Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Local weather: Now you see it, now you don't

A Toyota SUV and a Toyota sedan collided on Tuesday afternoon at Euclid Avenue and Linden Street in Hackensack, above and below, at an intersection where drivers often run stop signs.


The record-setting, bone-chilling plunge in temperatures was front-page news on Tuesday, but today, editors of The Record try to hide the local-assignment desk's lackluster coverage.

The lazy assignment editors in the Woodland Park newsroom apparently instructed reporters to stay inside and try to cover the story by telephone (L-1 and L-2).

Cold shoulder

That must why there isn't a single interview with a commuter, such as the dozen people shivering as they waited in line on Tuesday morning on Prospect Avenue in Hackensack for an express bus to Manhattan.

Or a photo of Verizon repairman raising a low-hanging wire outside a home on Euclid Avenue in Hackensack or working outside anywhere else in North Jersey.

Instead, Editor Marty Gottlieb's front page today delivers an astounding three stories on national, state and Bergen County politics (A-1).

At 8:30 on Tuesday morning, the outside temperature in Hackensack and Paramus was a bracing 5 degrees.

More Christie spin

Gottlieb continues to give Page 1 play to Governor Christie's latest B.S., portraying his GOP bullying as "bipartisan compromise."

The story by Staff Writer Patricia Alex, who covers higher education for The Record, isn't much different than past accounts, starting in 2010, that regurgitated Christie's fictional "Reform Agenda," "Jersey Comeback" and "Stronger Than the Storm."

Those political marketing campaigns were designed to hide Christie's war on the middle class, as does the current one, which ignores all of the vetoes he has used to stymie the majority Democrats in the state Legislature.


A letter to the editor from Richard Cerbo of Hackensack serves as a counterpoint to a recent story on the city's plan to encourage apartment development downtown in a bid to revive Main Street (A-10).

Cerbo, son of a former mayor, notes "builders, developers, investors and commercial property barons" will benefit most of all.

"That's how business is done, but not once in the story was there any mention  of helping those left out, including the homeless, the unemployed, the elderly and the sick," Cerbo said.

He noted Hackensack already has "an urban feel" and that more development would add more traffic and quicken "the deterioration of the city's quality of life."

Relief for whom?

In a related story, the Hackensack City Council on Tuesday night unveiled a measure offering tax relief to developers and others "who build or make improvements in the 39-block Upper Main Street Rehabilitation Area" (L-1).

The proposal appears designed to benefit members of a public-private partnership called the Upper Main Street Business Alliance who own or have purchased much of the property in the development district, and hope to cash in by selling it to developers.

Hackensack can ill afford to grant tax relief in a city where Hackensack University Medical Center, Bergen County and Fairleigh Dickinson University already own hundreds of millions of dollars in property that pays no property taxes, shifting the burden to homeowners and small businesses.

The Record also reported the hiring of Deborah Karlsson as Hackensack's new city clerk (Tuesday's L-2).

Sky is falling

On the Local front today, the befuddled John Cichowski, in his guise as the Road Warrior, compares the Christie-inspired George Washington Bridge traffic jams in September to:

The 1966 New York City transit strike, the 1969 snowstorm that paralyzed the five boroughs, a Chicago blizzard in 1979 and a Denver snowstorm in 1983 (L-1).

Smoking gun

Today, the Web sites of The New York Times and The Record are reporting the papers obtained e-mails showing that Christie's office was "closely involved," as The Times describes it, in GWB lane closures that caused traffic jams in Fort Lee, where the mayor is a Democrat.

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Bridget Anne Kelly said in an e-mail to David Wildstein, a close friend of Christie's who had been appointed to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Kelly, a deputy chief of staff to Christie, gave the go-ahead for the lane closures about two weeks before they occurred, The Times reported.

Trial by fire

Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza -- in an apparent bid to deflect attention from readers' disappointment in local-news coverage -- managed to find a journalist with a real image problem: 

Former Fox 5 reporter Charles Leaf is on trial at the Bergen County Courthouse on charges he sexually abused a 4-year-old girl at his Wyckoff home three years ago (L-3).

Transit column?

Every major newspaper in New York has carried a subway column, but The Record has acted contemptuously toward NJ Transit bus and rail commuters.

In the past decade, the Road Warrior column has been devoted almost exclusively to drivers, and Staff Writer Karen Rouse, another transportation reporter, has never bothered to ride the buses and trains and report on the quality of service.

On Monday's L-3, Rouse reported on the progress of a turnpike widening project between Exits 6 and 9 -- about a hour's drive from Bergen County.

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