Saturday, February 28, 2015

More really bad news for commuters, state environment

Removing winter's grime at a hand car wash on Route 4 in Englewood.


The Record's story today on former reporter Michael Drewniak, who just left his damage-control job with Governor Christie, surely will have you hurling at the breakfast table.

In his inimitable style, Drewniak (rhymes with "maniac") managed the news by confirming on Tuesday he was leaving as Christie's chief spokesman, but not saying he was taking a six-figure job at NJ Transit, the state mass-transit agency (A-3).

Staff Writer Christopher Maag, the paper's chief transportation writer, doesn't even attempt to explain why Drewniak is qualified for "a newly created position ..., overseeing policy, strategic planning, technology, safety and capacity for all bus and train services," according to an NJ Transit press release on Friday.

As Christie's mouthpiece since 2002, what does Drewniak know about mass transit after spending all his time riding in enormous SUVs driven by federal marshals or state troopers?


Nor does Maag say how Drewniak's annual salary of $147,400 as NJ Transit's "chief of policy and strategic planning" compares to what he made working in the Governor's Office.

Christie got his money's worth when Drewniak helped stonewall the media and officials investigating the politically inspired George Washington Bridge lane closures.

Drewniak also defended the GOP bully's decision to kill the Hudson River tunnels in October 2010, denying NJ Transit rail commuters more rush-hour seats into the city.

And he stood by the governor when Christie snatched hundreds of millions in leftover tunnel money to fix New Jersey roads and bridges, rather than raise the gasoline tax. 

Funding crisis

The governor's refusal to raise that tax then and now means the state's Transportation Trust Fund for repairing roads and bridges, and improving mass transit, may run our of money in a few months.

Finally, Drewniak bears an uncanny resemblance to the former editor of The Record, Francis "Frank" Scandale, who presided over a drastic reduction in local-news coverage in more than a decade of running the Hackensack newsroom.

Publisher Stephen A. Borg showed Scandale the door on Halloween 2011, two days after a snowstorm paralyzed North Jersey. 

Scandale was blamed for The Record's pathetically weak coverage of the storm by a skeleton weekend crew.

Christie sellout

The Christie administration reportedly is putting the fossil fuel industry and the governor's White House ambitions ahead of the environment by settling an $8.9 billion lawsuit against Exxon Mobil for only $250 million (A-1).

The Record reports Christie, while he was chairman, raised nearly $18 million for the Republican Governors Association from the oil, gas and utilities industries in the first nine months of 2014 (A-8).

An in-house Exxon attorney also donated a total of $3,200 to the RGA.

The Woodland Park daily doesn't explain how it was scooped by The New York Times on settlement of the suit over pollution at the Bayway Refinery in Linden and another site in Bayonne.

Tennis, anyone?

Today's feature on the 30th anniversary of the law mandating wearing of seat belts in New Jersey seems an odd choice for the Better Living cover (BL-1).

Odder still is the byline, freelancer Neil Amdur, a former New York Times sports reporter who may know Martin Gottlieb, The Record's editor and himself a former Timesman. lists Amdur as editor-in-chief of Tennis Week magazine.

Bob Simon

Amdur reports Bob Simon, the veteran CBS newsman, was unbuckled and became "a back-seat bullet" when his limo crashed in Manhattan on Feb. 12. Simon died of his injuries.

Contrast that with reporting by Staff Writer John Cichowski, who used his Road Warrior column to contrive an elaborate scenario in which Simon would have survived, if only the Lincoln Town Car he was riding in had rear side curtain airbags.

What nonsense, but typical of Cichowski's hype, exaggeration, distortion and clearly inaccurate reporting in more than a decade of writing the column.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Christie -- the consummate bullshitter -- is hitting his stride

Winter green in Hackensack. Meanwhile, weeks after the first major snowfall, several NJ Transit bus stops on Summit and Prospect avenues still haven't been cleared, forcing riders to stand on the pavement or follow a well-worn path of packed snow to the curb.


Governor Christie explains his obnoxious personality this way:

"I care about fighting for people I represent," he told a questioner at a conservative convention in Maryland on Thursday.

But The Record's Page 1 story today, written by Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson, never identifies those "people" (A-1 and A-6).

The GOP bully must mean all those New Jersey millionaires -- including the Borgs, who own The Record -- he has repeatedly spared from a tax surcharge despite the state' massive financial problems.

Christie must mean real estate mogul Jon F. Hanson, one of his biggest fund-raisers and a close friend of North Jersey Media Group Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg.

And hasn't he screwed -- rather than represent -- the middle class in New Jersey by under-funding the state's public employee pension system, cutting homeowner rebates and killing the Hudson River rail tunnels, among other mean-spirited decisions?

In fact, his travel schedule is keeping Christie out of the state he professes to represent:

"On Thursday night, he was scheduled to hold a fundraiser in Richmond, Va. ... Today, he has fundraisers in Newport Beach, Calif., and San Francisco, followed by several events in Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday" (A-6).

Another big lie

In Maryland, Christie also was caught in a lie when he boasted of repeatedly vetoing funding for Planned Parenthood health services, "something he'd previously said was solely for budgetary reasons, because women had other health options available" (A-6).

Also on Page 1 today is more great publicity for Avalon Bay's cheap wood construction at the Edgewater apartment complex hit by a fast-moving fire on Jan. 21.

Staff Writer Linh Tat relates chilling passages from Fire Chief Thomas Jacobson's post-fire report, obtained through a public-records request (A-1).

Ferriero trial

When I glanced at today's lead A-1 story on the federal trial of Joseph A. Ferriero and saw Columnist Mike Kelly's thumbnail photo -- complete with shit-eating grin -- I thought Editor Martin Gottlieb had gone completely off his rocker.

Why play Kelly's overly long, boring column about the trial on Page 1? 

But that was just telling readers his column is on A-6. Confusing.

In the news story from Staff Writer Peter J. Sampson, the first three paragraphs sum up opening statements from the prosecutor and the defense attorney for the former leader of the Bergen County Democratic Party (A-1).

Basically, jurors will have to decide whether Ferriero abused his position and lined his pockets "with hundreds of thousands of dollars through a series of bribery, extortion and fraud schemes," according to the prosecutor (A-1).

Then, readers who bother with Kelly's column will find many of the same quotes duplicated there, and not much else besides a bunch of rhetorical questions, including, "Who is the real Joe Ferriero?"

What a waste of space.

There isn't much suspense here. Ferriero was convicted of a federal mail-fraud charge at a 2009 trial, but that verdict was set aside on a technicality.

Hackensack news?

The Record didn't bother covering this week's Hackensack City Council meeting, but a two hour-plus video is available on YouTube:

Feb. 24 meeting of the Hackensack City Council

I guess Staff Writer Todd South, who was assigned to the city, has gone south.

South covered two fires in Palisades Park for today's paper (L-3).

He also wrote a single paragraph on a Route 287 fatality near Mahwah, but the cause of the crash and name of the victim doesn't appear (L-2).

L-3 also carries two drive-by accident photos with no hint of what caused one car, driven by an elderly man, to sideswipe a parked Porsche and turn over in Dumont, or what led to a van and tractor-trailer to crash on Route 17 north in Upper Saddle River.

Crappy steaks

If you're a steakhouse owner who serves dry aged steaks -- even those raised on harmful antibiotics and growth hormones -- you can charge an arm and a leg, and still have Elisa Ung in your corner.

Prime Steakhouse in Washington Township sounds dreadful, and doesn't deserve the 2 stars she bestows on it in today's review (BL-12).

She claims Prime Steakhouse is "dead serious about its beef."

That doesn't mean the beef was grass fed and raised free of additives. It just means all of the beef is graded "prime."

She defines prime as "most marbled and thus most succulent," but doesn't tell you "marbeled" is a polite way of saying that grade also has the most artery clogging fat.

A porterhouse steak for four is an outrageous $172.95.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Christie's pension-system deal raised questions years ago

Bergen Town Center in Paramus is a full-service shopping center only a couple of miles from Hackensack: Whole Foods Market, ShopRite, 24 Hour Fitness and Lowe's are among mall tenants.


The Record's tabloid-like front page today has many readers wondering about the priorities of Editor Martin Gottlieb.

Gottlieb, a former New York Times editor who favors unusually long and complicated stories and analyses, could have devoted most or all of Page 1 to Governor Christie's 2016 budget and a second round of so-called pension-system reforms (A-1).

Instead, most of A-1 today is devoted to two sensational stories: 

"Bergen's most wanted," and three men who allegedly plotted to join ISIS. Big deal.

At the top of the page, a headline acknowledges for the first that Christie's budget speech and the pension plan he unveiled on Tuesday were far from the done deal portrayed by The Record and other media:

"Questions swirl on pensions"

Of course, every Christie policy since he took office in 2010 raised questions The Record papered over.

Instead, editors, columnists and reporters swallowed the GOP bully's "Reform Agenda," "Jersey Comeback," "Strong than the Storm" and other public relations campaigns hook, line and sinker.

That includes what is referred to as the 2011 "pension overhaul" Christie was hoping to take national in a campaign for the White House (A-3).

Imagine what he'd do to Medicare and Social Security in the unlikely event he gets the GOP nomination and wins the 2016 election. 

And why aren't the editors making a stink over Christie's silence on funding road and bridge repairs, and mass transit?

The conservative's refusal to raise the second-lowest gasoline tax in the nation to rehabilitate the state Transportation Trust Fund seems to have been endorsed by The Record, as were his many vetoes of a tax surcharge on millionaires.

'Shivering waifs'

Readers could be forgiven if they think today's Road Warrior column on Good Samaritans was written by a Dickens imitator (L-1).

Staff Writer John Cichowski's lead paragraph refers to unlucky drivers as "shivering waifs" and to roads as "always cold and luckless."

In summer, I suppose, drivers whose cars break down would be called "sweltering waifs."

How many thousands of readers just rolled their eyes when they saw this claptrap -- one of the worst pieces of journalism in many years.

The entire column is hung on the experience of one Michael Casapulla, who got a flat tire on the New Jersey Turnpike, pulled over and was surprised and delighted another man helped put the spare on his car.

Then, to pad this pathetic excuse for a commuting column, the demented Cichowski must have Googled "Good Samaritan," and decide to regurgitate every Good Samaritan he wrote about in old columns.

Cichowski didn't do what a real journalist would have done: 

Report on the long waits for AAA and other emergency road service, and tell readers if there are better programs out there.

Highway robbery

A story on a plan to install high-tech parking meters in Palisades Park doesn't mention they are in effect until 9 p.m., compared to the 6 p.m. expiration of most other towns.

Why didn't Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado ask Mayor James Rotundo why town officials are so greedy or speak to merchants and restaurant owners for their thoughts on whether the meters discourage visitors from patronizing their businesses?

End of BYO?

Staff Writer Joan Verdon needs to get out more.

How else to explain why her story on a bill to issue a new kind of restaurant liquor licenses completely ignores what impact that would have on the BYO tradition, which can make eating out in New Jersey such a good value (L-8).

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Christie's promise of more pension 'reform' is another lie

Retina Associates of New Jersey on Teaneck's Cedar Lane provides only limited angle parking in a lot so narrow departing patients and caregivers must back their cars out into traffic on the four-lane street, where speeding is common. How did township zoning officials approve this hazardous arrangement?

Upon finding a full lot, one visitor just left his car's engine running with the hazard lights flashing, partially blocking a lane on the busy four-lane street.


One day after a judge scolded Governor Christie for breaking the law on funding the state pension system three years running, The Record has forgiven him.

What else can readers conclude from the upbeat Page 1 coverage of the GOP bully's budget speech on Tuesday, when he unveiled another round of so-called pension reforms -- a plan that may be months or years away from implementation (A-1)?

And as on too many days in the past, Editor Martin Gottlieb plays more favorable spin by Columnist Charles Stile next to the front-page news story, burying protestations from the teachers union that no pension deal was made (A-6).

Chief spin doctor

Good riddance to Michael Drewniak (rhymes with "maniac"), the foul-mouthed former Star-Ledger reporter who sold out his profession to become Christie's spokesman in 2002 (A-3).

Staff Writer Melissa Hayes, who often sounds like Christie's lap dog, actually calls Drewniak "a fiery defender" instead of a specialist in disinformation.

On Tuesday, The Record said Drewniak denounced as "liberal judicial activism" Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson's order that Christie fully fund the state pension system by June 30.

Serving as spokesman for the worst governor in New Jersey history is the equivalent of working as a male prostitute.

Another correction

The editors run a correction of an L-1 story that stated Glen Rock's former police chief was "featured" in photos that showed Officer Christopher McInerney baring his buttocks.

However, the correction omits the name of the town (A-2).

Last Wednesday, The Record's business editors ran the wrong photo for Harry Kislevitz of River Edge, onetime owner of a toy company called Colorforms, according to a Record reader who knows his widow.

Hackensack news?

The only Hackensack news today is a drive-by photo of a three-car Hackensack Avenue crash with a caption that is silent on whether speeding, running a red light or another factor was the cause (L-3).

When will the local assignment editors, who are unable to find enough news to fill their pages, learn that jury selection isn't news, and certainly doesn't deserve a full-blown story on the Local front today (L-1)?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Editors' well-honed P.R. machine can't help Christie now

In Hackensack, a small deli on Hudson Street is where heroes go for lunch.


Negative court rulings and polls are making a mockery of The Record's campaign to promote Governor Christie as our next president.

Page 1 today is dominated by a ruling from Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson, who called Christie's greatly reduced pension payments unconstitutional (A-1).

Ruling in a lawsuit brought by public employee unions, the judge said the GOP bully's pledge to fund the pension system in the next budget is another in a succession of "empty promises" (A-6).

She ordered Christie to make the full pension payment he cut by nearly $1.6 billion.

Of course, Editor Martin Gottlieb treats readers with contempt, giving equal prominence to another Charles Stile column that revisits the alleged "bipartisan reforms" that Christie claimed would save the pension system from bankruptcy (A-1).

The column's headline is fit only for readers who are imbeciles:

"Ruling is a black eye when
some good PR is needed"

Hackensack news?

Today's Local section doesn't have any Hackensack news, but Staff Writer Todd South, the reporter once assigned to the city, continues to file stories about war veterans like himself.

Retailing reporter Joan Verdon and Staff Writer Mary Diduch try to persuade readers that Westfield Garden State Plaza and the Paramus police are actually prepared for a terrorist attack (L-3).

Now, the mall and police are taking credit for "preventing injuries to shoppers and mall workers" on Nov. 4, 2013, when a disturbed young man with a rifle invaded Garden State Plaza and fired random shots into the ceiling, then committed suicide in a non-public area.

I recall The Record's photos of Paramus police, who were armed to the teeth, but who arrived after he killed himself.

God forbid the news columns should contain any negative news about malls, among The Record's biggest advertisers.

Unhealthy food

Food Editor Esther Davidowitz continues to promote an unhealthy diet with a Better Living feature on a stuffed-cupcake company (BL-1).

The promotion is sure to be lapped up by the thousands of diabetics in the audience, as well as those watching their weight and cholesterol intake.

How many stuffed cupcakes did Davidowitz bring back to the newsroom?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Judge dismisses suit against Van Lenten estate, others

After the snow stopped falling Sunday, a man cleared snow near a Korean school on Passaic Street in Hackensack.


A Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Peter Van Lenten Jr. helped others cheat The Record's publisher out of more than $3 million.

The decision, filed last Wednesday, is an embarrassing setback for North Jersey Media Group's litigious general counsel, Vice President Jennifer A. Borg, and the Hackensack law firm of Pashman Stein, which often represents the company.  

The suit alleged Van Lenten, who was NJMG vice president of information technology until April 2009, helped about two dozen others defraud the publisher of The Record.

The suit claimed the company paid more than $2 million "on false/and or inflated invoices" from 2001 to 2009, and an additional $1 million for temporary workers hired at "greatly inflated charges."

Van Lenten died in April 2010, and his estate was named a defendant. But Stephen R. Bosin, a River Edge attorney, described the estate as an entity with no cash.

This afternoon, Bosin said Superior Court Judge Robert C. Wilson in Hackensack dismissed the suit against all of the defendants.

The suit was filed in April 2013.

Imagine how much Pashman Stein billed NJMG in legal fees for nearly two years of litigation at several hundreds of dollars an hour.

Today's paper

Except for all of that space wasted on the anti-climactic Oscars, the rest of Page 1 today is soft news that is of little use to readers.

Maybe The Record should save a ton of newsprint and publish Tuesdays to Sundays.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Newsroom 'backups' and 'black holes' really worry readers

These potholes appeared in the parking lot of the H Mart in Little Ferry two weeks ago, part of a crop of bone-jarring cavities The Record is finally getting around to acknowledging. But Road Warrior John Cichowski's column falls flat today when he compares his "Black Hole Awards" to the Oscars, an instant turnoff to readers already sick of the media's endless Hollywood hype.


I'm not sure why Christopher Maag, The Record's main transportation reporter, got the smelly assignment of reporting on Hackensack River sewage backups (Page 1).

But serious blockages also can be found in the Woodland Park newsroom, where burned-out editors and columnists prevent talented younger voices from being heard.

Today, Road Warrior John Cichowski belatedly bestows his 12th annual "Black Hole Awards" on a woefully incomplete list of potholes (L-1), hoping to deflect attention from the biggest black hole of all -- the one in the veteran reporter's head.

I suppose readers should be happy the addled Cichowski is no longer trying to panic them into believing a heavily traveled Route 4 bridge in Teaneck is unsafe.

Mike Smelly

On the Opinion front, Columnist Mike Kelly returns with his thumbnail photo's shit-eating grin --acknowledgement that his writing style ranges from constipation to diarrhea (O-1).

Kelly has basically been boring readers with the same column since 1988, pushing around words, rewriting news stories and rarely expressing an opinion about anything.

Today, he avoids pointing fingers at anyone for the key role Paterson plays in North Jersey's heroin epidemic -- not Governor Christie for triggering the layoff of 125 police officers in the crime-ridden city, not the parents of suburban addicts; and not slumlords, red-lining banks or racism.

The pathetic columnist can't even manage to see The Record's three-part series, "In heroin's grip" (Page A-1 on Feb. 15), as a call for action, but readers got the message, as several letters to the editor show (O-3).

Hey, Marty

Of course, Editor Martin Gottlieb, a veteran of the august New York Times, is in his mid-60s and can be expected to support veterans like Cichowski and Kelly, even when they are guilty of journalism malpractice, to use a phrase coined by satirist Bill Maher.

That also must be the explanation for why Gottlieb still hasn't cleaned house in the newsroom three years after he took over, suggesting he sees the job as a way of cruising into retirement.

He's also allowed many non-performing veterans -- including head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza, six-figure Production Editor Liz Houlton, Staff Writer Jean Rimbach and other liabilities -- to keep their jobs.

Local news?

Today's weather story on the Local front is as weak as every other one we've seen this winter (L-1).

Weeks after the first major snowfall, sloppy municipal snow clearing continues to endanger drivers, pedestrians and bus riders, but not a word of criticism has appeared.

Why don't the editors try to explain why we get such sorry services and pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

Hole in head

Road Warrior John Cichowski relies on readers to report the worst potholes and rough roads in North Jersey, and boasts of "nearly 300 miles of follow-up inspections by this column" (L-1 and L-2).

I guess that means the notoriously lazy columnist actually drove 300 miles to look at road conditions, but how did he miss pockmarked Route 4 through Teaneck, Hackensack's crudely patched River Street and other problem roads?

Downtown Hackensack in late November.

Local business?

The Record's business editors and reporters can't be bothered slumming in such hard-hit downtowns as Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood.

But they devote plenty of energy reporting on the concerns of the Borg publishing family and other members of the wealthy ruling class.

What else can you conclude from the story dominating the Business front today -- on the slowing delivery of business jets costing up to $50 million each (B-1)?

The mindless coverage of that industry amounts to a royal F.U. to all the residents of Hackensack, Teaneck and other towns near Teterboro Airport whose quality of life is compromised by aircraft noise around the clock.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Why Avalon's Hackensack tenants may be scared shitless

The rubble left after the fast-moving Jan. 21 fire at the Avalon Bay luxury apartment complex in Edgewater, above and below, likely gave pause to tenants of Avalon Bay apartments in Hackensack.


When Avalon Bay announced improved fire protection systems at planned apartments in Princeton and Maplewood, no one at The Record thought to ask why the same wasn't being done for its Hackensack tenants.

On the same day, a burst fire sprinkler line in the Avalon Hackensack at Riverside complex triggered fire alarms and started pouring water into one of the buildings on Hackensack Avenue, The Record reported on Wednesday.

A Hackensack deputy fire chief was quoted as saying that Hackensack building has sprinklers in the attic spaces and other non-occupied areas, "unlike the 408-unit apartment building that burned last month in Edgewater."

But does the 226-unit Hackensack complex have the same kind of masonry firewalls Avalon Bay now says will be included at the Princeton and Maplewood complexes -- walls that can stop fire from spreading outside the apartment where it started?

No such walls exist at the Edgewater complex.

And today, in a "one month later" retrospective on Page 1, The Record reports an Avalon Bay executive refused to say whether they would be included, if the company rebuilds in the Hudson River community (A-1).

If there are no masonry walls in Hackensack, tenants there have good reason to be scared shitless over the possibility of a fire like the one that spread so rapidly in Edgewater.

Avalon Bay is a real estate investment trust that returns a healthy profit to shareholders, and any fire-safety improvements not required by weak state building codes might cut into that return and make the apartment builder less attractive to potential investors.

Avalon Bay apartments when they were under construction in 2013 between two shopping centers in Hackensack.

Christie lackey

In keeping with The Record's all-Christie, all-the-time coverage, Columnist Charles Stile is back on the front page today with a boring report on everything the GOP bully and "likely presidential candidate" said to New Hampshire conservatives (A-1).

In the last couple of years, Stile has been examining Christie's every word, burp and fart for what they might mean for the mean-spirited official in 2016.

You'd think the veteran reporter is angling to become a press secretary in the Christie White House, in the unlikely event New Jersey's in-your-face governor wins the nomination and election.

More corrections

A-2 corrections seem to be growing more numerous and longer, such as the pair repairing Paterson stories today.

A story on A-3 fails to report that a Port Authority police officer assaulted by a mother-daughter team at Newark airport is also a woman (as reported by Cliffview

Staffer, veteran

Staff Writer Todd South, who is assigned to cover Hackensack, also has been doing a lot of reporting on veterans, including today's commentary on "American Sniper" (BL-1).

South reports he has served with men like Chris Kyle, a U.S. Navy Seal at the center of the film -- "elite soldiers trained for years to complete complex missions and kill people" (BL-4).

He believes reaction to the film "obscures the real problem that has grown for decades ... the civilian disconnect with its military, its purpose and its work.... For many who watch the film, Kyle is an alien."

The reporter says he was a member of a U.S. Marine reconnaissance unit that deployed in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Christie has no solutions for problems of his own making

Cedar Lane and River Road in Teaneck, near the Fairleigh Dickinson University campus, would seem to be an ideal place for a Starbucks with a parking lot. Actually, anything would be welcome to replace the eyesore of a shuttered gas station and diner.


A defiant Governor Christie reiterated his inflexible no-tax policy, but "offered no clues about how he would address challenges like transportation funding and growing pension obligation," The Record reports today on Page 1.

"We have to grow this economy, not the government," Christie told New Jersey business leaders gathered in Washington after a drunken train ride from Trenton on Thursday (A-1).

The reporters don't point out the GOP bully still is talking about growing the economy more than five years after he took office.

And, of course, Christie wants to shrink the public sector, but not the shadow government known as the Port Authority, the bistate agency he has used as a patronage mill to retaliate against Democrats who didn't support his reelection.

The Record does quote Patrick Murray, Monmouth University's poll director, who said he was "struck by" all the "angst" he heard in discussions with people on the chartered train:

"I heard about how Trenton isn't going to tackle any of the big problems we have in this state because of the governor's presidential ambitions" (A-8).

Diet and health

Also on the front page today, The Associated Press graphic on a government panel's proposed new dietary recommendations is a model of clarity compared to the lengthy, jargon-filled Better Living cover story that ran on Wednesday (A-1).

And an editorial urges the state Legislature to override the GOP bully's veto of the Port Authority reform bill (A-18).

Crime, court news

One glance at today's Local section makes it clear head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her deputy, Dan Sforza, have frozen out municipal news in favor of Law & Order stories (L-1 to L-6).

Sykes and Sforza are two of the laziest newspaper editors in the Western Hemisphere, and on too many days, seem unable to inspire their staff to gather little more than police, fire, court and accident news.

One story on the Local front -- the ambiguous gender of a bank robber who got away with more than $100,000 -- raises a question that many Woodland Park newsroom staffers have asked repeatedly about a few of their colleagues (L-1).

Black bird?

Staff Writer Elisa Ung doesn't explain how the owners picked the name of the Mexican restaurant in Edgewater she reviews today (BL-14).

Paloma Negra -- black dove or pigeon -- seems an odd choice, and her lukewarm, 2-star review is sure to discourage readers, and perhaps turn their thoughts to bird droppings.

She found "shriveled, dry slices of steak and pork loin" in one of the most expensive dishes, and "dry and shriveled" chicken in both flautas and enchiladas.

Even after a big meal, Ung leaves room for a sugary dessert, but she criticizes a "rigid" flan and a "cloying" cake. 

Poor woman.

Second look

Last Sunday's Road Warrior column on the death of CBS newsman Bob Simon was one of Staff Writer John Cichowski's most misleading efforts.

Simon, who wasn't wearing a seat belt, was thrown forward and suffered fatal injuries when his speeding Lincoln Town Car limo crashed on 12th Avenue in Manhattan.

Cichowski asserted side curtain air bags might have saved Simon, but they are intended to protect the head and chest of an occupant "in the event of a serious crash" involving the side of the vehicle, according to, not in the case of a major frontal impact.

See the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Road Warrior windbag is wrong on air bags

Thursday, February 19, 2015

From gorging on sweets to advice on cholesterol levels

A Shell station on Summit Avenue and Essex Street in Hackensack is selling a gallon of regular for $2.13.9, if you use a credit card, or 12 cents less than the same gasoline at another Shell station on Cedar Lane in Teaneck. Prices have stopped falling and even cheap, off-brand stations are selling regular for $1.99.9, if you pay cash.


There were too many "mays," "mights" and "maybes" in The Record's major story on cholesterol and heart disease on Wednesday.

The Better Living cover story, promoted on the front page, is typical of the media's flawed focus on health and nutrition, and their tendency to jump all over draft reports (BL-1).

The Woodland Park daily did a disservice to those who read only the Page 1 promotion or headlines, and didn't slog through all of the quotes from doctors.

In the penultimate paragraph, the reporter finally acknowledges "the best advice is the same advice that doctors and nutritionists have been repeating for generations."

"Eat a well-balanced diet heavy on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and ... fats found in ... fish, nuts and olive oil, while limiting red meat, fried foods and sugary desserts" (Wednesday's BL-3). 

So, you don't have to limit your intake of the saturated fat in butter and heavy cream, two ingredients that show up often in recipes recommended by The Record's freelancers?

It doesn't help that The Record's food pages are filled with endless copy promoting pastries, cake and chocolate or that the chief restaurant critic rarely eats a salad, but always leaves room for a huge hunk of meat and dessert.

Christie obsession

Today's front page carries another so-called analysis of Governor Christie's campaign style "while he considers a presidential future for himself" (A-1). 

There is no mention of a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll that 68 percent of New Jersey voters say the GOP bully is putting his personal presidential aspirations ahead of his public state duties (Wednesday's A-3).

This is the second dose of major bad poll news for Christie, and both times the editors kept it off of the front page.

Tuesday's A-3 carried another breathless Melissa Hayes story about Christie, who, on a visit to New Hampshire, discussed what he'd do, "if he were to run and win the presidency."

An "Analysis" of Christie's proposed state budget appeared on Saturday's front page, and Christie columns ran on Sunday's and Monday's A-1.

The media obsession with Christie often is justified by reporting he won a second term in a landslide, but editors never mention the turnout was the lowest of any gubernatorial election in state history.

Voters are apathetic, and sick of all of the Christie-White House coverage, which is turning off more and more of them.

Laughable headline

Today's Better Living cover carries a headline that has readers howling (BL-1):

Versatile chickpea
gains popularity

Chickpeas have been a staple of diets in India, Armenia, Turkey and the Middle East for, what, a hundred years?

But then a food editor scrambling for a story idea discovers them and treats her readers liked imbeciles.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Editors claim evil Paterson is killing white suburbanites

The Great Falls of the Passaic River in Paterson are a symbol of a glorious industrial past. Today, if you believe The Record's biased three-part series on heroin, the evil, largely minority city is luring young white men and women from the suburbs to their untimely deaths.


"IN HEROIN'S GRIP" -- a three-part series in The Record that ends today -- is one of the most biased pieces of journalism I have ever seen.

Timothy Linnartz, 29, of Waldwick and all of the other dead and dying white drug addicts who are the central characters in this drama; their parents and the police, who don't arrest them, remain blameless.

On Sunday's front page, Staff Writer Rebecca D. O'Brien reported  a new phenomena -- "heroin so pure and inexpensive that it is not only hastening the fall of this once vibrant city, but feeding on the wealth of nearby suburbs, towns like Glen Rock and Clifton, Mahwah and Waldwick."

Eye on prize

Lusting for a Pulitzer Prize, Editor Marty Gottlieb and the other white editors who worked on this opus are so eager to demonize Paterson they claim Silk City's "legacy as the first planned industrial city could also be, in part, what contributes to the problem."

Then -- in one of the most ridiculous of the many assertions in the series -- they blame the city's easy access, "more than 30 points of entry, connecting some of the region's wealthiest communities to the poorest" (A-8 on Sunday). 

The only suggestion that Bergen County isn't blameless for the behavior of the addicts flocking to Paterson comes from Capt. Timothy Condon of the Prosecutor's Office:

"Bergen County is coming in and sustaining this violent narcotics trade with their money," Condon says.

The rest of his quote on Sunday's A-8 is incomprehensible.

In the final part on Page 1 today, O'Brien revisits the layoff of one-quarter of Paterson's 500-member police force and once again doesn't mention Governor Christie's cuts in state aid as a factor.

Another error?

One of The Record's readers thinks the photo caption on the Local front today is incorrect in describing a rabbi "chanting Lincoln's words in the form of a 'haftarah'" (L-1).

"First, there are four people and the rabbi on the bimah [a raised platform]. When one reads a haftorah, only the reader is on the bimah. It is clear that the Rabbi is reading from the Torah.  The people are in the position for a torah reading and, most significantly, if one looks at the picture you can see the ends of the torah scrolls.  Gottlieb should have spotted this."

Monday, February 16, 2015

With Christie, cops and more, editors won't place blame

On Tom Hunter Road in Fort Lee on Friday afternoon, the danger from sloppy municipal snow clearing was clearly evident on what is normally a two-way street, leaving no room for vehicles to pass each other, above and below. Behind the car were several more vehicles that had to squeeze past the school bus. This scene was repeated on many of North Jersey's narrow and not-so-narrow streets.

A story on The Record's Local front today -- "Wacky weather hangs on" -- makes no reference to how drivers and pedestrians have been put in harm's way by incompetent plowing and clearing in North Jersey weeks after the first big snowstorm.


The Record's editors seem to tremble before authority, whether it's Governor Christie or the Police Department in Paterson.

An editorial today is only mildly critical of Christie's extensive out-of-state travel in pursuit of the White House, but praises the GOP bully for "a series of first-term accomplishments, including bipartisan deals with the Democratic-controlled Legislature" (A-13).

Christie's many policy failures, including Sandy recovery and the state economy; his record number of vetoes and his use of traffic to retaliate against Democrats are nowhere to be found.

Crime City

Then, in the second part of a series -- "IN HEROIN'S GRIP" -- Staff Writer Rebecca D. O'Brien only hints at Paterson's lack of resources and police manpower (A-1, A-6 and A-7).

For some reason, O'Brien doesn't mention the layoff of 125 officers in 2011, blamed on Christie's state aid cuts to poor cities and Paterson's own budget constraints.

Typical of how The Record criticizes authority, O'Brien quotes Charles Florio, a Ridgefield Park developer who owns 130 properties in the city.

"He blames the poverty, the addicts and the lack of police," the reporter says of Florio (A-7).

Later, Florio says, "at the end of the day, you have no police presence" and "police often take hours to respond to complaints about trespassing."

"They don't have the manpower or money to do real police work," Florio says.

This is a variation of how Trenton reporters politicize any criticism of Christie by quoting Democrats, and rarely ask readers for their opinion.

To better demonize Silk City, O'Brien reports:

"The Paterson of vibrant neighborhoods ... often exists in memory."

That amounts to a big lie, given Paterson's mansion-filled Eastside and South Paterson, a Middle Eastern bazaar of bakeries, food stores and restaurants.

Selling papers

Editor Marty Gottlieb's only interest is to sell newspapers, judging from more front-page play for an ISIS video showing beheadings, this time of Coptic Christians in Libya (A-1).

A full page in Local today is devoted to a house ad claiming The Record is North Jersey's "trusted sources for news, sports and entertainment" (L-7).

A photo shows part of a woman's face, but she looks too young to be a reader.


Hackensack readers are accustomed to sporadic news, but why does Staff Writer Sachi Fujimori freeze out Lotus Cafe in her story on Chinese New Year (BL-1)?

The Hackensack Avenue BYO is offering a four-course Year of the Sheep menu for $29.95 per person, including an appetizer, soup, main course and dessert.

Entrees include filet mignon, flounder, a half duck, jumbo shrimp or shredded roast duck served with buns.