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.

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