Sunday, May 3, 2015

Why are editors boosting defense cases of GWB figures?

Two of the three access lanes to the upper-level tollbooths of the George Washington Bridge, above, were closed in September 2013 in what federal prosecutors call a conspiracy to retaliate against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for refusing to endorse Governor Christie for reelection.

Christie denied any part in or even knowledge of the scheme, but joked that he personally placed the traffic cones, above, that caused gridlock in the borough for four days.


I'm sure the owners of The Record intended no irony by wrapping today's follow-up coverage of the long-awaited George Washington Bridge indictments in an ad for hearing aids:

"Finally ...
The Clarity
You've Always

Of course, despite a guilty plea and two indictments, we don't know what Governor Christie knew about the lane closures ordered by his key allies in September 2013 and when he knew it (A-1 news stories and O-2 cartoon).

Who besides his wife and children believe Christie's claim that he first learned of the plot four months later, when the media uncovered his aide's infamous email:

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." 

Today, though, the editors inexplicably start building a defense case for former Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly and former Port Authority executive Bill Baroni, who were charged with nine counts of using the bridge to carry out a political vendetta and then covering it up (A-1).

Kelly and Baroni are in very deep doo-doo, likely at the behest of Christie.

Plea deal

Both called David Wildstein a liar after the former Port Authority official pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiring with them to cause the traffic jams, starting on the first day of school.

What else would their defense attorneys say in return for a hefty retainer and the many hundreds of dollars an hour they are being paid

How high are attorney Michael Critchley's fees? Poor Kelly, who is unemployed and may lose her house, has launched a Web site to ask the public for help in paying him.

I'm searching today's coverage for details of Wildstein's plea agreement with federal prosecutors and what he will get in return for testifying against Kelly, Baroni, Christie and others (A-1, A-8 and A-9).

Typically, such agreements promise defendants like Wildstein a non-custodial sentence, but only if they testify truthfully.

U.S. attorney

I'm betting U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman isn't relying on a "liar" to make his federal case against the defendants and unidentified "others" he says are involved.

Wildstein -- a high school classmate of Christie's who got a plum Port Authority job from the governor -- claimed as long ago as January 2014 that "evidence exists" that Christie knew of the lane closures as they were happening. 

Wildstein's attorney, Alan Zegas, repeated that claim after the guilty plea on Friday, and the federal trial of Kelly and Baroni couldn't come soon enough.

The scandal that has been dubbed Bridgegate may finally bring down the GOP bully who has his eyes set on the White House, not the Big House.

Horse's asses

Ahmed Zayat is a wealthy industrialist who owns race horses and has homes in Teaneck, New York, London and his native Egypt, according to Wikipedia.

But only newspaper and sports editors, among other horse's asses, could claim the victory of his American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby "is [a] win for Teaneck," as today's Page 1 photo over line claims.

City Greek

I guess Restaurant Reviewer and Sunday Columnist Elisa Ung should get some credit for writing about a rare restaurant owner who serves antibiotic-free chicken and pork,  grass-fed beef and organic greens.

But you won't be able to sample the Greek fare at Eons unless you schlep to Manhattan's East Side, and with the region's inadequate mass transit, we know what a hassle that is (BL-1).

Add the price of parking to the bill, if you can find a space.

Still, Ung spends so much time promoting restaurants, even in her reviews, she neglects all of the issues facing customers, making you wonder why her column is called The Corner Table.

Shore rentals

Here is more evidence Publisher Stephen A. Borg started the Real Estate section to serve greedy real estate agents, bankers, homeowners and landlords.

Today's upbeat cover story on a "rebound" of summer rentals at the Jersey Shore is bad news for anyone who had hoped to spend a couple of weeks or longer vacationing there.

Did the editors order Staff Writer Nancy Kearney to omit the cost of renting any of the places shown in the glamorous photos to avoid shocking readers?

Pension Plan

Late last month, North Jersey Media Group, owner of The Record, sent out the annual funding notice to participants in the publishing company's pension plan.

Depending on interest rates used, the "funding shortfall" in the 2014 plan year is given as $10,797,148 to $32,662,591.

The "minimum required contribution" is given as $5,113,025 to $8,429,229.

The "funding target attainment percentage" for the 2014 plan year is given as 87.27%, an improvement over the percentages in the 2013 and 2012 plan years. 


  1. Is the pension falling apart? Is that why NJMG did a sale lease back to fund the pension? Is the Federal government putting pressure on NJMG to fund the pension?

    1. All good questions, but I only know what is in the very technical notice. Maybe the Borgs are doing a Christie on NJMG's pension system -- or not.

      Maybe the sale-leaseback is to get Stephen Borg an even bigger house.


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