Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cowardly columnists, sloppy editing and potholes

A pothole on Euclid Avenue in Hackensack, where I haven't seen any crews repairing pockmarked streets that bend car wheels and blow out tires, and have drivers cursing their public officials.


Why is Columnist Charles Stile wasting readers' time today by examining what Governor Christie said as long ago as 2011, but never saying whether he thinks the GOP bully is lying about his role in the Bridgegate scandal?

That's what readers want from a columnist for The Record -- an opinion, a point of view, an accusation based on the seasoned Trenton reporter's experience dealing with public officials.

Instead, the best Stile can do is say "Christie's credibility -- and his career -- are in the shadow of a scandal" (A-1).

This "scandal" thing is a variation of what he wrote in his boring column on Friday: 

"Recast by scandal as a bully whose aides closed off part of the George Washington Bridge as a political revenge plot...." 

He's no Breslin

Of course, it's Stile's credibility that is on the line, along with the credibility of the paper's other columnists, including Road Warrior John Cichowski and Mike Kelly, who can't muster any strong opinions, either.

Instead of condemning municipal crews' half-assed job of snow removal and pothole repair in the region, Cichowski's column on Thursday delved into fantasy, based on a single driver's comment:

“'It seems like every street corner has snow piles up to the heavens, making it impossible to turn onto any street.'
"Yet," a concerned reader noted, "there were no reports of regionwide or local traffic gridlock, if it really was 'impossible to turn onto any street.'
"The Road Warrior’s column predicted that 'current accumulations are likely to keep streets narrow and dangerous for weeks' due to freezing temperatures, even though four straight days of temperatures in the 50s and three days of rain would melt a lot of the snow."

See the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers by clicking on the following link:

Road Warrior puts up factual roadblocks 

Good for transit

What is the big deal about leasing a North Bergen park-and-ride lot to NJ Transit for $1 a year, even if the agency was a client of lawyer David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority (A-1 on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and today)?

NJ Transit is the state's mass-transit agency -- not a profit-making company -- and in giving up $900,000 in revenue from the lot in 2012, the Port Authority was, in effect, making a contribution to the viability of public transit and helping to ease traffic congestion.

The bi-state agency is supported by fees and tolls, not taxes, and operates the PATH commuter rail system, owns hundreds of buses used by NJ Transit and others, and runs the reverse express bus lane into the Lincoln Tunnel.

No question

Today's Page 1 story by Staff Writer Shawn Boburg actually reports Samson "has been the focus of questions about whether clients of his law firm benefited from his public position."


Weeks ago, National Public Radio (WNYC-FM) reported lobbying and legal work boomed at Samson's law firm after Christie named him chairman of the Port Authority.

Those clients know a good thing when they see it -- their lawyer at the pinnacle of power.  

Wasting our time

The front of Local today carries another Road Warrior column -- this one about drivers who run  stop signs at a traffic circle in the Bergen County backwater of Franklin Lakes (L-1).

Drivers run stop signs everywhere. Why waste an entire column on this spot? 

What about an epidemic of speeding and aggressive driving, and the dramatic decline in the enforcement of traffic laws on highways and in many towns.

Why not report on Hackensack Police Director Mike Mordaga's crackdown on traffic violations? 

Sloppy editing

Also on the Local front today is a beautifully written local obituary for Sidney Kronish, who lived to 101, with an inexplicable flaw in the first paragraph:

"Rozanne Zweig addressed the mourners as she stood aside [italics added] her boyfriend's simple pine coffin."

Shouldn't that be "beside" or "next to" the coffin? Where were the assignment, news and copy editors who went over this obituary? Were they asleep at their computers?

Silence is golden

On the Opinion front, Carl Golden, a former Record reporter who was press secretary to two Republican governors, discusses the stresses of a job now held by Mike Drewniak, Governor Christie's discredited chief spokesman (O-1).

Golden doesn't explain why Drewniak, a former Star-Ledger reporter in Trenton, has such a foul mouth or why he cursed and belittled former colleagues who were looking into the Bridgegate scandal.

Drewniak has laid low in the weeks since his expletive-filled e-mails emerged, and no one has reported whether it is a coincidence his last name rhymes with "maniac."

Jets v. residents

The Business front cover story on increased private-jet activity at Teterboro Airport is a royal F.U. to residents of Teaneck, Hackensack and other towns who are kept awake by all of those noisy planes (B-1).

Nor does it report that Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg is the filthy rich co-owner of one of the unregulated private jets that seem to be screaming overhead day and night. 


  1. Well, let's see. Residents have an alternative to the overpriced Market Basket, if they drive all the way to the Costco Wholesale in Wayne.

    To get to Newark Airport or Manhattan, add a half hour of travel time, including coping with the maniacal drivers on Route 17.

    I suppose life is so great there property owners routinely add a few thousand dollars to their quarterly property tax checks to thank town officials for great service.

    Are you saying there are no house burglaries while the local cops are on line at the Dunkin' Donuts?

    Bergen County communities like Franklin Lakes do one thing well: They keep minorities out of their "neighborhood" schools.

    1. I was responding to this anonymous message:

      "Franklin Lakes = backwater? It is one of the state's wealthiest communities.

      "Hackensack and Paterson should be so 'backwater'.

      "It is a beautiful, wealthy community and even has a few blacks residing there, albeit wealthy ones."

  2. Perhaps we can afford the Market Basket and don't have to go to those zoos called Costco? And can take limo services to airports.

    1. Be my guest if you enjoy paying $30 a pound for smoked wild salmon. Costco isn't a "zoo," if you know when to go.

  3. Geez, Victor, if that isn't damning with faint praise! Costco may get crowded, but for Mister Anonymous to call it a zoo is flat out demeaning whether its crowded or not. Costco is a great place, as its many shoppers will attest. And the Market Basket could be a little more diverse and add organic and antibiotic free items as well.

    1. I'm sure the Market Basket does carry naturally raised food, but it is probably a lot more expensive than Whole Foods Market, knowing residents have money to burn, money they are trying to hide from the IRS.


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