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.


  1. Mass transit should be encouraged in densely populated NJ. It would seem to me there should be an increase in the gas tax before increasing the fares for commuters using NJ Transit.

    1. Of course there should be a hike in the gas tax, making drivers pay for repair of the roads and bridges they use. That makes perfect sense.


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