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).

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