Friday, June 26, 2015

Desperate editors pit GOP against Dems to sell papers

At Wednesday afternoon's 120th Commencement, graduating Hackensack High students used an elaborate, wheelchair-accessible pedestrian overpass to cross to the football field from the school, above and below.


Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling was a victory for millions of Americans who were able to buy affordable health insurance for the first time.

But that's not sexy enough for Editor Martin Gottlieb, who is desperate to sell copies of The Record during what is certainly print journalism's darkest hours.

So, as he has done so many times in the past with this and other stories, he reports the decision in political terms, pitting President Obama against the Republicans who have been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (A-1).

Gottlieb uses "Obamacare" liberally, even though GOP conservatives have made it a dirty word.

Sadly, the word fits into headlines more easily than Affordable Care Act.

Since Gottlieb left The New York Times to take over the Woodland Park newsroom in early 2012 and cruise into retirement, Page 1 stories have grown longer and more complex, and many show his own rewriting.

Today, a paragraph in a front-page sidebar sums up the political conflict once again for weary readers:

"Amid the applause, however, came a strong dissenting voice that echoed the chorus of outrage from ardent opponents of the Affordable Care Act nationwide, including many Republican Party leaders" (A-1).

Give me a break, Marty. 

Absentee governor

The front-page story quoting sources on Governor Christie's entrance into the race for the 2016 GOP nomination has an unintentionally hilarious line:

The GOP bully is making an announcement on Tuesday at Livingston High School, "where he served as class president for three years" (A-1).

Let's hope he doesn't hold that presidency up as experience that makes him suitable for the White House, especially given how badly he has screwed up New Jersey.

According to radio news, Christie today signed the state budget after vetoing taxes on the wealthy and state pension system contributions proposed by the Democrats (A-3).

Gottlieb splashes the Christie-might-run story on Page 1, but the budget story is on A-3, even though that is the one that affects middle-class readers most.

Production error

Six-figure Production Editor Liz Houlton must have been snoozing at her computer after a big lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant.

That is the likely explanation for why the same story on the Garfield Council appears twice in Local today, on L-2 and L-3.

Temper tantrum

There are only 10 paragraphs in the appraisal of Nirvana Indian Kitchen in Allendale, but one of the longest relates how Staff Writer Elisa Ung "struck out on all counts" on the desserts she sampled (BL-14).

I'll bet the majority of readers, who are older and watching their weight and cholesterol, don't even bother with dessert.

Still, Ung is obsessed, and in the data box notes the pricey restaurant is "less appropriate for anyone for whom dessert is a priority."

Like her. The poor woman.  

Eye on The Record
 will return in a couple of weeks

Thursday, June 25, 2015

GOP bully grabs veto pen as N.J. budget battle heats up

In a 90-minute ceremony late Wednesday afternoon, more than 440 Hackensack High School students graduated in the school's 120th Commencement. This message on the back of a car in the school parking lot summed up how some of them felt.

Valedictorian Alexis Holmes, left, speaking to parents, relatives and friends of the Class of 2015.


I don't see anything in The Record today, but radio news is reporting Governor Christie is getting his veto pen ready to slash a budget plan from the Democratic majority in the state Legislature.

On Wednesday's A-3, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes seemed to emphasize "a few pet projects for powerful Democrats" over restoring women's health centers, the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor and $2.6 billion for the underfunded state pension system.

Is Hayes, who covered Christie's out-of-state appearances in pursuit of his White House dreams, really the right reporter to cover the annual budget battle?

Just below Hayes' slanted budget story, her byline appears on another report:

"Governor Christie's approval rating in New Jersey continues to fall as he hovers in the middle of the pack of likely Republican presidential candidates among New Hampshire primary voters, according to polls released on Tuesday."

Graduates were arranged in rows from the shortest in front to the tallest in back in two groups, with officials in the center, forming an "H" on the football field.

Selling LG deal

Editor Martin Gottlieb uses Page 1 today to sell the deal that will allow LG to build a five-story headquarters atop the Palisades in Englewood Cliffs (A-1).

In fact, the compromise is a dangerous precedent. The Korean company should have donated the 25 acres to the borough for a park.

Demonizing transit

Gottlieb also continues to argue that NJ Transit and other mass-transit agencies should at least break even or make money.

A so-called Page 1 analysis raises the specter of a 11% increase in fares, if the agency's unionized employees win 3% annual raises over six years.

That would be on top of a 9% fare increase and service cuts that were proposed in response to Christie slashing state subsidies to NJ Transit.

This story and others on the state budget budget seem to be written from Christie's point of view, even though editorials in the Woodland Park daily have criticized the governor for his refusal to raise the low gasoline tax, which helps fund mass transit.


On A-2 today, the editors acknowledge three errors, and provide news on the whereabouts of a missing stock page.

Breaking news

The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the latest Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act, ruling President Obama's health-care law may provide nationwide subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy insurance.

In a letter to the editor today, Bob Verbeek of Leonia wrote about how the federal health-car law is working (A-10).

He also slammed Christie "for pandering to the Tea Party crowd in his bid for president" by refusing to set up a state exchange to enroll New Jersey residents.


Board of Education President Jason Nunnermacker, a lawyer, said nothing memorable in his address to Hackensack High School graduates. In fact, none of the speakers exhorted the students to try and make the world a better place.

Guests were forced to sit under a hot sun on cramped, metal bleachers overlooking the football field.

Hackensack news

Today's Local section leads with a report on Tuesday night's City Council meeting in Hackensack, where officials announced the formation of a task force "to help people with mental illnesses" (L-1).

Police Director Mike Mordaga is quoted as saying the department "had 20 stun guns on order" before recent fatal police shootings of two Hispanic residents, but officers are awaiting "training" by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

This story and earlier ones don't explain why a police officer who is already trained to kill an armed suspect with a single gunshot needs to be trained in the use of a Taser or stun gun.

Not working out

Why does today's Business page carry an upbeat, highly promotional story from The Associated Press on one-room gyms in Manhattan (L-8)?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

LG deal in Englewood Cliffs exposes big flaw of home rule

On a busy street near Palisade Avenue in wealthy Englewood Cliffs, domestic workers have to walk on the pavement, close to speeding cars, because the borough never installed sidewalks.


Is Englewood Cliffs anything like Hackensack, once known derisively as "Zisaville" for the decades-long political dominance of a single family?

On the front page of The Record today, a photo shows Englewood Cliffs Mayor Joseph Parisi applauding a deal between LG Electronics and environmentalists (A-1).

But the upbeat coverage sounds more like public relations than objective reporting (A-1 and A-8).

And it doesn't explore the decades-long rule of the Parisi family in the Cliffs, just as The Record hasn't done any probing in Cliffside Park, dominated for more than 50 years by the Calabreses.

Home-rule communities like Englewood Cliffs resist consolidating services with neighboring towns, and are desperate for ratables to cover the resulting inefficiences.

Englewood Cliffs fought a "racially tinged legal battle" to remove its students from Englewood's Dwight Morrow High School that began in 1985 and dragged on for years, The Record has reported.

Then, in October 2014, the state decided to cut nearly $600,000 in aid for 33 students from the Cliffs who were attending Dwight Morrow's Academies, a magnet program.

Hungry for ratables

More tax revenue was likely the motive for the borough to throw out its 35-foot height restriction, and approve the Korean company's plan for a 143-foot-high building on 27 acres between Sylvan Avenue and the Hudson River.

Now, the height will be reduced to 69 feet or five stories, but that still will be the biggest building ever approved for the Palisades north of the George Washington Bridge.

And in return for despoiling the majestic cliffs, Parisi and other borough officials will be celebrating an additional $2.5 million in property tax revenue every year.

Cliffs resident Donald Rizzo, who favored the higher LG headquarters, put it succinctly in a sidebar with a sub-headline reading, "Residents will benefit from revenue."

"A bigger building means more tax revenue. I'm all for it. I was never worried about the height of the building. I was worried about letting LG go" (A-8).

Maybe, the town can now afford to put in sidewalks on Summit Street to protect pedestrians and dog walkers.

In the county seat

In Hackensack, dozens of lawsuits filed against Ken Zisa, the former police chief and state assemblyman, cost the city so many millions to settle that one block of Euclid Avenue hasn't been paved for 30 years.

Prospect Avenue, lined with high-rises, and many other streets are in such poor condition one resident at Tuesday night's City Council meeting compared them to T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land."

Hackensack's school board spends more money per pupil than Ridgewood's, yet feeds high school students food of such low quality that many race out to Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill and other lunch spots.

Hackensack's property tax payers are so shell shocked they even objected to the city spending public funds on a downtown park and arts space as part of the redevelopment of Main Street.

Hackensack news?

On the front of Local today, Teaneck residents find two stories on Monday night's Township Council meeting (L-1).

But there is nothing about Tuesday night's council meeting in Hackensack.

As Police Director Mike Mordaga and Capt. Timothy Lloyd listened, clergy from Mount Olive Baptist Church and other churches commented on the killing of two suspects by city police officers in recent weeks.

They urged Hackensack to find money to buy Tasers or non-fatal stun guns.

As a result of the shootings, five police officers are "on leave," city officials acknowledged, but they insisted the department is not "understaffed."

HUMC pact

A lawyer hired by the city reported a federal anti-kickback law prohibits Hackensack from continuing to ask Hackensack University Medical Center to provide ambulance services to residents for free up to $140,000 a year. 

Still, Board of Education attorney Richard Salkin rose and rambled on about the lawsuit he has filed to enforce the original 2008 pact with HUMC that he negotiated for the city.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

WNYC-FM: Christie campaign revs up, Statehouse snores

These enormous pipes are being installed along River Street in Hackensack, below, as part of a $3 million-plus storm sewer separation, and that is for the first phase of the project.

The sign with information about the work is in front of the Johnson Public Library on Main Street, below.


You'll find a frank assessment of how little governing an absentee Governor Christie is doing -- on a New York-based public radio station, not in The Record of Woodland Park.

Matt Katz, the WNYC-FM reporter who brought us The Christie Tracker, today takes a look at how the GOP bully is leaving major initiatives unfinished and vacancies unfilled:
"A year-and-a-half into his second term, as he prepares to announce his desire to get another job — president of the United States — I took a look at whether Christie has gotten back to work in New Jersey, as promised. What I found is that there's a whole lot less going on than there was in his first four years.

Katz recalls Christie's victory speech in November 2013, when he won a second term with the lowest turnout ever for a New Jersey gubernatorial election:

"When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was reelected ..., he stood before an adoring crowd at Asbury Park Convention Hall to declare victory.
"'Tonight I know that my mom is looking down on New Jersey and saying to me — I can feel it – she’s saying to me, ‘Chris, the job’s not done yet. Get back to work and finish the job for the people of New Jersey,'" Christie told the crowd. "That’s exactly what I’ll do! I love you, New Jersey!'"
More boring columns

And what has The Record reported on Christie?

On Sunday and Monday, Editor Martin Gottlieb ran political columns on Page 1, the first assessing Christie's relationship with the majority Democrats in Trenton, and the other on how he is doing with religious conservatives nationwide.

On Saturday's A-3, Staff Writers Melissa Hayes and Herb Jackson reported on Christie's out-of-state appearances before "crucial audiences he will need to win the GOP nomination for president."

Gag me with a spoon.

Today, a Page 1 story assesses the Democrats' chances of getting their $5.3 billion budget plan -- including tax increases to shore up funding of the state pension system -- past Christie's veto.

But on A-3, Hayes devotes an entire story to Christie doubling his PAC staff in New Hampshire.

Hackensack news?

The front of the Local section today has an upbeat feature on the principal of the high school in Tenafly, where Publisher Stephen A. Borg lives (L-1).

But when was the last time local Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza assigned a story on the schools in Hackensack?

Tonight, as at every City Council meeting, school board members and their attorney likely will get up and attack council members on just about everything they are doing or not doing.

Residents who attend meetings have witnessed this parade of bitter Zisacrats (Democrats allied with the once-powerful Zisa family) stomping on sour grapes since their slate was defeated in the May 2013 municipal election.

Two members of the losing slate are on the Board of Education, and another Zisacrat, school board attorney Richard Salkin, was stripped of his other job as municipal prosecutor.

Residents are wondering when board members Jason Nunnermacker, Daniel Carola, Joseph Barreto and others will tell them what they have done -- if anything -- to improve education in Hackensack.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Christie's racism toward Obama is hurting medical reform

At the Great Falls, now part of a national park, the historic industrial city of Paterson says, Hear me roar.

The hydroelectric plant at the base of the falls still provides power to the city.

Mary Ellen Kramer Park is a new section with picnic tables and benches. Although it hasn't opened officially, visitors who find a break in the cyclone fence are leaving their mark, above.


Governor Christie did his best to sabotage the roll-out of President Obama's Affordable Care Act by blocking a health-care exchange in New Jersey.

Now, in a series of stories on surprise medical bills, The Record still hasn't told readers where the GOP bully stands on reform efforts, which have succeeded in other states but not here (A-1).

Deep on the continuation page today, Staff Writer Lindy Washburn reports:

"New York has the most comprehensive law, an accomplishment made possible in part because Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state insurance regulators pushed for action...." (A-6).

Any reader who got that far might be asking themselves, What about Christie? But his name doesn't appear in the overly long story.

And even though most experts are dismissing Christie's chances in the scramble for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, political Columnist Charles Stile continues to polish the governor's image of being all-powerful in the Garden State (A-1).

As an antidote, see Margulies' Sunday cartoon on our part-time governor (O-2).

Another correction

On A-2, The Record corrects a Saturday story on the Cresskill family mourning Youngrok Lee, a 13-year-old killed by a tractor-trailer while he was riding his bike to school on Wednesday mother.

A photo showed his grieving mother and a banner hanging on the boy's door.

"In bold, black Korean letters, it says, 'Look forward and go higher,'" Staff Writer Mary Diduch reported.

Except the characters are Chinese, today's correction says.

The boy's name previously was given as Young Rok Lee, even on Saturday's front page, and there was no explanation why Saturday's L-1 story and today's correction calls him "Youngrok Lee."

Deadly week?

Saturday's front page was dominated by a story, graphic and photos appearing under this over line:


The headline was clunky:

"Spate of tragic endings"

The story reported a number of accidental and violent deaths in 10 days, including two teens killed in traffic accidents, two bodies found on the Palisades, a Hackensack man shot by police and an off-duty state trooper killed in a one-car accident.

But the round-up appeared designed to justify Editor Martin Gottlieb's frequent reliance on sensational crime and court news on Page 1 to sell newspapers.

And it served to obscure the laziness and incompetence of local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, who seem unable to fill their section with legitimate municipal news (see Saturday's and today's Local sections).

Of course, every week is "deadly" in North Jersey, if you count heart disease, dementia, obesity and other causes the editors largely ignore year-round.

In the kitchen

Staff Writer Elisa Ung, who can't resist sampling artery clogging desserts for her weekly restaurant reviews, today brings us a long column on a celebrity pastry chef (BL-1).

That shuts out readers who would like to see The Corner Table column tackle the broken tipping system, restaurant owners who charge high prices for low-quality food and other consumer issues.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Food critic 'transported' to Spain should have stayed there

How robust is the state's economy? In Hackensack, thousands of new and used Toyotas stretch from River Street to the Hackensack River. Today, The Record reports the unemployment rate of 6.5% in May is a full percentage point above the national rate.


Restaurant critic Elisa Ung of the The Record tries hard to persuade readers that dishes served at Sangria restaurant in Mahwah "transported" her to Spain.

But her lukewarm, 2-star review in Better Living likely will have many steering clear of the place, which actually put out a hilarious sign reading:

"Modern Spaniard Cuisine"

Ung found "soggy paella, "greasy steak and ... disappointing sangria" (BL-18).

And she hated three of the four desserts she sampled, claiming the bread pudding contained "undercooked chunks of bread."

Off to Spain

Still, she says, a platter of ham, cheese and nuts, and another dessert transported her to Spain, where the owner's father was born.

Why didn't she just stay there, and try the rabo de toro at a Madrid restaurant not far from the bullring?

My advice for the owner: 

Change your stupid sign to "Modern Cuisine of Spain," even though you have Cuban and other dishes on the menu.

My advice for Ung:

Your job is to weed out disappointing restaurants, and when you find one, a few paragraphs of warning would suffice.

Doom and gloom

Why comment on the weekly restaurant review, which is buried deep in the paper?

Look at today's sensational front page, which is soaked in blood, if you will (A-1).

And almost the entire front of the Local section is Law & Order news, including a spectacular photo of a burning, overturned vehicle (L-1).

Errors 'r' us

But the errors keep on piling up, as demonstrated by the four detailed corrections on A-2 today.

Other errors in Thursday's paper aren't even acknowledged, some are repeated and new errors appear today.

Staff Writer Deena Yellin continues to send mixed messages on the death of a 13-year-old Cresskill boy who was riding his bicycle to school on Wednesday morning, just as she did in her story on Thursday. 

Her first paragraph reports Young Rok Lee was "struck and killed ... by a tractor-trailer" (L-1).

But her second paragraph says Lee "collided" with the back of the tractor-trailer, suggesting he rode into it.

Can't get town right

Also on L-1, the caption with the photo of the burning vehicle reports "three Englewood police officers and the deputy chief" were involved in the rescue of the driver.

But when readers turn to the story on L-5, they learn the officers and deputy chief were from Englewood Cliffs, not Englewood.

Readers never learn whether the unidentified woman whose vehicle hit a utility pole was speeding, texting or putting on her makeup before she lost control.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Who was at fault in death of Cresskill teen on bicycle?

On Summit Street in Englewood Cliffs, these two women and other domestic workers must walk in the roadway, exposed to potential injury from drivers, many of whom exceed the speed limit. In Bergen County's backward home-rule communities, too many streets lack sidewalks, bicycle lanes and other measures to protect residents and visitors from being injured or killed in accidents.


Another poorly reported and edited accident story in The Record today leaves many questions about who was at fault in the death of a Cresskill Middle School student riding his bicycle to school on Wednesday morning.

A story on the Local front reports Young Rok Lee, 13, "collided with a truck" that was turning from Jefferson Avenue onto Grant Avenue, not far from the middle school.

But an update posted on North this afternoon contradicts the print edition, reporting "a tractor-trailer collided with him, ... according to police." 

On L-1, the print edition says Lee, who was wearing a helmet, "made contact with the back driver's side of the tractor-trailer."

Yet the photo with the story shows investigators lifting up a sheet on the other side of the trailer.

Botched story

Two reporters, Deena Yellin and Stefanie Dazio, worked on the story, but neither went to the scene.

Dazio, an overworked police reporter who is chained to a telephone, is supervised by lazy and clueless editors in the Woodland Park newsroom who have botched too many fatal accident stories to mention.

This wouldn't be an issue if local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza didn't rely on police, court and accident stories and photos so heavily when they fail to find any legitimate municipal news to fill their section every day (see L-1 to L-6 today).

Of course, the Lee family likely will hire a lawyer who will file a negligence suit against the driver, owner of the tractor-trailer and possibly the borough of Cresskill for allowing such a large vehicle on Jefferson and Grant avenues.

In a comment below the story on North, Liz DeRuchie, a transportation planner says:
"Unless he was doing a delivery, that truck was illegally on those residential streets. Very busy at that time of the day with several schools within a block and crossing guards at every intersection. These are side streets with weight restrictions. I want to know why that sized truck was on those streets. So tragic."

Antiquated streets

Today's sloppily reported story doesn't say whether Grant Avenue or any other street in wealthy Cresskill has a bicycle lane or other measures to protect students and others who ride bikes.

In general, Bergen County's antiquated streets, roads and highways are narrow and hazardous, creating too many potential conflicts among drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

And despite levying some of the highest property taxes in the nation, many municipalities do a poor job of installing bicycle lanes, maintaining crosswalks, adding speed bumps, and creating turn lanes to speed the flow of traffic and cut air pollution.

For example, Forest Avenue in Paramus is a four-lane road where drivers often exceed the 40 mph speed limit and cut each other off to avoid getting stuck behind turning vehicles.

Today, as I was driving back to Hackensack, I was shocked to see a young couple walking in the roadway because a short stretch of Forest didn't have any sidewalk.

Doom and gloom

What is Editor Martin Gottlieb's excuse for today's doom-and-gloom front page, the kind of sensationalism you'd expect from a New York tabloid?

The main story reports drug overdoes were the leading cause of accidental death in New Jersey in 2014, claiming twice as many lives as auto crashes.

Let's hope lazy Sykes and Sforza don't start running photos of the homes where these deaths are taking place or where police use a rescue drug to save people "in the throes of an overdose" (A-1).

Big error

The Record acknowledged a major error on Wednesday's A-2, correcting a Page 1 story on Tuesday that said public schools face flat state funding for a seventh year.

The correction quoted the New Jersey Treasury Department as saying "state aid to schools is expected to increase from $8.5 billion in 2010 to a proposed $9 billion for the 2015-16 school year."

Church massacre

Let's hope The Record and other media play up the inadequacy of our gun laws and call for reform in reporting today's massacre at a historic church in Charleston, S.C.

The easy availability of guns is a national disgrace.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Are editors calling 2016 presidential race on front page?

The Record's Tuesday story on PSE&G replacing outdated, leaky gas pipes didn't say whether the work is closing streets in Hackensack, above, Fort Lee and other towns.


On Sunday, Democrat Hillary Clinton got four of the five columns on Page 1 of The Record to announce her White House candidacy.

But former GOP Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's declaration commanded only three columns on Tuesday's front page.

And today, pro basketball grabbed all of the editor's attention, earning billionaire Republican Donald Trump only an A-1 brief, referring readers to his campaign launch inside (A-6).

Is Editor Martin Gottlieb using the front page to signal to readers which candidate he expects to win the 2016 presidential election?

No. It's more likely page designers long ago replaced The Record's editors in deciding the makeup of A-1 based on photos, presumed reader interest, sensationalism and exaggerating the importance of pro sports.

Christie play?

If Governor Christie finally declares he will be riding the GOP clown bus to the 2016 convention, will The Record give him a banner headline on the front page?

The paper's tone, at least on the Editorial Page, has shifted dramatically:

"The governor's lack of leadership on mass transit and road and rail infrastructure is inexcusable," today's editorial on rising NJ Transit rail fares and service cuts declares (A-12).

But the GOP bully signaled his war against mass transit nearly five ago, with the late 2010 cancellation of the Hudson River rail tunnels, and the editors swallowed whole his excuses for doing so.

They also were asleep when Christie grabbed hundreds of millions of dollars in leftover tunnel money from NJ Transit and the Port Authority to fix roads and bridges, rather than raise the low gas tax.

Governor Veto

Coverage of the worst governor in state history by Columnist Charles Stile, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes and others seemed to have been lifted from Christie's own upbeat press releases.

And The Record continually portrayed him as a compromiser and bipartisan, only this year reporting he has used the gubernatorial veto more than 350 times to kill progressive bills and get his way with the Legislature's majority Democrats.

Nasty Trump

In true racist form, Trump blasted Mexico for sending "people who have lots of problems," including "rapists," and vowed to build a border wall and have that country pay for it (A-6).

Mexicans and Central American cooks, kitchen workers and servers form the backbone of the Manhattan restaurant industry, including those owned and patronized by the billionaire.

I can see one of them spitting in his food or worse. LOL.

Word play

A mayor in Indiana who came out as gay on Tuesday has a last name that starts with "Butt" (A-6).

In Local, a Ramsey man accused of sexual assault is named "Goodfellow" (L-3).

Nikolas Samouhos

Congratulations to the local assignment editors, Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, for once again treating a fatal accident victim as little more than road kill.

Today, readers learn Nik Samouhos, 40, of Ridgefield Park led an adventurous life and was loved by his family, including his four nephews (L-6).

On Tuesday, a brief reported Samouhos was killed in a collision in California, but the editors didn't bother finding out anything more than his age and where he lived.

Similar briefs have appeared in The Record's Local section literally for decades.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lurid A-1: GOP screwing middle class, priests doing boys

Gloria Crest, set on 5 acres, is one of the most impressive homes on Englewood's East Hill. A historical society plaque, below, says the Italianate Revival villa was built in 1926 for Stefan Poniatowski, a Polish count. 

Actress Gloria Swanson is supposed to have lived in the mansion, which was said to have been a gift from Joseph Kennedy, grandfather of John F. Kennedy, during a very public affair.


I voted for "Barack" twice and can't wait to vote for "Hillary," but you can bet I would never be caught dead voting for "Jeb," who is trying to hide his infamous last name (The Record's front page today).

No one who remembers the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and how George W. Bush brought the nation to the brink of a second Great Depression, would ever vote for his younger brother.

CNBC ranked Florida, where Jeb was governor from 1999 to 2007, as 30th among America's top states for business in 2013.

Jeb is said to have a similar platform to Governor Christie's, so let's count both of them out now (A-1).

In that CNBC business ranking, New Jersey was ranked 42nd among the 50 states.

What voters want

In a letter to the editor today, Paul Erickson of Little Falls faults Hillary Clinton for not offering "bold new ideas" (A-8).

But the voters who put Barack Obama into the White House for two terms don't want "new ideas." 

They want the same old expansion of voting rights; preservation of the middle class, Social Security and Medicare; immigration reform, equal wages for women, much more mass transit and other progressive programs.

And since everyone who voted for Barack will be voting for Hillary, her victory over conservatives like Christie, Bush and all of the other GOP candidates and wannabes is assured. 

GOP and priests

Next to Jeb's announcement on Page 1 -- tantamount a declaration of war against the middle class -- Editor Martin Gottlieb plays a story about the "scandal-plagued Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis," with its lurid images of another group of religious zealots -- Catholic qpriests -- abusing boys (A-1).

Below the fold on A-1, a story on how schools in New Jersey are faring as they face "their seventh year without an increase in state aid" doesn't mention Christie until deep on the continuation page (A-6).

Then, the GOP bully is quoted as saying New Jersey does not have more money for schools "because of the state's financial crisis."

No mention is made of the hundreds of millions in tax breaks for wealthy business that don't create jobs or his repeated veto of a tax surcharge on millionaires or his voodoo budget balancing.


Six-figure Production Editor Liz Houlton, supervisor of the news and copy desks, continues to struggle with ensuring accurate identification of news subjects (A-2).

On Sunday's BL-5, Nurse Cedar Wang was identified as a doctor. 

The joke is on Wang, who I am sure is earning nothing near what an M.D. is pulling down or, for that matter, what the incompetent production editor is being paid.

On Saturday's L-6, Public Health Specialist Kimberly Birdsall was identified as a nurse.

Local news?

There is so little municipal news today two legislative stories appear on the front of Local (L-1).

Much of the section is filled with Law & Order stories, including a brief on the death of Nikolas Samouhos, 40, of Ridgefield Park in a collision in California.

Was Samouhos single, married, a father, son or grandson? Was he wearing his seat belt?

The reporter apparently ran out of room to say.

In L-3 today, it's refreshing to see an enterprise photo taken in a park on the Hudson River instead of the usual non-fatal accident, fender bender or collision.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Veterans on Harleys break laws, tie up traffic, diss the flag

In sleepy Mahwah, musicians in the Les Paul Trio were protected from the sun, above and below, but most of the people who attended a celebration of the late, great jazz guitarist on Sunday roasted in the parking lot of a local museum. To add insult to injury, the chintzy museum sent someone out to solicit donations from the overheated guests.

Les Paul lived in Mahwah for about 50 years, and the museum has a collection of the electric guitars and multi-track recording equipment he pioneered. But the museum doesn't have a water fountain that would have provided some relief to the sun-baked crowd on Sunday.


Veterans wearing the American flag as a head covering and riding noisy motorcycles that spew pollution are celebrated in The Record today.

Count yourself lucky you weren't one of the hundreds of motorists inconvenienced as nearly 600 Harley-Davidsons roared down Bergen County roads and highways during a 48-mile drive to raise money for fellow veterans (L-1).

Turn to Pages L-1, L-2 and L-3 in Local today for a photo comparison of how to disrespect and respect the Stars and Stripes.

On L-1 and L-2, motorcyclists Steven Espinal and Peter Rossi are shown wearing what look like stylized American flags as head coverings or what are sometimes referred to as do-rags.

On L-3, Westwood Elks Lodge members are shown with a carefully folded American flag that was being retired. 

The Record publishes upbeat photos and stories on motorcycle charity runs several times a year, associating noise and air pollution and the violation of anti-noise ordinances with the doing of good deeds.

But such coverage ignores one of the biggest quality-of-life issues in North Jersey -- motorcycles that are deliberately modified to make as much noise as possible.

Of course, some would say who can blame veterans for trying to draw some attention to themselves after they were mistreated by their own government on their return from war.

Still, I'm sure they can find another way to do good that doesn't disturb the peace and quiet we all desire, especially on a Sunday.