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?

1 comment:

  1. I had laughed when I had read today's letter to the editor asking for "a refund to the state of New Jersey for all the days he is away from the job". Perhaps, the legislature can pass a bill requiring any governor, including Christie, to provide a refund to the state of New Jersey for all the days he is away from the job on business not related to New Jersey. If any regular NJ employee tried to collect their wages and other expense when they were away from New Jersey on business not related to NJ, they would be immediately fired and possibly prosecuted.

    When Christie vetoes the bill, the media can document all of the New Jersey state funded expenses and wages that Christie has incurred for himself and his entourage of state employees while conducting business not related to New Jersey.


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