Friday, March 14, 2014

Clashing accounts of Christie's town hall meeting

This poor soul on River Street in Hackensack, and a counterpart on Cedar Lane in Teaneck, have been trying to steer business to a tax-preparation business during the bitter winter, including days with sub-freezing temperatures. How desperate do you have to be to take that thankless job?


The Record's front page today carries conflicting accounts of Governor Christie's community meeting in Mount Laurel, the South Jersey town at the center of court mandates on affordable housing the GOP bully continues to defy.

Editor Marty Gottlieb dispatched Staff Writer Melissa Hayes and political Columnist Charles Stile to Thursday's meeting -- in a familiar double teaming that accomplishes little more than to confuse readers (A-1).

Stile, with his endlessly boring analysis of Christie's every word, and other political columnists are probably most responsible for the voter apathy that led to the lowest turnout in a gubernatorial election in history last November.


More troubling are the clashing accounts of the meeting:

Christie is "losing the fight to control the message," according to the headline over Stile's Page 1 column today.

But Hayes reported:

Police removed student activists shouting questions about Bridgegate and bungled Sandy aid; Christie refused to address affordable-housing and environmental advocates, and the governor received "raucous" and "thunderous" applause.

Doesn't that sound like Christie still is firmly in control?

And the photo on the continuation page shows perhaps three dozen of his biggest supporters, presumably well-heeled residents, smiling broadly, with hardly an African-American, Hispanic or Asian Indian in sight (A-8).

Poor editing

The story is poorly edited: Bridgegate, the scandal over the George Washington Bridge lane closures in Fort Lee, is rendered as bridgegate, with and without single quote marks; and a word appears to be missing in a quote from Christie claiming the demonstrators only want "attention" (A-8)

Also on Page 1, I'm looking forward to the day when a photo of rifle-totting Shyanne Roberts, 9, lands back on front pages after she wipes out a middle-school class in Gloucester County (A-1).

Three more corrections appear on A-2 today.

P.R. octopus

An editorial on A-18 notes that Thom Ammirato, the $78,000-a-year spokesman for the city of Hackensack, also holds two other jobs, paying him more than $56,000, and does public relations for the Passaic County Republican Party and two Republican state legislators.

Now that's multi-tasking in the great New Jersey tradition of holding many public jobs at the same time.

Utility pole news

Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza again managed to squeeze in a gee-whiz photo of a utility pole shearing, by the same photographer who took the first (L-6).

As usual, the cause of the accident in Paramus is missing from the photo caption, as is the driver's name or whether he received a summons.

Stomach turning

With the rise in organic and naturally raised or grown food, readers want to know more about the origin of the meat, fish, vegetables and fruit they eat.

But since he took over as publisher, Stephen A. Borg has given them less, first killing the paper's award-winning Food section.

Then, he hired three lazy food editors in succession and a dessert-obsessed restaurant reviewer who spend most of their time promoting celebrity chefs and cookbooks.

Inviting Heimlich

In today's lukewarm, 2-star review of Vale Bar & Grill in River Vale, "thick, ropy calamari got caught going down my throat," wrote Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung, who apparently was so ravenous she didn't stop to cut the squid into bite-size pieces.

Last week, Ung didn't bother to report that the short ribs and other meat served at Terre a Terre in Carlstadt are naturally raised or organic and free of harmful animal antibiotics.

And the sea bass and shrimp she said "smelled and tasted past their prime" might have been smoked by the chef, Todd Villani, who worked in the kitchen of Aquavit in Manhattan, where smoking and pickling of seafood is common.

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