By VICTOR E. SASSON
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.
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).
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.
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.|
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.