Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in photos from "Eye on The Record"

The Great Falls in Paterson is the place to visit after a heavy rainfall.
Staff Writer Kibret Markos of The Record covers the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack full time, but his smoking breaks outside the 10 Main St. entrance are so frequent little of that coverage actually appears in the paper.

The Record's old headquarters at 150 River St. in Hackensack remained an eyesore for much of 2013 -- four years after the Borg publishing family abandoned the city.

The first luxury apartments built in Hackensack in many years went up between two shopping centers on Hackensack Avenue, near Route 4, as the city pursued a policy of encouraging apartment development and an influx of new residents as a way to revive its downtown.

Tin Alley in  Hackensack, where auto dealers line River Street. The Record on Saturday is stuffed with several sections of car-dealer advertising, which may be one reason the error-prone Road Warrior writes obsessively about driving and hardly anything about the overstretched mass-transit system.
A fence at a railroad station in Pennsylvania prevents pedestrians from crossing the tracks, a safety measure that is scarce at NJ Transit stations.
Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, where the elementary and middle schools remain segregated, a story The Record doesn't touch.

One Friday night in Manhattan, the line to board NJ Transit buses stretched down the escalator to the level below the platforms.

Increasing traffic congestion was a big story in 2013, but one The Record didn't bother covering.

To handle greater demand, NJ Transit used longer trains, but often platforms were too short. Above, the New Brunswick station. Passengers would be told to run forward to exit the train.

Penn Station in Manhattan is owned by Amtrak, which assigns track numbers to NJ Transit trains 10 minutes before departure, setting off a stampede by passengers scrambling for a seat.

A firehouse on Main Street in Hackensack.
Publisher Stephen A. Borg's $3.65 million McMansion in Tenafly.
Part of a display in the NJ Transit Waiting Room at Penn Station in Manhattan.
Yours truly ran as an independent candidate for the Hackensack City Council, above and below.



The Record mocked then-Governor Corzine's plan to monetize the New Jersey Turnpike, but saw nothing wrong with charging Bergen County hundreds of thousands of dollars for parking spaces at the old Hackensack headquarters. The Borgs also announced a luxury apartment developer agreed to buy about 20 River Street acres in a flood zone, and would be using gondolas to carry residents to the bus station across the street.
The New World Trade Center is the latest jewel in the Manhattan skyline.
Jerome S. Some, 87, founder and owner of a uniform company in Hackensack, above, was struck and killed by a car after he left his building, below, and started walking across Prospect Avenue to reach Bel Posto Restaurant. 

Governor Christie -- the GOP bully, the Portly Authority and the Elephant Man of national politics, won a second term on Nov. 5 -- in what turned out to be the lowest turnout ever for a gubernatorial election.

The first of two 47-story residential towers was nearing completion in Fort Lee. But The Modern's glass facade reflected sunlight and blinded some drivers heading for the George Washington Bridge.

Recycled copies of The Record are destined to return as toilet paper.
A winter scene on Englewood's East Hill.

Monday, December 30, 2013

What a concept: One reporter writes many stories

On Route 4 west in Paramus, a McDonald's -- the nation's largest purveyor of cheap, low-quality food -- a 24 Hour Fitness and Miller's N.J. Ale House send mixed messages, above and below.




By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

Staff Writer Stefanie Dazio turns in a dazzling performance in The Record today.

This reporter is everywhere -- from the sensational shooting of an 85-year-old woman on Page 1 to four bylines in Local (L-2 and L-6) to a Q&A with a plastic surgeon on the Better Living front (BL-1).

She just might have exceeded all the bylines a veteran Record reporter like Jean Rimbach has in an entire year, and I'll bet Rimbach, who has been around forever, gets paid far more.

Rimbach, likely the least productive reporter at The Record, is among The Protected Ones, favorites of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, whose power seems undiminished during a prolonged absence from the newsroom.

A Jersey girl

On Twitter, Dazio identifies herself as a features and weekend news reporter at The Record of Woodland Park. She graduated from American University in May 2013.

She also has her own Web site, sdazio.com, which tells us she is a Jersey girl who "has been working in the newspaper industry since the fifth grade."

Her "accomplishments as an 11-year-old editor-in-chief include a scathing column that decried the school's cafeteria fare," according to sdazio.com.

I love it. 

Dazio had the presence of mind at 11 to critique low-quality school cafeteria food, but the idea of doing such a story about the crappy fare at Hackensack High or other schools escapes the six-figure editors at The Record.

Botched crime story

Dazio was one of three reporters who worked on the shooting of a Lodi grandmother, and here is another poorly edited crime story that leaves readers begging for more information (A-1).

Lodi police refused to say anything, so the story quotes John L. Molinelli from an e-mail, and the Bergen County prosecutor didn't return phone calls.

Molinelli told the paper police have a suspect, but doesn't identify him -- no surprise given how The Record minimized the prosecutor's accomplishments after Governor Christie nominated a successor a few months ago. 

Wrong interviews

A 911 call reporting the shooting was made at 6:21 a.m. Sunday, so what's the point of quoting a neighbor who left the house "shortly before 6 a.m." on whether he had heard shots (A-4)?

Instead of interviewing the owner of the Union Food Mart, the paper quotes a woman, who didn't want to be identified, as saying she "saw" a sheriff's officer ask the food-store owner "if he knew 'a kid named Joe,'" and show the merchant a photo.

The victim, Olga Bariso, is said to live at home with her husband, Joseph, a grandson and another relative, but the story doesn't say whether the grandson or relative is the "kid named Joe."

Readers seem to get a clue in a quote from the parish priest, the Rev. John Galeano, who said he dedicated part of his Sunday sermon "to discussing dysfunctional families."

But Galeano wasn't asked if he was referring to the victim's family

Who wrote this?

Finally, the most ridiculous paragraph is the third on Page 1:

"It was the second widely reported attack on a woman in her own home in Bergen County during the holiday season," comparing the shooting to the fatal stabbing on Thursday of Teia Gallo, 20, the adopted daughter of a Washington Township obstetric gynecologist, allegedly by her younger brother.

That sentence sounds like something you'd see in The New York Times to provide readers with context, but here it seems like a stretch.

Thai news

On A-4 today, a wire-service story on care for Alzheimer's patients in far off Thailand only serves to remind readers of how little coverage they find in The Record about victims of the disease in North Jersey.

Out of focus

In Local, more than a dozen of the long-suffering photo staff's best images in 2013 appear on L-1 and L-3. 

Why isn't the best of the best on Page 1 today?


Sunday, December 29, 2013

In 2013, we saw many lows at our local daily newspaper

A Bogota fire truck on a rainy day in Hackensack. These words appear on the back of the truck, under the painted American flag: "All Gave Some ... Some Gave All. 9-11-01." All gave some? Not sure what that means, but the tribute shows why the world needs more copy editors.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

Echoing the theme of sections in today's Sunday edition, The Record of Woodland Park tried mightily under a former Times editor to hit highs in 2013.

But the sad reality is Editor Marty Gottlieb, who traded Paris for Paramus, continued to be weighed down by the dysfunctional local-news operation he inherited.

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, who is on a prolonged sick leave, and Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza are two lifers who bungled just about every breaking news story that came their way, as well as routine local coverage.

Decline in quality

And the quality of reporting, writing and fact-checking -- in news stories and columns, headlines and photo captions -- declined drastically.

Publisher Stephen A. Borg's decision to downsize the staff and abandon Hackensack several years ago led to the merger of The Record and Herald News staffs in a smaller Woodland Park newsroom.

The Herald News contributed some accomplished reporters and writers, but the editors and copy editors from the smaller daily have been uniformly mediocre and they have dumbed down content.

Houlton factor

Borg's economy moves also led to the dismissal of four veteran copy editors and the departure of Nancy Cherry, who alone upheld standards of writing, grammar and fact-checking as co-chief of The Record's news copy desk.

With the elevation of Liz Houlton to production editor from head of the features copy desk, where she had earned the title of "Queen of Errors," the sad outcome was predictable -- an unprecedented decline in quality.

Hackensack news

As a resident of Hackensack and an independent City Council candidate in the May election, I welcomed a dramatic improvement in news coverage that began in June after a reform slate defeated allies of the ruling Zisa family.

But I still haven't seen any meaningful coverage of many other towns or their struggling downtowns, and The Record's transportation reporters continue to ignore increasing traffic congestion and officials' refusal to expand mass transit.

Today's paper

Today's front page is typical, with another couple of thousands of words about who knew what and when they knew it during the politically inspired closure of Fort Lee access lanes to the George Washington Bridge more than three months ago (A-1).

A Page 1 story on whether it will snow on Feb. 2, the date of the Super Bowl, includes a photo caption noting "cars" struggled with snow and ice in Englewood on Feb. 2, 2011.

They must have been some of those Google cars, which drive themselves (A-1).

The first paragraph of the lead Page 1 story on the Gallo family tragedy in Washington Township seems sloppily written, beginning with "soon."

The reporter also says Dr. James Gallo has "a eulogy to script." Does anyone "script" a eulogy? What is wrong with "write"?

Copping out

On the Local front, a photo of a police assault team at Westfield Garden State Plaza highlights the irresponsible lack of security at the Paramus mall -- a story the local staff refused to tackle (L-1).

Of course, the cops got there too late on Nov. 4 to prevent a troubled Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck from invading the mall with a rifle, firing random shots that panicked shoppers and store employees, and then committing suicide (L-3).

On L-2, more space is devoted to a homeless man who turned in $850 he found on Main Street than to the victory of Citizens for Change in the May Hackensack City Council election.

The dismissal of the city clerk and city manager, who were perceived as allies of the corrupt police chief, Ken Zisa, and former City Council, aren't even mentioned.

On the cheap

On the Business front, the Your Money's Worth column on food prices and the related North Jersey Marketbasket Survey on B-7 continue to ignore the organic revolution.

Similarly, Elisa Ung's The Corner Table column on "dining blessings of 2013," includes heart-stopping food photos and nary a reference to whether restaurants are serving more naturally raised or grown food (BL-1 and BL-11).

Forgotten Main Streets

On the Real Estate front, a story on "Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time," a book written by a city planner, could run in any newspaper across America.

There is not a single reference to North Jersey or to cities like Englewood and Hackensack that have encouraged the construction of hundreds of luxury apartments in or near their downtowns.

Judging by the number of empty storefronts on Englewood's Palisade Avenue and Dean and Engle streets, the influx of hundreds of new apartment dwellers in recent years have made little difference in that city's "walkable" downtown.

Uncomfortable truths

Of course, The Record has ignored that story, just as it has never reported the impact on Main Street of North Jersey Media's Group decision to pull out more than 1,000 employees from 150 River St. in Hackensack in 2009.

On the Opinion front, Columnist Brigid Harrison calls Governor Christie one of 2013's "political winners" and a potential candidate who can win the White House for Republicans in 2016.

But she and just about everyone else who writes about the results on Nov. 5 fail to say it also saw the lowest turnout of any gubernatorial election in the state's history -- a testament to voter apathy.

Voter apathy and campaign finance reform are two more stories The Record didn't cover in 2013.

Footnote

My paper was delivered in a plastic bag advertising ShopRite's Super Can-Can Sale and P&G products, including bathroom tissue.

On one side, a Charmin ad notes:

"We all have to go. Why not enjoy the go?"

Sounds like something written on The Record's copy desk and approved by Houlton.

Footnote No. 2

For the first time in decades, the masthead today reads:

The Sunday Record

The new style means the weather no longer appears below the masthead on Page 1.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Local editors continue to flub breaking news

Drivers startled by a huge inflatable rat on State Street in Hackensack might think it's a marketing ploy gone awry for the luxury apartments going up on the site. In fact, members of Carpenters Union Local 254 put up the rat and picket the site to dramatize the developer's use of "rats" -- non-union contractors -- according to the union's Facebook page.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

When you compare The Record's Page 1 follow-up today to Friday's sensational lead story on a sibling rivalry that ended in death, they expose deep flaws in local-news gathering.

It's been apparent for years to many in the newsroom that head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, who is taking a prolonged sick leave, and Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza can't handle breaking news.

It's possible the lack of information in Friday's story can be traced to reporters who simply have never developed a rapport with Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli and local police chiefs.

But the assignment editors have encouraged their reporters to cover breaking news by telephone or by waiting for news releases -- like so many beggars on the street -- instead of aggressively mining other sources, including neighbors.

Missing information

Despite references to family photos on Facebook and adopted children, readers on Friday remained in the dark about whether a 17-year-old boy who allegedly stabbed and killed his older sister were among three children adopted by the Gallos in Washington Township (Friday's A-1 and A-7).

Today, thanks to three photos on Page 1, readers learn the brother, sister and a third adopted sibling are black, but that is never mentioned in the text today or Friday.

GOP screws jobless

Thanks to the Republicans in Congress, more than 125,000 New Jerseyans are being dropped from unemployment rolls in the next three months and losing emergency benefits (A-1).

House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican whose last name is pronounced "boner,"  has been quoted saying they should be out looking for jobs, not collecting benefits.

LG boycott

A letter to the editor on A-11 today calls for a boycott of LG products as the U.S. arm of the South Korean company moves forward with plans to build a 143-foot-high building that will project above the tree line on the Palisades.

Sounds like a good idea, but you have to wonder why the Woodland Park daily hasn't called for a similar boycott.


Second look

On Friday, The Record ran another wildly exaggerated, error-filled column from addled Staff Writer John Cichowski, according to a concerned reader who maintains the Facebook Page for Road Warrior Bloopers:
"The Road Warrior makes up information about the Jan. 30, 2013, collision of a train and a truck carrying paint cans at a Little Falls rail crossing and exaggerates subsequent crossing improvements.
"The Road Warrior compounded his original errors from his Feb. 1 column, and contradicted The Record’s own reports when he indicated there were eight commuters injured in the Jan. 30 accident and reported a rail-crossing accident in Ridgefield in December.
"As The Record originally reported, five commuters and three train workers were injured in the January accident, and the December accident was in Ridgefield Park, not Ridgefield."

Even more troubling than the exaggeration and errors in Friday's column was Cichowski's recommendation in his original Feb. 1 column a few days after the Little Falls collision that no safety improvements were needed:

"But sometimes crash investigators at places that produce few crashes don't yield much more than headlines, especially if an engineering fix is considered too costly and an unusual driver error is the only readily definable culprit."

Thankfully, no one paid attention to the overpaid but clueless Road Warrior.

For the full e-mail alerting editors and managers of The Record about continuing problems with the Road Warrior column, see:

Road Warrior is off the rails once again



Friday, December 27, 2013

Editors treat NJ Transit rail victims like chopped liver

Sure signs of the holiday season in downtown Englewood are free parking at meters and empty storefronts, above and below. The continuing struggle of Main Streets in North Jersey is a story The Record consistently ignores in favor of lavishly promotional pieces about mall retailers -- apparent payback for the advertising revenue that keeps the Woodland Park daily afloat.




By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

Marty Gottlieb, editor of The Record, couldn't find a real transportation tragedy for today's front page.

So, he took a Road Warrior column about a "near-tragedy," and grabbed the center of Page 1 for the highly exaggerated, error-filled account of a train-truck collision from nearly a year ago (A-1).

If you need a good laugh, check out some of the dramatic language Staff Writer John Cichowski uses to make this accident sound as if the sky fell that day (A-1 and A-6).

Trains kill people

On Oct. 14, NJ.com reported more than two dozen pedestrians had been killed in 2013 on tracks shared by NJ Transit and Amtrak, setting a pace that could make this year the state's deadliest on the rails in decades.

"Most" were suicides, the Web site reported.

That raises a question Gottlieb and Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza would surely refuse to answer.

Safety measures?

Why isn't Cichowski writing about safety improvements at stations or the deployment of transit cops to prevent more pedestrian tragedies?

The answer is that NJ Transit has consistently kept the media's focus off of the transit agency's responsibility -- until recently blaming the victims and labeling pedestrians who walked on the tracks as "trespassers."

There is no excuse for unprotected track, such as the long stretch down the middle of Railroad Avenue, between Essex and Passaic streets in Hackensack, in a mixed residential-industrial neighborhood lined with homes.

A fence could have prevented a 12-year-old student from walking on the tracks and being killed by a train in 2010 -- in a city that doesn't have school busing.

Hollywood crap

I'm no big fan of Hollywood movies or of Stephen Whitty, the so-called film critic at The Star-Ledger, whose reviews fill The Record's Better Living tabloid of Fridays.

This is a colossal waste of space, but today a headline on BL-2 caught my attention, one apparently written by a moron on the copy desk.

The sub-headline says the film is about Dickens' fling with "a younger actress."

Younger than whom? Ellen Ternan, a teenage actress, is the only one mentioned in the review.

Turkish torture

In the Better Living centerfold, Staff Writer Elisa Ung tortures readers with a tedious account of bad service and sloppy food preparation at Istanbul Cafe & Grill in Fair Lawn (BL-14).

At least one of the servers sounds as if she has gone insane from trying to live on the federal minimum wage for tipped workers -- $2.13 an hour, which hasn't increased in more than 20 years.

This is another full-length review of a mediocre, forgettable restaurant The Record insists on running under the theory that if the paper pays for the insatiable Ung and a friend to have two or three meals, then readers be damned.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gluttony, inebriation, human trafficking and brain injuries

After the train passed and the gates went up, the driver of this minivan continued down Euclid Avenue to Grand Avenue and right through the stop sign without slowing or stopping, a common occurrence in Hackensack.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

Today's post-Christmas edition of The Record is pretty ho-hum.

On Page 1, Columnist Mike Kelly rehashes a major episode in New Jersey corruption from the late 1970s and early 1980s that most people have long forgotten. (A-1).

Kelly claims another crappy Hollywood movie -- short on facts and long on fabrication -- "renews old questions about Abscam."

For whom? Surely not readers. 

Here's a second column in a row where Kelly rehashes a major event from the distant past, basically telling readers he can't be bothered doing the legwork and forming opinions on an important issue that affects them today.

Back to school

Also on Page 1, a photo of Barbara Taylor Rosser teaching students about Kwanzaa is likely the first time in many years The Record actually covered anything going on in a Hackensack  classroom (A-1).

On A-15, another pope offered annual Christmas wishes for a better world, but Governor Christie is the kind of Catholic who will answer that prayer by making the world better for him, his family and his wealthy supporters, and to hell with the middle class.

With little else of interest in today's paper, I wondered what I had missed recently.

Sports lessons

On Wednesday's Local front, law enforcement officials in Indianapolis and New Orleans, the two most recent Super Bowl hosts, warned New Jersey officials "to expect a rise in prostitution and the recruitment of teenage boys and girls into the sex trade."

Isn't pro football a great sport? 

Add human trafficking to all the other wonderful features of the sport: 

Tailgate gluttony, a culture of inebriation in the stadium and wealthy team owners who pay athletes millions of dollars a year, then turn their backs on those who suffer traumatic brain injuries.

That's why many call it the Super Toilet Bowl.

Houlton follies

Just about the clunkiest photo over line and headline of the year appeared on the Local front last Sunday:

POSTAL SERVICE POWERS UP  TO HOLIDAY SPEED

Teterboro center gets 'normal'


"Gets normal"? What the hell does that mean, Production Editor Liz Houlton?

Ex-detective cleared

In the Dec. 20 edition of the weekly Hackensack Chronicle, a story by Record Staff Writer Hannan Adely reports retired police Detective Kenneth Martin has been cleared of charges he stole his opponents' campaign signs when he ran for the City Council.

Martin had been convicted of theft on Aug. 1 in Municipal Court and fined $150 on the basis of a surveillance video.

But a Superior Court judge threw out the conviction "because authorities were unable to vouch for the authenticity of the video" from a surveillance camera at Hackensack Market on Passaic Street, Martin's lawyer said.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Readers find little under the tree from the newsroom

The elegant bell tower of St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church on Lodi Street in Hackensack, where services are held in English, Italian and Spanish, below.




By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

The Record's entire front page today looks back, not forward.

The major elements on Page 1 are the editors' way of saying they are far more fascinated with the past than with imagining what our future could be.

Two of the three stories are about NJ Transit and the Port Authority, but there is nothing here for commuters hoping for improvements in mass transit that could help relieve worsening traffic congestion.

This is triumph?

The photo package celebrates "North Jersey's triumphs [and] tributes of 2013."

Is that it? Is that the best North Jersey did?

The big photos show a high school football player, a singer who didn't win "The Voice" and the manager of a Moonachie restaurant that reopened after being destroyed by Superstorm Sandy (A-1).

View from Ridgewood

Don't miss the silly editorial on A-22 or the letter from Bob Hutton, a well-off Ridgewood resident who does a good imitation of being a Tea Party crackpot.

Hutton calls "taxation ... a redistribution of wealth."

Let's see. Property taxes go to pay for schools, police and fire protection; garbage pick-up and, if you live outside Hackensack, street paving.

How is that a redistribution of wealth?

The truth is Governor Christie broke the promise he made during the 2009 campaign to lower local property taxes, and he's made a mess of state finances by, among other things, refusing to tax millionaires.

More on the rich

The Local section today brings us yet another story about the nasty public battle between millionaires over the huge Hudson News inheritance.

Staff Writer Kibret Markos is true to his background as a lawyer, giving readers a tedious legal lesson as part of his overlong story on a trial that started in September, but has roots in an action filed in 2008 (L-1).

Markos and Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza have put so much time and effort into covering this case they've ignored a surge in age-discrimination lawsuits and just about everything else going on at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack.


Dismiss columnists

When is someone going to tell Bill Ervolino that his funny stand-up routine doesn't translate into text, and that readers are sick and tired of endless stories about his parents on Long Island (BL-3)?

Readers would really have something to celebrate, if The Record of Woodland Park dismisses Ervolino and just about every other white male columnist -- Mike Kelly, the error-prone John Cichowski, Charles Stile et al. -- and gave us fresh voices in the new year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Editors deliver a new low in State House journalism

Murals decorate a playground at Union and Myer streets in Hackensack, above and below. A sign indicates the playground was built under the state Green Acres program.




By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

Readers of The Record are cursed.

As with today's Page 1 Political Stile column, it look like all we are going to be reading about Governor Christie is how his every action or inaction affects his White House ambitions.

Staff Writer Charles Stile delivers yet another column about the September closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, describing Democratic state Senate President Stephen Sweeney this way:

"His expletive-laced tirade over Christie's line-item budget cuts in 2011 set a new low point for State House discourse."

Under marching orders from Publisher Stephen A. Borg and Editor Marty Gottlieb, Stile is another Record staffer who doesn't dare directly criticize the GOP bully.

Instead, he politicizes any attacks by putting them in the mouths of Christie opponents:

Thus, Sweeney "mocked Christie's 'Jersey Comeback' as shallow sloganeering" and "openly accused him of exploiting Superstorm Sandy for political gain."

Of course, it's Stile, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes and other Trenton staffers who have set a new low in State House journalism by remaining blind to Christie's mean-spirited policies and vetoes.

House of sex

Two lawsuits dominate the Local front today, but the one filed by the Ramapough Mountain Indians against a Hollywood movie studio is overshadowed by another alleging two real estate agents used a vacant Wayne home for sexual trysts (L-1).

Thumbnail photos of Robert Lindsay, a former president of the Passaic County Board of Realtors, and Jeannemarie Phelan show they make a nice couple, but the story doesn't say whether they are married to others.

Security cameras installed in the home "captured 11 sexual encounters between Lindsay and Phelan from December 2011 to January 2012," the suit states.

Are they rabbits or real estate agents?

Fort Lee fiasco

Just about every male news columnist has commented on the brouhaha over a Christie crony closing Fort Lee access lanes to GWB tollbooths, but Road Warrior John Cichowski tops them all in the number of errors in his reporting.

In his Sunday column, Cichowski erred on the age of the bridge, tolls paid by truckers and even what the bridge is made of, according to a concerned reader:

"The Road Warrior brings Christmas jeer with his menacing, confusing and senseless report about three recent George Washington Bridge traffic tie-ups due to emergency problems from new replacement panels and ongoing repair work.

 "The Road Warrior stupidly and cluelessly asked if Port Authority was keeping up with maintenance of the bridge, if this was another case of political mismanagement -- the kind that led two of Christie’s cronies to resign in the wake of four days of similar gridlock on the Fort Lee side -- or if this giant landmark finally was coming to the end of its useful life?

 "All news reports from multiple reliable sources, including The Record, have overwhelmingly indicated just the opposite, with the GWB  is easily good for another 75 years with all of the ongoing maintenance work, including current replacement road panels on the upper level of the bridge.

 "The three emergency repairs, which unexpectedly occurred as part of the current maintenance work, caused widespread gridlock on all major highways on either sides of the Hudson River. It was not similar to the four days of gridlock on Fort Lee streets."

See the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers for an expanded version:

Bridging the Hudson with error after error


Monday, December 23, 2013

Heroin mills, Christie's bridge hand and bimbos' lawyers

Just in time for Christmas, red stickers are appearing on many vehicle windshields, but do they mean the car or truck failed a state-mandated inspection? Road Warrior John Cichowski has provided no clues in his column for The Record, nor has he written about the smaller E-Z Pass tags or the temporary paper license plates on new vehicles now used in place of much larger pieces of paper taped to rear windows.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

Here another front page from Editor Marty Gottlieb of The Record that offers so much news for so few readers.

The second part of an expose on North Jersey's suburban heroin mills dominates Page 1, noting that laborers rely on "coffee grinders" that burn out "after being used thousands of times to pulverize the drugs into sniffable powder."

But nowhere in the graphics, photo captions and thousands of words on A-1 or on two continuation pages do readers with more legitimate goals in mind learn which brand of coffee grinder is the most reliable (A-6 and A-7).

This three-part series on heroin mills is the kind of story newspapers do in a bid to win the Pulitzer Prize, not serve readers.

A note at the end of today's piece says that funding for the project came from a grant for investigative reporting at Long Island University (A-7).

Fort Lee tempest

Staff Writer Herb Jackson is the fourth or fifth Record columnist to report on the political impact of Governor Christie's crony closing Fort Lee access lanes to the George Washington Bridge (A-1).

Was it a "traffic study" or political retribution against a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse the GOP bully for a second term?

Does anyone but The Record care? 

Ignoring the region's mounting transportation crisis and Christie's role in aggravating it since he took office in 2010, the Woodland Park daily is covering this Fort Lee traffic jam on four days in September as if the Port Authority suddenly declared all of its crossings toll free.

Bimbos' lawyers

What can you say about the third story on Page 1 today about the wealthy defense attorneys who are getting even richer acting as mouthpieces for one of those bimbos on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" and her husband?

Gottlieb really knows how to waste readers' time.

Sloppy reporting

The story on the Local front today doesn't say the 16-year-old driver who "panicked" and drove in front of an NJ Transit train on Sunday had only a learner's permit (L-1).

Isn't it more likely the teen girl was texting or listening to loud music and didn't hear the train's horn before the crash?

Cake walk and talk

From the photo on BL-3 today, it looks like Marissa Lopez has the good sense not to eat any of the fattening, artery clogging cakes she sells for her wealthy boss, Buddy Valastro, who has gotten rich by hawking unhealthy food (Better Living front).

The same can't be said about Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung, who wrote the breathlessly promotional story and thinks dessert is one of the two main food groups.