Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A single, nasty lawsuit won't derail reform in Hackensack

Hackensack residents lining up to question city officials during the public-comment portion of Tuesday night's City Council meeting.


On Tuesday night, more North Jersey Media Group staffers gathered in one place in Hackensack than at any time since 2009, when the Borg family's flagship newspaper abruptly abandoned the city.

Four reporters and a photographer covered the City Council, which met on the third floor of City Hall, several blocks from The Record's old headquarters at 150 River Street.


The day before, acting City Manager Anthony Rottino hit city officials with "a bombshell lawsuit alleging that he was the target of a smear campaign designed to run him out of his $176,000 position," according to The Record's lead Page 1 story today.

Rottino, of Franklin Lakes, actually holds two positions, acting city manager and economic development director.

That "bombshell" is getting blanket coverage in The Record, unlike the "bombshell" decision to pull out of Hackensack, where the Borg family prospered for more than 110 years, about a year after the biggest downsizing in the company's history.

The negative impact on Hackensack's downtown was ignored as the Borgs shifted coverage to big mall retailers, whose advertising revenue keeps the Woodland Park daily afloat.

Reforms advance

Despite major missteps by the Citizens for Change slate that was swept into office in 2013, the Rottino suit is not expected to stop the drive to reform a city that withered and nearly died under decades of rule by the Zisa family.

In fact, as shown by the $94.46 million budget approved on Tuesday night, CFO Jim Mangin has earned praise for cleaning up the financial mess left by the previous administration.

Of course, the four reporters from The Record and Hackensack Chronicle weren't there on Tuesday night to report positive news.

Today's paper leads with the firing of former campaign official Thom Ammirato, a Rottino ally, from his $78,000-a-year position as city spokesman, but says nothing about the new spending plan (A-1).

Staff Writer Hannan Adely also reported the council summoned Rottino to "a hearing about his job" on Thursday morning. 

Word pushers

Columnist Mike Kelly, the burned-out reporter who helped cover the official corruption and insurance fraud trial of former Police Chief Ken Zisa in 2012, smelled blood, prompting him to make a rare trip to the city.

Don't look for any insights. Kelly is probably writing his column today and filling it with the same tired phrases he has used hundreds of times before.

The first paragraph of a second story on A-1 today, under the rare byline of veteran reporter Jean Rimbach, refers incorrectly to Rottino as "Hackensack's city manager."

Legal lesson

Rimbach reports "whistle-blower actions" like the suit filed by Rottino "are tough to win" (A-1).

The complaint claims Rottino opposed raising police salaries more than 2%, tried to protect Ammirato's job and raised questions about the allegedly "widespread use of steroids by members of the Police Department" (A-6).

Rottino also claims city officials violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination by "choosing a white candidate for a municipal judgeship over a qualified black candidate."

Acting City Manager Anthony Rottino didn't attend Tuesday night's City Council meeting. Sitting in was Art Koster, executive assistant to the city manager and city personnel director, left front. CFO Jim Mangin is seated at right. Mayor John Labrosse is seated on the dais flanked on each side by the four other members of the City Council.

'Costly legal disputes'

The Record's lead front-page story on Tuesday reported the Rottino suit and seemed to blame the City Council for failing in its goal of putting an "end to costly legal disputes."

Of course, this is the kind of simplistic nonsense reporters try to peddle all the time.

To put an end to "costly" legal disputes, you'd have to upend the entire system of lawyers charging whatever the traffic will bear, backed up by judges, who were, after all, onetime lawyers who tested the limits on hourly rates.

A lawyer who charges $400 to $500 an hour effectively denies many people access to the courts.

Still, this is a system supported by many, including The Record and Jennifer A. Borg, NJMG's vice president and general counsel, because it limits the ability of employees to file suits over working conditions, age discrimination, severance and other issues.

Second look

On Monday, the lead story in Local on the proposed county budget contained several reporting and editing problems, as listed by a reader of Eye on The Record:

"Today's L-1 article on [Bergen County Executive Kathleen] Donovan and the budget contains very confusing and mistaken information.
In the 2nd paragraph, it states:

The budget "will deliver real relief in the form of a slightly less than zero tax increase."
If the net difference is slightly "less" than zero, it is a tax decrease. It would have to be slightly "more" than zero, for it to be tax increase.

In the 4th paragraph, it states:

"Donovan, a Republican running for a second term, contends that in order to slice $6.8 million from the budget she proposed in March, the freeholders are tapping into funds that can't be replenished next year."

Based on further details in the article, they would not slice [cut] the budget by $6.8 million. They would increase the funding for the proposed budget based on using $6.8 million from motor vehicle fines instead of Donovan's proposed $4.8 million.

In subsequent paragraphs, it states:

"They're raiding all the funds and taking the money out, which is very imprudent because next year, even if you've got the money in, you can't spend it," Donovan said during a Record Talk Radio interview on Friday."
"She said she proposed spending $4.8 million from a fund for motor vehicle fines, about the same amount the county has spent in previous years. But Donovan said the freeholders have called for spending $6.8 million of that revenue, leaving about $450,000 in the fund."
"Donovan said state spending rules require local governments to anticipate receiving no more than they already have in the fund. Even if the fund took in $2 million in fines in 2015, the county would be able to spend only $450,000 of that amount, she said."
"So you've got a built-in, we think, over $3 million deficit on Day One in January 2015. That's totally irresponsible of them to do that, she added."
"The last paragraph is in the wrong order since it makes no sense on how there can be a $3 million deficit based on not being able to spend the freeholder's proposed $6.8 million vs. Donovan's proposed $4.8 million, which is only a net difference of $2 million.  
"It should have followed the first paragraph." 

Eye on The Record will return
 after the Fourth of July

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Politics are killing Hackensack, our state and our nation

Anthony Rottino, seated left front, is Hackensack's director of economic development and acting city manager, jobs awarded to him after he helped raise funds for the successful campaign of a reform slate of City Council candidates in last year's non- partisan municipal election.


Politics are an obsession at The Record of Woodland Park.

The editors, columnists and reporters seem incapable of discussing any serious issue without applying the filter of politics, as today's lead Page 1 headline on a lawsuit in Hackensack demonstrates.

Does the banner headline even make sense?

"Lawsuit roils Hackensack politics"

The suit, filed by acting City Manager Anthony Rottino of Franklin Lakes, names other city officials, including Mayor John Labrosse and Police Director Michael Mordaga.

Is that "politics"? 

The current members of the City Council are described as "a political coalition" in the first paragraph of the story, which is written by Abbott Koloff and former Hackensack reporter Hannan Adely.

To get the story on Page 1, the reporters also claim Rottino's suit is a sign the City Council has failed to "put an end to costly legal disputes," without explaining all of those suits were filed against the corrupt former police chief, Ken Zisa, whose family ran Hackensack for decades before his allies were thrown out of office last year.

Calls to resign

At council meetings, gadflies and other critics have repeatedly called for Rottino to resign, claiming the Citizens for Change fund-raiser isn't qualified for the city manager's job.

In his suit, filed Monday in Superior Court in Hackensack, Rottino accuses "top officials of violating state law, condoning 'mob-like and thuggish behavior' by the police union and conducting a smear campaign to 'destroy his reputation'" (A-1).

Rottino also claims some city officials are trying to fire him, in part, "because he opposed raising police salaries and sought to protect the job of a public relations consultant who is being paid $78,000 by the city while working two other public jobs, " referring to Thom Ammirato.

Rottino, 48, is being paid $176,000 a year as economic development director and acting city manager.

Staff Writer Jim Norman of The Record, left, covered tonight's Hackensack City Council meeting, along with Marko Georgiev, a staff photographer.

Blood in water

Rottino's lawsuit has North Jersey Media Group smelling blood in the water.

The official didn't attend tonight's council meeting -- the second meeting in a row he missed -- but four NJMG reporters and a photographer did.

Staff Writers Jim Norman, Mike Kelly and Adely of The Record were there, along with Jennifer Vasquez of the weekly Hackensack Chronicle. 

Staff Writer Christopher Maag, who took over the Hackensack beat from Adely, is on vacation.

During the meeting, council members went into executive session, then emerged and voted to fire Ammirato, their former campaign manager, whom they hired last July as city spokesman.

They also voted to adopt a $94.46 million budget.

Columnist Mike Kelly of The Record, left, at the back of the City Council Chambers with attorney Richard E. Salkin, a longtime ally of the discredited Zisa family. Compare Kelly's mantle of gray hair with his shit-eating-grin column photo.

Corrosive politics

Look at how "politics" have killed any progress on climate change, immigration, a higher minimum wage and other issues in Washington.

What we have been seeing on the national and state levels is a sustained effort by a moneyed elite to strip the middle and working classes of all they have gained in recent decades.

Christie lovers

Since Governor Christie took office in 2010, Columnist Charles Stile, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes and Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Dobin have time and again written about important state issues in purely political terms.

They have massaged Christie's image as a conservative Republican who works hard at achieving compromise with his Democratic opponents -- carefully editing stories, columns and editorials to omit mention of the GOP bully's many vetoes, such as a Stile column on A-1 today.

Us v. them

They portray controversies, such as the Superstorm Sandy Bill of Rights proposal, strictly in terms of a partisan battle, not even bothering to explain why, as Christie insists, the bill violates the law (A-4).

The millionaires tax also is portrayed as a partisan battle, despite lagging tax revenue, high unemployment and Christie's grab for mass-transit funds to fix roads.

The Record's story quotes Republicans as claiming "increasing taxes would cripple the state's economy," but Staff Writer John Reitmeyer betrays readers by failing to note it is already crippled (A-6).

This is a common practice in electronic and newspaper journalism, going for "sound bites," no matter how ridiculous or nonsensical they are, as long as they stir controversy. 

Fat guy strikes out

In contrast to the editorial idolatry of Christie, today's unflattering front-page photo clearly shows a man of his size shouldn't wear shorts and a T-shirt, and shouldn't show himself to be such a klutz with a baseball bat (A-1).

In Better Living, the owner of The Plum and the Pear, a new restaurant in Wyckoff, justifies charging $31 for several ounces of Copper River sockeye salmon from Alaska by noting it is "usually available five or six weeks a year" (BL-1).

The clueless editors publish the quote, even though fresh wild sockeye salmon from other Alaskan rivers, as well as other states, are just as delicious and will be available until early October.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Look to readers for the unvarnished truth about Christie

On the Jersey shore, the Sandy Hook national park includes a nude beach, above, and one of the big guns that protected New York Harbor during World War II, with the Manhattan skyline in the distance, below.


If you want the truth about New Jersey's worst governor ever, ignore the front page of The Record today and flip to letters from readers in the Opinion section.

"More important to him [Governor Christie] than a happy New Jersey is a happy moneyed elite who can fund his national run," Dave Palmer of River Edge says of the GOP bully's adamant stand against taxing the wealthy or reducing business tax cuts (O-3).

"New Jersey is dead last among the 50 states in recovery from the recession," reports Mary Ellen Marino of Princeton.

"He proposes to break his promise to fund the pensions of state employees," Marino continues, "as well as such local workers as teachers, social workers, police and firefighters."

Boosting image

Why isn't the mess Christie has made of the Garden State consistently reflected in the columns, news stories and editorials of the Woodland Park daily?

The Political Stile column on Page 1 today -- reporting Christie's renewed focus on the White House -- sounds just like all of the ones we read before the George Washington Bridge political-retribution scandal. 

Staff Writer Charles Stile notes that "on Jan. 8, The Record published emails directly linking two Christie confidants" to the lane closings (A-1).

But the editors have never explained why it took four months after the gridlock in Fort Lee and more than two months after the election to uncover the smoking gun.

And why doesn't Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin condemn Christie's extensive travel as head of a GOP fund-raising group only days before the June 30 deadline to balance the state budget (A-1 on Saturday)?

Do the arithmetic

Today's Local section leads with the dedication of a new riverfront park in Garfield (L-1), but Columnist Mike Kelly is still writing about a three-decade-old chromium spill in that working class city (O-1).

Staff Writer Kim Lueddeke still expects readers to do the arithmetic on the number of floors a new LG headquarters in Englewood Cliffs would have (L-1).

She continues to describe a "143-foot-high" or "143-foot-tall" building, but notes the borough changed the zoning code to allow "buildings up to 150 feet and eight stories."

Does that mean the controversial LG building on top of the Palisades would be eight stories?

Skeleton news staff

The weekend news staff must have been really thin this weekend, if reporters couldn't find out anything about a fatal cement-truck accident on Saturday in Edgewater (L-1 photo).

Sadly, too many of the paper's photographers think their job ends at capturing an image.

Who were Harold Olivares, 49, of the Bronx and Kevin Bonin, 59, of Teaneck?

Stories about their deaths appear on L-3, but this body count style of journalism ignores whether they were fathers or sons, what they did for a living or anything else.

Eat to the death

Why do the editors think older readers (the majority), who may be diabetic or watching their weight and cholesterol, have any interest in Staff Writer Elisa Ung's obsessions with chocolate and other artery clogging food (BL-1)?

The Corner Table column today is a thinly disguised advertisement for a chocolate bar at Westfield Garden State Plaza.

For the $31 price of the Copper River salmon entree at The Plum and the Pear in Wyckoff, you can buy more than 2 pounds of the Alaskan sockeye fillets at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack ($12.99 a pound) and feed a family of six with plenty of leftovers (BL-2).

Too academic

Kevin DeMarrais, the paper's retired consumer columnist, overlooks the most practical tip of all when you are planning to move (R-1).

Make sure you collect plenty of boxes, leave a few weeks to pack and check to see if the mover you hire has even more boxes, which you will need if your estimates of both are off.

A little balance

On the Opinion front today, Columnist Brigid Harrison's profile of Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto is a welcome break from the usual all-Christie, all-the-time coverage (O-1).

Now, for a good laugh, read the caption on the photo of Prieto and Christie on O-4. Does that look like "chatting" to you?

Readers are always scratching their heads, thanks to the lack of proofreading under six-figure production editor Liz Houlton, who likely was taking a nap when that page went to press.

More screw-ups

Want another good laugh? A Saturday correction (A-2) noted a story on Friday misstated the number of counties in New Jersey.

It wasn't even close, with the story mentioning "13 counties." There are 21.

Another correction, on Friday's A-2, said a Thursday headline misstated a significant problem in New Jersey nursing homes -- bedsores.

The headline noted a "significant bedbug problem."


If you missed it, Saturday's Local section carried a rare feature about a downtown merchant, as the editors continue to whip their reporters into promoting mall retailers almost exclusively.

Staff Writer Christopher Maag reports Kates Brothers Scientific Shoe Co. has been custom-fitting shoes at four different locations on Main Street in Hackensack for 73 years (L-3 on Saturday).

Why didn't this feature get better play?

Hackensack budget plan tries to fix past sloppiness

The Record again today incorrectly reports Hackensack attorney Richard E. Salkin, speaking at Thursday night's City Council meeting, above, was fired as city attorney in 2013 after a reform slate was swept into office in the municipal election. Salkin was fired as municipal prosecutor, but held onto a second job as Board of Education attorney. He was city attorney from 1989 to 2005. Jim Mangin, the city's chief financial officer, is at right.


As a property tax payer in Hackensack, I was impressed by Chief Financial Officer Jim Mangin's budget presentation at the City Council meeting Thursday night.

Mangin is trying to repair all the damage to city finances during an eight-year reign by officials loyal to the discredited Zisa family.

Sloppy work

Still, Staff Writer Christopher Maag of The Record puts a negative spin on the budget plan, and commits at least two errors in the process (L-2).

In his first paragraph, the reporter says Mangin "introduced" the "latest version" of the city budget, but the agenda listed the CFO as giving a "budget amendment presentation."

The council has already introduced the budget, and on Thursday night, members voted to approve the budget amendment.

The $94.4 million proposal -- about $2 million higher than the previous budget -- calls for a tax levy of $3.3 million and a tax increase of 4.37% or $161.79 more on a home assessed at the $240,000 average.

Maag's second error, which he has committed before, is reporting that Zisa ally Richard E. Salkin was fired in 2013 as city attorney,  a job he held until 2005. 

Salkin was fired as municipal prosecutor.

Staff Writer Christopher Maag of The Record at Thursday night's City Council meeting in Hackensack.

Say what?

On Page 1 today, try to ignore the idiotic headline that leads the paper:

Obama opens door to Iraq

The big element on the front page is an entertaining feature on Jersey, the English Channel island for which New Jersey was named (A-1).

But Staff Writer Jay Levin missed a couple of opportunities in reporting on the state's 350th anniversary:

He doesn't compare the accents here ("Joisey")  and there.

Nor do we learn whether the island offers any fast food to compete with New Jersey's Texas weiners and rippers. 

Or, on the other end of the culinary scale, Levin doesn't tell us whether the island can match New Jersey's sea scallops, fluke, monkfish and lobsters.

More Christie B.S.

Also on Page 1 today, Staff Writer John Reitmeyer reports Governor Christie will say and do anything to ram through his drastic $1.6 billion cut in the state contribution to the public employees pension fund (A-1).

Pollster Patrick Murray, who was incredibly high on Christie before last November's election, is quoted as saying:

"We've kind of reached the Wild West of the Christie administration, where almost anything goes" (A-6).

As usual, foul-mouthed Press Secretary Michael Drewniak declined to comment on the pension issue, saving all of us from a string of obscenities.

Where are the jobs?

As if to punctuate what a mess Christie has made, the first Business page reports "New Jersey's job market continued to flat-line in May" (L-7).

Yet, The Record continues to support the GOP bully's adamant stand against higher taxes on the wealthy, preferring to see the latest budget balanced on the backs of the middle and working classes, as Christie has done since 2010 (A-18).

Fat lover

In Better Living, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung continues to misrepresent "quality ingredients," including beef and lamb (BL-16).

In her appraisal of Novu Restaurant in Wayne, she praises a pricey filet mignon ($39) and rack of lamb (also $39), even though both apparently were raised on harmful animal antibiotics and growth hormones.

Ung sounds like an ignoramus when she describes the filet mignon as "prime -- the highest quality grade," and claims the Colorado lamb "is regarded as "richer and more tender than the same meat from New Zealand or Australia."

The vast majority of prime beef in the United States is raised as quickly as possible on grain, antibiotics and growth hormones. 

Lamb from New Zealand and Australia is often grass fed and raised naturally without harmful additives.

Second look

In his Tuesday column, Road Warrior John Cichowski tried to scare readers by reporting drowsy truck driving is a growing trend when only five days earlier, he said exactly the opposite, according to the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers.

"At the beginning of his column, the Road Warrior tried to scare the hell out of readers by making it seem that the truck crash due to a sleepless driver, which killed comedian Tracy Morgan’s friend and injured Tracy, is a frequent, imminent, and growing trend.
"What makes his false assessment even scarier and more confusing is that the Road Warrior reported later in this very same column, as well as in his June 12 column, that related fatalities are rare and crashes are a declining occurrence.
"Road Warrior indicated that Sens. Menendez and Booker held a press conference to talk about reinstating truck-safety reforms that would have helped prevent the crash of the sleep-deprived truck driver that involved Tracy Morgan's limo.
"They actually only addressed revising proposed legislation based on safety reform changes that would have had absolutely no impact on preventing that accident."


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Editors surrender to Christie on taxing the wealthy

The Engine 5 Firehouse on Main Street in Hackensack is one of the most distinctive around.


Democratic lawmakers are renewing the debate over taxing wealthy residents and corporations to balance the state budget at the end of the month, but The Record's editors have already made up their minds.

How can Editor Marty Gottlieb run today's front-page story on a plan to avoid Governor Christie's drastic cuts in the state contribution to the pension system (A-1)?

Only six days ago, an editorial called a millionaires tax "a political non-starter" (A-18 on June 13).

Is this objective journalism or are the editors just taking their marching orders  from the GOP bully and the wealthy Borg publishing family?

Don't expect Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin to revisit the viability of higher taxes on the wealthy, especially if he can't find a Broadway show, book or song to compare them to.

Christie-proofing budget

Today's Page 1 story reports the proposal by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg would generate $1.6 billion, "which is the same amount Christie has proposed cutting the planned state pension contribution for the fiscal year that begins July 1" (A-4).

A Christie spokesman referred to millionaires as "overburdened New Jersey taxpayers," and said "raising taxes drives businesses and citizens out of New Jersey and makes our problems worse."

Who in their right mind would move out of New Jersey, which is just across the river from the financial and cultural capital of the United States?

Animal farm

Today's edition is dominated by animal news -- on Page 1 and L-3 in Local.

The A-1 story reports the suspension of mail delivery for more than a month to four homes in Rochelle Park after a dog attacked a mail carrier, "leaving six severe bite wounds up the man's arms."

Why not put down the dog and fine the owners so it doesn't happen again?

Roast duck

Good luck trying to follow the story on "a mama duck and her four ducklings" in Ridgewood (L-3).

A big photo shows four ducklings, and the smaller photo shows a large duck, presumably the mother, and only three ducklings.

But the text says "the mama ... couldn't be found."

This is typical of the sloppy editing under six-figure Production Editor Liz Houlton and her sleep-deprived staff.

The village could have saved taxpayers money by alerting the many downtown restaurant chefs and letting them take care of the ducks.  

Another story on the same page reports a house fire in Saddle Brook killed seven cats and an eighth cat is missing.

Pat who?

Meanwhile, more poor editing on the Local front likely puzzled tens of thousands of readers (L-1).

A photo caption reads, "June Nakayama wiping away a tear after Pat Kinney presented her with a bouquet on Wednesday."

Readers learn Nakayama was being thanked for starting a "Pre-Mom Club for young Japanese women who move to North Jersey with their businessmen-husbands."

But Kinney is never identified.

Of course, newsroom veterans know Kinney as a freelancer who once wrote the "Neighbors from Japan" column for The Record.

Consumers lose

Staff Writer Elisa Ung does a poor job representing consumers in her fine-dining restaurant reviews.

So why did the editors think she would do any better on supermarket purchases (BL-1)?

Today, she touts pricey bottled pasta sauce made by Jon Bon Jovi's father, but doesn't mention that you get only 24 ounces for $5.99 or barely enough for a half-pound of dried pasta.

I found the same bottled Bongiovi Marinara, Garden-style and Arrabiata on sale today at the Paramus ShopRite for a more palatable $2.99. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Environmental, quality of life stories go below the fold

A center divider has been added to Bergen Turnpike in Little Ferry, near the entrance to a shopping center. It's not clear whether the new barrier is related to the elimination of the nearby Little Ferry Circle. The badly buckled, flood-prone entrance road to the shopping center and its lone tenant, a Korean supermarket, was repaved. 


Saving heroin addicts from overdoses is a worthy cause, but it affects far fewer people than the environmental and quality of life news readers find below the fold of The Record's front page today.

And you've got to wonder why Editor Martin Gottlieb gave into Republican hysteria over Benghazi, and led the paper with the arrest of the suspected leader of the September 2012 attack, unleashing even more political debate (A-1).

Garfield Manager Tom Duch and Englewood Cliffs Mayor Joseph Parisi Jr. appear on the lower half of Page 1 today -- and Parisi is urging "compromise" on the height of the LG Electronics building on top of the Palisades (A-1).

The first paragraph describes "a 143-foot-tall office building." Why not give the number of planned floors or stories?

Lazy local editors

The local assignment editors are squandering an opportunity to examine whether such political dynasties as the Parisis of Englewood Cliffs and the Calabrese family of Cliffside Park are really running their towns in the best interests of residents.

That certainly wasn't the case in the decades Hackensack was run by the Zisa family, but the Woodland Park daily's exposes came too late and delayed reform.

Now, the paper runs stories filled with the sour grapes of Zisa family allies who find themselves out of power, including Lynne Hurwitz, the Democratic municipal chairwoman.

See no Christie

On A-3, a story on New Jersey residents paying the highest premiums for health insurance has been carefully edited to eliminate all mention of Governor Christie.

The GOP bully, as you may recall, refused to set up a state marketplace or even use millions in federal funds to promote the federal Affordable Care Act.

As a result, residents of New Jersey and 35 other states with conservative, anti-Obama leaders were thrown onto the clearly overburdened federal marketplace.

Minor controversy

On the Local front today, the big news is the Ridgewood Planning Board rejecting the expansion plan of The Valley Hospital, a story that is of interest to a small number of residents who live near the campus (L-1).

The first paragraph contains an extra word, testament to the careful editing found throughout the paper.

Readers who wonder why The Valley Hospital controversy got so much more press than the far larger expansions of Hackensack University Medical Center might consider the onetime presence of Jennifer A. Borg on the HUMC board.

Borg is vice president and general counsel of North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record.

She is listed as a board member on LinkedIn, which also says she serves on the hospital's Foundation Board and Advisory Committee, but that listing may be out of date. 

The Hurwitzes

Another L-1 story -- on the reappointment of Howard Hurwitz as the $136,000-a-year executive director of the Northwest Bergen County Utilities Authority -- doesn't mention Lynne Hurwitz, his wife, who is receiving a state pension of $2,499.70 a month.

According to The Bergen Dispatch Web site, the pension is based in part on her annual salary of more than $97,000 as deputy chief of staff for Dennis McNerny, a Democrat who was then Bergen County executive.

Lynne Hurwitz, often called the power behind the Zisa family in Hackensack, lost her job when Republican County Executive Kathleen Donovan took over.

Critics said one of Lynne Hurwitz's duties was to water the plants in the county administration building.

More filler stories

Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza rely on police, court and related news to fill their thin local-news section, as they did on Tuesday.

They also run two wire-service obituaries of obscure people.

Not good for you

Someone should tell food blogger Kate Morgan Jackson of Upper Saddle River that it doesn't make sense to run a recipe for "squash sushi" filled with artery clogging goat cheese and then urge readers to "drizzle the teeniest amount of [heart-healthy] olive oil" over the rolls (BL-3).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Despite Christie, justice in New Jersey seems assured

Cross traffic is rare at this red light in the middle of nowhere. Stop signs would work fine. Welcome to the Bergen Town Center in Paramus. 


You have to read between the lines of today's lead Page 1 story in The Record to find out Democrats have put the kibosh on Governor Christie's evil plan to remake the state Supreme Court in his own conservative image.

The A-1 headline is awkward and the story is poorly edited, making readers wait until the continuation page for the real news:

"For years, Governor Christie has railed against [Chief Justice Stewart] Rabner and the court he heads, both in New Jersey and at appearances across the country, calling the justices activists and decrying their decisions that disagreed with his" (A-6).

"Their decisions that disagreed with his"? Sheesh. And in the photo caption on A-6, the sitting chief justice is referred to as a "nominee."

Rabner, 53, who was questioned by lawmakers on Monday, appears assured of renomination and tenure until 2030.

Right after he took office in 2010, the mean-spirited Christie got rid of the only African-American on the high court, then set out to eliminate affordable housing and state aid to the state's poorest school districts.

The GOP bully also put forward several turkeys as his own conservative nominees for the high court, but most of them were rejected.

A progressive court

Imagine a high court that catered to Christie's wealthy supporters, and followed the governor's mean-spirited agenda to eliminate all social programs and taxes on the rich. 

That's what we avoid with Rabner at the helm of a progressive court that for many decades has been at the forefront on product liability, housing for low- and moderate-income residents and other important issues.

Unintended hilarity

Again on the front page, would you look at the stark contrast between the photos of aging TV columnist Ginny Rohan and the preening Kardashians, bimbos who probably have spent millions on plastic surgery (A-1).

Rohan's column is silly. Why waste all this prime space on the supposed impact of the two-decade-old O.J. Simpson case on TV reality shows?

That distracts from the sad fact that most TV --including CNN and other news reports -- is just crap. Why doesn't Rohan try to explain that?

50% error rate?

As usual, today's Road Warrior column is filled with numbers, but many of them are probably wrong, given Staff Writer John Cichowski's advancing Alzheimer's disease (L-1).

Is his error rate 50% or higher? With no editing or fact-checking of his column, it's anybody guess.

In his Road Warrior column last Friday, Cichowski said the replacement of upper-level road decking on the George Washington Bridge would take a "few weeks," contradicting a front-page story on the same day that reported the duration of the work as 12 weeks or a few months (Friday's A-9).

"The Road Warrior confuses the hell out of everyone by reporting that the upper-level lanes will be closed overnight for this work, when, in fact, one lane will always remain open in one direction and all four lanes will remain open in the other direction," according to the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers.

Cichowski also describes the road surface as "slabs of steel decking." That's also wrong.

"The steel deck panels support slabs of pavement," according to the Bloopers editor


Disoriented Road Warrior can't find GWB

Sunday, June 15, 2014

More and more, editors speak for the rich and powerful

The Johnson Public Library in Hackensack.


The Record's Page 1 "ANALYSIS" of Governor Christie's growing business-tax cuts takes literally forever to tell readers they have done little to improve the state's anemic economic recovery (see last three paragraphs on A-4).

This is the fifth year in a row the GOP bully plans to balance the state budget on the backs of public workers, senior citizens and middle-class homeowners.

Yet, the editors continue to fight any notion of higher taxes on millionaires or a modest gas-tax hike (O-2).

And, with only two weeks to go before the June 30 budget deadline, they refuse to condemn all the time Christie is spending out of the state raising money for conservative Republicans like himself (Saturday's A-4).

Borgs' mouthpiece

The Record's news stories, columns and editorials continue to speak for the rich and powerful -- reflecting the views of the Borg publishing family -- despite the governor's dismal record and the political dirty tricks he used to get reelected last November.

Another story on today's front page argues observant, well-to-do Orthodox Jews in Teaneck, Bergenfield, Fair Lawn and Englewood are under-served (A-1). Really?

The Record has consistently under-reported how parents who send their children to expensive religious schools undermine public schools, and sometimes actively work to slash school budgets as a way to cut their property taxes. 

Noisy skies

The major element on the Local front today promotes the Wings & Wheels Expo at Teterboro Airport -- where noisy, unregulated business jets represent the biggest impact on the quality of life in Hackensack, Teaneck and other towns near a hub favored by the rich and famous (L-1).

Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg of Englewood was one of the biggest boosters of the airport's aviation museum.

The elder Borg also was listed as "managing partner" of Trio Air Holdings LLC in a testimonial to the broker who upgraded the 1984 Citation III business jet he owned with a friend. See:

Did the Borgs meddle in the news?

Unfortunately, today's Teterboro story is written by Staff Writer Christopher Maag, who covers Hackensack, but couldn't manage to find anything about the city to report.

Restaurant mogul

Staff Writer Elisa Ung cranks up her publicity machine for restaurant owners with another gee-whiz piece on multimillionaire Drew Nieporent, the Ridgewood fat cat behind Tribeca Grill, Nobu and other fine-dining venues (BL-1).

How can Ung serve as the chief restaurant reviewer, presumably representing customers, and yet write one promotional story after another about Nieporent and other wealthy restaurant owners in her column, The Corner Table?

One of my strongest memories of lunches at Tribeca and Nobu more than a decade ago were of flies in the dining rooms, and how I actually asked the server at the former to move me to a table free of the dirty insects.

Saturday's paper

The follow-up to Thursday's fatal tractor-trailer crash on the George Washington Bridge struggled to answer all of the unanswered questions in the original account of the resulting regional traffic paralysis.

Joao Daponta, 59, the trucker who died after his rig slammed into the back of another tractor-trailer at 2 in the morning, had been cited for speeding and careless driving,

But two reporters couldn't find out if he was behind the wheel of a truck or a car when he got them (Saturday's L-6).

They also couldn't find out the name of the second tractor-trailer driver.

However, the story was poorly edited, and said the "Port Authority didn't release ... the name of the rear-ended truck."

Like many stories in The Record, this one made readers fell they are the ones who are constantly being rear-ended.