Sunday, April 13, 2014

Page 1 errors, new PA probe, Christie payback

In Hackensack, Prospect Avenue residents are turning thumbs down on the sloppy patching of the street's numerous potholes, complaining the pavement is not much smoother than before, above. Meanwhile, drivers are cursing hundreds of potholes on streets and highways in northern New Jersey and New York City that haven't been fixed.


The Record continues to report on the decrepit Pulaski Skyway, the Newark-Jersey City link that represents a huge detour for Manhattan-bound residents of Bergen and Passaic counties.

And the Woodland Park daily keeps on making the same boneheaded error, reporting on Page 1 today that "the Pulaski Skyway closed Saturday" (A-1 photo caption).

That repeats the error at the end of last Tuesday's Road Warrior column, written by the befuddled John Cichowski, who said:

"Starting next week, some 70,000 commuters might become a test case of sorts when New Jersey's longest span shuts down for rehabilitation [italics added] ...."

Not that it matters for the vast majority of readers, but only two Manhattan-bound lanes are closed for repairs to the bridge deck and deteriorating beams. (A-3).

The bridge remains open for drivers leaving the city.

On the New Jersey Turnpike today, I saw a sign that said, "New York-bound Pulaski Skyway closed."

That means Cichowski is dumber than a digital sign.

Lead story

Today's embarrassing front-page screw-up detracts from the lead story.

Staff Writer Shawn Boburg reports the Manhattan district attorney has subpoenaed "communications between Governor Christie's office" and the Port Authority, the bistate agency he packed with his cronies (A-1).

The subpoena relates to the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, the Port Authority's takeover of operations at Atlantic City Airport and the diversion of $1.8 billion in PA money for repairs to New Jersey roads.

Three photos run with the story on Page 1, but it looks like a clueless editor picked the wrong photo to represent the "rebuilding of the World Trade Center." 

The photo appears to show construction of the reflecting pools in the footprints of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the 9/11 attack on  America (A-1).

More Christie anger

Another A-3 story today seems to establish a pattern of political retribution by Christie that dates to late 2010.

The Star-Ledger report on "unprecedented interference" with the State Ethics Commission echoes Christie's other unprecedented moves:

They range from denying tenure to the state Supreme Court's only black justice to vetoing 5% raises for state Pinelands Commission members who didn't green light a gas-pipeline project pushed by a Christie crony. 

New media tack

Since January, the weekly revelations about Christie, his Trenton staff and his Port Authority cronies have forced The Record and other media to rethink their mindless promotion of the GOP bully's presidential potential in the past couple of years.

Too bad none of this came out before last November's election, when Christie won a second term in what was the lowest turnout for a gubernatorial contest ever.

Much of that apathy in northern New Jersey can be traced to Columnist Charles Stile, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes and other reporters who built up Christie into a juggernaut who couldn't be beaten.

In fact, Christie appeared to be desperate to enlist Democratic supporters, judging from the George Washington Bridge and Sandy aid scandals that emerged after the election.

More dementia

The Road Warrior column is back today, with Cichowski devoting most of the space to Martin Cooper, who invented the cellphone in 1973 (L-1).

Cooper has gotten nowhere with another invention that would "disable a cellphone keypad" inside a motor vehicle.

Cichowski apparently has never heard about Bluetooth, the hands-free cellphone technology that cuts down on driver distraction, or new vehicles that allow you to listen to text messages as you drive.

Why waste your time with Cichowski's blast from the past?

On the same page, there is a well-written local obituary about a delightful woman, Mary Planten, who died at 108 last Sunday (L-1).

Restaurant myths

On the Better Living front, Staff Writer Elisa Ung again takes the focus off of the slave wages restaurant owners pay their servers (BL-1).

Instead, she devotes her entire column to restaurant workers' "pet peeves" about customers, playing into the hands of greedy owners.

She even tries to shame users of promotional coupons into tipping on the total value of the meal before the discount.

That's ridiculous. 

During Manhattan's semi-annual Restaurant Week promotion, you tip on the discounted cost of the meal and nothing more, and it's been like that from the beginning in the 1990s.

This winter, a 3-course lunch was $25 plus tax, compared to $40 to $45, if you ordered the dishes a la carte, and that is what appeared on your bill and what you tipped on.

Tipping follies

Ung should question why restaurant owners are allowed to pay servers about $2.50 an hour, putting the onus on customers to provide those workers with a living wage.

The reporter's numerous promotional pieces about restaurant owners and chefs raise an important question:

Whose side is she on? Today, she comes down firmly on the side of owners, not consumers.

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