Thursday, October 31, 2013

NJMG cuts off health insurance to retirees under 65

A 1,500-pound pumpkin is being displayed on Essex Street, near Summit Avenue, in Hackensack.

By Victor E. Sasson

The Record's lead Page 1 story today and Wednesday reports on the cancellation of thousands of "bare-bones" health policies outlawed by the Affordable Care Act.

Today's breathless account raises an alarm, noting some of the policies cost as little as $100 a year.

But one student, Jhon Alzate, 20, is facing $1,000 in bills from two "emergency room visits to treat a still-undiagnosed illness" (A-4).

What good is a health-insurance policy that socks a 
20-year-old you with $1,000 in bills?

Why is The Record portraying the cancellations as a bad thing, and as just another problem with federal health-care reform?

NJMG cancellations

And where are the stories about companies such as North Jersey Media Group cancelling health-insurance policies?

NJMG, which publishes The Record of Woodland Park, has informed retirees and their dependents under 65 that "we have decided to eliminate" medical benefits, effective Jan. 1.

This year, I have been paying $1,004 a month to cover my wife and son. I am covered by Medicare.

The letter notes "the Affordable Care Act now offers other choices," and even provides a telephone number (1-800-318-2596) to avoid the problem-plagued Web site, www.

"In the Marketplace, you could be eligible for a new kind of tax credit that lowers your monthly premiums right away," according to the letter, which is signed by Thomas G. Heffernan, NJMG vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer.

Election issue

The Record has waited until five days before the gubernatorial election to report on the candidates' differences on controlling property taxes (A-1).

The story says property taxes have continued to rise despite Governor Christie's policy changes, but doesn't specifically remind readers the GOP bully promised to cut property taxes and realize other savings through consolidation of home-rule communities (A-1).

Christie broke both promises.

Democratic challenger Barbara Buono would use revenue from a so-called millionaires tax to provide more middle-class property tax relief (A-4).

An estimated $1 billion would be raised by a tax on the wealthy, including the Borg family, but Christie has vetoed it at least three times.

Shitting bricks

Did anyone read more than a few paragraphs of Mike Kelly's lame column on "two distinct portraits" of Newark, also known as Brick City (A-1)?

The front-page photo shows the "gleaming Prudential Center sitting alongside older brick buildings." 

Older brick buildings? Horrors. Check out Kelly's shit-eating grin in his dated column photo. 

Two embarrassing corrections appear on A-2 today.

On A-3, a photo of Christie almost makes overweight first lady Mary Pat Christie look petite.

Readers lost in valley

Endless coverage of the proposed Valley Hospital expansion in Ridgewood continues today on the Local front.

Considering that the hospital would add space without going outside its current boundaries, The Record should be ashamed of itself for giving so much space to opponents in the past several years (L-1).

Hackensack University Medical Center's many expansions virtually destroyed the surrounding neighborhood, but The Record didn't provide anything close to the kind of coverage we see in the Ridgewood controversy.

The Borg factor

Today, the hospital's ambulance service keeps many Hackensack residents awake, and its non-profit status inflates homeowners' nightmarish property tax bills.

Where are those stories?

In the past, the gentle handling of the medical center could be explained by the presence of  NJMG Vice President and General Counsel Jennifer A. Borg on the HUMC board.

But what is the excuse now? She left the board several years ago.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Record turns its back on the middle class

A reader of "Eye on The Record" calls jitneys the "McDonald's of mass transportation in North Jersey," referring to the low-wage workers who drive them. We'd all be better off if we patronized businesses that paid their employees a living wage and benefits, and boycotted those that don't, including McDonald's and Walmart.

By Victor E. Sasson

In letters to the editor today, one reader called The Record's endorsement of Governor Christie "insane," and another said the GOP bully's agenda "is not in the interests of working- and middle-class families" (A-12).

The editorial, which ran on Sunday, is full of the same distortions, omissions and half-truths voters are finding in Christie's campaign ads.

Under the headings of "Christie's a leader" and "Governor deserves four more years," the editorial sanitizes the conservative's first term by failing to mention all the vetoes he executed to get his way on issues ranging from a hike in the minimum wage to a tax surcharge on millionaires.

Spiking the tea

More troubling is The Record -- presumably with the support of the wealthy Borg family -- adopting the no-tax mantra of the crackpot Tea Party (Sunday's O-2).

And many readers are puzzled by The Record's dismissing the governing skills of state Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democratic challenger, when Christie's highest elected position before he won the Governor's Office was as a Morris County freeholder.

Of course, the endorsement by Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin is no surprise after months of favorable news coverage and adoring columns that ignore the crippled state economy and disappointing shore tourism this past summer.

Typically, the Woodland Park daily ran another analysis of Christie's politics on A-1, and coverage of Buono's campaign on A-3.

Sandy lingers

After two solid days of upbeat coverage on the recovery from Sandy, The Record's front page reluctantly reports on all those who have nothing to celebrate today, the anniversary of the devastating storm (A-1).

A second story on shore ads continues to polish Christie's image as he positions himself for a presidential run in 2016.

Filler photos

In Local, Deputy Assignment Flunky Dan Sforza couldn't fill his section with news.

So, he took a page from his absent boss, Deirdre Sykes, and ran two filler photos of minor accidents, and didn't even bother to get the identity of the drivers or possible causes (L-2 and L-3).

One caption informed readers "the car [was] towed away."

How's that for breaking news?

Second look

Friday's front page carried a follow-up to the murder of Mary Greff, 23, of Waldwick, focusing on her boyfriend's inability to adjust to fatherhood after their child was born.

Who thought this story was the appropriate place to attempt a clever play on words?

The first paragraph noted Greff and suspect Mark Spatucci argued over "child support and custody of the infant," followed immediately by "now Spatucci, 22, is in custody [jail]."

Editor Marty Gottlieb also thought Friday's Page 1 was an appropriate place for another sports column by Tara Sullivan, the paper's Vagina Monologue.

Solid blue line

Friday's Local front informed readers the Alpine police officer involved in an accident in Paterson, where he allegedly ran a stop sign, had just accepted a traffic-safety award on behalf of his department.

But Paterson and Alpine police continued to stonewall reporters seeking information about Matthew Kent, the traffic officer, and the cause of the accident.

Was liquor served at the banquet where Kent accepted the award, and did he consume any? Readers are left guessing.

On Friday's L-7, a photo shows five Paterson police officers standing around the motorcycle that collided with the Alpine police cruiser, raising a natural question:

Why aren't they fighting crime and gun violence in the Silk City?

Living appetizers

In Friday's review of Rose Persian Restaurant in Teaneck, Staff Writer Elisa Ung reports the owners plan "to add outdoor tables on Teaneck Road where customers can smoke hookah," presumably while wearing fall clothing (Better Living).

She also said the menu offers "spunky" appetizers, but doesn't explain how food can be both "courageous and determined."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sandy, Chris, Marty, Charlie, John and Denisa

A jitney at Main and Thomas streets in Paterson, in front of Aleppo Restaurant. The jitneys appear every 5 minutes or so, providing more seats to and from New York than NJ Transit buses. Some argue the jitneys' success can be traced to the inability of the state public transit agency to meet the demand from commuters and others.

By Victor E. Sasson


The anniversary coverage of Superstorm Sandy dominates Page 1 today and Sunday, and I challenge any reader to get through all of it.

The Record's editors and columnists love anniversaries, which allow them to endlessly rehash the past and ignore contemporary events in North Jersey.

But does the upbeat coverage of the recovery from Sandy reflect reality -- such as the still-shuttered storefronts and boarded-up homes in Sea Bright and other shore communities nearly a year after the storm?

Today's Sandy story on A-1 is full of fractured English, leaving readers wondering about the fluency of the copy editors and Staff Writer Charles Stile, who delivers yet another adoring column about Governor Christie.

The front-page banger headline declares:

From despair,
hope triumphs  


Then, the sub-headline invites readers to meet "area families." What area? And the headline insists the families "bask in their hard-earned normalcy."

Readers shaking their head over those headlines will find more awkward language in the Political Stile column, which calls the post-Sandy Christie "a worried crisis commander in triage mode."

And that's in only the second paragraph. This and past columns about the GOP bully show Stile probably has more come on his face than any other staffer.


At the end of his shameless column, Stile notes Christie's "communication staff runs the most aggressive and creative marketing machine that has ever operated out of the State House."

"Almost on a daily basis," Stile says, "it casts Christie as the savoir of Superstorm Sandy."

But isn't that what Stile, Editor Marty Gottlieb and The Record's adoring staff have done, too?

On A-7 today, a story by transportation reporter Karen Rouse declares NJ Transit train service "has largely returned to normal," but she doesn't say "normal" is standing room only -- on both buses and trains -- during the rush hour.

Hackensack dreams

In Hackensack news today, Staff Writer Hannan Adely reports city officials envision the development of hundreds of apartments, and tenants patronizing shops and restaurants on a revived Main Street (L-1).

That's a gamble that Engelwood took and lost, as the shuttered storefronts on Palisade Avenue demonstrate, including those on the ground floor of a luxury apartment building.

Of course, that didn't stop Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg, who lives on Englewood's East Hill, and North Jersey Media Group from signing a contract with a luxury apartment developer who wants to purchase nearly 20 acres in a flood zone along River Street in Hackensack -- former headquarters of The Record.

Price up, quality down

Meanwhile, a reader on the northern fringe of the circulation area reports the price for a 52-week subscription to The Record of Woodland Park  has gone up, even as the paper appears to be on a crash news diet:

"The 52-week subscription price for The Record has gone up more than 13 percent, as the paper grows skinnier and skinnier, while new names appear daily and valued bylines disappear. For example, the byline of Denisa R. Superville has been missing for a month. Has there been a purge of established reporters and a wave of hiring of novices? Even the cachet of Tatiana Schlossberg has been missing for months."

Superville's byline appears today on one of the Sandy stories (A-7), but Schlossberg may have gone on to bigger and better things, as have legions of Record staffers before her.

Schlossberg's mother, Caroline Kennedy, has been confirmed as ambassador to Japan.

On the road?

Someone else who appears to be missing is Road Warrior John Cichowski, who hasn't had a column in the paper since Oct. 20, according to a concerned reader, who adds:

"The Road Warrior is either in the doghouse, the nuthouse, ICU, or hung out to dry."

In his column on Oct. 19, Cichowski committed a multitude of sins, according to the reader, who has set up a Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

"In his Saturday column, the Road Warrior put children, teenagers and drivers at risk with his contradictory and confusing explanations about safety and New Jersey or New York laws regarding seat belts, stopping for school buses and graduated driving licenses (GDL).

"I feel sorry for all New Jersey parents and teenagers who believe the Road Warrior's false premise that New Jersey GDL laws are applicable in New York and his failure to mention that New York GDL traffic laws, which in some cases are more restrictive than New Jersey's, are applicable to New Jersey teenagers with Graduated Driving Licenses.

"Road Warrior's confusing, illegal interpretations of driving laws contradict New York and New Jersey state police and traffic safety agencies.

"After their teenagers receive unnecessary tickets, fines and points for their violations in New York, perhaps New Jersey parents can send their bills and legal fees to John Cichowski."

Click on the following link:

Road Warrior's mind is on vacation

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Prosecutor's embargo spooks editors and reporters

For frustrated commuters, North Jersey has it all: Narrow, antiquated streets; bus and rail service with not enough seats; and exorbitant tolls. On Passaic Street in Hackensack, a major commuting thoroughfare, above, traffic backs up for nearly a block behind a bus that stopped near Summit Avenue. Passaic and Summit is a major bottleneck for another reason: No turn lanes on Passaic.

By Victor E. Sasson

You don't have to be a police reporter or homicide detective to know that when there are no signs of forced entry, it's a good bet the victim knew her killer.

But if you are a sheepish editor or reporter at The Record, covering the murder of 23-year-old Mary Greff, a single mom in Waldwick, you go only with what Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli tells you.

In today's sensational Page 1 story, Molinelli is quoted in the third paragraph as saying "it was too early to reveal the identity of potential suspects" (A-1).

Too early for what?

Suspect charged

Readers, of course, know how this tortured tale ends, as finally reported on at 11:34 a.m. today: the ex-boyfriend, Mark Spatucci, 22, of Midland Park was charged with first-degree murder.

He was arrested Wednesday, the day Greff was found strangled "with her baby lying unharmed in a bassinet nearby," and that arrest should have been in today's paper.

Apparently, none of the four reporters who worked on the story -- or any of the local editors screaming about the sky falling back in the Woodland Park newsroom  -- bothered to ask Molinelli if the ex-boyfriend was a suspect or owned the black Volkswagen investigators were looking for (A-1).

Another natural question is whether the victim, who lived with her parents, was seeking sole custody of her infant son after breaking up with Spatucci.

Kelly's failures 

Mike Kelly and The Record's other lame columnists should make time to read Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald (Opinion, A-21).

In a quarter of the space taken up by the long-winded Kelly, who delights in pushing around thousands of words to little effect, Pitts makes clear exactly how he feels about America's "enslavement of Africans and forced removal of American Indians."

Pitts delivers his opinion, forcefully and eloquently, while Kelly's columns are merely an assemblage of information and quotes that are indistinguishable from news stories.  

Alpine and Paterson

Molinelli isn't the only law enforcer who isn't talking to The Record, according to an L-1 story on the collision of a motorcycle and Alpine police cruiser in Paterson.

The police officer from the wealthy Bergen County town ran a stop sign, according to an eyewitness.

Was the cop visiting the impoverished city to testify in state Superior Court? The story doesn't say.

Weak local report

There is a second Paterson story on L-2, but no Teaneck or Hackensack news, as Deputy Assignment Flunky Dan Sforza continues to struggle during the prolonged absence of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes.

However, Sforza learned well from Sykes, and found a good deal of filler, including: 

An L-1 story on the mayoral contest in far-off Wayne, and the photo of a 2-vehicle accident in Paramus (L-3).

A short break

Eye on The Record will return next week, but readers should brace themselves for more crappy work from Kelly, Road Warrior John Cichowski and the other assorted hacks at the paper.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Page 1 continues to burnish Christie's image

The construction site of a 222-unit luxury apartment building on State Street in Hackensack. It is the first project to break ground since the city adopted its Downtown Rehabilitation Plan in June 2012. What remains to be seen is whether tenants will patronize restaurants and shops on Main Street, which is pockmarked with vacant and shabby storefronts.

By Victor E. Sasson

If I didn't know better, I'd think Governor Christie has recruited Editor Marty Gottlieb and his Trenton reporters as spin doctors in his bid for a second term and eventually the White House.

For the second day in a row, a Page 1 story in The Record explores the GOP bully's politics -- this time during the government shutdown sparked by Tea Party crackpots opposed to federal health-care reform.

By slapping "ANALYSIS" on the piece, Staff Writer John Reitmeyer basically can regurgitate the Christie line while abandoning every journalist's natural skepticism or what is known colloquially as the bullshit filter.

Selling out

Reitmeyer keeps a straight face and ignores Christie's veto-filled first term when he describes the mean-spirited governor as "the bipartisan outsider tough enough to knock some sense into a similarly dysfunctional Trenton and ... into national politics as well."

Reitmeyer and fellow staffers Charles Stile and Melissa Hayes should cringe every time they write another fiction-filled piece about the worst New Jersey governor ever, a politician who has declared war on the middle class.

But I guess these three sell-outs want to be on Gottlieb's front page as  much as possible, with one eye on a job in Christie's next administration.

Has anyone figured out how much the wealthy Borg family and other members of the moneyed elite are saving on income taxes thanks to Christie's repeated veto of a surcharge on millionaires?

Wasted space

What's the point of the front-page Mike Kelly column on the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983? 

Bill Harrison, the 20-year-old lance corporal from Dumont shown in then-and-now photos on the front page today, wasn't even in the barracks, and his only injury was a sore ass (A-1).

The sheepish, shit-eating grin in Kelly's photo is his way of saying he again got away with pushing around a couple of thousand words, and passing it off as a column.

Shore thing

A day after shore residents bitched and moaned that Christie is allowing their Sandy-ravaged homes to rot, the governor shows up with $57 million in federal funds to help storm victims in Little Ferry and other towns with household expenses (L-1).

Staff Writer Hannan Adely covered the Hackensack City Council meeting on Tuesday night, reporting that a formerly homeless man who returned $850 he found on Main Street was honored by that august body (L-1).

Never mind that James Brady's honest act was reported in great detail on Saturday's front page.

Back to school?

Deputy Assignment Flunky Dan Sforza thought the City Council ceremony was more important than a money feud between city and Hackensack school district officials over a school resource officer (L-2).

For a full report on that controversy, click on the following link to a blog called Hackensack Scoop:

Misguided residents fire at City Council

Breaking news

Sforza also caught up to last week's closing of the Midtown Bridge between Hackensack and Bogota (L-1).

Much of the rest of Local is filled with police and court news, and news about the police (L-1, L-2, L-3 and L-6).

The expanded local obit is about Lawrence Stone, a former Fort Lee resident who led the Stern's department store chain (L-6).

What about an obit on a saleswoman or salesman who toiled for decades in obscurity to provide the service department stores once were known for?

Thai news

In Better Living, the first COFFEE WITH THE CHEF feature is on Kevin Portscher of Village Green Restaurant, a Ridgewood business once co-owned by former Record Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill (BL-2).

Asked t0 name the best local restaurant after his, Portscher picked Wondee's Fine Thai Food & Noodles, a Hackensack BYO that has been ignored by The Record in recent years.

"It's just always fresh and it's cheap and it's fast and it's authentic," Portscher said. Amen.  

For a glimpse of how Wondee's pleases both carnivores and vegetarians, click on the following link:

Exploring Wondee's vegetarian menu

Second look

 A concerned reader reports Road Warrior John Cichowski is gulty of RWI (reporting while intoxicated) in his Sunday column on a retired cop with many DWI arrests under his belt: 

"In his Sunday column, the Road Warrior engaged in a sad comedy of errors and illegal statements based on dialogue with a callous, cranky, self-serving, retired cop about Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) cases that deviated from actual N.J. statutes and legal precedents for DWI situations."

To read the full e-mail to management, editors and Cichowski himself, go to the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Making John Cichowski walk a straight line

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The right to bear arms and kill schoolchildren

A building on the 100 block of Main Street in Hackensack that once housed Lowits, above, is for sale, and a nearby merchant says he has heard the owners are looking for a developer to pretty much replace the entire block with an office building or high-rise. Lowits, a family owned, upscale men's clothing store, closed in April 2001. The latest business to flop there is Cafe Arabica.

By Victor E. Sasson

School shootings have become so commonplace in our right-to-bear arms society they have lost any shock value for The Record and other newspapers.

Thus, Editor Marty Gottlieb's decision to celebrate on Page 1 the hard-working trash crews at MetLife Stadium and downplay Monday's Nevada school killings with an A-1 blurb and A-4 story. 

Anything less than a mass killing bores Gottlieb.

What's the big deal? Only one middle school student and one teacher died -- sacrificed to the National Rifle Association lobby  -- and two students were wounded.

As for the cleanup crews and a brawl at the stadium in East Rutherford, is it really news that most football fans are slobs, beer and gas guzzlers, thugs and worse (A-1 and L-1)?

Christie leaving?

At the top of A-1 today, Columnist Charles Stile has been writing about Governor Christie's presidential aspirations for so long, he doesn't realize most readers would love to get rid of the GOP bully, if he manages to win a second term.

Did I miss The Record's story on a TV ad from Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, who tells viewers she is the only candidate running for governor?

On A-2, two more Sports section corrections appear.

Chris and Sandy

Even with billions of dollars from the federal government, Christie is the target of complaints from residents whose Sandy-damaged homes are sitting idle and rotting (A-3).

Same-sex marriages dominate the Local front today (L-1), but there is so little other local news nearly all of L-3 is devoted to "jumps" -- the continuations of L-1 stories.

Obama in N.J.?

In Hackensack news, the Fanny Meyer Hillers PTA president -- Kelly Medina -- has been charged with stealing more than $900 from the group's account to pay for manicures, coffee, parking and other expenses (L-6).

The idiotic headline:

charged in 
PTA theft

Even in Hackensack, Barack Obama gets blamed for everything. 

And Production Editor Liz Houlton -- who is supposed to catch and fix such screwy headlines -- continues to collect her inflated six-figure salary.

Monday, October 21, 2013

NJ Transit rail officials stop blaming the victim

The Midtown Bridge between Hackensack and Bogota, above, has been closed indefinitely for emergency repairs, borough police said today. The bridge was closed on Thursday, though I don't recall seeing anything in The Record.

By Victor E. Sasson

NJ Transit has stopped blaming the people who commit suicide by train.

On Page 1 of The Record today, Staff Writer Jim Norman reports rail suicides are on the upswing, prompting the public transit agency to work with the state Department of Human Services on new programs "aimed at stemming the tragic trend."

Nowhere in Norman's story does "trespasser" appear -- the word that NJ Transit repeatedly used to describe suicide victims in earlier stories by transportation reporter Karen Rouse.

Rouse completely and enthusiastically swallowed the agency line in every story she wrote about a rail suicide, and the paper often didn't even bother to identify the victim.

But The Record still shies away from asking NJ Transit why it doesn't build more fences or deploy more transit police to prevent people from using trains to kill themselves.

Bad headline

The Woodland Park daily managed to get midnight gay marriage ceremonies on today's front page, but chose an idiotic headline: "History struck at midnight."

What didn't strike was inspiration.

Editor Marty Gottlieb wasted more front page space on a professional football game and another look ahead at the Super Toilet Bowl in February (A-1).

Two more corrections from the newsroom that can't write straight or fact check appear on A-2.

Local yokels

Gottlieb wasn't the only editor scrambling for legitimate news: 

Deputy Assignment Flunky Dan Sforza put a story and huge photo of a "passive house" on the Local front today.

The L-1 story about a Teaneck couple and their energy efficient house has Sunday Real Estate section written all over it. 

Today's local-news section also carries an astounding four stories on walks, runs or ceremonies for various charities (L-1 and L-3).

Today's Better Living cover story on three career waiters is a refreshing break from the paper's mindless promotion of celebrity chefs, restaurants and their wealthy owners (BL-1).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Trying to guess where North Jersey racists live

A new cafe is opening in the space on Sussex Street in Hackensack once occupied by John's Coffee Shop, above, and a sign on a storefront at 159 Main St. promises a new Indian restaurant, below.

By Victor E. Sasson

Extremism and racism were central to the doomed U.S. Senate campaign of former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, who called Newark "a black hole" and released a map with a city neighborhood labeled "West Africa." 

Now, readers of The Record can finally look at the vote totals for the Tea Party crackpot and winner Cory Booker, and amuse themselves with trying to find North Jersey's closeted racists.

Many of them are voters who complain Democrats are trying to take away their guns or who fall for the classic Republican big lie: lower taxes.

Racial backlash?

The belated town-by-town vote totals in Wednesday's special election show that Booker carried Bergen and Hudson counties, but lost Morris County to the GOP right winger (A-6).

Among the towns giving Lonegan more votes were Allendale, Alpine, Carlstadt, Emerson, Hasbrouck Heights, Mahwah, Montvale and Paramus.

But Lonegan lost his hometown, Bogota, as well as Englewood, Teaneck, Hackensack and Tenafly, where Publisher Stephen A. Borg lives in a $3.65 million McMansion.

Booker trounced Lonegan in Teaneck, where the vote total was higher than in Hackesnack, the most populous community in Bergen County, but one that is known for voter apathy and low turnouts.

Booker is New Jersey's first African-American senator, and one of only two blacks in that august body, but will he encounter the same racial backlash as President Obama has?

The Record's chart is confusing, with county vote totals listed before individual towns instead of after.

Local-news drought

What is the point of Road Warrior John Cichowski's column about Westwood's former traffic safety officer and his 250 DWI arrests (L-1)?

Today's thin Local section is missing Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood news, and an expanded local obituary, but Deputy Assignment Flunky Dan Sforza found room for another Dean's List (L-6).

Page fizzles

In Better Living, free-lancer Jeffrey Page's entertaining story about a "real seltzer" maker from Fort Lee doesn't tell readers how much the stuff costs -- likely because Page is hiding sticker shock (BL-1).

Instead of trying to scoop the competition or writing about a subject no one else has the courage to tackle, Columnist Mike Kelly rehashes "the lessons" of Booker's victory (O-1).

Kelly also is sticking with his dated, unflattering column photo and silly shit-eating grin. 

Forced busing

In a letter to the editor, Denise Black of Egg Harbor relates the atrocious service she received when she took an NJ Transit bus to Manhattan from Atlantic City, and then an extremely long line at the Port Authority Bus Terminal that resembled a "herd of animals" for the return trip (O-3).

That's funny. Why is a reader reporting on the quality of bus service and not The Record's transportation reporters, including Cichowski and Karen Rouse?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

$850 is chump change to Hackensack real estate moguls

How many weeks or months has this storefront on the 200 block of Main Street in Hackensack been vacant? The sleepy shopping street is showing few signs of renewal, even though city officials have approved a downtown redevelopment plan.

By Victor E. Sasson

Today's Page 1 story in The Record has readers speculating about just who could have lost $850 on Main Street in Hackensack, and not even tried to recover the money.

Staff Writer Hannan Adely reports the cash was awarded to James Brady, the formerly homeless man who found the money and turned it in to the Police Department, where it laid unclaimed for six months (A-1).

Jerry Lombardo, president of C.J. Lombardo Company at 355 Main St., appears to have money to burn, judging by the long-vacant storefronts owned by his real estate concern.

The same can be said for the principals behind the Alexander Anderson Real Estate Group of 14 Bergen St., which has its sign on a great many vacant buildings on or near Hackensack's Main Street. 

Big killing?

Are these and other real estate companies stockpiling empty properties, hoping to sell them to a developer who will demolish them and build residential and office buildings?

Lombardo also is chairman of the Upper Main Alliance, a public-private partnership that has failed miserably to revive Main Street in the years after the 2008 recession and the pullout of North Jersey Media Group and The Record.

The only other story on Page 1 today is about same-sex couples winning the right to marry in New Jersey, starting on Monday (A-1, A-6 and A-7).

Am I the only one who thinks this is way too much coverage for an estimated 24,112 same-sex couples in the entire state as of 2011?

On A-2 today, readers will find two more embarrassing corrections.

Christie's follies

A story on A-3 makes clear Governor Christie's decision not to set up an online marketplace under the federal Affordable Care Act is hurting New Jersey residents who have been stymied by technical glitches on the federal site.

On the same page, a story about a $38 million shortfall in state tax collections is more evidence the GOP  bully's repeated veto of a tax surcharge on millionaires is wrong for New Jersey (A-3).

In a letter to the editor today, Jeff Kirshbaum of Oradell calls U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz "a fraud and a clown," putting into perspective media fascination with the Tea Party crackpot (A-11).

On the Local front, Road Warrior John Cichowski answers questions from drivers who are as befuddled as he is, and if past columns are any guide, most of his advice is worthless (L-1).

Friday, October 18, 2013

Booker and The Record are pissing off Democrats

The Statue of Liberty.

By Victor E. Sasson

I still haven't forgiven Newark Mayor Cory Booker for putting his personal ambitions ahead of the crying need to defeat Governor Christie, the GOP bully whose myth making is aided and abetted by The Record of Woodland Park.

Fresh from his victory in the special U.S. Senate election, Booker greeted Christie enthusiastically at a supermarket groundbreaking in Newark on Thursday -- and The Record's columnists were all over the story. 

Charles Stile, the incompetent screwball who writes about politics, has two columns today on the so-called meaning of the election results, and how Booker and Christie "locked in a warm man-hug" (A-1 and A-6).

Stile doesn't explain how a "man hug" is different than a regular hug, and conveniently omits mention of all the damage Christie's conservative polices caused in Newark and the state.

Christie's cuts in state aid forced Newark to lay off more than 200 police officers, and he's vetoed everything from a hike in the minimum wage to the millionaires' tax to legislation allowing gay marriages.

Too many columns

So much for Christies' repeated claim to have worked with Democrats in the state Legislature, and The Record's endless reporting about "bipartisanship."

Meanwhile, Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin claims in his column today that the good showing of Lonegan, the crackpot former mayor of Bogota, is a win for Republicans (A-23).

It didn't help that The Record used the word "passion" to describe Lonegan's extremism and racism in his campaign against Booker.  

Why two columns on the results of the U.S. Senate contest, and no town-by-town, county-by-county tally for the election?

Let's hope Booker uses his time before he takes his seat in Washington to campaign for Barbara Buono and help the Democratic challenger further expose Christie's war on the middle and working classes.

Suit settlement

In Hackensack news, Local reports a $495,000 settlement in a sex harassment suit filed against Construction Official Joseph Mellone and City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono (L-1).

Marcella Sbarbaro, a former clerk-typist in the Building Department, claimed that Mellone forced her to have sex under threat of losing her job, and that Lo Iacono allegedly did nothing to stop the harassment.

Thanks to Production Editor Liz Houlton, the "Queen of Errors," a sub-headline and text say the woman filed her suit in 2011, but later the story says Sbarbaro "sued the city in April 2010."

Another screw up is acknowledged in an A-2 correction today.

The L-1 story doesn't say when the settlement was filed, meaning Staff Writer Kibret Markos, the Bergen County Courthouse reporter, probably missed it while he covered the Hudson News inheritance battle full time. 

Sinking feeling

Staff Writer Elisa Ung's review of Pier 115 Bar and Grill in Edgewater gives readers a queasy feeling from the first paragraph.

When the first half of her appraisal discusses parking, the view and the beer selection, the overpriced food must suck.

You also have to wonder about Ung's concept of dinner when she actually orders a $19 pretzel.

Despite all of the problems she encountered, she insists the view of the Hudson River saves the place.

But the sad history of another waterfront restaurant in Edgewater, the Binghamton ferry boat, forever put to rest that canard -- or so I thought.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Media's focus on political conflict turns off voters

The clubhouse at Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City.

By Victor E. Sasson

The shockingly low voter turnout in Wednesday's special U.S. Senate election -- less than 25 percent -- tells you one thing:

When The Record and other media devote big chunks of Page 1 to the rantings of radical U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Tea Party crackpot Steve Lonegan, voters are turned off and don't even show up at the polls.

How many times during the government shutdown did Cruz claim "millions of Americans are being hurt" by the Affordable Care Act, and not a single reporter challenged the Canadian-born senator?

Booker victory

Today's front-page coverage of the election of Newark Mayor Cory Booker over Lonegan, 55 percent to 44 percent, was another close call for Democrats (A-1).

Readers who wonder how Lonegan got elected mayor of Bogota should meet a Teaneck woman who says she always finds the book she wants at the Bogota library, because no one in the town knows how to read.

But The Record has forgotten or ignores the $24 million Governor Christie squandered to keep Booker off of the Nov. 5 gubernatorial ballot, fearing the popular Democrat would help boost challenger Barbara Buono to victory.

Parents' plea

The Local front today is dominated by the campaign of  Emil and Manal Sous to get passage of a bill in the state Legislature dubbed "Michelle's Law" that would require drivers involved in fatal accidents to undergo blood and urine screenings for drugs and alcohol (L-1).

The driver of a car that struck and killed their daughter Michelle in front of her North Haledon home on March 17 was never charged with a crime or even issued a summons.

The parents' campaign seems reasonable, but The Record has for years reported pedestrian fatalities without ever asking whether criminal laws should be revised to make a driver pay for killing someone.

On too many occasions, drivers tell police they "didn't see" the pedestrian, and survivors have only civil lawsuits as recourse.

Bikes, not equality

On L-2 today, a story reports that Englewood is asking the state for money to install bicycle lanes city officials hope will lure cyclists to its struggling downtown for coffee or lunch.

It's hard to believe the wealthy city can't find $120,000 to create the lanes without state help, or that it even costs that much to paint parallel lines.

Maybe Mayor Frank Huttle III, who is married to a state assemblywoman, should be asking the state for help in desegregating its elementary and middle schools, not screwing around with bike lanes. 

News for the 1%

Staff Writer Kibret Markos continues to ignore everything else going on at the Bergen County Courthouse, one of the state's busiest, to cover the Hudson News inheritance battle (L-3).

In major Hackensack news, a man was arrested "on suspicion of setting fire to an apartment door" (L-3).

In a pitch to readers who have high cholesterol and are proud of it, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung obsesses over a "maple bacon doughnut" (BL-1).

Second look

In his Sunday column, Road Warrior John Cichowski provided eight "misleading or false answers" to 17 of his own questions about New Jersey roads -- that's nearly 50 percent.

In an e-mail to management, the editors and the clueless reporter himself, a concerned reader even pointed out Cichowski forgot his own extensive reporting on ways to cross the Hudson River without paying a toll or fare.

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

Is John Cichowski really that stupid?