Monday, May 5, 2014

Was Tony Soprano elected governor of New Jersey?

Welcome to New Jersey: With the Bayonne Bridge closed, people disembarking from a cruise ship at Port Jersey in Bayonne on Saturday faced a 30-minute delay in reaching the New Jersey Turnpike.

After the tollbooths, drivers passed an oasis of beauty next to the turnpike.


Readers with solar panels on their homes searched today's front page in vain for a clue to whether The Record's lead story on the state Clean Energy Program had anything to do with them (A-1).

If they managed to plow through all of the long, densely written paragraphs on A-1 without losing interest -- and that's doubtful -- they turned to the continuation page and saw a big photo of solar panels on a county building (A-6).

But why did Editor Marty Gottlieb think this is the first thing readers wanted to see today?

Staff Writer Jean Rimbach, the least productive reporter in the Woodland Park newsroom, worked on this expose a long time, but it is no easier to get into or understand, and whatever editing it might have received is invisible.

What it means

Has Rimbach's investigation uncovered another one of Governor Christie's failed promises or the well-known revolving door between government and industry?

And I can't see how any of this affects me as a homeowner who has solar panels on his roof or anyone else who took part in the Clean Energy Program.

I'm still getting free electricity more than six months out of the year, and I'm still earning monthly solar credits I can sell to Public Service Electric & Gas for cash.

Despite all of the talent Gottlieb has on his local photo staff, the former New York Times veteran keeps on running wire-service photos on Page 1, such as the silly one today of "pro-Russia protesters."

On A-2, the SHOT OF THE DAY is from Gaza City. Maybe, the real shot of the day is the majestic eagle on the Local front today.

Tony Soprano

A second piece on Page 1 today is clearly about another of the GOP bully's failed promises -- the incredible mismanagement of Superstorm Sandy aid (A-1 and A-7).

On Friday night, HBO satirist Bill Maher suggested Tony Soprano wasn't whacked in the final episode of "The Sopranos" in June 2007, he was elected governor of New Jersey.

After the belly laughs died down, that didn't seem so far-fetched, given how Christie has treated Sandy victims, bridge-and-tunnel Democrats in Fort Lee and other cities, commuters and the middle and working classes on whose backs he is about to balance another state budget.

White and black

Why did the local editors put David Peluso, a heroin addict from Mahwah, on the Local front, and bury a story about Kirk-Andeno Lawrence, 21, a promising college student who worked with an EMT unit?

Lawrence, of Paterson, committed suicide. He was black, as was the reporter who wrote the story, and the heroin addict is white. 

Did that have anything to do with placement of the respective stories?

Inflated salaries

Also on the Local front today is a piece by Staff Writer Hannan Adely on public relations consultants hired by a small number of towns, including Hackensack.

The city, which can't afford to repair potholes, is paying Thom Ammirato $78,000 a year -- a reward for his work as campaign manager to the Citizens for Change slate that swept last May's City Council election.

But Mayor John Labrosse, the top vote-getter, claims he didn't know Ammirato, the city's chief spokesman, already had a full-time public relations job with Bergen County's Republican administrator, plus a few other side jobs.

Ammirato's one-year contract with Hackensack expires in mid-July.

Newsroom changes

Meanwhile, Adely has been pulled off her Hackensack beat, and Kibret Markos has been assigned to the Passaic County Courthouse in Paterson after years of covering state Superior Court in Hackensack.

Staff Writer Peter J. Sampson replaced Markos at the Bergen County Courthouse, where there will a lot less second-hand smoke outside the main entrance the latter favored for his frequent smoking breaks.

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