Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Reading all about fraud in high and low places

On Tuesday afternoon, there was much less snow than when this photo was taken on Feb. 18, but the bus stop on Anderson Street in Hackensack, across the street from Sears, is still covered by white stuff from the Feb. 13 nor'easter, and NJ Transit drivers must drop off passengers in front of a cleared auto repair shop driveway.


Readers are being cheated in two ways by The Record's front page today:

Editor Marty Gottlieb wastes their time with the low drama of a fraud plea involving nearly $5 million from Teresa and Joe Guidice, who flaunted their lavish lifestyle on a reality TV show (A-1).

And for nearly two months, Governor Christie "has managed to avoid questions" about the growing Bridgegate scandal, showing readers how little power the media really have in the face of his repeated "no comment" (A-1).

Missing the point

The Record's Melissa Hayes, other reporters and the Editorial Page editor have spent so much time polishing Christie's image and promoting the GOP bully for a presidential run, they completely miss the lesson a reader finds in the George Washington Bridge lane closures:

"He [Christie] is at the top of the chain of command and is ultimately responsible for what happens on his watch," Phyllis Binaghi says in a letter to the editor today (A-10).

And that should prompt Christie to resign, ending his reign as New Jersey's worst governor, and not fight the inevitable.

Have those views ever been expressed by Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin?

He spends so much time going to Broadway shows and seeing films -- which he cites liberally in his opinion columns -- I doubt The Record's editorials have ever been as clear or as forceful as Binaghi, referring both to Bridgegate and the toll-hike fakery at the Port Authority that directly involved Christie.

Real white trash

On the continuation page for the report on the Guidices' guilty plea, readers get yet another "Real Housewives of New Jersey" column from Staff Writer Virginia Rohan.

For years, Rohan's stories and columns about the stupid show -- the ultimate Jersey joke -- were a stock feature of the Local news section when it was being run by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, who is on medical leave.

And I'm wondering if today's news story is the first time readers learn that Joe Guidice is basically an illegal immigrant (A-6).

Hackensack news

The front of Local today is filled with Law & Order news, a convenient tool for plugging news columns in the absence of municipal news.

In Hackensack news, the City Council on Tuesday approved a three-year contract for Police Director Mike Mordaga, who cited a crackdown on quality-of-life and drug crimes since he took over in February 2013 (L-3).

Mordaga took over the department after the criminal conviction of then-Police Chief Ken "I Am The Law" Zisa, whose family ran Hackensack or "Zisaville" for decades.

In a second story that proved too late for the paper's Tuesday night deadlines, Hackensack is banning smokers in parks and recreation areas (L-3).

Bottom is up

Why is a brief about Per Se -- one of New York City's most expensive restaurants -- and its low grade from health inspectors on the Business page (L-7), and not with the restaurant news that appears in Better Living (BL-2)?

The item on a $26 Prime Angus beef shoulder special at Bibi'z in Westwood doesn't mention the beef likely was raised on grain, harmful animal antibiotics and growth hormones (BL-2), and is inferior to grass-fed meat.

Ida Martin, the restaurant owner, is quoted as saying the "tenderloin cut is less expensive" than filet mignon, meaning more profit for her at customers' expense.

In the Coffee With The Chef feature (BL-2), Peter Larsen of Haven in Edgewater says his "food crutch" is sea urchin, declaring, "I'll eat it raw."

But raw is how sea urchin is served at sushi bars.

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