Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The right to bear arms claims another innocent victim

Did anyone go to work today? This is Summit Avenue in Hackensack at about 8:15 this morning, usually the height of the rush hour.


A 29-year-old mother of four died in a Walmart when her 2-year-old son reached into her purse "and her concealed gun fired," The Record reports today.

You'd think this story -- not just a brief -- would appear on Page 1.

But it got pushed aside by dry "process" stories -- one on the Affordable Care Act and the other on Democrats launching a futile attempt to override Governor Christie's Port Authority veto (A-1).

As it is, The Associated Press story on the mother's accidental death raises more questions than it answers, much like the stories edited by the paper's local assignment desk.

The story doesn't identify the woman, but says she "had a concealed weapons permit."

So, this another case of the so-called right of citizens to bear arms ending an innocent life.

What a great country. We have so many freedoms, including the right to die by gunshot.

More gun deaths

Just below that story, another Associated Press report says the number of law enforcement officers killed by firearms jumped by 56% this year (A-3).

That included 15 ambush deaths, including the fatal Dec. 20 attacks on two police officers in Brooklyn.

A-2 carries another embarrassing correction -- a name was misspelled in a story on the retirement of a Clifton deputy fire chief.

Christie veto

On A-8 today, an editorial urges the state Legislature to override Christie's veto of Port Authority reforms, but notes lawmakers have "failed to override a single Christie veto" since 2010.

What The Record has never reported in its overwhelmingly favorable coverage of the GOP bully -- including endless portrayals of him as a compromiser -- is whether he has set a record for vetoes by a New Jersey governor.

In a letter to the editor on A-8, Ted Noble of Wayne says there is enough evidence "to indict Christie for mismanagement of New Jersey."

Nazerah Bugg

Of all the 2014 local deaths recognized on Page 1 and the Local front today, the murder of a 14-year-old Paterson teen was among the most unjust.

Nazerah Bugg, an aspiring basketball player, was shot and killed on a street corner on Sept. 20, the victim of gang gunfire (L-1).

Her death followed the July murder of Genesis Rincon, 12, as she was riding her bike to a grocery store in Paterson.

Paterson police laid off 125 officers after Christie cut state aid to the impoverished city in 2011.

The Record has reported "mismanagement of the city budget" contributed to those personnel cuts.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In cop's death, driver cites oldest excuse in the book

Bergen County residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, but they are stuck with an antiquated street system, including Teaneck's Cedar Lane, above, one of many in the township with a limited number of turn lanes, frustrating motorists and wasting precious gasoline. On Hackensack's River Street, drivers routinely cut each other off to avoid waiting behind a turning vehicle.


The Record's front-page account today of how Special Police Officer Stephen Petruzzello died contains a fundamental conflict that ultimately may be resolved in court.

Ani Kalayjian, 62, the Cliffside Park driver charged in his death, claims she "didn't see" Petruzzello, 22, and a second officer she knocked down with her Honda CR-V as they were crossing Walker Street in darkness around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday (A-6).

That's the oldest excuse in the book. But there is more.

"They were wearing black uniforms with no reflective stripes," Kalayjian told an unnamed television station, The Record says.

But a major conflict arises because a borough spokesman said the uniforms worn by special police officers "have reflective stripes on the collars, sleeves and coats" (A-6).

Not only that. 

Kalayjian, who describes herself as an "international expert on the psychological effects of trauma in disaster victims," was charged with reckless driving, careless driving and failure to yield to pedestrians or wear a seat belt.

The police chief is quoted as saying drug or alcohol use is not suspected, but he didn't address whether Kalayjian was speeding.

Unanswered questions

According to Kalayjian's Web site, her first name is spelled "Ani," not "Anie," as The Record reports.

The Woodland Park daily today finally told readers there is no crosswalk where the officers were struck, but doesn't say whether the street is well-lighted, and has reflective striping or reflectors that might have prevented what happened. 

Nor are authorities quoted on whether they might charge Kalayjian with vehicular homicide in the officer's death early Monday morning, about 36 hours after he was thrown 25 feet and sustained a severe brain injury.

More A-1 sports

Editor Martin Gottlieb again squanders precious A-1 space on another stupid sports column.

If the piece was about Woody Herman or Woody Allen or even morning wood, it might be of interest to the majority of older readers; as it is, most are saying, "Woody Who?"

Port Atrocity

And Gottlieb continues to scramble to catch up to the Saturday night massacre perpetrated by Governors Christie and Cuomo, who vetoed a landmark Port Authority reform package passed by their state Legislatures.

The governors released word of the vetoes on Saturday night, firm in the knowledge that incompetent weekend staffs, such as the one at The Record, would completely flub the story.

Indeed, the banner headline on The Sunday Record's front page declared lamely:

"Governors unveil their PA plan"

News reports today say the governors are proposing to cut overnight PATH service, but The Record makes no mention of that and doesn't even bother asking commuters what they think.

On Sunday, The Record reported Christie and Cuomo are proposing a property sale to allow the Port Authority to replace its antiquated midtown Manhattan bus terminal.

But that hasn't been mentioned in the paper's coverage today or Monday, and no one has bothered to ask NJ Transit bus riders for comment.

Finally, WNYC-FM today reported the governors deliberately released their veto messages between Christmas and Jan. 1, knowing their Legislatures couldn't possibly attempt an override during the holidays.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Editors miraculously transform vetoes into PA 'reforms'

In Hackensack, North Jersey Media Group turned The Record's old River Street parking lot into a cash cow. Parking costs a flat fee of $5, but the first 50 minutes are free. Parking for the disabled also costs $5 with the first 90 minutes free. Jurors park free.


The Record's Page 1 headline on Sunday tried to hide how Governors Christie and Cuomo killed any hope of real reform at the mammoth Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Today, another front-page headline miraculously transforms the governors' vetoes of bills passed by two state Legislatures into "PA reforms" (A-1).

Staff Writer Shawn Boburg reports "it could take years to enact the [governors'] most complex and politically fraught proposals."

But Boburg devotes a lot of space to a possible takeover of the PATH rail system, and none to the construction of a new midtown Manhattan bus terminal, which is at the top of the list for weary Bergen County commuters. 

Boburg is the reporter assigned to cover the Port Authority, but he has ignored the agency's refusal to expand PATH and add a second bus lane into the Lincoln Tunnel.

Today, he continues to voice PA propaganda against mass transit by citing PATH's yearly losses of $300 million as an impediment to a takeover by NJ Transit.

Does The Record know of any mass-transit system that makes money? The benefits are less tangible, ranging from cleaner air to less traffic congestion to reduced reliance on fossil fuels.

Sports garbage

The other major elements on today's front page -- especially the column on the Giants' coach -- are a colossal waste of space.

Why didn't Editor Martin Gottlieb give better play to Bill Bratton, the New York police commissioner, who said nationwide demonstrations are "about the continuing poverty rates, the continuing growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor" (A-1 brief and A-3)?

Contrast Bratton's comments to the racial stereotyping from Bernard Kerik, the crook who served as the city's police commissioner more than a decade ago.

Kerik was quoted last week by Columnist Mike Kelly.

Lame editors

The local assignment editors still can't provide readers with a complete story two days after a woman drove her small SUV into two special police officers in Cliffside Park.

Today, The Record reports one of the officers, Stephen Petruzzello, was in critical condition after surgery (L-1).

But said the officer died at 5 this morning.

The Record's L-1 story reports the driver, Ani Kalayjian, 62, was "cited" for "various traffic violations," but does not specify them.

There is no description of how the accident happened on Saturday night or whether the officers were in a crosswalk when they were run down.

Today's account finally has the names of the officers, Petruzzello and Thaier Abdallah.

Instead of providing important details, the reporters make sure to fill the story with the trivial, such as where the two officers sat during graduation in November. 

Cliffview Pilot

Jerry DeMarco reports on that Petruzzello, 22, sustained severe brain injuries and died at 5 a.m. today.

DeMarco showed a photo of the driver, and identified her as an "internationally known trauma expert and author."

He quotes police as saying the woman claimed she "didn't see" the officers. She was in the vehicle with her 93-year-old mother.

See: Stephen Petruzzello dies from injuries

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christie's chances of a White House win are fading fast

In Hackensack on Saturday, construction continued on a new Bergen County Justice Center and parking deck, above, across Court Street from Church on the Green, below. Has pile driving, heavy equipment and other work knocked loose plaster in the historic building, which dates to 1791?


"With Governor Christie again considering a run for president, his constituents appear to be tiring of the whole routine.

"Polls taken over the last three months reveal a list of home-state complaints:

"Christie's favorability is at its lowest point, with more voters disapproving than approving of his job performance.

"New Jersey residents think he is making decisions with an eye on his national standing rather than on what is good for the state.

"They do not think he should run for president -- they are, as the slogan goes, ready for Hillary -- but most expect he will, and want him to resign if he does."

You'd expect The Record to run this appraisal of Christie, who is expected in the new year to announce his decision on running.

But you'd be wrong. The article appears in The New York Times today under the headline:

"As Christie Roams the Country,
 His Popularity Takes a Hit in New Jersey."

Slanted coverage

What readers of The Record get is more of the same largely favorable Christie coverage that has been rammed down their throats since he took office in January 2010:

In his Page 1 column, Staff Writer Charles Stile doesn't list all the negatives of a Christie candidacy, but focuses awkwardly on the GOP bully as "a candidate-in-progress" -- whatever that is --"sharpening his message and strategy" (A-1).

In reader polls, Stile finishes a close second behind Mike Kelly on fracturing the English language.

Awful headline

Even the headline leading The Record's front page today soft pedals what Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did in vetoing changes at the behemoth Port Authority that were approved by lawmakers in the two states (A-1). 

Who approved the bland "Governors unveil their PA plan" as a banner headline under The Sunday Record masthead?

No. Christie and Cuomo rejected sweeping reform of politics and patronage as usual at the bi-state transportation agency.

The words "reject lawmakers' reform" appear in The Record's far smaller sub-headline, but The Times and other media focused on the governors squelching real change in how the PA is run. 

Christie and Cuomo mostly call for brick-and-mortar changes, while their state Legislatures sought to end PA board members' ethical lapses and corrupt practices. 

Thumbnail photos

We expect actors and singers to use outdated photos that show their youth and vitality, but should journalists do the same?

The thumbnail column photos of Kelly and Stile on A-1 today; Bill Ervolino on the Better Living front and the partial image of Staff Writer Elisa Ung on the same page have been in use for up to eight years.

Kelly's is especially unflattering, with his shit-eating grin. 

Ung's chipmunk cheeks now probably resemble a cow chewing its cud after she has consumed thousands of high-calorie desserts as the paper's chief restaurant reviewer.

And there's no point of showing Ung with a wine glass; the paper reimburses restaurant reviewers for their food purchases, but never for drinking alcohol, and she rarely writes about wine.

Where is the shrimp?

I was disappointed in Ung's "Best dishes I ate this year" for her emphasis on meat and dessert (BL-1 and BL-3).

And her listing of Miang Kham from Sapphire Thai in Teaneck is a real joke.

The actual dish, which I tried, contained a minuscule amount of shrimp.

Local news?

The Local news section today contains exactly one local story -- on an unidentified woman who drove her small SUV into two special police officers in Cliffside Park, seriously injuring them (L-1).

The story carries two bylines, and includes a description of the accident scene, but the reporters also relied on a statement from the acting mayor.

No one apparently spoke to residents or witnesses who might know the names of the injured officers or the identity of the driver.

The rest of Local is devoted to the year in review and an unusually high number of death notices.

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her deputy, Dan Sforza, inadvertently reveal their long-held contempt for the problems of North Jersey bus and rail commuters by using only one mass-transit photo on the Local front:

It shows fans who faced delays leaving the Super Toilet Bowl football farce last February in the Meadowlands.

Funny business

How hard can the Business editors be working when their entire 8-page section today contains only one story from their staff?

Does North Jersey Media Group have to pay two veteran editors a ton of money to run wire copy? 

Gas savings

I heard a news report on WNYC-FM, a National Public Radio station, about the billions of dollars trucking companies are saving on diesel fuel.

One company with 15-trucks actually passed the savings onto employees, raising their salaries 10%.

No one has ever discussed the extra fuel cost of the decision, six or seven years ago, to move printing of The Record and Herald News to Rockaway Township from Hackensack-- a 60-mile-plus round trip for NJMG's thirsty Mercedes-Benz delivery trucks.

The publishing company was able to lay off more than 50 pressmen, but that must have cost a fortune in extra fuel purchases. 

Now that diesel prices have plummeted, does NJMG plan to raise delivery truck drivers' salaries?

If you are one of those drivers, don't hold your breath.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Upbeat story on Hackensack development ignores profits

Despite continued business failures in Englewood, above and below, where hundreds of luxury apartments were built downtown and on Route 4, Hackensack is pressing on with its plan to encourage apartment development on or near Main Street as a way of reviving the bigger city's struggling downtown.


Jerome J. Lombardo, CEO of C.J. Lombardo Real Estate Co. of Hackensack, certainly seems to have the ears of The Record's editors.

Today's upbeat story on plans for hundreds of new apartments in downtown Hackensack quotes Lombardo extensively in his role as chairman of the Upper Main Alliance, the business group that is pushing redevelopment (Local front).

But nowhere does Staff Writer Todd South report whether Lombardo and other downtown property owners have positioned themselves to profit from that redevelopment, and by just how much.

This isn't The Record's and South's first story on Lombardo and the struggles of downtown Hackensack.

But like the previous ones, this account makes no reference to Englewood, a smaller city only 6 miles away, that has failed miserably to revive its downtown through apartment development.

Who wrote the optimistic headline on today's Hackensack story, and why did the copy desk supervisor approve it?

"A brand new world downtown"

That's what Lombardo and other boosters are hoping for, but it's far from the reality today.

The story by South, who took over the Hackensack beat in September, also includes factual errors, namely the boundaries of the Upper Main Alliance's special-improvement district and calling Euclid Avenue a "street."

An empty storefront on Main Street in Hackensack.

Where's the fire?

If I lived in Glen Rock, I'd question why three police officers got to a house fire before firefighters (L-1).

Does Glen Rock have a professional department or rely on volunteers? The story doesn't say.

Port Atrocity 

The Record today carries yet another front-page story citing calls for reform of the behemoth Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (A-1).

Inside, a hand-wringing editorial notes Governor Christie has done nothing to control "salary excesses" at the bi-state agency (A-11).

The editorial doesn't mention that maybe it's just cops the GOP bully won't touch -- as in all the local police chiefs in North Jersey who make more than he does, and the 13 Port Authority officers whose total compensation exceeds the $289,000 annual salary of the agency's executive director (Friday's A-1).

Patronage mill

The Record doesn't seem to recognize the Port Authority has been immune to change, because it is an enormous patronage mill for Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as it has been for their many predecessors.

And the agency is not supported by taxpayers, but rather by fees from shipping companies and airlines, and tolls and fares from commuters. 

Port Authority police officers have abused overtime pay for decades.

Instead of expressing shock, the Woodland Park daily should level with readers on the corrosive power of politics and patronage.

And The Record and other media should acknowledge their selfish interest in keeping that controversy alive to "sell papers."

Friday, December 26, 2014

When events don't live up to the relentless media hype

Tourists posing for their close-up in Manhattan's Times Square, below.


That stupid movie about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jung Un opened in Clifton and other movie theaters, and none of the cinemas were blown up, according to Page 1 of The Record today.

Tuesday's front page quoted "experts," who predicted heavy rain may "lead to big backups" for holiday travelers.

Two days later, the Local front declared, "Travel chaos never came to North Jersey."

Last Saturday, Page 1 warned last-minute shoppers "Super Saturday" could be the busiest mall day of the year, but the next day, a huge front-page photo and L-1 story reported "smooth sailing" and "mild congestion."

When The Record predicts controversy, clogged highways and shoppers stripping store shelves, no such things happen.

Readers are tired of the hype, and tired of editors trying to predict the future and sacrificing coverage of what has happened in North Jersey.

Niche reporting

Today's front-page story on seniors is of interest only to those who are so sick they need a live-in health aide (A-1).

In the past few years, Staff Writer Colleen Diskin and her clueless assignment editor would have you believe all North Jersey seniors are confined to their beds, at home or in a nursing home.

What is a story on a 2004 tsunami doing on Page 1 today?

The obituary on Scott Kay, a Teaneck-based jewelry designer, doesn't mention the cause of death until near the end, and does so in passing (L-6).

Why did a 57-year-old die of cardiac arrest? Was it stress, diet or something else? No one in Woodland Park seems to know or care.

Artery cloggers

Staff Writer Elisa Ung certainly isn't concerned about heart health in her appraisal of Momma's Kitchen, where she was "charmed" by doughnuts served with chocolate sauce, ice cream sandwiches and "the profoundly light and creamy" cheesecake (BL-14).

The restaurant in far-off Montvale sounds like a great place: 

A BYO that serves well-prepared Italian-American comfort food at moderate prices, with no entree above $15.95.

Does Momma's Kitchen serve big salads or seafood besides mussels? 

There is so much background on the owners, Ung doesn't have room to say, even if she was inclined to.

But the biggest turnoff in the 3-star review is her saying the restaurant is "an excellent option when you ... want to eat much better food than you'd find at your average chain restaurant for around the same price."

Better than "your average chain restaurant"?

You mean Momma's Kitchen isn't that great when compared to other locally owned Italian-American restaurants?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bah humbug to racial stereotypes, sloppy reporting

On Tuesday afternoon, parents and children waited on a long line at Bergen Town Center in Paramus to pose for photos with Santa Claus, above and below.


You can add the war of words to the war between police and hardened criminals, such as the crazed gunman who murdered two police officers in Brooklyn on Saturday.

If you managed to get past all of Mike Kelly's cliches on Page 1 of The Record on Wednesday, his column repeats shocking stereotyping of black neighborhoods by an ex-cop the reporter has called his friend.

Kelly didn't interview Bernard Kerik of Franklin Lakes, the former New York City police commissioner who served three years in federal prison for tax fraud -- a crooked cop Kelly often referred to as "Bernie."

He just lifted Kerik's shocking comments from a Time magazine essay:

"We have labeled our nation's police as racists who target minority communities. That's a complete lie. Cops go to minority communities because that is where the crime is.

"They don't target minorities. They target crime.... People say it was racist. It's not. It's a statistical statement," Kerik is quoted as saying on Wednesday's A-4.

Of course, Kelly doesn't challenge Kerik's racial stereotyping or point out that police in Paterson and other cities fail miserably to protect the residents of minority neighborhoods, such as the innocent Silk City girls killed by gunshots in July and September.

Kerik and the reporter also conveniently ignore the many years of racial profiling by New Jersey State Police, who were accused of pulling over minorities for Driving While Black (DWB). 

The state paid $12.95 million to settle a lawsuit filed by three men who were wounded in a 1998 turnpike shooting and a fourth man who was driving their van.

The plaintiffs, three blacks and a Hispanic, alleged they were pulled over by troopers who racially profiled them. 

Sloppy reporting

A front-page story on drivers who unwittingly fill up at the most expensive North Jersey gas stations could have been written any time in the last decade (A-1 on Wednesday).

But Staff Writer Christopher Maag holds up one woman driver to ridicule by reporting she paid "fully a dollar more [per gallon] than the Costco gas station just a half mile away" in Wayne.

A photo of Clarke appears on Wednesday's A-6, and the caption notes she paid $2.99 a gallon to fill up her thirsty Honda Pilot on credit. Horrors!

This kind of sloppy reporting and editing continues to bewilder readers.

Dead man walking

The lazy local assignment editors have been using accident photos as fillers for years, but on Wednesday, the practice came back to bite them.

The photo over line declared, "Fatal accident in Elmwood Park."

But police wouldn't provide information, and the editors relied on UPS officials in reporting that "an unidentified driver was killed on Tuesday when his car collided with a UPS tractor-trailer."

Guess what? 

In what could only be called a Christmas miracle, the driver, Paul Massey of Saddle Brook, survived and was in critical condition on Wednesday, according to an A-2 correction today that quotes the Elmwood Park police chief, who appears to be no fan of freedom of information.

Is Massey a husband or father, employed or retired? How old is he? What does his family think of the report of his death?

Are you kidding? This was just filler. Nobody at the paper cares one way or another.

Christie arrogance

Once again, a letter to the editor today expresses what the editors refuse to recognize:

"I was a supporter of Governor Christie," says John Amicucci of Fair Lawn (A-20). "But as his time in office has grown, so has his arrogance toward his constituents."

Noting Christie's support for the Dallas Cowboys football team, Amicucci suggests the GOP bully run for governor of Texas.

A dry paper

Today's paper was delivered to my home in two plastic bags that were knotted closed.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, when rain was forecast, my papers arrived soaking wet. They also were in two bags, but they were left open.

I called for replacements both days.

Attorney Frank P. Lucianna marching in Englewood's Memorial Day Parade last May, as he does every year. The Record's Better Living section today carries a feature on Lucianna, 91, who has always felt a kinship with Louis Zamperini, the war hero and world-class runner who is the subject of the movie "Unbroken."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christie is wrong for New Jersey, wrong for the nation

The Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan, above and below, was a source of frustration for North Jersey commuters years before The Record's editors took notice. Only angry letters to the editor roused the paper's transportation writers out of their deep slumber and distracted them from their driver-oriented coverage. Now, the editors are ignoring the problems of NJ Transit rail commuters, who scramble to find rush-hour seats on crowded trains.


In the last few months, The Record's editors had an epiphany:

Governor Christie's mean-spirited policies in New Jersey will have an impact on the 2016 election, if he wins the Republican presidential nomination.

But today's Political Stile column is largely a rehash of which Christie policies "are popular with conservative voters in key primary states" (A-1).

Those conservative voters meant little in the last presidential contest, when President Obama easily won election to a second term, and they won't help the GOP bully, in the unlikely event he is his party's nominee.

That will especially be true, if Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, heads what could be the first all-female White House ticket.

Who needs another Bush or a Christie in the White House?

Jackson stumbles 

A correction on A-2 today notes Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson was wrong in his unusually dull Page 1 column on Monday about his central premise -- how often a U.S. Senate ethics rule has been applied.

How embarrassing. This amounts to a "never mind" from the arrogant reporter, who claimed Rule 23 is "virtually toothless" and "has never been used."

Even the copy editor was fooled into writing this wrong front-page headline:

strict rule 
on donors
never used

This Jackson correction and all of the errors readers find in the Road Warrior column makes you wonder about the soundness of the reporting and editing at the Woodland Park daily.

Mercedes in Montvale

In a letter to the editor, Montvale resident Kurt F. Kron says Mercedes-Benz USA is paying about $917,000 in property taxes on about 37 acres in his town -- "a 31 percent discount even after revaluation" (A-8).

In view of the official panic over rumors the U.S. arm of the German automaker might leave for the South, Kron suggests financial incentives should also be offered to keep residents in Montvale.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gun-control foes have dead cops' blood on their hands

In Englewood, a condominium development called The M is sandwiched between Route 4, above, and an industrial section, photos below, more than a half-mile as the crow flies from Palisade Avenue, the main shopping street.

Residents of The M have a view of gas stations, traffic, industrial buildings and parking lots. A real estate advertising section in The Record tried to convince potential condo owners their homes border Englewood's downtown.

Some of the condo owners have this million-dollar view.


Guns designed to maim and kill are so commonplace in freedom-loving America even a supposedly great paper like the Los Angeles Times doesn't bother questioning where a hardened criminal got the revolver he used to kill two New York City cops. 

The L.A. Times story on Page 1 of The Record today mentions the Taurus 9mm in passing, noting Ismaaiyl Brinsley -- whose criminal record dates to 2004 -- used the gun to kill Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos as they sat in their patrol car on Saturday (A-8).

Gun-control foes are stained with the blood of Liu, Ramos and all the other cops killed by criminals whose right to bear lethal weapons is supposedly protected by our constitution.

Irresponsible reporting

Instead of pursuing the gun-control angle, The Record's clueless assignment editors had a reporter call small-town departments in Ramsey, Leonia, Tenafly and Saddle Brook to see if they had plans "to double up on patrols" (A-8).

Also on Page 1 is Staff Writer Minjae Park's story on 25 new police officers in Paterson.

How out of touch can the editors be?

Do Editor Marty Gottlieb, Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza really expect a town like Leonia to double its patrols?

That department and others are stretched so thin, they can't even protect pedestrians using crosswalks from getting run down or homeowners from burglaries.

Paterson lies

Park, the reporter on the Paterson story, wastes a lot of space on Mayor Joey Torres and Police Director Jerry Speziale, two political hacks who preside over one of the most violent cities in New Jersey.

"Fighting crime has been a centerpiece of ... Torres' agenda," the reporter claims, failing to mention the mayor and the Police Department were powerless to prevent the murders of two innocent young girls in July and September.

It's bad enough when Paterson officials basically lie through their teeth about what they are doing to fight crime.

But when The Record merely regurgitates those lies in a Page 1 story, there simply is no hope for this once-great newspaper.

Pathetic editing

You have to wonder how this kind of irresponsible reporting gets into the paper, despite all the checks and balances the editing process is designed to provide.

The Record's copy editors -- who are supposed to enforce high standards of accuracy, fairness and balance -- now appear to do little more than spell-check stories and slap headlines on them.

The copy editors' supervisors, who approve editing and headlines, are simply out to lunch most of the time.

Liz Houlton, the paper's six-figure production editor and supervisor of the news, layout and copy desks, also has failed miserably to enforce those standards.

For example, how did this clunky headline get into The Record today?

Pope raises anger
for role in Cuba deal

Christie on Cuba

Governor Christie is demanding the return of convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard from Cuba, but not taking responsibility for cutting aid to Paterson, forcing the layoff of 125 cops (A-3).

And New Jersey is so broke because of the GOP bully's own incompetence, no state troopers were sent to Silk City.

You never hear about the murder of police in Havana or Cuban school shootings. And crime is low, making it the safest destination in the Caribbean.

Americans have to ask themselves whether a free society also must mean a dangerous society where criminals have easy access to guns and police officers are murdered in broad daylight.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Killings of police are rare compared to minority deaths

Traffic is funneled into one lane in each direction during reconstruction of the Route 46 bridge over the Hackensack River, above. Last week, President Obama said as many as 1 million jobs would be created, if Congress authorized the rebuilding of the nation's roads and bridges, compared to a fraction of that number for completion of the Keystone Pipeline.

I was 11th on the line of commuters waiting for NJ Transit's 165 Turnpike Express to Hackensack and Westwood, scheduled to leave the bus terminal in Manhattan at 3:05 last Tuesday afternoon. By the time the bus came, the line doubled back on itself and grew to more than 40. Commuters are sitting on the floor, left, because the Port Authority provides few seats or other creature comforts for them.


At the end of the long story leading Page 1 of The Record today, wire service reporters note "the last shooting death of an NYPD officer came in December 2011" (A-12).

The hard-luck editors who got stuck working on Saturday just slapped The Associated Press story into the paper.

They forgot to localize the deaths of two NYPD cops at the hands of a black gunman by bringing up Jersey City Police Officer Melvin Santiago, who was shot and killed by a black robbery suspect.

Santiago was killed last July 13, as Staff Writer Mike Kelly reported six days ago in an Opinion page column that drew praise from readers in two letters to the editor on Saturday's A-15.

Kelly's resume

Kelly's column was too long, especially because the reporter reminded readers what a great journalist he is -- the book he wrote on the fatal police shooting of a black Teaneck teen, the Ku Klux Klan resurgence he covered.

He said the killing of Santiago and other police officers by black gunmen should be made part of "America's racial conversation."

Of course, what Kelly didn't say is that the deaths of Santiago and the two NYPD cops on Saturday are relatively rare.

Far more numerous are the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and all of the other minorities at the hands of white police officers who are guilty of racial profiling and abusing their authority.   

Elderly coverage

The Record's editors ignore Alzheimer's disease and the challenges facing older drivers, but assign Jay Levin to cover the elderly in his local obituaries and, as he does today, in his occasional story on a 90- or 100-year-old who still is alive and kicking (A-1).

What a terrific photo Herman Schnipper of Hackensack took of sailors at attention in 1945 on the deck of the USS Astoria (A-1). Too bad it is so small.

The much larger photo on A-1 today is one of shoppers at Westfield Garden State Plaza -- yet another example of how the editors prostrate themselves in front of big advertisers to the detriment of readers (Local front).

Food promotions

See the Better Living section today for heavy promotion of restaurants, cookbooks and small kitchen appliances (BL-2).

Hungry? Why not try Millie's "famous Pot-of-Balls"? LOL.

Saturday's paper

The "non-profit" Hackensack University Medical Center has obliterated the residential appeal of its Hackensack neighborhood and uses a lot of city services, yet pays no taxes on more than $180 million in property.

Now, Medicare is fining HUMC for not keeping elderly patients safe, according to a Page 1 story on Saturday.

Only Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus -- the former Bergen Pines -- did worse.

Well, at least Englewood Hospital and Medical Center is only about 7 miles away.

Putz Prize

In a letter to the editor on Saturday's A-15, Dave Tomney of Maywood commented on Kelly's Dec. 14 column on the slain Jersey City police officer, declaring the reporter will win the Pulitzer Prize.

Or, as former Breaking News Editor Jerry DeMarco would say, "Pull It, Sir" Prize.

No jail for bus driver

The crying need to jail drivers who kill pedestrians is apparent in a Local front story on Saturday.

A judge sentenced former NJ Transit driver Catherine Collier to probation after she was charged with vehicular homicide in the Sept. 27, 2012, death of Joseph Currier, 49, a Passaic man who was struck by her bus in a crosswalk.

Collier accelerated "and ended up running a red light before hitting Currier," according to prosecutors, but the former bus driver claimed at sentencing it was not her "intention for this to happen."

This story by Staff Writer Kibret Markos is filled with unanswered questions:

Why was Collier, 67, who was charged with vehicular homicide, allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge?

Judge Adam Jacobs sentenced her to a one-year suspended jail term, apparently for assault by auto.

The judge ignored the victim's mother, who said at sentencing, "I['d] like to see justice done for my son."

See this Facebook page for another instance where an NJ Transit bus driver killed a pedestrian:

Innocent People Who Lost Their Lives ...