Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Woodland Park can't spare a reporter to cover Englewood

A bright spot in downtown Englewood is this art gallery, one of the few non-food businesses along Palisade Avenue, where railroad tracks separate the city's white and minority residents.

These Engle Street storefronts have been empty for months. They are less than a half-block away from bustling Palisade Avenue in Englewood.


The Record covers Englewood and other important towns with inexperienced reporters from one of the weekly papers owned by the Borg family's publishing empire, North Jersey Media Group.

On today's and Sunday's Local fronts, the byline of Stephanie Noda appears over stories about Englewood, but calling her "STAFF WRITER" is a stretch.

Noda and other reporters whose stories appear in The Record work for one of NJMG's many weeklies. In her case, it's Northern Valley Suburbanite.

What's wrong with that?

Paid less, get less

Noda and other weekly reporters are paid less and have less experience than staffers in The Record's Woodland Park newsroom.

And as a result, their coverage can be unsophisticated, especially in such a racially diverse community as Englewood, where school segregation persists more than 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education.

Clueless editors

Of course, you can also blame that on the clueless Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, the local assignment editors who issue marching orders to Noda and other weekly reporters.

I have yet to read any stories about Englewood's struggling downtown or the many real estate companies, including Bittan Group, that keep storefronts empty until they get the high rents they demand.

Victoria's Secret, Panera Bread and Ann Taylor are among the prominent corporate names that closed their businesses in Englewood. 

Borg strategy

NJMG Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg lives on Englewood's East Hill, but it's a world apart from the working-class neighborhoods on the other side of the tracks that you only read about in police news.

Mac's son, Publisher Stephen A. Borg of Tenafly, pioneered the cost-effective strategy of using weekly reporters to cover news in important towns. 

Bittan Group is said to own a great deal of property in downtown Englewood, including Solaia Restaurant on Van Brunt Street.

Bertelsen is among the landlords who appear content to keep stores empty until they can get their price.

Classy entrance to a desolate space on Engle Street.

On Monday afternoon, I came across this sign on the doorstep of an empty storefront on North Dean Street, near Palisade Avenue. It reads: "The Record Memorabilia At a Great Price."

Weekly reporters

Another reporter from an NJMG weekly, Megan Burrow, wrote a story on the Hackensack River Greenway in Teaneck that appeared in The Record on Sunday (L-1).

The byline of Marc Lightdale of Northern Valley Suburbanite appeared over a story about Harrington Park, also on Sunday's Local front.

Other weekly reporters in Sunday's thin edition of The Record  included Svetlana Shkolnikova, Debra Winters and Lindsey Kelleher, all listed as "STAFF WRITER" (L-3).

Readers of The Record deserve better.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Union prosecutor to review Hackensack pedestrian death

Hue D. Dang, 64, of Hackensack was walking in or near this Jackson Avenue crosswalk on March 9, when she was struck and fatally injured by an unmarked car driven by John C. Straniero, a detective sergeant in the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office. Hackensack police investigated, but brought no charges against him in her death.


The state Attorney General's Office has directed the Union County prosecutor to review a March 9 pedestrian fatality in Hackensack that saw no charges being filed against the driver, a detective in the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

Hue D. Dang, 64, a Vietnamese-American woman who lived a few blocks away on Hudson Street, was struck by an unmarked car as she crossed Jackson Avenue at Kennedy Street, carrying plastic grocery bags.

She was pronounced dead at Hackensack University Medical Center less than an hour after the 4:45 p.m. accident.

Hackensack police were quoted in The Record on March 11 as saying they didn't know where Dang was "standing" when she was hit and knocked to the ground by Detective Sgt. John C. Straniero, 49, of Wayne.

Eye on The Record asked the state police and state Attorney General's Office to look into the Hackensack investigation. 

Today, Regina Garb of Citizens Services and Relations in the Attorney General's Office said the matter has been referred to the Union County Prosecutor's Office, which has a fatal accident unit.

Today's paper

International stories dominate The Record's front page today, including one aimed at the thousands of Yemenites living in North Jersey (A-1).

Columnist Mike Kelly turns his shit-eating grin to "another fugitive," ignoring the thousands of Americans who have started traveling to the Caribbean's biggest island and enjoying Cuban music and food (A-1).

A big photo on Page 1 memorializes the 150 passengers aboard a doomed Germanwings jet, proving once again how budget travel can come back to bite you (A-1).

You know the newsroom is being run by the man who once edited the international edition of The New York Times when you find a North Jersey environmental story at the bottom of A-1 today.

Wake up, Marty! 

Editor Martin Gottlieb apparently didn't think a highly respected 92-year-old municipal judge is front-page news in a local newspaper (L-1).

Judge Richard Greenhalgh is retiring Tuesday after a remarkable 48 years on the bench in River Vale. 

Staff Writer Nicholas Pugliese doesn't explain how Greenhalgh escaped mandatory retirement ages so common in other jobs, including Superior Court.

For readers, Greenhalgh is refreshing -- unlike all those seniors The Record reports on from nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospices.

Or, all of those confused drivers who are constantly crashing their cars into storefronts and being ridiculed in filler photos ordered by local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza. 

And the judge is lucky he didn't go work for a company like North Jersey Media Group, which doesn't prize older employees.

More and more, readers have to conclude that Gottlieb's news judgment as editor of a North Jersey newspaper just sucks.

Wake up, Marty! You're not in Paris anymore.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Editors urge us to hunt for Bergen County's 'most wanted'

Bergen County's new Justice Center is going up in Hackensack. A new garage is shown nearing completion, above and below. The garage and building, expected to be the latest piece of tax-exempt property in a city with too many non-profits, is certain to elicit a resounding chorus of boos from residents when it is completed.

Construction on a parking lot has displaced the cars of attorneys, visitors and jurors to the old headquarters of The Record on River Street, where the county is paying North Jersey Media Group a king's ransom to lease hundreds of spaces.


It's right there on The Record's tabloid front page today -- a rogues gallery of suspected rapists, murderers and robbers who are called Bergen County's "most wanted."

"If you want to keep an eye out for such fugitives, you'll have to dig up a lot of extra details on your own," Staff Writer John Seasly says in the third paragraph on A-1 today.

Is Seasly and Editor Martin Gottlieb kidding? 

Why would any reader want to hunt for a fugitive? Don't we already pay law enforcement agencies tons of tax money to do just that?

What a silly way for Gottlieb to attempt to make this ridiculous excuse for front-page news approachable.

Not much else

But North Jersey readers are screwed twice, because there isn't much else of interest in today's thin Sunday paper, certainly not from three lazy reporters who fancy themselves columnists.

Charles Stile seems incapable of writing anything else but another boring analysis of Governor Christie's politics (A-1).

You'd expect Columnist John Cichowski or Mike Kelly to look into why a Bergen County prosecutor's detective escaped being charged in the March 9 death of a pedestrian in Hackensack.

But Cichowski devotes his entire Road Warrior piece to advice for new-car buyers, a real perversion of what began as column for commuters (L-1).

And Kelly gives us a second boring column on the history of the shuttered Izod Center, going all the way back to a 1981 concert (O-1). 

The editors also are sticking with the dated thumbnail photo of Kelly's shit-eating grin.

Local news?

Readers know Stile, Cichowski and Kelly as supremely professional space fillers, but some of the editors do just as well.

If you're looking for local news, the inclusion of a long, wire-service obit for an obscure Swedish poet on L-6 today tells you Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza weren't.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Report: Woman hit by cop's car fell with feet in crosswalk

The Hackensack Police Department report on the March 9 pedestrian fatality on Jackson Avenue and Kennedy Street includes a diagram showing that the victim, Hue D. Dang, landed with her feet in the crosswalk after she was struck by a detective's unmarked car, above. The police officer who wrote the report says the diagram is "an approximation."


Hackensack police will not be filing any charges against a Bergen County Prosecutor's Office detective in the death of a woman, even though their report shows she landed with her feet in the crosswalk after he struck her with his unmarked car on March 9.

This afternoon, police insisted they still do not know where the victim, Hue D. Dang, 64, of Hackensack, was standing or walking when she was struck and fatally injured by Detective Sgt. John C. Straniero's car.

Police Director Mike Mordaga and Capt. Nicole Foley were not available for comment today. Foley, head of the traffic division, was quoted in The Record's March 11 story on the accident.

Mordaga was chief of detectives in the Prosecutor's Office until 2007. He took over as director of the Hackensack department in February 2013. 

Maureen Parenta, communications director for Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, said the office would have no comment because one of its members was involved.

Hackensack Police Officer Timothy Sroka said the diagram in his report is "an approximation," adding police still do not know where the woman was when she was struck by Straniero's silver Ford Crown Victoria.

The report, apparently based on statements from Detective Straniero, cited a fence with aluminum slats "which partially obstructed view on northwest corner of Kennedy Street and Jackson Avenue."

"There was also a large amount of sun glare from the west as the sun was low in the sky at the time," the report says.

Sroka wouldn't answer a natural question: How can a driver kill a woman and not be charged with anything?

The documents turned over to Eye on The Record after an Open Public Records Act request included a report that Sroka took a video statement from Detective Straniero at 10 a.m. on March 10, the day after the accident.

Today, Eye on The Record filed an OPRA request for the transcript of that interview. 

Eye on The Record also has contacted the state police and state Attorney General's Office to express concern that the detective escaped even a traffic charge, such as failing to yield to a pedestrian.

See previous posts:

Residents: Detective's car struck woman near crosswalk

Cops won't release fatality report without OPRA request

The "RR" markings on the pavement show the car, driven by Detective Sgt. John C. Straniero of the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, stopped with the right rear wheel in the Jackson Avenue crosswalk after knocking down the 5-foot, 100-pound woman.
After the accident on March 9, the victim's blood stained the pavement, right. Police said she was bleeding "from her ears, eyes, nose, and head," and was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Hackensack University Medical Center. The woman landed on her back parallel to the passenger side of the car, police said, so her feet could have been in the crosswalk, left.

The crosswalk and corner where the woman was fatally injured, in a photo I took from behind the wheel of my car today. The police report cited the fence, right, as "partially" obstructing the view of the corner. Aluminum slats on the fence were removed after the accident.

Who was Hue Dang?

Hue D. Dang lived in an apartment building on Hudson Street, between Route 80 and Kennedy Street, only a few blocks away from where she was fatally injured.

People who live nearby said she was carrying plastic grocery bags when she was hit by the detective's car.

She worked as a cashier at the ShopRite in Paramus until 2013, one of her relatives said.

In 1975, Dang and seven siblings came to the United States with their parents as refugees from the Vietnam War.

Today's paper

Editor Martin Gottlieb again screws North Jersey readers with a front page dominated by an air disaster in Europe and Sen. Bob Menendez's legal troubles (A-1).

The Local front is filled with a huge, gee-whiz accident photo from Route 208, and Pages L-1, L-2 and L-3 have lots of court and police news for crime and lawsuit junkies.

'Wildly expensive'

Staff Writer Elisa Ung chose the "wildly expensive" Grissini in Englewood Cliffs to review.

She and a co-worker blew hundreds of dollars on two dinners of Italian-American food, rating the noisy restaurant Good to Excellent (BL-14).

Ung gorged on a $48 rack of lamb, but didn't bother to grill the owner on whether the meat was naturally raised. Ditto for a hunk of filet mignon at $45.

And she had to sample two artery clogging desserts, zabaglione at $30 for two and a ricotta cheese cake with tiramisu for $9.

Her Friday reviews continue to run with the same coy thumbnail photo she has been using since 2006, but it's time to update it and include her double chin.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's simple: Put hike in gasoline tax on the November ballot

The Record's Peter Sampson, the reporter assigned to the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, above, is covering the federal corruption trial of onetime Democratic Party chief Joseph Ferriero in Newark. Kibret Markos has been shifted from the Passaic County Courthouse in Paterson to cover court stories in Hackensack. Are readers being shortchanged?


When Governor Christie vetoed a hike in the state's minimum wage, proponents put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, and prevailed.

The same thing happened when the GOP bully threatened funds to acquire open space.

Now, The Record is declaring doomsday has arrived for a gasoline-tax hike to fund road, bridge and rail repairs in the Garden State (A-1).

Why not put a hike in the nation's second-lowest gas tax on the November ballot and let voters decide?

That would take the debate away from The Record and other media who love to stir up controversy instead of condemning the state fiscal crisis caused by Christie's rigid stance against any kind of tax increase.

And it would silence the crackpots who run Americans for Tax Reform and motorist groups that oppose a gas-tax increase to boost the state Transportation Trust Fund (A-7).

Hiking the gasoline tax would put the burden of fixing roads and bridges on the drivers who use them most, including the thousands of out-of-state residents who tear up the turnpike and parkway.

More corrections

Three more corrections appear on A-2 today, evidence that six-figure Production Editor Liz Houlton and the copy editors she supervises aren't doing their jobs.

Houlton was promoted from chief of the features copy desk, even though she earned the title of "Queen of Errors" for failing to correct repeated spelling and other mistakes in her sections.

Crappy food group

The Record's Business section gives major coverage to the merger of Kraft Foods Group with H.J. Heinz, even though neither has plants in New Jersey.

The merger certainly isn't consumer news, because executives promise billions in cuts from shedding employees and other expenses.

Nowhere do Kraft or Heinz promise to improve the quality of the crappy processed food they sell.

They would form the third-largest food and beverage company in North America.

BIGLIE plate

The Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers is suggesting Staff Writer John Cichowski apply for a personalized license plate, such as HASBEEN, BIGLIE or IMKIDNG.

Houlton, the production editor, plays a big role in allowing publication of the literally hundreds of errors that have appeared in Cichowski's column in recent years -- few of which are ever corrected --including a boner in his Sunday column on personalized license plates.

Cichowski reported the NJMETTS plate is "fastened to the bumpers of two Toyotas residing in Rutherford with Bill and Shirley Metts" (Sunday's A-4), but it would be illegal for the couple to have the same plate on two cars.

They don't, however, as readers could plainly see from the Page 1 photo that ran with the Road Warrior column.

It's Houlton's job, as supervisor of the news and copy editors, to reconcile such blatant factual conflicts from a reporter who has clearly lost it.

And her refusal to correct them further erodes the credibility of the Woodland Park daily.


Road Warrior's license to commit errors

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Christie's indecision, waffling shouldn't be front-page news

Hackensack's open-air venue, which also has been called a downtown park, is taking shape along Atlantic Street, near Main Street.


Editor Martin Gottlieb of The Record continues to ignore the close relationship of real estate mogul Jon F. Hanson to both Governor Christie and the Borg family, publisher of the Woodland Park daily.

Today, as on too many days in the past, a Page 1 news story by Melissa Hayes and a Charles Stile column on Christie's on-again, off-again presidential aspirations opens the editor to charges that the fix is in (A-1).

Hanson, founder and chairman of the Morristown-based Hampshire Real Estate Cos., is a top Christie fundraiser as well as his adviser on state gambling and entertainment policy.

He also co-owns a business jet with Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg, chairman of North Jersey Media Group.

Local news?

In Local today, the sixth-grader who won the 78th annual North Jersey Spelling Bee gets far more space than Lesley Renee Adams, the first black woman to serve as a municipal judge in Bergen County (L-1 and L-2).

What is the lead local-news story today?

A dispute between Korean restaurant owners in Palisades Park who have liquor licenses and those who allow patrons to bring their own beer and soju (L-1).

A better place for that story would be the thin Better Living section, where the editors pretend to cover the North Jersey food scene.

Editing lapses 

Staff Writer Kibret Markos is filling in on his old beat, the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, while Peter Sampson covers the Joseph Ferriero trial in Newark federal court.

Today, the headline and Markos' first paragraph both report two men were indicted on vehicular homicide charges in separate crashes (L-1).

But the second case isn't discussed until the continuation page (L-2). 

Another editing lapse is saying the men "face trials," far from a certainty. They could take a plea deal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Another one of Christie's many cronies takes a powder

A little red paint dresses up this building on Hudson Street in Hackensack.


How many key Christie administration officials once worked for the GOP bully when he was the crime-busting U.S. attorney for New Jersey?

You'd expect The Record to have informed readers long ago about the large number of cronies who got jobs from Governor Christie, but the editors don't sweat the details.

After all, they just got around to tallying the 300-plus vetoes he's used to get his way since he took office more than five years ago and inherited a Democratic-controlled state Legislature.

Sandy aide

Now, Richard Constable is stepping down as Christie's commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, the agency that is taking all the heat for screwing up the recovery from Superstorm Sandy (A-3). 

Constable is a former federal prosecutor who worked for Christie in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark. 

Staff Writer Melissa Hayes actually wrote Constable worked with Christie [italics added]. 

And the reporter neglected to tell readers how much Constable is paid and how much more he will be making in the private sector. 

I guess that information wasn't in the press release she rewrote.

Constable is one of the many former assistant U.S. attorneys who got jobs from Christie, even though a good prosecutor doesn't necessarily know anything about being a good administrator.

I was shocked to see by the photo on A-3 today that Constable is black, because minorities complained the state's Sandy recovery program discriminated against them.

Fire series flaws

Today's front page carries the last of three parts of "AFTER THE FIRE," focusing on Englewood and Paterson families "coping after disaster" (A-1).

The poorly edited series neglected to emphasize some basics of fire safety, including the importance of smoke detectors, as was evident in the Brooklyn fire that killed seven children early Saturday.

Editor Martin Gottlieb just threw tens of thousands of words and some photos at readers, neglecting to break out some basic fire-safety rules in a graphic or box.

This from a former editor at The New York Times. Sheesh!

Elizabeth Branch

The best story on Page 1 today is by transportation reporter Christopher Maag, who interviewed Elizabeth Branch at a party celebrating her 50th anniversary as a Port Authority toll taker (A-1 and A-6).

Maag answers a natural question: 

How could Branch, of Bergenfield, love a job that forced her to breath in fumes for 50 years?

"The air is fresher," said the queen of the midnight shift.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Editors rediscover North Jersey's remarkable diversity

This 222-unit apartment building on State Street, a few blocks from Hackensack City Hall, is scheduled to open this year, becoming the first to test officials' belief that such residential development will revive Main Street businesses.


Editor Martin Gottlieb, Columnist Mike Kelly and others at The Record continue to try readers' patience with their repeated attempts to make something out of nothing. 

On Page 1 today, behold the second part of "AFTER THE FIRE," a series in search of a coherent theme.

Today, The Record celebrates "a remarkable diversity of people at the Avalon at Edgewater apartment complex" (A-1).

And, below that story, you'd think Kelly was writing about the Colosseum in Rome when he declares "an era had passed" with the closing of the Izod Center (A-1).

The wonder isn't that the burned-out word pusher had nothing else to write about, but that Gottlieb continues to give this kind of drivel front-page play.

From dream to nightmare

Staff Writer Nicholas Pugliese studied at the American University in Dubai and played pro soccer in Afghanistan.

So, I guess it's appropriate he was chosen to tell the story of the many educated immigrants displaced by the Jan. 21 fire at the Avalon apartment complex in Edgewater that exposed the danger of cheap, all-wood construction in a so-called luxury building.

But you wouldn't know that from his first half-dozen paragraphs -- yet another retelling of the American dream playing out in North Jersey, a really old story not worthy of all this flag waving (A-1).

The headline calls the Avalon tenants "a complex community," but that is certainly the wrong word. 

The text declares "its tenants hailed from nearly every corner of the globe," but names only four of them, including California.

What escapes Pugliese and whoever edited his overlong story into a parody of immigration to America is that tenants like those at the Avalon aren't invested in their community and few of them vote in local elections.

So, I'm glad none of them died, but really, the story of the Avalon inferno is how it exposed the inadequacy of state fire codes to protect apartment tenants from a fast-spreading, potentially deadly fire.

More road kill

Citing numerous mathematical errors in the March 15 Road Warrior column, the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers has a suggestion for the editors of The Record.

Buy Staff Writer John Cichowski a calculator.

And in his March 10 column, Cichowski more than tripled the number of potholes state officials said they were going to repair, according to the Bloopers editor:

"Road Warrior is once again frequently delusional, incompetent or memory impaired while continuing his misinformed and clueless trek for worst potholes.
"Road Warrior indicated that the New Jersey Department of Transportation will have filled 1 million potholes after completing their repair work from this winter based on what he heard at a DOT press conference.
"Yet, every other news report from that press conference indicated that the DOT commissioner had stated that the DOT will have filled 300,000 potholes after completing their repair work.
"While reporting about the number of potholes on Route 4, he indicated that this highway was also 'newly paved.'
"Route 4 has not been newly paved and readers are constantly complaining to the Road Warrior, who publishes their complaints, asking him when the pothole plagued Route 4 will be repaved."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Teaneck tearjerker buries important fire-safety lessons

The reconstruction of the Route 46 bridge over the Hackensack River has reduced the four-lane roadbed to two lanes. The Manhattan skyline is visible in the distance.


The Record's front-page tearjerker today on the death of four children in a Teaneck house fire a decade ago has the wrong focus.

All of the important fire-safety lessons learned in that fire and hundreds of similar blazes are buried deep on the continuation page, and many readers will never see them (A-8).

Of course, Editor Martin Gottlieb couldn't know a second Orthodox Jewish family, this one in Brooklyn, would fall victim to another electrical malfunction early Saturday, and seven more children would die (A-5). 

See The New York Times' superior coverage by several staffers, including former Record reporter Nate Schweber: City's worst toll since 2007

Part of a series

Today's story on the Seidenfeld family of Teaneck is the first of three parts in what Gottlieb is calling "AFTER THE FIRE."

But the second part -- on the fast-spreading January inferno at the Avalon apartment complex in Edgewater -- will make a mockery of the Seidenfelds.

No humans died in the Edgewater fire, which has been attributed to a workman using a blowtorch, a 15-minute delay in calling 911; and, most importantly, cheap, all-wood construction that didn't prevent the fire from spreading rapidly.

The lesson in the Avalon fire is how corporate greed can trump fire safety, but I doubt that will be clear from tomorrow's upbeat story on what is being billed this way:

"Meet the ethnically diverse group of residents trying to rebuild their lives after the fire at the Avalon at Edgewater" (A-8).

Hiding errors

Today on A-1, Staff Writer John Cichowski tries to distract Road Warrior readers from all of the errors he made a month ago in his highly exaggerated column on potholes.

The confused reporter even got wrong the two telephone numbers he provided for reporting potholes on state roads, according to the editor of the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

"Road Warrior won his own award for incompetent reporting when he provided two telephone numbers for reporting potholes on state roads, when, in fact, one of the numbers is for consumer surveys to qualify for promotional items, and the other is a non-working number."

The Record's copy desk and its incompetent production editor, Liz Houlton, bear ultimate responsibility for not enforcing a policy of checking every telephone number by actually dialing the number before publication.  

A week later, the Bloopers editor went to see some of the potholes listed in Cichowski's "Black Hole Awards" column, and had this to say:

"In his Feb. 22 column, the Road Warrior was frequently delusional, incompetent or lied while he gave out his annual awards for worst potholes, which he claimed he personally checked out.
"A driver claimed that the potholes on the Route 80 west center lane over Route 19 will shake the fillings out of your teeth and tractor-trailers come dangerously close to bouncing onto another lane.
"In fact, there was barely any vehicle shaking and no trucks or other vehicles losing control due to minor potholes at this left-center lane, let alone any shaking of any teeth or fillings.
"Road Warrior reported the worst pothole for a highway on Route 20 north at the Route 4 ramp and the two worst underpasses with crumbling roads under Route 80.
"In fact, there was a very minor pothole at the Route 20 spot and the two underpasses were in relatively good shape with practically no potholes."

See the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers: 

The biggest hole is in his head 

Hiding incompetence

Also on Page 1 today, Columnist Charles Stile tries to keep alive Governor Christie's lame bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 (A-1).

Stile pens political column after political column to hide the miserable job the GOP bully is doing in New Jersey.

In a letter to the editor, Ellen Stein of Closter demands that Christie send "a refund to the state of New Jersey for all the days he is away from the job" (O-3).

Smelly Kelly

How can Columnist Mike Kelly raise the racial motive behind cops writing tickets to generate revenue in Ferguson, Mo., and ignore his own town, Teaneck (O-1)?

The township's aggressive cops often lay a speed-trap on Cedar Lane and Pomander Walk that leads to traffic charges against Hackensack residents, including African-Americans.

Did Kelly bother to find out how many of the motorists cited for speeding are black, and how much revenue is generated by all the plea bargains they take to avoid points and surcharges? 

The difference is that in his Ferguson column today he had a U.S. Justice Department report to rewrite, allowing him to declare, "It's the dirty little secret in far too many communities."

What about Teaneck, Mike?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bergen editors' three-day weekend robs us of local news

Spring getting a chilly reception in Hackensack's Fairmount section on Friday.

A winter scene only a block or so from the former Little Ferry Circle, as seen from the bus to Manhattan on Thursday.


If you live in Bergen County and subscribe to The Record, do you really have any interest in two court cases involving the Passaic County superintendent of elections and the legal bills of an imam at a Paterson mosque (L-2)?

Or the extended registration for a new all-boys elementary school in Silk City (L-8)?

The local Bergen County editors must have stayed home on Friday, forcing the layout editors to scramble for just about any old story to fill today's Local news section.

Page L-8 also carries wire service obituaries for the inventor of ceramic body armor, a drummer for a heavy metal band and an astronaut trainee no one has ever heard of.

Another dead rocker, Michael Brown,65, of Englewood Cliffs, "who helped put the Bach in rock," gets a royal send-off from Staff Writer Jim Beckerman, himself a musician (L-1).

Cool reception

Sticking with the Local front, who is the moron who wrote the photo-package over line, "Winter Overstays Its Welcome," and what incompetent supervisor approved it?

Did anyone in North Jersey "welcome" the brutal winter we've just experienced?

One of the captions with the weather package also doesn't make sense: 

"Jessica Silva of Ramsey leaving the Route 17 train station as she headed to work" (L-1).

Why would a Ramsey resident be leaving the NJ Transit station in the same town? Did she take the train one stop from the downtown Ramsey station?

Obesity news

One of the few Bergen stories in the section ignores the elephant in the room, an obese Ed Sinclair, the director of public works in Mahwah (L-3).

His photo might remind former staffers of overweight local Editors Deirdre Sykes and Tim Nostrand in their heyday, when they did their best to keep news of the obesity epidemic out of the paper.

More corrections

Two of the four corrections on A-2 today try to fix editing screw-ups in local stories.

Also on A-2, a photo of schoolchildren in London has readers wondering whether local kids tried to see Friday's solar eclipse.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why do the editors think all of us live in nursing homes?

The Record continues to ignore the lack of seats for North Jersey commuters at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan, above, but runs another photo of missing ceiling panels on A-3 today.

Meanwhile, the Woodland Park daily hasn't reported such improvements as the addition of touch-screen terminals to help commuters locate the platforms where they can catch their buses, and the renovation of second-floor restrooms with automated Toto urinals and new tiles.


Nursing home reporter Colleen Diskin is back on the front page of The Record today.

Is this the fate awaiting the baby boomers and seniors who make up the majority of the readership?

What about dementia, Alzheimer's and heart disease -- issues you rarely see explored in the Woodland Park daily, even though its editor is in his late 60s.

To get into The Record, you have to be dying or dead, as suggested by the three local obituaries on L-5 today.

Age spots

A look at the mix of soft and hard news on Page 1 today and Thursday suggests Editor Martin Gottlieb is suffering from a mental infirmity that blinds him to the concerns of a majority of North Jersey seniors.

Gottlieb and his minions, local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, should have assigned a medical reporter to the story of Brian Beutel, a father of five daughters and a lieutenant in the Bergen County Sheriff's Office (A-1).

Beutel, who was only 47, collapsed and died during a fund-raising basketball game, yet today's story is silent on whether he had any medical conditions or problems that contributed to his death.

That's what readers get when an overworked police reporter, Stefanie Dazio, is assigned to the Beutel story.

Photo puzzle

A front-page caption with a photo of Rutger's women's basketball team in a bus doesn't explain the presence of two men, but includes a meaningless over line:

"N.J. Battle on Connecticut Turf"

Hiding heroin

The Record continues to explore where alleged drug dealers and others hide heroin -- to the exclusion of more legitimate local news.

Today, Dazio, the police reporter, says Fair Lawn police "seized 43 bags of heroin found in a woman's underwear" (L-3).

The Record has reported a male suspect hid heroin in his sock, and Cliffview Pilot.com broke the story of a pregnant woman who used her vagina as a stash.

Sykes and Sforza, the supremely lazy local editors in Woodland Park, relied on an unusual amount of police and court news to fill their Local news section today and Thursday.

In fact, Dazio had six other bylines in Local today (L-2 and L-3), in addition to the front-page story on the sheriff's officer.

Have a heart

Readers who are watching their cholesterol and sugar intake won't be able to enjoy three of the four recommendations of Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung today (BL-14).

At the 2-star Delvina in Cresskill, only the Dover Sole, for an outrageous $39, would be suitable for a heart-healthy diet.

Readers know they are in trouble when Ung says nothing about the food in the entire first half of her tepid appraisal. 

Buyers of Tesla Motors' all-electric Model S pay no sales tax in New Jersey, a savings of $5,000 or more, and qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Now, staff at this Tesla gallery in Garden State Plaza and at a showroom and service facility on Route 17 north, both in Paramus, can resume selling the zero-emission luxury cars directly to the public.

Second look

On Thursday, The Record reported Governor Christie took a baby step to help the environment by signing legislation to allow the direct sale of zero-emission Tesla automobiles.

New Jersey automobile dealers opposed Tesla's direct sales and last April, the state Motor Vehicle Commission required new-car dealers to have a franchise agreement.

The new law rolls back those regulations.

Dealers representing domestic and foreign automakers in New Jersey feared Tesla's no-pressure showrooms would expose their greedy, high-pressure sales and service practices.