Thursday, September 3, 2015

When lawyers always win, it's time to limit their high fees

For years, Prospect Avenue in Hackensack was pounded by ambulances into little more than a crudely patched track that resembled a third-world road. City officials neglected it, even though Prospect is a premier street lined with expensive high-rises. Now, the repaving of Prospect, between Essex and Passaic streets, has been greeted with oohs and aahs.


The Record is running major stories today on just three of the things Governor Christie is against, including a Page 1 report on the fallout from his refusal to raise the low gasoline tax.

Port Authority reporter Shawn Boburg says the bistate agency has spent $1.75 million on favored outside lawyers to defend itself and its employees from a probe of actions they took at Christie's urging (A-1).

That's nearly three times the $675,000 the agency spent on outside legal eagles during a grand jury probe of the George Washington Bridge lane closures (A-8).

Hourly rates?

Boburg's long story doesn't mention the rates the Port Authority was charged by connected law firms in New York and New Jersey, but you can bet it is several hundreds of dollars per hour.

Whatever the outcome of the probe, the lawyers will win by collecting millions in legal fees and laughing all the way to the bank, taking comfort in the knowledge that no one is moving to regulate their rates.

The Record prefers to report on lawyers who dress well, but never questions high legal fees, which deny many people access to the courts.

And its own general counsel happily pay hundreds of dollars per hour to lawyers at Pashman Stein in Hackensack.

Anti-transit, too

At Christie's urging, the Port Authority shifted $1.8 billion to the repair of New Jersey roads from a fund that was supposed to help build two Hudson River rail tunnels, a project the GOP bully killed in 2010.

"New Jersey needed the funds because its own Transportation Trust Fund had virtually run out of money and could no longer support large projects," Boburg reports.

He notes the repairs "allowed Christie to plug a hole in the state's budget ... without raising New Jersey's gasoline tax ..., the main source of income for the state's transportation funding" (A-8). 

The Port Authority is defending its actions from probes by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Also anti-voting

A story on A-4 today reports Christie also opposes a revision of New Jersey's laws "by expanding early voting to two weeks before general elections, automatically registering voters when they are issued a driver's license and allowing online registration."

On A-9, another story reports Christie is attacking President Obama's "sweeping plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants."

The Record and other media should question the conservative's racial motivation for repeated attacks on Obama's policies.

Christie is running against 15 or 16 other Republicans for his party's presidential nomination, not Obama, and in the unlikely event he gets it, he certainly won't be facing the president in the 2016 election.

More errors

A-2 today carries corrections from Better Living, Sports and Local, showing a total breakdown in the editing of the Woodland Park daily.

In Local, the drought on Hackensack news continues.

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