a low-lying rail yard that was swamped by Superstorm Sandy (A-1).

But 10 months after the storm, she has yet to connect the dots, and tell readers whether all those ruined rail cars have 1) intensified the scramble for a seat during the rush hour, and 2) what NJ Transit is doing about the problem.

Talk about deadlines

The story on Holy Cross Cemetery by Jay Levin, the local obituary writer, would have been a lot better, if anecdotes appeared out front and the opening paragraph's gee-whiz statistics were left for the continuation page (A-6).

As it is, I lost interest plowing through all of those numbers on the front page.

As for the U.S. Senate, Governor Christie's lame pick to fill the late Frank Lautenberg's seat has been a no-show on 21% of the votes cast (A-3).

What excuse did former state Attorney General Jeffrey "Who?" Chiesa offer? A family vacation. 

Local news

There is more weirdness today.

Why run a huge Page 1 photo of an overweight Charley Samuels, 15, of Ridgewood at Sandy Hook after the 17.5-mile Ederle Swim, but not a recognizable photo of 46-year-old Lynn Ascione, the Ramsey woman who beat the teen's time decisively (L-1)?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Boring columnists insult readers' intelligence

It's smooth driving after years of slow going over roughly patched pavement on Hackensack's Euclid Avenue, between Main Street and the railroad tracks.

By Victor E. Sasson

The Christie Apologist (Charles Stile). The Shit-Eating Grin (Mike Kelly). The Vagina Monologue (Tara Sullivan). The Addled Commuter (John Cichowski). The Momma's Boy (Bill Ervolino).

The Record's sorry lot of columnists are on full display in today's Sunday edition, with two of the morons on the front page.

How can Charles Stile call Governor Christie "the Jersey savior" and a "moderate" or compare him to Bill Clinton after the GOP bully used numerous vetoes to get his way, and broke his promise to lower local property taxes (A-1)?

Egypt, trollies

Why is Mike Kelly writing about a Jersey City jewelry store owner who can't retire to his native Egypt, and ignoring thousands of Jamaican-Americans in North Jersey whose island homeland has been in crisis for far longer (A-1)?

And the A-1 photo that accompanies Kelly's column is initially confusing. That's not the "Ahmed" he is writing about.

Why is the increasingly irrelevant Road Warrior waxing nostalgic over a form of mass transit that hasn't run for more than 80 years or is this just another way John Cichowski can avoid getting out of the office and doing some legwork (L-1)?

Selling out

You have to sympathize with Your Money's Worth Columnist Kevin DeMarrais, a lone voice for consumers in The Record, which continues to promote business and developers, including those with ties to the Borg family (B-1).

A couple of years ago, DeMarrais himself wrote a story for the Business section about a woman who sold a multimillion-dollar private jet to Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg and his pal, real estate mogul Jon F. Hanson.

Today, the Real Estate cover story eagerly quotes Edgewater builder Fred Daibes, without ever telling readers the multimillionaire who has skirted environmental regulations has agreed to buy the Borg family's 20 acres in Hackensack to build luxury apartments (R-1).

Farm to garden

It's only been a few weeks since Elisa Ung returned from her second maternity leave, but the restaurant reviewer has quickly abandoned the consumer focus of her Sunday column, The Corner Table (BL-1).

The chef and restaurant she writes about today is in Princeton. Hey, let's jump in the car and drive almost 60 miles for dinner.

Don't we all have 150 cookbooks and throw dinner parties?

You'd think so from the Better Living cover story by the new food editor, Esther Davidowitz (BL-1).

On BL-3, in another boring column about his family, Bill Ervolino writes about homeowners who grow huge zucchinis or what amounts to penis envy among gardeners.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hollywood, editors ignore today's racist backlash

Compare this comfortable bench for Coach USA commuters at the midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, above, to the spring-loaded implements of torture NJ Transit provides in another part of the terminal, below.

By Victor E. Sasson

Picking up The Record's report today on new movies about racial issues in the 1950s and 1960s, readers must be wondering what the editors and Staff Writer Jim Beckerman are smoking (A-1 and BL-1).

They completely ignore the continuing racist backlash to the 2008 election of President Obama and implementation of his Affordable Care Act, which is still under attack by Tea Party crackpots like Steve Lonegan, former pipsqueak mayor of Bogota (A-1 on Friday).

"It's as if America in 2013 was just beginning to address, rather than finally laying to rest, the racial issues that tore the country apart 60 years ago," Beckerman says, ignoring the present in a desperate search for an angle.

What about all of the voter-suppression proposals in North Carolina and other states with a large number of minorities? Don't they count as "racial issues."

News biz films?

Hollywood directors are famous for period pieces that twist the past even as they expose decades-old injustices.

Many readers are wondering when Hollywood is going to make movies about newspapers:

Their greedy publishers, big and small; and their editors and reporters, who will sensationalize and distort anything for a story, such as today's silly promotion of three new films (BL-1).

More screw-ups

Judging by 3 detailed corrections on A-2 today, Production Editor Liz Houlton and her snoring  copy editors are unable to perform their main job: keeping errors out of the paper.

Of course, all of the errors -- published and unpublished -- were missed by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her crack staff, including Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza.

Errors are bad enough, but what about omissions, such as the lack of information on the cause of a one-car accident that killed Erin Quinn, 18, a Wayne woman who was driving to college on Thursday (L-6), according to a death notice on L-5 today.

Forced busing

I'll let NJ Transit investigate a black customer's complaint "that he was racially profiled," but I have to question Alonza Robertson's judgment in taking a bus from Rockland County to Paramus to shop at a Nike outlet on a Sunday, when just everybody else knows all stores are closed (L-1).

For many years, The Record ignored NJ Transit's systematic discrimination against minorities, forcing them to ride decrepit, decades-old local buses, while the agency regularly replaced rolling stock on Manhattans runs.