Friday, April 3, 2015

Did you catch a big laugh line at Ferriero corruption trial?

More urban renewal in Hackensack. On Thursday, buildings were being demolished on Main Street near Mercer Street, above and below, to make way for a 14-story residential-retail project.

The new building at 150-170 Main St. will have 382 apartments, the biggest such project so far in the city's downtown redevelopment, and 7,500 square feet of ground-floor retail.


On a front page dominated by the Iran deal and political corruption at home, Joe Ferriero's defense attorney inadvertently cracked a one-liner that has readers of The Record rolling in the aisles.

According to a paraphrase by Staff Writer Peter J. Sampson, the lawyer told jurors at his corruption trial in Newark that Ferriero "was simply a guy trying to make a living" (A-1).

Federal prosecutors claim the Hackensack lawyer "once used his position as head of the Democratic Party in Bergen County to enrich himself through a series of bribery and extortion schemes" that allegedly netted him  more than $1.7 million.

That's not a living; it's a killing.

And defense lawyer Michael Baldassare also found himself in the unenviable position of telling jurors that Ferriero won't testify in his own defense, as he promised at the beginning of the trial.

That is sure to damage the defendant.

Menendez case

Meanwhile, The Record continues defending Sen. Bob Menendez, who, along with a wealthy Florida eye doctor, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to a federal bribery indictment (A-1).

How else can you interpret the stupid main headline?

"Friendship under fire"

It doesn't sound as if any of The Record reporters on the Menendez case have spent much time in a federal courthouse, and that is a big weakness in the coverage.

Defense attorneys are quoted extensively making excuses for Menendez, but federal prosecutors weren't asked to comment.

Sampson, a veteran federal courthouse reporter, is covering the Ferriero trial or he would have been assigned to the Menendez case.

Menendez is referred to as "an accused criminal," not as a defendant (A-8).

And it's hard to see how one allegation can be called "friendship."

"New Jersey's senior senator tried to help [Dr. Salomon] Melgen keep $9 million that Medicare said he overbilled the government" (A-8).

Local news?

The resignation of  Hackensack Councilwoman Rose Greenman, who claims to be a victim of "discrimination," is one of the few municipal stories in today's thin Local news section (L-1).

It must be great to be head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes or her deputy, Dan Sfroza, who pull down fat paychecks in return for filling Local with Law & Order news and non-fatal accident photos.

The view from Moore Street, above and below, opposite the old headquarters of The Record at 150 River St.

One of the buildings slated for demolition housed Main Dish, a restaurant at 152 Main St., where Naturally Good operated for many years, attracting employees of The Record before North Jersey Media Group and its flagship paper abandoned Hackensack in 2009.

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