Monday, August 24, 2015

Are Christie, legislators caving into real estate interests?

With Manhattan's Riverside Church in the distance, this is what remained of one of AvalonBay's apartment buildings in Edgewater two days after a five-alarm fire on Jan. 21 that destroyed more than half of the 408 units, above and below. Seven months later, no changes in state building codes have been made to require "sturdier material, firewalls and enhanced sprinkler systems," The Record is reporting today.


It's hard to believe The Record could publish a long Page 1 story today on calls for a tougher state building code to prevent another devastating AvalonBay apartment fire, and not get reaction from Governor Christie.

Christie's name does appear on the front page today in a column from Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson (A-1), who reports the GOP bully leads all other presidential candidates in how much special-interest money he has raised in the Garden State.

Staff Writer Melissa Hayes and political Columnist Charles Stile have traveled with Christie on his campaign appearances in New Hampshire and Iowa, but I guess they had Sunday off.

Linh Tat and Minjae Park, the local reporters who wrote the story on long-delayed changes in the state building code, give the impression nothing is getting done in Trenton, despite a Democratic majority in the Legislature (A-1).

Big profits

AvalonBay is a real estate investment trust that returns big dividends to investors. 

Any changes in state building codes -- such as banning the use of cheap-wood construction -- to improve the fire resistance of AvanlonBay's proposed residential projects in Wayne, Teaneck and other communities would cut heavily into those profits. 

And today's story doesn't mention any improvements to existing AvalonBay buildings, such as those in Hackensack, where tenants have been losing sleep since seeing media images of the fast-moving fire that destroyed the Edgewater complex. 

Local news?

What a soft Local front today -- deer, dogs and parkland dominate the section.

For the second day in a row, The Record covered a demonstration for Kevin Allen, a black Passaic city resident who was shot by police outside the Lyndhurst Public Library on May 29 (L-1).

The education stories from Paterson (L-2) and Butler (L-3) contrast with the embargo on school and Board of Education news from Hackensack.

'O Canada'

Travel Editor Jill Schensul publishes a belated column on eastern Canada, including Montreal, where a strong U.S. dollar means big discounts for Americans (BL-1).

And in contrast to detailed reports from restaurant critic Elisa Ung on all of the artery clogging desserts she has sampled, today's Better Living cover story explores restaurant owner Lisa Mayisoglu's fitness and healthy food regimen (BL-1).

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