Friday, March 28, 2014

Warning to GWB drivers: Christie whitewash ahead

Governor Christie was told about closure of two of the three George Washington Bridge local access lanes in Fort Lee, above, as they caused traffic gridlock in early September, in an apparent act of political retribution against the borough's Democratic mayor. Christie's response? He takes the out used by witnesses for decades: I don't recall.


In their desperation to advance the whitewash clearing Governor Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane closures, The Record's editors claim in a banner headline today the GOP bully emerges "unscathed."

How did Editor Marty Gottlieb or anyone else in the Woodland Park newsroom know -- barely 12 hours after the report was released on Thursday -- that Christie didn't suffer any injury, damage or harm to his already battered reputation?

As usual, columnists, reporters and editors ignore the court of public opinion as they regurgitate the highly orchestrated dog-and-pony show put on by Christie's $650-an-hour lawyer, Randy Mastro (A-1, A-6 and A-7).

Playing catch-up

The New York Times this week scooped The Record on the basic conclusions of the report, forcing Gottlieb to advance the story with "a second-day lead" on Page 1. 

But where are the man-on-the-street interviews, the reaction of the public, not just the usual interviews with critics, pollsters and so-called experts Record staffers have on speed dial?

In the tradition of defense attorneys everywhere, Mastro put Christie in the best light possible while portraying the governor's former aide, Port Authority crony and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer as unreliable and even emotionally disturbed.

Mastro also managed to get out ahead of the state Legislature's Bridgegate investigators, who are being stonewalled by Bridget Anne Kelly and others.

As Christie's deputy chief of staff, Kelly wrote the infamous e-mail to David Wildstein, his crony at the Port Authority:

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Editorial comment

An editorial today says the Mastro report raised more questions than it answered, and failed "to discover the complete truth" (A-18).

Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin's opinion column compares the report to works by Twain and Tolstoy (A-19).

Bad news

The best read story in the newsroom today is the "reorganization" and additional layoffs at The Star-Ledger, the state's biggest newspaper, which supplies stories to The Record (A-1 and A-4).

I am sure reporters and editors are wondering if the Borg family's North Jersey Media Group plans the same fate for them. 

Hackensack news

Also on the editorial page today is a letter to the editor from Lynne Hurwitz, chairwoman of the Hackensack Democratic Committee (A-18).

Hurwitz is credited with being the power behind the Zisa family in all their years of disservice to Hackensack, and her sour grapes have been clearly evident since she failed to get her slate elected last May.

Her letter complains that Mayor John Labrosse refused comment on the $78,000 salary for the city's chief spokesman, Thom Ammirato, who was campaign manager for the victorious Citizens for Change slate.

Hurwitz reportedly retired in 2011 from a $97,000-a-year job as deputy chief of staff to Bergen County Executive Dennis C. McNerney with a monthly pension of $2,499.

Critics say one of her chief duties was watering the plants in the county Administration Building.

Appetizing resume

All restaurant goers know you can't eat the wallpaper or the chef's resume, but that doesn't stop Staff Writer Elisa Ung from wasting more than half of her review today on just such details (BL-14).

As it is, readers are kept in the dark about salads, vegetables, whole-wheat pasta and seafood at Caffe Anello in Westwood, apart from passing references to "roasted clams" and a burned fillet of Chilean sea bass for $34.

This is another unfocused, poorly written and edited appraisal of a restaurant Ung awards three out of four stars (Excellent).

She reports Chef John Vitale succeeds in bringing to Bergen County the passion behind the authentic Italian meals he enjoyed in Tuscany, and ends her review this way:

"... It is the restaurant for those inspired by passion, just as Vitale was in Tuscany. Wouldn't it be great if Anello ended up planting a powerful idea in another's head?"

"Another's head"? That's awkward. Does she mean another chef or restaurant owner? Or just any head, say of a passer-by?

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