Sunday, August 31, 2014

Do I blame lack of sunlight or sub-par Sunday edition?

Pupuseria Las Americas, which is open 7 days, tries its luck in a storefront on Salem Street in Hackensack. Pupusas, a traditional Salvadoran dish, are stuffed corn tortillas. Meanwhile, an ice cream and coffee shop called Upsy Daisy has failed to open after starting renovations at 479 Main St. in Hackensack, below.

A Shilla Korean Bakery operated for several years in the building, across the street from Sears' parking lot. Daheen Wang Mandoo, a Korean king dumpling restaurant, started renovations, but never opened, and nearby merchants said the city was slow to issue permits.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Before the sun finally came out around 11:30 this morning, I didn't know whether to blame the weather or The Record's lackluster Sunday edition for my moodiness.

Just when you've had it with the distant nightmare of Superstorm Sandy (late October 2012), nearly half of today's front page is covered with another cliche-filled column on the future of a Jersey shore town (A-1).

Staff Writer Mike Kelly brings his shit-eating-grin perspective to a subject most of us are sick of reading about already.

Word pusher

The headline grabs your attention -- "Mix of dread and defiance" -- but the column fails to deliver on the latter, and Kelly never mentions how the Christie administration bungled all that federal aid.

In the second paragraph, a poor schmuck named Bill Mullen the reporter latched onto "gazes" at broken tile from the bathroom of his Ortley Beach home, which was destroyed by Sandy.

For years now, Kelly has nearly every subject in every column gazing at something or other.

Then in his fifth paragraph, Kelly claims "Bill Mullen's dream is as sturdy as the sand that he hopes will one day hold the foundation of his new home." 

Wait a minute. 

Sand is far from "sturdy," and aren't all new Jersey shore homes built near the ocean supposed to be supported by pilings -- like the one shown in the Page 1 photo with the column -- not a foundation?

And this is the best the Woodland Park newsroom could manage for the Sunday paper. Unbelievable.

Christie in Mexico

Another burned-out columnist, Staff Writer Charles Stile, previews Governor Christie's visit to Mexico next week (A-1).

Leaders of drug cartels had been planning to kidnap Christie and hold him for ransom until they found out the GOP bully's fiscal policies have nearly bankrupted the Garden State.

New Jersey State Police would be offering bushels of Jersey tomatoes, corn and peaches to gain Christie's freedom.

Culinary prodigy

Max Aronson of Woodcliff Lake might want to put his kitchen skills to work improving the poor food service at Hackensack High School, just a couple of miles away from where he studies culinary arts at the Bergen County Academies (Better Living cover).

When school starts on Wednesday, Hackensack High students will be voting on the lousy food in their roach-infested cafeteria with their feet, walking to nearby pizzerias, McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts and even Starbucks for lunch.



A sign on the door of 479 Main St. in Hackensack.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

NJMG unit focuses more and more on making news

Seen at a highway rest area in New York State.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

North Jersey Media Group -- publisher of The Record -- is no longer hiding the promotional activities of one of its units, Exposure.

This is how the publishing company describes Exposure:


"Exposure is a specialty area within North Jersey Media Group (NJMG) that produces unique, local events with mass appeal. Utilizing the marketing strength of NJMG products in North Jersey, Exposure offers advertisers and partners complete marketing and promotional services enabling them to reach the widest audience possible."

The Record is one of the NJMG "products" that have been used to promote Exposure events in notices and feature stories.

Using the Woodland Park daily to spread the word about Exposure further blurs the line between news and marketing that began with the ascendancy of Stephen A. Borg to president and publisher.

Hidden in past

In July 2013, Exposure's role in a poorly organized food-truck event at Overpeck Park wasn't acknowledged until a lack of parking forced hundreds of people to turn away or abandon their cars on highway exits and streets.

Now, a link to the Exposure Web site can be found on NorthJersey.com, and its ads appear prominently in the weekly Hackensack Chronicle and other NJMG publications.

The weekly's thin Aug. 29 edition carried four ads promoting Exposure events:

(201) Brides' Night Out, North Jersey Test Drive Experience, North Jersey Career Fair and Octoberfest Food Truck Mash-Up.

The unfortunate use of the phrase "truck mash-up" may remind The Record's readers of recent fatal accidents involving tractor-trailers and a dump truck.

In fact, this week, three people were literally cooked alive when a dump truck smashed into their car in congested traffic on Route 280 in East Orange, and the vehicle was engulfed in fire.

Today's paper

Page 1 today has lots of soft news -- whale sightings at the shore, a rare story about Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, and the low price of gasoline as Labor Day approaches.

The last story is likely to encourage owners of gas-guzzling SUVs to keep their wasteful vehicles, which they usually drive at high speeds, terrorizing other drivers.

The Local section is a mix of police news and features.

Drug care

The big Hackensack news is the arrest of a city man for allegedly possessing a duffle bag of marijuana in his car on Saturday (L-1).

He tried to flee, leaving his 10-month-old daughter in the back seat. 

Not to be undone, a Paterson man, who was charged with delivering cocaine "across North Jersey" on Thursday, had his 3-year-old son with him (L-6).

The two arrests may suggest to head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes or her deputy, Dan Sforza, the need to do a story on the lack of day care.

Second look

In his Sunday column on driving under the influence, Staff Writer John Cichowski again appears to be Reporting Under the Influence, with numerous omissions and errors about penalties, according to the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers.

See:

Leave the Road Warrior at home this weekend



Friday, August 29, 2014

Should lawyers' opposition stop downtown progress?

An attractive property at Main and Bridge streets in Hackensack, not far from a planned open-air performance space that is being opposed by prominent members of the legal community.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Hackensack residents and visitors overwhelmingly prefer a downtown green and open-air venue for entertainment and community events over a city owned parking lot with meters.

But lawyers in firms lining Atlantic and Warren streets want to keep the lot for their convenience and the convenience of clients and visiting lawyers and stenographers.

This week, The Record reported an October groundbreaking is set -- in order to qualify for a county grant -- but the paper has been strangely silent on the conflict between the legal community and the city.

In May, Staff Writer Christopher Maag of The Record claimed the debate over what was then called the Atlantic Street Park "comes down to an age-old fight: parks versus potholes."

At the May 6 City Council meeting, attorney Arthur P. Zucker threatened to file suit against the city, comparing elimination of the parking lot to taking away the driveway of his home.

Maag's story never mentioned Zucker or attorney Seymour Chase, who at that time claimed inadequate parking is hurting his business.


Threat to sue

The lawyers threaten to sue to maintain the status quo -- even though there is ample parking across the street from their offices in an under-utilized city owned parking garage.

In an Anonymous comment, a foul-mouthed reader of Eye on The Record noted Hackensack "is not in a communist part of the world," and asserted the issue is "property rights."

Again, the City Council has approved financing to convert one of the city's own parking lots into an open-air venue near a planned performing arts center.

Of course, lawyers will say anything to win.


Today's paper

Editor Martin Gottlieb picks a new National Football League domestic violence policy to lead the paper today, and Columnist Tara Sullivan praises the league commissioner's "long-overdue veracity" (A-1).

Gottlieb's other bewildering choices for Page 1 of our local newspaper:

The Ebola outbreak, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, mourning in the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood and Bergen County's use of military vehicles.

Are you kidding? 

I am sure when Mylyn Liego agreed to talk to a reporter about an alleged brothel across the street from her North Farview Avenue home in Paramus, she didn't think her photo on the Local front today would be run much larger than the suspects' images or the actual house of prostitution (L-1).

And I am sure she was horrified to see her photo under a huge headline:


Alleged brothel raided

Did head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes or her her deputy, Dan Sforza, approve the layout?

Did Production Editor Liz Houlton go home early in time to spend some of her hefty earnings at the mall?

Didn't they think a reader who just glanced at the headline and photos might get the wrong idea about Liego, an innocent bystander?

Holiday blitz

Why is Road Warrior John Cichowski satisfied with a holiday crackdown on drunken drivers and other unsafe behavior behind the wheel (L-1)?

Instead, shouldn't he be calling for year-round enforcement of drunk driving, speeding, and aggressive and distracted driving?

On a diet?

Did Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung go on a diet or have the editors cut her eating-out budget?

Today, she recaps "North Jersey's top-rated restaurants," even though there are four more months left in 2014 (BL-18).



Lawyers have told the Hackensack City Council they prefer this city owned parking lot in front of their offices over an open-air performing arts venue that would replace it, and they won't hesitate to sue to stop the project.

Critics say attorney Seymour Chase faces loss of a handicapped parking spot for his white Mercedes-Benz sedan only a hop, skip and a jump from his office door at 1 Atlantic St. in Hackensack.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Balanced front page is more irresponsible journalism

Lunch in Manhattan sounds like a good idea. But if you park for two hours at the midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal, it will cost $24.

Or you could park illegally as many do and grab a street-corner falafel sandwich.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

The Record's front page today seems to have everything -- from the horrors of civil war in the Middle East to a silly column on whether Rutgers' football team can compete with the "elite."

There is news about Bergen County's first statue of Martin Luther King, the glacial probe of the George Washington Bridge lane closures and a cautionary tale about sexual assaults on college campuses.

This "balanced" front page is the ideal every newspaper editor tries to achieve.

The New York Times has been turning out front pages like this for decades, and The Record has been doing a good job of imitating that great newspaper since a Times veteran took over the Woodland Park newsroom in early 2012.

But given the shocking nature of the revelations about chemical attacks and other war crimes in Syria, isn't the media guilty of neglecting that conflict in order to bring readers fluff and feel-good stories?

In view of the long-established Syrian community in Paterson, what excuse does Editor Martin Gottlieb have for the superficial coverage of the civil war there?

What happened to the pressure the media should be exerting on President Obama to deal with the Syrian dictator as he did with Libya's leader?

More corrections

Three more detailed corrections appear on A-2 today -- further evidence that Production Editor Liz Houlton isn't doing her job in return for a six-figure salary.

On A-3, the story about a 9-year-old girl who was allowed to fire an Uzi sub-machine gun, accidentally killing her instructor, claims the incident has sparked a "debate."

That's nonsense. There is no debate.

The accident shows the ugly side of our gun-happy society. No 9-year-old should be allowed to fire a gun.

Truck fatalities

Three people burned to death on Route 280 in East Orange after a dump truck slammed into their car in congested traffic (L-1).

Since June, trucks -- mostly tractor-trailers -- have been responsible for killing several people, including a comedian riding with Tracy Morgan on the New Jersey Turnpike and a Waldwick police officer on Route 17 south radar patrol.

And a trucker killed himself when he slammed into the back of another rig on the George Washington Bridge.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Planned Hackensack park now called 'open-air venue'

A controversial plan to convert this parking lot, between Atlantic and Warren streets, into a downtown park has been discussed at meetings of the Hackensack City Council, which last week approved a $650,000 bond to help pay for it. Now, The Record reports, the plan is called "an open-air venue" that will complement the city's planned Performing Arts Center (old Masonic Hall, rear right).


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

An outdoor stage and a green; a groundbreaking set for the end of October, and, eventually, a 300-seat performing arts center.

New details of what has been called the Atlantic Street Park in downtown Hackensack were reported today in The Record (L-1).

The space -- to replace a parking lot used mainly by law firms lining Atlantic and Warren streets -- is now being called an "open-air venue for entertainment and community events."

A $650,000 bond approved by the City Council last week and a $268,085 Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund grant will pay for the work.

Renovation of the old Masonic Hall the city acquired in 2010 is estimated to cost $1.3 million, but it hasn't been funded yet.

Bad headline

The story makes clear groundbreaking for the new green space must take place by the end of October or the city risks losing the county grant, but the headlines refer incorrectly to Hackensack starting work "on art center," presumably meaning the Masonic Hall.

Where was Production Editor Liz Houlton, who gets paid six figures to keep such errors out of the paper.

Real estate and business interests, including prominent members of the Main Street Business Alliance, pushed for the new green space to make downtown Hackensack more attractive for redevelopment.

Still, the group has refused to pay for it.



First the Shell station on Cedar Lane and River Road in Teaneck went out of business, and now the Cedar Lane Grill next to it has closed, above and below.

The shuttered gas station has been an eyesore for years. 


This is local?

A Page 1 story today reports New Jersey colleges are enrolling many more foreign students (A-1).

But the editors of our daily local paper decided to use a photo from Rutgers University in New Brunswick on the front page instead of one from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck (A-1).

More than once, the story makes it a point of reporting the wealthy international students chose Rutgers and Fairleigh because they are "close to New York."

So, Fairleigh students likely won't even notice the sad condition of Teaneck's main business district, including the double eyesore of a long-shuttered gas station and diner at Cedar Lane and River Road, less than a block from the campus.

Where is Starbucks Coffee when you really need them? The nearest company store is on Essex Street in Hackensack.

Sad state of TV

The sad state of television is exposed in today's coverage of the Emmy Awards (A-1 and BL-1).

The awards for top drama and best actor in a drama went to "Breaking Bad," described as the tale of a "cancer-stricken high school science teacher who turned into a crystal meth kingpin" (A-1).

Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for best actress in a comedy for "Veep," one of the un-funniest shows I have ever had the misfortune to watch (one or two episodes) -- especially in view of the paralysis in Washington.

Wake up, Marty

Editor Martin Gottlieb, the former editor of The New York Times' international edition, seems to forget he no longer works in Paris.

Gottlieb keeps on putting international news on Page 1 and burying local stories, such as the terrific interview with one of the last farmers in Bergen and Passaic counties (L-9).

Todd Kuehm, the fourth generation at the 120-year-old Farms View in Wayne, refuses to sell out to developers, and has "turned down huge numbers that would boggle most people's mind, but I don't care."

Neither does Marty, who probably lives in Manhattan and could care less about the Garden State.

What a poor choice Gottlieb was to replace the incompetent Francis "Frank" Scandale.

Monday, August 25, 2014

There's a huge hole in expose of hospital takeovers

A senior living residence in Saddle River on Sunday played host to more than a dozen great jazz musicians and singers performing at a benefit for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, including vocalist Dianne Reeves, above, and Cuban-born pianist Chucho Valdes, below. The drummer backing Reeves is Steve Williams.

Introduced as the "greatest living jazz pianist," Valdes' pounded the keys at Sunrise Senior Living, where chairman emeritus of Blue Note Records, Bruce Lundvall, now lives as he struggles with Parkinson's disease. Lundvall organized the jazz festival.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

The Record already has published many thousands of words in its three-part expose on for-profit hospital ownership, but not the ones local property tax payers want to see (A-1 today and Sunday).

In Hackensack and Englewood, two huge, non-profit medical centers pay little or no taxes to their communities, drastically shifting the burden onto homeowners and businesses.

Hackensack University Medical Center alone owns more than $180 million in tax-exempt property, and returns nothing to the city in lieu of taxes.

Unfortunately, there is no sign either Hackensack or Englewood will lose their non-profit hospitals soon.

But amid all the negatives The Record's local-news editors list in the shift to for-profit hospitals, one big positive development was overlooked:

Those other hospitals began paying property taxes for the first time, and that could mean lower bills for residents, landlords and merchants.

Who edited this?

On Sunday, the first part of the series reported, "... After several pending sales are completed, one in six of the state's 72 hospitals will be run by health care entrepreneurs and investors.... (A-1)"

Why are readers asked to do the math? Does the paper mean 12 hospitals?



Singer Norah Jones.

Guitarists Ed Laub, left, and Bucky Pizzarelli.
Pianist Bill Charlap performed with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington.


Not much worth reading

I didn't see much worth reading in the rest of the paper today or Sunday.

More than a quarter of today's front page -- on a golf tournament in Paramus -- is a huge waste of space, testament to how little news the Woodland Park newsroom generated on a sleepy Sunday.

Dogs figure prominently in two stories on today's Local front (L-1).

How appetizing is it to go to a farmers' market for fresh produce and buy fruit or vegetables with dog hairs on them?

That was a possibility in Hawthorne, where a half-dozen therapy dogs were available for hugging two weeks after a woman at the market was killed by the deranged driver of a pick-up truck (L-1).

Apples and oranges

What does the 2008 fatal police shooting of an Hispanic man in Denville after a high-speed chase have to do with Ferguson, Mo., where an unarmed teen was killed by police this month?

Absolutely nothing, but that didn't stop the befuddled Road Warrior from writing an entire column on police stops of drivers (Sunday's L-1).

The best story in Sunday's paper is the obituary of Frank "Candy Man" Ix III of Cresskill, a cheerful retiree who attended every morning Mass at a convent in Tenafly (L-1).



Tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano performed with his group and his wife, singer Judi Silvano.

Miguelli sang his own songs.

Holders of VIP tickets were served tapas, as well as beer and wine at two open bars.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Home-delivery mix-up: Features and opinion, no news

A small but vocal group of residents nagged Hackensack officials to start twice-a-week garbage collection this year. But the city caved in before encouraging more recycling and starting a composting program to reduce the waste stream.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

The Record's plastic bag in my driveway this morning contained two Better Living sections, two Opinion sections, two TV books and some advertising.

When I called, I was told the news sections would be delivered "after 10 a.m.," but at 10:45, I decided to sit down at the computer, because I have things to do and places to go today.

Crappy burger

It's clear from Elisa Ung's Sunday column, The Corner Table, this ignorant woman hasn't read Consumer Reports in many years, and has no idea the magazine has been exploring such important food issues as harmful animal antibiotics and salmonella in poultry.

In fact, Consumers Union, the magazine's policy and advocacy arm, called on Trader Joe's "to stop selling meat and poultry raised on a steady diet of antibiotics."

Ung refers to Consumer Reports as "the magazine many of us use to buy a washing machine" (BL-1).

This is what you get with a restaurant reviewer who spends most of her time writing about celebrity chefs and the problems facing wealthy restaurant owners while ignoring customer issues.

Her column today discusses a new entry in the crappy hamburger sweepstakes in North Jersey, but doesn't compare the beef used and whether any of the patties are made from antibiotic- and hormone-free beef.  

Atlantic Shitty

On the Opinion front, burned-out Columnist Mike Kelly -- he of the inimitable shit-eating grin -- delivers a 40-year recap of Atlantic City (O-1).

The resort and its economic problems are of so little interest to the vast majority of North Jersey residents, you have to wonder why he bothered. 

The most incisive commentary on Atlantic City is not Kelly's.

Margulies delivers another hard-hitting cartoon on O-2 today.

Free travel

Travel Editor Jill Schensul reports on another free press trip today, this time to East Berlin (T-1).

I would never pay $118.60 to drive one of the world's unsafest cars, but she makes it sound so wonderful.

The Travel section was delivered with Saturday's paper.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chief restaurant reviewer forgets she is a reporter first

Parking in front of Joyce Chinese Cuisine and other tenants at Kress Plaza, a strip mall in River Edge, requires the skills of a constitutional scholar to interpret all of the signs warning customers about time limits, towing and other bad news.

The Record's rave review of Joyce Chinese Cuisine in Friday's edition makes no mention of the parking restrictions or that customers who use the bigger lot in back of the strip mall won't find a rear entrance to the restaurant. This photo was taken today before the restaurant opened at 11 a.m.

The restaurant, at 478 Kinderkamack Road, also has a sign on parking regulations, above, in addition to two others on nearby stores, below.


This sign means that if you park in front of the restaurant, you have to finish your meal in 30 minutes.




By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Some River Edge residents were incredulous when they learned town fathers had approved a large Chinese restaurant for a Kinderkamack Road strip mall where parking is notoriously difficult.

Then, two friends joined a second couple for dinner at the new restaurant, Joyce Chinese Cuisine, and were incredulous they were charged an introductory price of $6 for a pot of tea that is free just about everywhere else.

Now that the restaurant has had its grand opening that pot of tea is listed on the menu at $8.

Starry eyed

You won't learn any of this by reading Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung's rave, 3-star review of Joyce Chinese Cuisine in The Record on Friday (BL-16).

But there is lots of gee-whiz reporting on the "more than $1 million" the owners spent to turn a vacant space "into an elegant restaurant" -- when every restaurant reviewer knows or should know readers can't eat the wallpaper.

Difficult parking at a suburban restaurant and an $8 charge for a pot of Chinese tea are two turnoffs that will keep me away no matter how good the Sichuan food might be at Joyce Chinese Cuisine. 

Lan Garden on Route 46 west in Ridgefield also serves Sichuan cuisine, and that restaurant, which is now having a soft opening, and Lotus Cafe in Hackensack have plenty of convenient parking out front.

Today's paper

Don't expect The Record to do any serious reporting on some lawyers' outrageous hourly rates or the roughly one-third they collect after huge monetary settlements of civil lawsuits.

In fact, Staff Writer Kibret Markos has filed numerous stories on settlements of many hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars without ever mentioning how much of that goes to the lawyers.

The rare byline of Jean Rimbach apears today over a front-page story on the $615,000 in legal fees Bergen County will be paying for two county police officers who were found not guilty in a police shooting (A-1).

On Aug. 16, The Record also reported in a Page 1 story the law firm that whitewashed Governor Christie's role in the George Washington Bridge scandal has billed "taxpayers" $6.5 million.

Hourly rates

Doesn't the county or state have the right to ask a judge if the fees are reasonable? Is that being done in these cases?

What about an investigative story on lawyers' hourly rates and whether they effectively deny due process to plaintiffs who cannot afford to pay for representation?

And are any lawyers in North Jersey actually doing significant pro bono work? 

Local news?

There is so little local news in today's paper a reporter was asked to write a story even after finding out no North Jersey activists are demonstrating over the shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Mo. (L-1).

On L-6 in Local, the local-assignment editors scrambled to fill huge holes with wire-service obituaries of two people no one has ever heard of.

Friday's paper

Page 1 of The Record on Friday read like a regional edition of The New York Times with stories on Ferguson, Mo.; the beheading of an American journalist in Syria, new DEA limits on a painkiller, Ebola and the national 'knockout' game (A-1).

In Local, the only real news was the death of Violet Cherry, former director of Englewood's Health Department (L-1).

Her obituary shared L-1 with a story on "a study" of a DPW access road in Paramus.

And why didn't head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her deputy, Dan Sforza, do more with a Teaneck Police Department tradition of bidding goodbye to retirees with a parade and party (L-2 photo)? 



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Here is a big reason you don't want to move to Leonia

In Manhattan today, panhandlers were working the rush-hour traffic on the Harlem River Drive ramp leading to the George Washington Bridge.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Two weeks ago, a vibrant 60-year-old restaurant owner using a downtown Leonia crosswalk was struck by a school bus and dragged 71 feet to her death.

In The Record's story on Leyla Kan of Fort Lee, Leonia Police Chief Thomas Rowe appealed to Governor Christie and the Port Authority to do something about rush-hour traffic from the turnpike that uses the town as a shortcut to the George Washington Bridge.

But what that had to do with the death of Kan was unclear in The Record's poorly reported Aug. 8 story.

No connection

In fact, it had nothing to do with her death, as a column this past Sunday revealed:

"The fatality stretched law enforcement to the breaking point, said Rowe, because only two of his department's 17 officers were on duty at the time and they were handling a domestic call" (Sunday's Road Warrior column, A-1 and A-8).

Yikes! Only two police officers were working in Leonia on a busy Thursday morning? 



Photos of Leyla Kan were part of a memorial at her Palisades Park pita-and-pizza restaurant, Picnic Cafe.


Incompetent leaders

Where are borough officials? Where is property tax money going, if not to keep residents and visitors safe?

Given all of the rush-hour traffic that inundates Leonia, shouldn't Rowe assign at least one officer to direct traffic at its main intersection, Fort Lee Road and Broad Avenue, where Kan was struck by a school bus driver who failed to yield to her?

Wouldn't Kan be alive today, if an officer was guarding the crosswalk she assumed would protect her on a beautiful, great-to-be-alive day?

Shameless apologist

Road Warrior John Cichowski, who likely is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, quotes Leonia Borough Council President Gil Hawkins as saying:

"Austerity measures caused largely by a weak economy and  declining tax base led to the loss of six officers over the years."

And they weren't replaced? Every town in North Jersey has been hit by a "weak economy and declining tax base."

That's no excuse in Leonia or anywhere else.

Cold-blooded reporter

In his Sunday column, Cichowski couldn't have been more insensitive to Kan's death.

First, he refers to her death as "a fatal bus crash near the mayor's hardware store." Later, he calls it a "grisly bus crash." 

There was no "bus crash" in the usual sense of the phrase. How did the editors allow this fuzzy nonsense in the paper?

Cichowski never names the victim, as if she was so much road kill.

A cover-up

Cichowski's column and the Aug. 8 news story reporting Kan's death amount to a cover-up of Leonia officials' incompetence.

The original news story didn't mention the short police staffing, and gave the police chief a platform to distract attention from it by asking for state and regional help dealing with rush-hour traffic.

Reporters just published his remarks; no one at the press conference or in the Woodland Park newsroom asked Rowe what his request for help directing traffic had to do with Kan's death.

Today's paper

Readers bored with A-1 today likely flipped the page and saw an item on A-2 that basically admits the Sports staff can't spell names or correctly identify athletes in photos (A-2).

A Bergen County jury found that a cold-blooded Stephen Scharf murdered his wife by throwing her off of the Palisades in 1992.

Now, his conviction has been thrown out, but the appeals-court judges didn't attack any of the actual evidence against him, and he will be retried, if necessary.

Why is The Record giving him a platform today to discuss his "plans for life as a free man" (A-1)?

If anyone is a "Big Pussy," it's Columnist Bill Ervolino, who today second guesses the Bergen County Historical Society's 10 Legends (A-1).

Hackensack news?

Who is covering Hackensack for The Record?

Christopher Maag, who took over from Hannan Adely, is now covering NJ Transit.

Adely's name appeared under a Wednesday brief reporting action on a downtown park at Monday's City Council meeting, but she also covers education. 

Ticket prices

On the Better Living front, the $150 price (plus tax) given for a ticket to the Sunrise Senior Living Jazz Festival on Sunday conflicts with the Web site, ticketbud.com, where lower-price tickets also are available (BL-1).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mounting errors cause John Borg to spin in his grave

One of the attractive properties available on Hackensack's sleepy Main Street, at the corner of Bridge Street, five years after the Borg publishing family abandoned the city. The Record's retail reporter, meanwhile, is probably preparing another story on big-box stores or malls.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Even the Page 1 story declaring the original owner of the Bergen Evening Record a "Bergen County Legend" contains a major error.

The Record's glib front-page headline -- "Indian chief to Mafia don" -- is part fact, part fiction (A-1).

Sure. It got me and other readers to turn the page and plow through the list selected by the county Historical Society.

But actor James Gandolfini only portrayed a "Mafia don."

The "Indian chief" is Oratam, leader of the Hackansacky Indian Tribe (A-8), but the story doesn't mention the chief's profile is prominently featured on Hackensack's official seal.


The official Hackensack seal.

John Borg

Today's story reports that John Borg, originally a stockbroker, "became the owner of the Bergen Evening Record, which 'exposed political scandal, despite kidnap and death threats,' the Historical Society said" (A-8).

Borg was the great-grandfather of Publisher Stephen A. Borg.

One has to wonder whether Stephen Borg will be remembered for cutting costs so relentlessly that he sacrificed accurate journalism.

The befuddled John Cichowski, who has written the Road Warrior column for nearly 11 years, has made more errors than the entire newsroom staff in Woodland Park, and few of them have been corrected.

Since a major downsizing ordered by Stephen Borg in 2008, Cichowski's column has rarely been edited or fact-checked -- despite Production Editor Liz Houlton, who is paid six figures to ensure just that.

Today's paper

Staff Writer Melissa Hayes has become so cozy with Governor Christie she doesn't even tell readers the age of Bridget, "his younger daughter" (A-7).

The Local staff knocked itself out getting all the details of a dramatic rescue by three state troopers who pulled a truck driver out of neck-high water in Overpeck Creek on Tuesday (L-1).

But there is not a word on how driver Lawrence Scherf, 66, crashed and burned his tractor-trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike in Ridgefield.

Was he speeding or did he fall asleep, as have so many tractor-trailer drivers recently?

I chuckled at one detail: "The troopers dropped their leather utility belts and jumped into water up to their necks" (L-3).

Utility belts? Surely, the reporter meant "gun belts."

Pardo and Rieck

The Associated Press writer who handled the obituary of announcer Don Pardo didn't think readers would be interested in how he lived to 96 (L-6).

And what moronic layout editor at The Record decided to bury Staff Writer Jay Levin's light-hearted treatment of cancer victim Jeffrey Rieck lampooning relatives in his own obituary (L-6)?




A famous Hoboken deli didn't last long in this Main Street storefront.

High rents on Main Street, low chances of success.


'No-raises recovery'

The Record's Business editors weren't about to send out reporters to interview workers on what Bloomberg News calls "the no-raises recovery" (L-7).

"Five years of economic expansion have done almost nothing to boost paychecks for typical American workers, while the rich have gotten richer."

That's certainly the case at The Record and North Jersey Media Group, owned by the wealthy Borg family.

Cory Nieves

On the Better Living front, the upbeat story about a 10-year-old CEO from Englewood leaves a couple of questions unanswered (BL-1).

If the fashion-conscious Cory Nieves has been selling hot cocoa, lemonade and cookies since 2009 to help his mom buy a car, why is she working for him and still taking the bus?

And Cory might want to rethink selling cookies, if he just looked around and saw all the kids his age struggling with obesity, a subject The Record has avoided for decades.