Saturday, April 12, 2014

Renewing the ugly battle with racism in Englewood

In what many commuters know as the "Passover Effect," there were plenty of seats available on NJ Transit trains to and from the city on Friday, and traffic in the region was mercifully light. Many commuters left the day before to celebrate the holiday with relatives out of state or took a long weekend. Passover begins at sundown Monday.


The front page of The Record today and Friday appeared to carry big local news for a change.

Editor Marty Gottlieb called for a large, black headline today to announce "the largest toxic cleanup in U.S. history," but downplayed that no part of the Passaic River in Bergen or Passaic counties is included (A-1).

On Friday, The Record announced that Hackensack had settled the last civil-rights lawsuit against Ken Zisa, the family's rotten apple, who stank up City Hall during his years as police chief and state assemblyman (A-1).

The cost to the city and taxpayers -- in legal fees and settlements -- was put at "more than $8 million," but the story doesn't say how much of that was covered by insurance.

More racism?

Still, the story that jumped out at me appeared on Friday's Local front, where Englewood's ugly school-desegregation battle was back in the news (L-1).

The small city has been struggling with segregated schools for nearly 30 years, and in 2002, Bergen County started a rigorous Academies program at Dwight Morrow High School to draw white students from outside Englewood.

But the proposal that is being denounced by some parents is to have "mostly minority Dwight Morrow students and more diverse Academies students attend classes in the same buildings" [italics added]."

Low-grade fever

The story doesn't raise racism as the possible cause of the opposition. 

In fact, the story reports the concern is "low academic achievement," as if poor grades are catching, like a cold.

Apparently, no effort is being made to integrate the lower grades in Englewood, which the Borg publishing family called home for many years, choosing, of course, to pay for private schools.

More screw-ups

Friday's paper also was noteworthy for two lengthy corrections on A-2, and an embarrassing production error on A-5, involving a broken photo caption in the story on the 50th anniversary celebration of the Civil Rights Act.

Maybe it's time for a typo in the paycheck of Production Editor Liz Houlton, who is paid six figures, despite all of the errors she and her staff miss.

Praise for Axia

In Friday's Better Living entertainment tabloid, Staff Writer Elisa Ung lavishes 3 stars (Excellent) on Axia Taverna in Tenafly, an expensive Greek restaurant that opened in 2006 (BL-18).

What did she wait eight years to visit the place?

Still, in her usual "let them eat cake" attitude, there is little about the origin of the food or how it was raised or grown.

"Though not cheap, you get quality for your money," the restaurant reviewer assures readers in the data box.

The fat lamb rib chops are from Australia and cost an astounding $40, but she doesn't say whether they are grass fed and free of antibiotics. Ditto for the Colorado loin chops.

A seafood clay pot ($26) apparently contained a single "pristine scallop."

And her description of the abysmally poor service during one of her visits, and the burned top of that seafood clay pot, makes you wonder why she didn't award Axia two and a half stars.

Inside journalism

Today, the paper pats itself on the back for winning a George Polk Award for its coverage of the political payback scandal involving lane closures at the George Washington Bridge (A-7).

Someone should buy a tie for Port Authority reporter Shawn Boburg, who looks like he just climbed out of bed for the photo on A-7.

I don't know who George Polk was, but his journalism prize is as flawed as all of the others, which should be awarded for a body of work, not just one series of stories.

For example, Boburg has had blinders on in his coverage of the Port Authority, ignoring the bistate agency's poor job of expanding mass transit and easing nightmarish traffic congestion.

Which reminds me that the silly wire service story announcing the Polk Awards claims two reporters who broke the Edward Snowden story weren't arrested at Kennedy International Airport, as feared.

But, the story said, "they were instead confronted by reporters and photographers before fighting through traffic" to receive the award in the city.

Of course, that usually is the case, but Friday was one of the lightest traffic days of the year, as I found out on two car trips, one to Manhattan and back, and the other to LaGuardia Airport.

Today's confection

The Record and Staff Writer Jay Levin also pat themselves on the back today for helping the Mortgage Apple Cake baker save her Teaneck home from foreclosure (L-1).

Levin's 2009 story about Angela Logan, based on a tip from a "mutual Teaneck friend," attracted hundreds of orders for her cakes, as he reports today in a story about a TV film airing on April 20.

That puts the spotlight on the Woodland Park daily's coverage of the foreclosure crisis in New Jersey, and whether the paper has fully exposed the roles of banks, real estate agents and Governor Christie.


If you want your comment to appear, refrain from personal attacks on the blogger. Anonymous comments are no longer accepted. Keep your racism to yourself.