Monday, March 31, 2014

Another crappy column from a burned-out reporter

In Hackensack, Teaneck, Englewood and many other towns, as well as on state highways, hundreds of potholes like this one remain unfilled, and pose an obstacle course for drivers.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

No. This post isn't about Staff Writer John Cichowski, whose Road Warrior column is known for hype, exaggeration and numerous inaccuracies, which may be caused by the aging reporter's confused state of mind.

This is about Mike Kelly, whose Page 1 column today in The Record is another in a series of unfocused, rambling pieces that is completely devoid of a point of view.

Kelly presents the usual set of observers and experts, publishes the usual quotes and calls it a day. 

Yet, readers have to look at his thumbnail photo's shit-eating grin, as if the reporter knows he is getting away with more crappy writing and reporting.

This "column" is indistinguishable from a news story (A-1).

Sloppy reporting

And he can't even manage to accurately quote the infamous e-mail that blew open the investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane closures, known far and wide as Bridegate, a word The Record refuses to use.

Kelly says Bridget Anne Kelly "suggested 'some traffic problems in Fort Lee.'"

But Kelly, who was Governor Christie's deputy chief of staff, didn't "suggest" anything.

In an e-mail to David Wildstein, who was Christie's crony on the Port Authority, she called for the lane closures in no uncertain terms:

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Blame game

The report on the "internal" review commissioned by Christie places the blame for the lane closures on Bridget Kelly and Wildstein, and clears the GOP bully.

But it was met with widespread skepticism, and denounced as little more than a self-serving whitewash.

Today -- a week after the report was leaked to The New York Times -- Kelly the reporter cites a "debate" over descriptions of the former aide's personal life and her alleged relationship with Christie's campaign manager. 

Is anyone but Mike Kelly debating this? Isn't the real debate over whether Christie has lied about his knowledge and role in the lane closures from the beginning?

And if Mike Kelly is offended by the report's use of personal details, why does he repeat them in his column?

And why doesn't he act like a real journalist and call for Christie lawyer Randy Mastro to go before an ethics panel for dragging Bridget Kelly's personal life through the mud?

No news today

I know Sundays are "slow news days" and Monday's front page is usually filled with scene-setters and other canned copy.

But, really, are trimming trees around power lines so controversial that they are on the front page today (A-1)?

Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza and the other supremely lazy local-news editors have these words on a save/get key:

"No other information was available."

Those words appear today in a photo caption on a fatal accident "early Sunday" on New Bridge Road in Teaneck (L-1).

The 29-year-old driver was killed, but The Record doesn't identify him or say whether he was speeding.

If Teaneck police wouldn't release the information, shouldn't the editors address that and not constantly cheat readers?

Deliberate distortion

In his Road Warrior column last Wednesday, Cichowski focused on a disabled man who lived in Union Township, and claimed he could be served by a proposed car service to get to his doctor in Hackensack.

But the man is in his 50s, and would be ineligible to use the service, which is for people 60 years old and older, according to a concerned reader.

This was no innocent oversight by Cichowski. 

It was deliberate distortion accomplished by omitting from the column both the man's age and the minimum age of people who could use the proposed service.

See the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Road Warrior gives false hope to disabled


See previous post
on Hackensack's new train shelter

Crazy idea: New train station is open to the weather

The only doors at the new NJ Transit train station on Anderson Street in Hackensack are on two closets inside. On Sunday, a woman who said it is her job to clean stations didn't have a key to the closet with cleaning supplies.

The station is open facing Anderson Street and facing the tracks, above.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

When NJ Transit announced that it would replace the Anderson Street train station in Hackensack, it didn't mention that the $571,000 building wouldn't have any doors to protect commuters from the weather.

The station opened late last week, and on Sunday, it was evident that during heavy rain on Saturday, one of its windows has already sprung a leak.

The station is on the Pascack Valley Line that runs between Spring Valley, N.Y., and Hoboken.

The new station is said to have the same 46-foot-by-20-foot waiting room as the original under a pitched shingle roof, according to a March 2013 report in The Record of Woodland Park.

The original station dated to 1869, and when it was destroyed in a fire, it was said to be the second oldest train station in New Jersey after the Main Street station in Ramsey.

But the beautifully restored Ramsey Station has doors, and a Starbucks nearby. The small NJ Transit station in Clifton also has a door, a long bench and heat.

The other NJ Transit station in Hackensack, at Essex Street, is a park-and-ride, and doesn't have a waiting room. The city also once had a third rail station on Central Avenue.

The new station may have wide openings and no doors to prevent the homeless from moving in, said employees of the Straphanger Saloon, the bar next door.

One man, who identified himself as a part owner, said he's been startled by homeless men sleeping behind a nearby dumpster at 3 in the morning, when he is throwing out the garbage.

Hackensack has a large homeless population, drawn by three meals a day served free at the county shelter on South River Street.



Puddles of water inside the station, near the ticket machine, from Saturday's soaking rains. The water appeared to leak through the window and over the inside sill.

Two overhead heaters provide a little comfort. The station opened late last week.


Compared to the two bus shelters provided to commuters who use the Anderson Street station, the new building is a vast improvement.

The last station burned down about five years ago.

But if next winter is as bitter as the one we just experienced, waiting for a train will be uncomfortable, to say the least.

As traffic congestion gets worse every day, it remains to be seen if the new station will be enough to get commuters to leave their cars at home and take mass transit.

And if the workers at the Straphanger Saloon are correct, does it make sense that the design of the station and the comfort of commuters have been sacrificed because of a fear that the homeless will take over the place?




Commuters can take shelter from rain and snow under the pitched roof.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Too little, too late on road fund, GWB whitewash

In the all-electric Tesla Model S sedan, a 17-inch touch screen allows the owner to perform most of the functions controlled by buttons and switches in a conventional car.
Tesla provided test drives and took deposits on three versions of the Model S at the Clinton Inn in Tenafly on Saturday. After April 15, New Jersey will bar the California-based company from selling cars directly from showrooms in Paramus and Short Hills, bowing to pressure from a statewide coalition of automobile dealers. The original deadline was April 1. (The Record, A-12 on Saturday).


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

All that space on The Record's front page today may look like an investigation or expose of how Governor Christie grabbed $1.8 billion in mass transit money for North Jersey road repairs.

But the story describes events at the Port Authority of three or more years ago, and appears to omit what happened to NJ Transit funds for the Hudson River rail tunnels the GOP bully killed in 2010, the year he took office (A-1 and A-6).

Christie's financial sleight of hand served his conservative political agenda, in the same way he retaliated against Democrats who didn't support his reelection last year with gridlock in Fort Lee and threats to withhold Sandy aid in Hoboken.

Central to his philosophy is an unyielding pledge not to raise taxes, even if the state Transportation Trust Fund is bankrupt or he has to cut programs for middle- and working-residents to balance the state budget.

More road follies

On the Local front, Road Warrior John Cichowski warns readers about a crackdown on drivers who talk on their cellphones or text, starting on April Fool's Day (L-1).

Of course, the addled reporter plays the fool every day, as he did in last Sunday's column, which wildly exaggerated the time savings and low cost of commuting by ferry instead of the bus to Manhattan.

See the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Road Warrior loses touch with reality again

Miracle birth

Another reporter who lost sight of reality is Staff Writer Chris Harris, who described how an Emerson woman gave birth on a nail salon's bathroom floor (L-1):

"GLEN ROCK -- An Emerson woman walked into a Prospect Avenue nail salon last week for a quick mani-pedi and walked out cradling a bouncing baby boy in her arms."

Readers who stick with the feel-good story find out Anna Rubenstein didn't walk out holding son Damien -- she was carried out on a stretcher, and the baby's umbilical cord had to be cut when she got to the hospital (L-2).

Readers who noticed that glaring error -- completely missed by several editors -- might wonder what else in the paper has been exaggerated or reported incorrectly.

And am I the only one who thinks this story was oddly placed next to the one on protests at an Englewood abortion clinic (L-1)?

ShopRite oysters?

On the Business front today, Your Money's Worth Columnist Kevin DeMarrais claims a new ShopRite in Morris County puts "other food courts to shame" (B-1).

DeMarrais apparently has never set foot in a Wegmans or Whole Foods Market or tasted much supermarket prepared food, or he'd temper his remarks.

Most prepared food, even at Whole Foods or Wegmans, doesn't come close to what you'd get in a restaurant.

The big surprise at the Cedar Knolls ShopRite he raves about is an oyster bar, though I'm not sure a landlocked supermarket is where I want to sample those delicate shellfish. 

On whitewashes

I got a big kick out of The Wall Street Journal Sunday's "10 things ... Real-Estate Agents Won't Tell You" (B-5).

This manages to undo in one article much of the promotional coverage The Record has lavished on real-estate agents in its own laughable Real Estate section.

The whitewash Christie commissioned to hide his role in the politically inspired George Washington Bridge lane closures was leaked by The New York Times last Monday.

Fuzzy writing

But that doesn't stop Mike Kelly from putting his own Johnny-come-lately spin on the 300-page report, in his usual deadly dull way (O-1).

It's sad when a veteran reporter can't write with the same clarity as the headline on his column:

$1 million
report is PR
masterpiece

Kelly describes the report's "bold conclusion," then confounds readers with this fuzzy sentence:

"But such boldness is framed by an all-too-obvious set of holes."

Of course, the biggest hole is Kelly's asshole.

Turn the page for Margulies' Sunday cartoon, which tells the same story in only nine words (O-2).

Readers speak

Four letters to the editor manage to express the anger The Record couldn't muster in its editorial the day after the report was released (O-3):

Warren Nitti of Fair Lawn called the Christie-commissioned report "a transparent, self-serving whitewash."

Debra Roman notes Christie's lawyers blame his problems on "emotional and hysterical women."

Who missed this?

A real eye opener on O-2 today is a column on how Christie replaced the executive director of the State Ethics Commission in 2010 with a member of his own staff, and named a longtime friend as chairman.

The column -- "When the watchdog fails" -- is by Seton Hall Law Professor Paula A. Franzese, former chairwoman of the panel.

Is this more Christie sleight of hand The Record's investigative reporters have to catch up to?


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Christie may be lying about GWB lane closures

In all of his self-serving statements about the early September George Washington Bridge lane closures in Fort Lee, above, Governor Christie has never spoken under oath. 



By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

The latest developments in the Bridgegate scandal could be a modern spin on the Biblical story of "Samson and De Liar."

"Samson" is Governor Christie's hand-picked Port Authority chairman, David Samson, a powerful New Jersey lawyer who has been called a father figure and mentor to the GOP bully.

After Samson was named to the unsalaried position, his law firm saw a significant increase in fees from lobbying and legal work for developers, NJ Transit and others, WNYC-FM and The Record have reported. 

Christie whitewash

But a day after an "internal" review supposedly cleared Christie of any wrongdoing in the George Washington Bridge lane closures, his Friday news conference brought us no closer to the truth about whether he is "de liar" in everything he's said -- none of it under oath (A-1).

In fact, an "ANALYSIS" on Page 1 today reports "many documents [in the 300-page report] appear to lend at least some credence" to the allegations against Christie (A-1).

Sacrificial officials

Samson resigned Friday, becoming at least the sixth official to take the fall for the governor, whose claim of being lied to by a vindictive staff just doesn't ring true.

The staffer who should resign is Christie's foul-mouthed chief press spokesman, former Star-Ledger reporter Michael Drewniak, a real low-life who made derogatory references to reporters and newspapers covering the scandal.

In reference to Christie's onetime Port Authority crony David Wildstein, Drewniak (rhymes with "maniac") threatened to "claw his eyes out, pour gasoline in the sockets and light them up" (A-6).

But the story and report do not provide any context for the threat.

Wildstein says he told Christie at a 9/11 ceremony in Manhattan about the lane closures as they were happening.

Political payback

Also hard to swallow is the report's claim that Christie "did not create a culture of political retaliation" against Democrats in Fort Lee, Hoboken and Jersey City who refused to endorse his bid for a second term last November.

Let's remember the internal review was led by prominent Republican lawyer Randy Mastro, a $1,000-an-hour practitioner who worked at a discount for Christie, but still managed to roll up a $1 million legal bill to choke taxpayers.

Critics aplenty

The lawyer for Bridget Anne Kelly, who sent the "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" e-mail as Christie's deputy chief of staff, blasted the report:

"The report's venomous, gratuitous and inappropriate sexist remarks concerning Ms. Kelly have no place in what is alleged to be a professional and independent report," attorney Michael Critchley said (A-1).

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer says she's willing to go under oath and repeat her claims that Christie officials threatened Sandy aid money to her city.

The report, she said Thursday, is "a one-sided whitewash of serious misconduct by the Christie administration" that was "sadly predictable" (A-1 on Friday).

That says it all.

Photo puzzle

Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza continues to rely on accident photos and captions that provide no real information to readers, but do fill out his thin local news report (L-1).

A story on five people arrested last Sunday in an assault on a Palisades Park parking attendant is missing information on whether the victim worked for a restaurant, bank or other business (L-2).


Friday, March 28, 2014

Warning to GWB drivers: Christie whitewash ahead

Governor Christie was told about closure of two of the three George Washington Bridge local access lanes in Fort Lee, above, as they caused traffic gridlock in early September, in an apparent act of political retribution against the borough's Democratic mayor. Christie's response? He takes the out used by witnesses for decades: I don't recall.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

In their desperation to advance the whitewash clearing Governor Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane closures, The Record's editors claim in a banner headline today the GOP bully emerges "unscathed."

How did Editor Marty Gottlieb or anyone else in the Woodland Park newsroom know -- barely 12 hours after the report was released on Thursday -- that Christie didn't suffer any injury, damage or harm to his already battered reputation?

As usual, columnists, reporters and editors ignore the court of public opinion as they regurgitate the highly orchestrated dog-and-pony show put on by Christie's $650-an-hour lawyer, Randy Mastro (A-1, A-6 and A-7).

Playing catch-up

The New York Times this week scooped The Record on the basic conclusions of the report, forcing Gottlieb to advance the story with "a second-day lead" on Page 1. 

But where are the man-on-the-street interviews, the reaction of the public, not just the usual interviews with critics, pollsters and so-called experts Record staffers have on speed dial?

In the tradition of defense attorneys everywhere, Mastro put Christie in the best light possible while portraying the governor's former aide, Port Authority crony and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer as unreliable and even emotionally disturbed.

Mastro also managed to get out ahead of the state Legislature's Bridgegate investigators, who are being stonewalled by Bridget Anne Kelly and others.

As Christie's deputy chief of staff, Kelly wrote the infamous e-mail to David Wildstein, his crony at the Port Authority:

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Editorial comment

An editorial today says the Mastro report raised more questions than it answered, and failed "to discover the complete truth" (A-18).

Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin's opinion column compares the report to works by Twain and Tolstoy (A-19).

Bad news

The best read story in the newsroom today is the "reorganization" and additional layoffs at The Star-Ledger, the state's biggest newspaper, which supplies stories to The Record (A-1 and A-4).

I am sure reporters and editors are wondering if the Borg family's North Jersey Media Group plans the same fate for them. 

Hackensack news

Also on the editorial page today is a letter to the editor from Lynne Hurwitz, chairwoman of the Hackensack Democratic Committee (A-18).

Hurwitz is credited with being the power behind the Zisa family in all their years of disservice to Hackensack, and her sour grapes have been clearly evident since she failed to get her slate elected last May.

Her letter complains that Mayor John Labrosse refused comment on the $78,000 salary for the city's chief spokesman, Thom Ammirato, who was campaign manager for the victorious Citizens for Change slate.

Hurwitz reportedly retired in 2011 from a $97,000-a-year job as deputy chief of staff to Bergen County Executive Dennis C. McNerney with a monthly pension of $2,499.

Critics say one of her chief duties was watering the plants in the county Administration Building.

Appetizing resume

All restaurant goers know you can't eat the wallpaper or the chef's resume, but that doesn't stop Staff Writer Elisa Ung from wasting more than half of her review today on just such details (BL-14).

As it is, readers are kept in the dark about salads, vegetables, whole-wheat pasta and seafood at Caffe Anello in Westwood, apart from passing references to "roasted clams" and a burned fillet of Chilean sea bass for $34.

This is another unfocused, poorly written and edited appraisal of a restaurant Ung awards three out of four stars (Excellent).

She reports Chef John Vitale succeeds in bringing to Bergen County the passion behind the authentic Italian meals he enjoyed in Tuscany, and ends her review this way:

"... It is the restaurant for those inspired by passion, just as Vitale was in Tuscany. Wouldn't it be great if Anello ended up planting a powerful idea in another's head?"

"Another's head"? That's awkward. Does she mean another chef or restaurant owner? Or just any head, say of a passer-by?



Thursday, March 27, 2014

For a change, positive news about health care

Hackensack crews appear to be waiting for warmer weather before patching these potholes on Prospect Avenue, near The Blair House, above, and at Prospect and Euclid avenues, below.




By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

A 27-year-old graduate student is buying health insurance for a low $82 a month. A 29-year-old Clifton woman is paying even less, only $63 a month.

Who knew policies under the federal Affordable Care Act were so, well, affordable?

Certainly not readers of The Record, which has been dumping on President Obama's health-care reform and winking at Governor Christie's many attempts to sabotage its roll-out on HealthCare.gov, the federal Web site.

Today's lead Page 1 story on young people signing up to silence their nagging mothers is possibly the first really positive account from Staff Writer, Lindy Washburn (A-1).

Overselling

Another example of a headline that doesn't deliver is today's front-page photo overline: "VIDEO CAPTURES THRILLING FIRE RESCUE."

The photo under the heading is far from thrilling in the absence of actually viewing the video, and how many readers are going to run to their computers to do that?

Today's front page also carries a terrific story on the Port Authority's antiquated, dysfunctional shipping terminals at Port Newark/Elizabeth (A-1 and A-6).

But I'm wondering if the editors didn't overlook how thefts influence the price of the food, clothing and electronics we buy as much as what the story calls "the fragility of the port."

In the 1970s and 1980s, numerous containers disappeared from the port on a daily basis. Is that still the case? The story doesn't say.

Not possible

An editorial backing the elimination of toll collectors on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway claims automation would "speed up commutes" (A-20).

But the real congestion isn't at the tollbooths. There are simply too many cars and too little mass transit in the New York-New Jersey region, explaining why an accident today stretched waits at the Lincoln Tunnel to 90 minutes.

Crime against readers

Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza's reputation for laziness is enforced by today's Local section, every page of which is filled with police and court news, and news about the police.

Another photo heading that doesn't deliver is on L-3: "FIRE ENGULFS CLIFFSIDE PARK RESIDENCE."

Why not take a photo in the evening and use this overline: "THE SUN SET AS USUAL."

The L-3 photo shows smoke, but no flames. The caption has even less information. 

This is just filler employed by a desperate local editor who has failed repeatedly to produce a news-filled section since his boss went on medical leave.

Just a big act

The Better Living cover today shows there is a limit to a star actor's credibility.

Russel Crowe as Noah? Give me a break (BL-8).

With all of the problems we have today, including newspapers that are in the pockets of business and certain politicians, Hollywood's obsession with historical dramas is irresponsible.

But I'll be sure to catch "A Birder's Guide to Everything," which sounds like just what we need to take our minds off how Christie has destroyed New Jersey for his own political ends (BL-8).

Most of the cast members are unknowns.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Even if no crime, it's time for Christie to bow out

Federal and state investigators are trying to determine if a crime was committed when members of Governor Christie's inner circle closed two of three access lanes to the upper level tollbooths of the George Washington Bridge, above, causing four days of gridlock in Democratic Fort Lee, The Record reports today.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

Can we really believe a governor who claims he was kept out of the loop when his lieutenant governor, members of his inner circle in Trenton and his Port Authority cronies engaged in a pattern of political retribution against Democrats who didn't support him (The Record's A-1 today)?

Do we really want a governor who has been unable to deliver federal aid to shore residents who were driven from their homes by Superstorm Sandy nearly 17 months ago (A-3)?

Even if no federal or state crime was committed when lane closures caused four days of gridlock at the Fort Lee end of the George Washington Bridge, Governor Christie shouldn't survive the prolonged crisis over the Bridgegate scandal.

Narrow focus

Today's Page 1 story by Staff Writer Stephanie Akin, one of the paper's stars, focuses narrowly on what laws may have been broken by all of the political machinations in the Governor's Office and at the Port Authority, the bi-state transportation agency and patronage mill.

Akin omits any discussion of how the majority of state residents have lost confidence in their governor, and would like to see him resign. 

Drugs and guns

Is there a story today about the full-page ad from the Bergen County prosecutor, warning residents that he won't hesitate to go after anyone who gives even one Oxycodone pill to a friend of a friend with a drug problem (A-7)?

A letter to the editor today states clearly how some gun-rights advocates believe local police cannot protect them from crime (A-10). 

"We are in a war," claims Don White of tiny Prospect Park, which shares a border with Paterson, the city that is often demonized by The Record as a drug bazaar.

More flawed reporting

On the Local front today, Road Warrior John Cichowski wrings his hands over the failure of a non-profit car service that could help "non-driving seniors and ambulatory disabled people navigate inexpensively" (L-1).

Of course, Cichowski makes the problem even more dramatic by omitting any mention of NJ Transit's Access Link service, which takes thousands of people to supermarkets, and to and from doctors and hospitals every month.

In his last paragraph, the confused reporter asks "how many fewer deaths, injuries and crashes" would there be "if seniors and disabled people had convenient, inexpensive travel options"?

But they already have that with NJ Transit's Access Link minibuses. 

This story smells

Another L-1 story says Hackensack residents complained that uncollected trash "attracted vermin and gave off a bad smell in the sweltering heat" of summer.

So, why did city officials start twice-a-week pickup on March 17, when it is still wintry, and ignore how a recycling-education campaign and compost pickups could have accomplished the same goals?

Gondolas on River Street?

A Business page story finally identifies multimillionaire developer Fred Daibes as a partner in a deal to buy The Record's former headquarters on about 20 acres of land along River Street in Hackensack (L-8).

The story doesn't say whether Daibes and partner James Demetrakis plan to provide gondolas to residents of the luxury apartments they intend to build in one of the city's worst flood zones.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Editors resume their public relations for Christie

In Fort Lee, construction work is under way on a site across Park Avenue from the 47-story residential tower that is visible from almost everywhere in the borough, above and below. There is no indication whether a second residential tower like the first is going up at the site, which also is across the street from the George Washington Bridge local access lanes that are at the center of the Bridgegate political-retribution scandal.




By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

All the signs are there that The Record's editors, columnists and reporters are resuming their work of repairing Governor Christie's battered image.

It isn't news that a prominent Republican lawyer Christie hired to conduct an "internal" investigation, and the attorney's staff, which has ties to the governor, may have cleared him, but it is all over Page 1 today.

And what did readers turned off by Charles Stile's political columns do to deserve two "he's-not-as-bad-as-he-seems" columns on the front page today and Monday?

So far, the internal probe has cost taxpayers more than $1 million.

It's hard to understand how the editors and Christie's allies see such positive signs when members of the governor's inner-circle continue to stonewall on turning documents over to the state Legislature's Bridgegate investigative committee (A-6).

Men are animals

If you classify this latest flurry of stories about the GOP bully as "animal news," the Woodland Park daily seems to be devoting a lot of space lately to four-legged species.

Witness Sunday's front page, where a so-called debate over a pro athlete's dog-fighting conviction played out.

Today, the front of Local and L-3 are dominated by tear-jerking horse and dog rescue stories.

I guess nothing was going on in Hackensack, Teaneck and other towns that are missing from today's Local section, which is put out by editors who some would call "horse's asses."

Tesla rescue?

The first Business page today reports a Bergen County legislator wants to make it legal for Tesla to sell its revolutionary electric car directly to New Jersey consumers (L-7).

The company's CEO says Christie and New Jersey auto dealers made a "backroom deal" to stop Tesla from selling its Model S premium sedan from Paramus and Short Hills showrooms.

"The governor talks a big game about attracting innovative businesses to the state, but this move does the exact opposite," says Assemblyman Timothy Eustace, D-Paramus, sponsor of a bill to amend the restrictive law.

The only editorial comment on the controversy came from freelance cartoonist Margulies on Sunday's O-2, which showed Christie telling a kid at a 5-cents lemonade stand he can't sell directly and has to go through "a beverage dealer." 

Funeral home cops

Monday's Page 1 story on retired police officers who work at North Jersey funeral homes may help rehabilitate their image, which the paper savaged in a series of stories on high salaries and pensions when Francis "Frank" Scandale was running the newsroom.

The paper argued that high teacher and police salaries were the chief cause of municipalities' financial problems.

But why does Monday's story have two photos of the same man, Sal Arena, who was a captain on the Pompton Lakes force?


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Are editors doing enough to stop heroin deaths?

Have you seen any pothole-filling crews in Hackensack?


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

Newspaper readers are accustomed to seeing light, bright and tragic stories on the same front page.

But Page 1 of The Record today sets a new low, devoting more space to a new Jets quarterback than to the rising number of heroin deaths in Bergen County (A-1).

Couldn't Editor Marty Gottlieb find room in today's thin Sunday edition for a sidebar on whether customs officials, state lawmakers, local police, parents and the media are doing enough to stop drug overdoses?

Deep in the text on the continuation page (A-8), where Caitlin Reiter's heroin addiction and tragic death are described, a throwaway line continues the paper's one-dimensional portrayal of Paterson as a drug bazaar.

Second thoughts

Well, at least the morons in the Woodland Park newsroom are having second thoughts about their light treatment of the theft of $460,000 in parking-meter revenue in Ridgewood (A-1 and L-1).

"Questions are being raised" about the plea deal with a former village employee who is "likely to be spared any jail time," The Record reports today, quoting famed defense attorney Frank P. Lucianna and Ridgewood Mayor Paul Aronsohn.

Thursday's front-page story referred to admitted thief Thomas Rica as a "coin collector," and compared the weight of the stolen quarters to nine Honda Civics.

Joke is on voters

A third front-page story today reports on all of the jokes about Governor Christie in the wake of the politically motivated George Washington Bridge lane closures, resulting in four days of gridlock in Democratic Fort Lee last September (A-1).

Of course, the joke is on readers and voters who were let down by the media, which didn't uncover the scandal before the GOP bully was elected to a second term in November, in what was the lowest turnout ever for a gubernatorial election.

More road kill

Gottlieb and Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza continue to treat readers with contempt by publishing Staff Writer John Cichowski, the confused reporter behind the Road Warrior column.

Today's rambling discussion of mass transit -- from buses to trains to ferries -- makes flawed comparisons and shows Cichowski's ignorance about service problems he has rarely addressed in more than a decade (L-1).

Reporting that NJ Transit diverted nearly 700 bus riders caught in a massive traffic jam to a trans-Hudson ferry, Cichowski wondered whether the agency was "responding to withering customer complaints" about delays at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.

But the ferry diversion was in the morning; the long lines at the PABT are in the afternoon and evening, so there is no way they are related.

Water on brain

The idiot also reports that paying private ferry services to carry bus riders is "certainly cheaper" than expanding rail service by building new rail tunnels under the Hudson, a project killed by Christie in 2011.

But Cichowski doesn't seem to know Amtrak, the federal passenger railroad corporation, is completing the tunnel project, which won't increase bus capacity into the city.

Only another express bus lane into the Lincoln Tunnel can do that.

Cichowski's previous column also was confusing, and focused on highway lighting, not poorly lighted streets where pedestrians are killed routinely by drivers who get away with murder by claiming, I didn't see him.

Cursing the Road Warrior's dim bulb


Celebrating hard work

For a change, the featured obituary on the front of Local today is about an ordinary, previously unsung African-American woman:

Levonia Chaney, who died this month at 104, was the great-granddaughter of a slave who worked as a seamstress and lived in Hackensack, where she and her husband, a porter, put two sons through medical school and saw their daughter become a music teacher (L-1). 

An editorial today questions the lack of security at the new World Trade Center, where a New Jersey teenager was able to climb up to the iconic building's antenna mast (O-2).

Good for Justin Casquejo of Weehawken. Too bad he or someone like him didn't do the same at the mall in Short Hills, where a young lawyer was murdered, or Westfield Garden State Plaza, the Paramus shopping center invaded by a gunman who fired random shots before committing suicide.

More Ung nonsense

If you believe Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung, restaurant goers have no "pet peeves" concerning the low quality of the food they are served or the ridiculously high prices for a glass of wine (BL-1).

The problem may be that she doesn't have to pay for her meals; the paper's expense account has completely spoiled her.

On Friday, The New York Times gave a rating "just shy of excellent" -- its top endorsement in New Jersey -- to Terre a Terre in Carlstadt, where Ung claimed she was served seafood that "smelled and tasted past their prime."

Contrast The Times' review to Ung's lukewarm appraisal:

New American amid the salt hay


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Editors don't I.D. crime victim as NJMG developer

On River Street in Hackensack, customers actually line up and wait for a seat at White Manna, where they pay for the privilege of eating mystery meat and other unhealthy food.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
Editor

Is the deal off between North Jersey Media Group and multimillionaire Fred Daibes for development of 20 acres in Hackensack where The Record prospered for more than 110 years?

A story on the sale of Daibes' luxury St. Moritz high-rise in Edgewater appeared in Friday's Local section (L-3), but there was no mention of whether he still plans to build apartments on the River Street property.

Despite all his wealth, Daibes apparently cut corners on security at the St. Moritz, and was a victim of a home invasion last November.

Four suspects yanked him from bed, broke his ribs and shoulder blade, and made off with nearly $2 million in cash, gold bars and other valuables, according to county prosecutors.

Daibes' luxury and exotic car collection was photographed for Bergen.com in the driveway of the St. Moritz.


The rental building, at 100 Daibes Court, boasts of hotel-like amenities, but its Web site doesn't mention security.


Today's paper

In today's edition of The Record, front-page stories speculating about the whereabouts of a missing jet and the fate of 239 people on board have been replaced by a story on the Jets (A-1).

Would four people killed by fire in a shore motel that was a refuge for Sandy survivors still be alive, if Governor Christie hadn't bungled the distribution of federal aid (A-1)?

Christie's mismanagement of state finances gets gentle treatment in another Page 1 story, which avoids discussing his inflexible stance against taxing the wealthy or raising the low gasoline tax to revive the bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund (A-1).

Local yokels

Today's Local section is heavy on Law & Order news, including a dramatic photo of a Norwood DPW garage fire that injured no one and whose cause eludes the talented local staff (L-6).

The Better Living editors waste their cover today on a half-dozen Jersey bimbos. A seventh bimbo wrote the piece (BL-1).