Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hackensack officials deal more blows to taxpayers

A photo taken today of filled potholes on Euclid Avenue in Hackensack. On Monday, "Eye on The Record" published a photo from Feb. 26, below, and reported incorrectly that no potholes had been repaired on the street in the Fairmount section. However, Prospect Avenue, one of the city's premier streets, remains a disaster along almost its entire length between Euclid Avenue and Essex Street, and other potholes on Euclid weren't repaired as of this morning.


Instead of urging residents to recycle more, Hackensack officials have announced that twice-a-week garbage collection will start on March 17.

The e-mail from the city's official Web site doesn't say why once-a-week garbage collection is being doubled, how much it will cost and whether the city's already high property taxes will increase as a result.

"Recycling and rubbish collection will remain the same," the e-mail says. 

Who wants this?

I am sure I am not alone among Hackensack residents in saying once-a-week garbage collection is plenty.

As it is, I don't put out garbage for collection ever week, even though we prepare meals five to six days a week.

We have two disposals in our sinks, but would like to see the city collect food scraps for composting, which would be far better than increasing garbage collection.

I actually have to hold back recyclables -- paper, cardboard, bottles and cans -- which also are picked up curbside, and I recycle plastic bags and food wrapping and packaging at ShopRite.

Smelly garbage

I recall attending City Council meetings where residents of one ward complained their garbage smelled during the summer, and asked for twice-a-week collection.

The city didn't survey residents in other wards on whether they, too, wanted more garbage collection.

Hackensack is the most populous community in Bergen County, but it also is one of the most inefficient in terms of using renewable energy or adding hybrid and electric cars to its fleet.

Main Street app

The city seems to be largely influenced by property owners who belong to the Upper Main Street Alliance, a public-private group that is hoping to score big from downtown redevelopment.

Today, The Record reports the alliance has unveiled a free Main Street app, the first in the state (L-3), but the paper doesn't say the app ignores many merchants and restaurants outside of the alliance's arbitrary zone.

Much of the city's redevelopment is taking the form of luxury apartments, and one building going up on State Street won a big tax break from the city, shifting the burden to homeowners. 

Tax-exempt property

Another reason property taxes are so high is the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-exempt property owned by Hackensack University Medical Center, Bergen County and Fairleigh Dickinson University. 

With Mayor John Labrosse, a hospital employee, in control, the city is in no hurry to ask HUMC to give back in lieu of taxes on at least $180 million in property that pays absolutely nothing, despite all the city services the hospital uses.

For example, the hospital could pave Prospect Avenue, which rocks patients in ambulances heading for the emergency room; or buy new cruisers for the city Police Department.

$78,000 mouthpiece

Labrosse and fellow members of Citizens for Change were swept into office last May, then chose Thom Ammirato, their campaign manager, as the city's chief spokesman, paying him an outrageous $78,000 a year, not $65,000, as I wrote earlier.

As a full-time employee of Bergen County, Ammirato won't be supporting in-kind contributions from the tax-exempt county, either.

Page 1 today

Transportation reporter Karen Rouse has written far more about NJ Transit service problems encountered by Super Bowl fans on one day February than she has in the previous decade about long-suffering commuters (A-1).

On the continuation page (A-6), the photo caption is wrong in describing fans "outside MetLife Stadium."

The photo clearly shows a platform at the transfer station in Secaucus, where the copy editor who wrote the wrong caption and everyone else who worked on the story obviously have never been.

Why is a story on winter snowstorms boosting business at carwashes on the front page today (A-1)? What's next -- a boost in the dry cleaning business?

Does anybody care which federal prosecutors -- in New York or New Jersey -- try to take down Port Authority Chairman David Samson, Governor Christie's crony (A-1)?

The powerful law firm headed by Samson has seen its lobbying and legal business skyrocket since Christie named him to the unsalaried position, and businesses he represents have benefited from his official actions.

Local yokels

Today's Local section brings more Passaic County news to Bergen County readers (L-2 and L-3).

Readers confused by Sunday's Road Warrior column reporting both an increase and a decline in pedestrian deaths were not alone, as this e-mail to managers and editors shows:

"In his Sunday column, the Road Warrior embarrasses himself by mistakenly advocating both sides of the argument that New Jersey pedestrian deaths have generally risen over the past decade and have generally fallen over the past decade based on his own made-up and cherry picked information.
"He spent most of his column indicating that pedestrian fatalities rose in the past decade since they went from 138 in 2003 to 163 in 2012.
"He then indicated that pedestrian fatalities fell in the past decade since they went from 176 in 2002 to 132 in 2013.
"To make matters even more absurd, he tried to do this while still misstating New Jersey State Police road fatality statistics for this time period that are readily available to him online.
"Road Warrior indicated that 132 pedestrians were killed in 2013 in New Jersey – 'the lowest yearly number since state police began keeping accurate counts in the 1970s.'"
"However, state police fatality statistics show there were only 130 pedestrian deaths in 2001." 

See the full e-mail on the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Road Warrior credibility continues to fall


  1. Please keep up your comments on the terrible potholes. Great photos of the ones on Euclid Avenue. Maybe we can hope some of the taxpayer money will go to fixing the streets.


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