Friday, October 30, 2015

Midland Park police failed to shield mom who was slain

At Englewood Hospital and Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon, a valet put a visitor's car in a parking space reserved for the handicapped, inconveniencing the truly disabled. This wasn't an isolated incident. Complaints to employees of Millburn-based Country Club Services, which supplies the valet parking at the hospital, have fallen on deaf ears.


The Record's lead story today documents how a Midland Park woman appealed to police for protection against her ex-boyfriend over a 16-day period before she was murdered in her driveway.

A shocking Page 1 story reporting "a fearful series of events" leading up to the Oct. 22 stabbing death of Suzanne Bardzell doesn't explain why police couldn't protect her (A-1 and A-8).

The victim was the mother of two teenage boys and a private-school teacher in Teaneck. The suspect, Arthur Lomando, 44, is a former New York City police officer. 

Yet the story is silent on whether his being an ex-cop influenced police and municipal courts to allow him to remain free more than two weeks after he "allegedly broke into Bardzell's home on Oct. 5 and threatened to kill her with a pair of scissors" (A-1).

Many stories

The slaying of Bardzell, 48, has received extraordinary coverage in the Woodland Park daily since her death was first reported on the Local front Oct. 23.

Lomando's alleged threat to kill the woman, two massive manhunts, a restraining order and more were reported on the front page the next day.

Four more stories about the case appeared before today's piece, which documents the failure of police, courts and other agencies to protect Bardzell, a victim of domestic violence.

Those failures might be why the newspaper had to file an Open Public Records Act request with the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

Bardzell's murder in the driveway of her home also raises a question about the effectiveness of a small, local police force to protect residents.

If Midland Park had more police officers, would Suzanne Bardzell be alive today?

GOP news

You have to wonder what the A-1 photo caption writer at The Record was smoking when he or she described "the division between mainstream and conservative wings of the party," a reference to Republicans in the House of Representatives.

A more accurate caption would have described "conservative and radical wings of the party."

One of Governor Christie's chief boosters and apologists is Charles Stile, The Record's political columnist, as readers can see on Page 1 today.

Don't bother with Stile's so-called analysis. The headline says it all:

Still an
fight for

Needs buzz from
debate to bring
bump in polls

Under six-figure Production Editor Liz Houlton, standards for headline writing have been thrown out the window.

Before Houlton was promoted about seven years ago, lines in headlines ending with "an," "for," and "from" would have been spiked, and the copy editor ordered to write another.

An A-4 photo from this week's GOP debate, showing Christie with a flushed face, clearly says the GOP maniac isn't presidential material.

Local news?

In Local, Staff Writer John C. Ensslin insists for at least the second time that Christie's decision to remove John Molinelli as prosecutor was "sudden and surprising" (L-2).

This despite reporting Christie acted to replace the Bergen County Democrat as long ago as January 2013.

Why now?

The Record apparently hasn't reviewed the overpriced Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in the dozen years since the mediocre restaurant opened in Edgewater (BL-14).

So, why did Staff Writer Elisa Ung bother now, wasting hundreds of dollars on some of the unhealthiest food on the planet?

Ung willingly paid $48.95, $51.95 and $54.95 for fatty steaks that apparently weren't grass-fed or raised naturally.

This week, the World Health Organization said red and processed meats cause colon cancer, setting off a media storm.

The Record played the story on Page 1, then followed with columns promoting processed and red meats from clueless Food Editor Esther Davidowitz and Ung, the chief restaurant critic.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

On Page 1, editor focuses on bunch of losers like himself

Late Wednesday morning, traffic lights went dark at Main and Anderson streets in Hackensack, as well as at Anderson and River streets, above, and at Cedar Lane and River Road in Teaneck, below.

On Cedar Lane, drivers were forced to turn right onto River Road.


Oh, there was another GOP debate? Yawn.

Like most North Jersey Democrats, who far outnumber Republicans, I feel Governor Christie and the other GOP presidential hopefuls are just a bunch of losers.

Why is Editor Martin Gottlieb of The Record devoting so much of the front-page to that sorry lot while neglecting local elections?

And I am sick and tired of the almost daily Page 1 analysis of those other losers, the Mets (A-1).

Lazy lifers

Gottlieb is a former New York Times editor who is completing his third year in the job of running the Woodland Park newsroom.

But he seems unsuited for the nitty gritty of covering local affairs in nearly 80 towns in Bergen and Passaic counties.

He leaves that to three lazy, disinterested lifers, local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, and Sunday Projects Editor Tim Nostrand.

On A-3, a story reports the decision to replace the antiquated midtown Manhattan bus terminal is being driven by politics and a rivalry between New York and New Jersey.

But that has been the case for decades. 

In fact, the original name of the Port Authority didn't include "New Jersey," and state officials complained bitterly in the 1980s that New York was grabbing the lion's share of agency resources.

Hackensack news?

If you wonder why there is so little Hackensack news, take a look at six major stories from Passaic County in today's local-news section, including a long report on the Paterson school board election (L-1, L-2, L-3 and L-6).

In Bergen County, the bare-knuckle Democratic Party machine in Hackensack is trying to regain a single seat on the City Council in a special Nov. 3 non-partisan election.

Jason Nunnermacker, president of the city's free-spending Board of Education, is the knucklehead candidate supported by Lynne Hurwitz -- the power broker behind the Zisa family dynasty -- and other Democrats, including Hackensack lawyer Roy Cho.

Cho gained the respect of Democrats in 2014, when he challenged Rep. Scott Garrett, the Wantage conservative who represents a good deal of Bergen County in Congress.

But his endorsement of the pudgy school board president shows just how desperate the Hurwitz-Zisa alliance is to regain the power they lost when Nunnermacker and four other hand-picked candidates were defeated in May 2013.

$22-an-hour aides

In an email to fellow Democrats, Cho claims he's seen Nunnermacker's "commitment to the children of Hackensack while vigilantly ensuring that tax dollars are spent wisely."

Cho apparently is unaware the principal of Hackensack High School is paid more than $172,000 a year, only a few thousand less than Christie, or that lunchroom aides at two elementary school are listed in board documents as getting $22 an hour. 

Nunnermacker has three opponents, including Richard L. Cerbo, the son of a former mayor who doesn't have any axes to grind.

Cerbo's motto is "We can do better."

John Molinelli

The lead story on L-1 today reports critics of Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli say a letter the freeholder chairwoman sent this month to Christie "was instrumental in [the governor's] decision to appoint a new prosecutor."

But a few paragraphs later, the story says Christie decided in January 2013 to replace Molinelli, but that the nomination expired.

Can both of those things be true? 

Wednesday's Local 

Passaic County also dominated the local-news section that was delivered to Bergen readers on Wednesday.

At least Sykes and Sforza were able to find a photo showing the face of William J. Bate, a surrogate judge, for a story on the dedication of Paterson's new courthouse plaza.

The best the lazy editors could do on Tuesday was showing the back of the head of James P. Coleman, onetime pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church in Hackensack, where a street was named in his honor.

Coleman was black and Bate was white. Could that have influenced the choice of photos?

Mixed food messages

A day after the World Health Organization caused a media storm by linking cured meats to colon cancer, Food Editor Esther Davidowitz wrote a long column praising Taylor Ham, a pork-based processed meat that is "cured, smoked and pre-cooked" (Wednesday's BL-2).

Her recipe for N.J. Taylor Ham and Cheese Stuffing includes artery clogging butter, bacon fat and two kinds of full-fat cheeses.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

News media ignore red meat's direct link to heart attacks

Judging from the number of drivers parked on ramps and roads as they waited for arriving travelers on Saturday evening, the cellphone lot at Newark Liberty International Airport, above, is still a well-kept secret more than a year after it opened.


The media storm over meat causing cancer hides the leading killer -- heart attacks from coronary arteries clogged with the saturated fat found in steak, lamb and pork.

Anyone who relies on The Record and other news media for health and nutrition news should have their heads examined.

Today, the Woodland Park daily runs a Page 1 story reporting the World Health Organization's warning about red and processed meats.

And in Better Living, a Your Health column attacks the "B.S. (bad science)" that "artery clogging, inflammation stoking saturated fat is good for your heart and blood vessels" (BL-3).

Yet, in the same space a few weeks ago, a columnist actually made fun of people who were trying to avoid food prepared with artery clogging butter, and basically said they had nothing to worry about.

The Record's editors may argue this is balanced reporting, but it confuses and misleads readers.

And that's bad news on top of Elisa Ung, the chief restaurant critic, who is obsessed with artery clogging desserts, and recipe freelancer Kate Morgan Jackson, who can't seem to cook without heavy cream, butter and bacon.

More baseball

Today's front page from Editor Martin Gottlieb is a disaster -- baseball gets better play than a Paramus vigil for domestic violence victims a week after the murder of a single mother of two in Midland Park (A-1).

We get it, Marty. The fall is time for the playoffs and World Series, but you are alienating the vast majority of readers with your obsessive front-page coverage of the Mets.

On A-3, Governor Christie gets slammed for more off-the-wall comments about President Obama, who has expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

In fact, Christie has been so critical of Obama, and often distorts the president's record, readers have to ask themselves whether the GOP bully is motivated by racism instead of politics, even if The Record won't.

Orange jumpsuits

In Local, orange is the new black-and-white, judging from courtroom photos of defendants in prison jumpsuits on L-1 and L-3.

Law & Order news predominates on what local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza like to call a slow news Monday, but the truth is that's just an excuse for their laziness and disinterest in a job they have been doing forever (L-1, L-2, L-3 and L-4).

Can you believe The Record does not have a photo of the Rev. James P. Coleman, former pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church in Hackensack (L-1)?

LOL. What a disgrace. 

The best Sykes and Sforza could do is showing the back of the civil rights hero's head with a story on the naming of a Hackensack street for him -- in a 35-year-old photo no less!!!!

Monday's paper

One look at Page 1 on Monday -- the Mets, Christie, Catholic bishops and marching bands -- prompted many readers to send it straight to recycling.

A long story on Tenafly Mayor Peter Rustin's bid for a fourth term is silent on the decision to block extension of NJ Transit's light rail to the wealthy borough despite increasing traffic congestion and air pollution (L-2).

Sunday, October 25, 2015

On news we really need, the editors fail us time and again

Hackensack is being rocked again by partisan politics as Democrat Jason Nunnermacker seeks a vacant seat on the City Council in the Nov. 3 special election. Nunnermacker and four other allies of the Zisa family political dynasty ran unsuccessfully for council in 2013, when a reform slate of mostly Republicans swept into office. The Record has largely ignored the partisanship evident at City Council meetings, such as the Sept. 1 meeting shown below.

In a campaign mailing sent to residents last week, Nunnermacker, right, portrays himself as a fiscal conservative, but doesn't mention he is president of the Board of Education, which this year approved a runaway $106.88 million spending plan that exceeds the city's own.


Few readers of The Record outside Hackensack -- and thousands who live there -- know or care that four candidates are running for a vacant City Council seat in a special Nov. 3 election.

The Woodland Park daily has carried two stories about the candidates, but neither account explored the bitter partisan politics that exploded after a reform slate swept into office in 2013.

Nor has The Record examined the candidates' statements at an Oct. 15 debate at Temple Beth El that drew fewer than 20 city residents, whose written questions were subject to censorship by the event moderator.

Hackensack news?

You can search today's Sunday edition in vain for any news about Hackensack, Bergen County's most-populous community, or the county's biggest school district.

One of the candidates is Democrat Jason Nunnermacker, an attorney and an ally of the Zisa family political dynasty who ran unsuccessfully in 2013 with four others.

Nunnermacker is president of the city's free-spending Board of Education, yet he is running for council on a platform that stresses fiscal conservatism.

The Record also hasn't asked Nunnermacker how he can seek a seat on the very council he is suing on behalf of Debra Heck, the former city clerk.

Former City Clerk Debra Heck charges in a 2014 federal lawsuit City Council members illegally retaliated against her and drove her out of her job because of her romantic relationship with a political foe of the administration, Board of Education attorney Richard Salkin, shown at a Sept. 1 meeting.

Apathy galore

One thing Hackensack is famous for is voter apathy, whether it is in the April school board and school budget election or the May council election every four years.

The board's $106.88 million spending plan this year was approved by fewer than 1,000 of the city's 20,000 registered voters.

There is no way to tell how much of the apathy can be traced to the way The Record covers or doesn't cover elections, especially how the editors focus on politics and ignore issues. 

Today's paper

Once you get past the Sunday edition's ho-hum front page, there isn't much to interest local readers (A-1).

Animals lovers will be overjoyed to know there is an annual dogs and cats pre-Halloween fashion show in Manila (A-2), as well as an annual Halloween Dog Parade in Manhattan (A-3).

For more Halloween news, see the Local front on downtown Paterson's Fright Festival (L-1), as opposed to the festival of gun violence in some of Silk City's poorest neighborhoods.

Mike Hyman

A moving local obituary on 6-foot-4 Mike Hyman of Hackensack skirts the issue of why his loved ones and co-workers apparently did or said nothing as his waist ballooned to 53 inches (L-1).

He died of a heart attack "related to his diabetes" at 54, Staff Writer Jay Levin reports.

Business news

On the Business front today, Bree Fowler of The Associated Press argues the only successful car companies are profitable, even though some of the biggest have killed thousands of people with defective products or fouled the environment (B-1).

Fowler doesn't mention that General Motors Co. and the former Chrysler Corp. had to be bailed out by the Obama administration.

In her negative reporting on electric car maker Tesla, she emphasizes the company has never made a profit, but doesn't mention its cars are the world's safest and cleanest.


Columnist Mike Kelly argues drones "have become like wild geese -- numerous and a nuisance, not to mention a potential danger" (O-1 and O-4).

Of course, you have to wonder why he hasn't written a column about a real nuisance and a huge potential danger -- all of those private business jets and small planes buzzing Hackensack, Teaneck and other towns on the way to and from Teterboro Airport.

Those planes impact the quality of life in North Jersey far more than drones and geese combined.

I guess all readers can hope for is more poop from Kelly.

Food coverage

Better Living continues to cover celebrity chefs like Rachel Ray, TV personalities and cookbooks, while generally ignoring nutrition and a healthy lifestyle (BL-1).

For example, a promotional piece on chicken wings sold by A&S Foods in Wyckoff doesn't say whether they are organic or from birds that were raised without antibiotics (BL-2).

Tabloid news

Murder and mayhem were the order of the day on Saturday's front page.

Weren't the editors wrong to devote 90% or more of the lead A-1 story on Saturday to murder suspect Arthur Lomando's "troubled past," and so little to the victim, Suzanne Bardzell of Midland Park, a teacher and single mother of two?

How many more stories on the front page will falsely claim the seizure of heroin and cocaine will put a "major dent" in the region's street trade, as does Saturday's A-1 story from Paterson?

Governor Christie added to his anti-environment record with a lawsuit to block President Obama's Clean Power Plan (Saturday's A-2).

Saturday's Local section is dominated by sensational Law & Order news generated by the police reporter and staffers assigned to the courts (L-1, L-2, L-3 and L-6).

Friday, October 23, 2015

Editors come clean on Christie's dictatorial rule by veto

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN: Yet another resurfacing of the already cramped parking lot at the Alfred N. Sanzari Medical Arts Building at 360 Essex St. in Hackensack, above and below, has customers of Starbucks Coffee and other businesses wondering why the lot has to be repaired so frequently. Major work on the lot and sidewalks was finished in January 2015.

Late Tuesday afternoon, a security guard helped drivers negotiate the restricted parking, and pointed them to an exit lane that eliminated most of the spaces facing Essex Street. An alternative is a parking garage under the building.

Editor's note: This post has been revised to report that Melissa Hayes left her job covering Governor Christie for The Record.


In a long-awaited update on Governor Christie's rule by veto, The Record today finally reports the GOP bully has killed more than 400 bills since early 2010.

"Christie ... boasts often on the [presidential] campaign trail of vetoing more than 400 bills and keeping his party together when the Democrats who control the Legislature try to override him," Dustin Racioppi reports from Trenton.

Yet, readers have lost count of how many times Record political Columnist Charles Stile and onetime Staff Writer Melissa Hayes have regurgitated the B.S. Christie has used to mask his dictatorial rule. 

How does that go? Christie claims he is bipartisan and a compromiser who can work miracles when government is divided, as it is in Trenton and Washington. 

What nonsense.


Hayes said goodbye to the grind of daily journalism to take a job as "editor and social media specialist" at the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

The federally authorized agency says it oversees more than $2 billion in transportation improvement projects each year in the 13-county northern New Jersey region, and provides a "forum for inter-agency cooperation and public input."

On Twitter, she identifies herself as "former @GovChristie reporter for The Record."

One person who follows her noted:
She seems like a nice person, but too often just repeated the Christie line. I guess that was her assignment by her editors and leave the critical analysis to their "star" columnists.
One thing I'll say about the NJPTA's mission statement is it's news to me that under Christie, there have been $2 billion in North Jersey "transportation improvement projects" each year.

First override

What is the occasion of today's long-overdue update on a Record story that appeared months ago, when Christie's vetoes topped 350?

The Record is reporting the first override of a Christie veto, this one of a bill requiring police to "communicate with the courts when someone seeks to get his mental health record expunged in order to obtain a gun permit" (A-1).

Fifty-two other override attempts failed on measures "as ambitious and politically fraught" as Port Authority reform, public employee pension fund payments and a Superstorm Sandy bill of rights.

Disdain for issues

With the phrase "politically fraught," the editors expose their distaste for reporting on what is good for the people of New Jersey as opposed to endless explorations of partisan politics.

This very story demonstrates how the editors have sanitized Christie's record, failing to mention his vetoes of a hike in the state's minimum wage, as well as tax surcharges on millionaires and corporations.

He also has threatened to veto any increase in the low gas tax to fund repairs of roads and bridges, a levy that would make drivers pay for the wear and tear they cause.

'Absentee governor'

An editorial says Christie's "quest" for the GOP presidential nomination "has hurt him big in New Jersey" (A-20).

"Residents have little love for an absentee governor," the editorial says, and Republicans [who helped override the veto] "are beginning to understand that if they hope to keep their seats post-Christie, they had better start standing on their own two feet now."

That goes for Editor Martin Gottlieb, columnists and reporters whose credibility has been severely damaged by swallowing whole Christie's public relations -- from "Reform Agenda" to "Stronger than the Storm" to his claims of innocence in the George Washington Bridge lane-closures scandal.

Simply put, Christie is the worst governor in state history. 

That's about the only big story of interest from Gottlieb, who seems obsessed with baseball, which dominates A-1 today as it did on Wednesday and Thursday.

The editor continues to show disdain for local readers, especially those who ride NJ Transit buses, by burying a story on Port Authority approval of a design competition for a new midtown Manhattan bus terminal (A-4).

Local news?

As usual, a Road Warrior column on teens crashing cars is full of statistics, but with Staff Writer John Cichowski's track record, readers don't know how many errors he made in transposing the numbers from a state report (L-1).

Nor are readers likely to see a correction of Cichowski's numerous past and present errors on A-2 anytime soon.

One issue Cichowski ignores is parents allowing their teens to drive powerful cars even though new drivers get absolutely no training on how to handle all that horsepower.

Law & Order stories dominate the rest of the local-news section, revealing the usual distaste for municipal reporting exhibited by Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza.

La Famiglia

The are only a dozen paragraphs in today's lukewarm review of La Famiglia, an Italian-American restaurant in Bogota with a new owner and chef (BL-16).

Yet, two of them are devoted to critic Elisa Ung's obsession with artery clogging desserts. 

Where does she find the room for them after such big meals, especially when the dishes she ordered were made with loads of full-fat cheese?

Not does she explain why she didn't order fresh, wild-caught fish instead of shellfish and crustaceans. 

Does the restaurant serve salads and vegetables? 

Finally, she reports the restaurant's menu "remains moderately priced," but on my one visit to La Famiglia many years ago, I found it good but expensive and never returned.

Thursday's paper

Thursday's front page had to be one of the biggest turnoffs in recent memory.

The main element, the Mets' playoff victory, had readers eyes rolling, but there wasn't much else in three more enormously boring stories:

Vice President Joe Biden's decision not to run for president, a ruling on the LG building plan in Englewood Cliffs that doesn't resolve anything and a local GOP debate.

The local editors were so desperate they led their section with yet another story about Rep. Scott Garrett's fundraising (Wednesday's L-1). 


Today's Hackensack Chronicle reports on the Oct. 15 debate among three of the four candidates for the Hackensack City Council in a special Nov. 3 election.

News Editor Jennifer Vasquez reports "over 20" people were there, including school board and council members.

That sounds like a private party, not a public forum.

No attendance figure appeared in The Record's report of the same event.

You have to wonder when reporters who cover Hackensack are going to look into the causes of such apparent voter apathy or question whether Temple Beth El made any effort to get the word out to city residents.

Record reporter Todd South noted moderator Larry Eisen only allowed written questions to eliminate ones that were "too personal."

Vasquez said Eisen was trying to avoid "accusatory questions."

That's censorship, pure and simple.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hackensack to ban buses and limit parking on Main Street

Buses and 54-foot-long trucks will be banned after Main Street returns to a two-way traffic pattern. State Street also is expected to become a two-way street at the same time.


Traffic and parking on Main Street in Hackensack will be radically altered when the street returns to the two-way pattern of the past.

Before Tuesday night's City Council meeting, officials were briefed on changes to the 2012 Downtown Rehabilitation Plan by Francis A. Reiner of DMR Architects.

Reiner, the city's redevelopment consultant, said buses and 54-foot trucks would be banned, and UPS and other delivery services would have to use designated Main Street loading zones with restricted hours.

The city also will enforce "tandem parking" for cars and other passenger vehicles on Main Street, between Passaic and Essex streets, that would leave an 8-foot gap between spaces for two vehicles.

That will allow drivers to pull forward into the spaces, eliminating the the need to stop and reverse, which causes traffic jams, Reiner said during the public Committee of the Whole meeting.

Hackensack's plan to revitalize and redevelop the areas around its bus terminal and train stations will allow the city to apply for a Transit Village designation.

That would bring priority funding from some state agencies, and Department of Transportation grants to both the city and developers.

Reiner mentioned the possibility of a rubber-wheeled trolley linking Hackensack University Medical Center to the city's two NJ Transit rail stations.

The conversion of Main and State street to two-way traffic is at least two years away, city officials said.

Today's paper

Another Record front page dominated by baseball, state tests, politics and medical news doesn't offer much for the majority of local readers. 

On the Local front, the editors made sure to run an upbeat story on unanimous Hackensack City Council approval of a redevelopment plan for the former River Street headquarters of North Jersey Media Group and its flagship paper (L-1).

NJMG is expected to sell the 19.7 acres for $20 million or more.

Publisher Stephen A. Borg isn't expected to use any of that money to improve local-news coverage or even resume giving raises to the newsroom staff in Woodland Park.

Borg was responsible for moving printing of The Record to Rockaway Township from Hackensack in 2006, and then closing NJMG headquarters in 2009, hurting already struggling Main Street restaurants and other businesses.

Bear, fire news

Thousands of Record readers have been sitting on the edge of their seats, awaiting the reopening of Ramapo Valley Reservation and Ramapo State Forest, and today, their prayers are answered in a story leading the local-news section (L-1).

A Lodi fire that harmed no one dominates today's Local front, thanks to a gee-whiz photo from a freelancer (L-1).

Better eating?

The Record's editors continue to send mixed messages to readers with articles on breast cancer in both women and men (A-1 and BL-1), and recipes that mock heart health (BL-2).

Clueless freelancer Kate Morgan Jackson specializes is artery clogging food, such as today's Chili Cheese Dip.

You'll need a half-pound of mystery ground beef and a full pound of Velveeta for this week's disgusting dish.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

'Behemoth at the bridge' could be expose of Gov. Christie

State Street in front of Hackensack City Hall, police headquarters and the city's main firehouse, above and below, is closed this week for replacement of the rough railroad crossing. Next week, Main Street will be closed to repair the section of tracks through the business district.

Banta Place is open for left turns onto Main Street and Central Avenue is open for right turns onto Union Street.


Despite the region's commuting crisis, Editor Martin Gottlieb came up with a colossal waste of time for readers on The Record's front page today.

A gee-whiz story about "oversize trucks" crossing the George Washington Bridge is an insult to bus and rail riders who can't find rush-hour seats, and drivers who pay exorbitant tolls at congested Hudson River crossings.

Which witless editor assigned Christopher Maag, the paper's main transportation reporter, to this monstrosity?

Meanwhile, there is a reference to the real "behemoth at the bridge," Governor Christie, who has been at the center of the state Legislature's investigation of the lane-closure scandal "that has lingered over ... his presidential campaign" (A-1).

Now, Democratic legislators plan to launch two more probes -- into a lottery privatization "that has yet to pay off for the state," and "allegations of cronyism and racism in New Jersey's National Guard."

Carbon in air

The media could be partially to blame for New Jersey's carbon emissions shooting up 14 percent in 2014 -- reversing three straight years of declines (A-1).

Every time the price of gasoline goes down, The Record and other media are filled with stories describing what a boon that is for drivers of gas-guzzling SUVs and other vehicles.

At the same time, reporting on hybrid, electric and other low- or zero-emission vehicles usually emphasizes their higher cost and ignores their tremendous environmental benefit.

Local news?

Today's Local section is once again dominated by Law & Order news (L-1, L-2, L-3 and L-6).

The Local front carries a story about Saddle River's small school district, but there is no school news about Hackensack, Bergen's biggest district (L-1).

Why is a story on former Gov. Christie Whitman blasting "hyper-partisan politics and the influx of super PAC-money" that alienates voters buried on L-3 today?

That might have something to do with Editor Gottlieb running so many Page 1 stories on fundraising by Christie, Rep. Scott Garrett and other candidates, completely ignoring the issues that affect voters' lives.

Monday's paper

Today's paper is an improvement over Monday, when The Record's front page was filled with baseball, political fundraising and a long piece on new evidence in the murder of a Passaic woman in Chile more than 39 years ago.

On Monday's Local front, two photos of a car that struck a concrete island, exploded, burned and killed the driver on Sunday morning shows the editors have learned nothing in the decades they have been covering such crashes.

No one asked state police whether excessive speed was involved, a natural question given how the car overturned after striking the island.

A follow-up today reports the driver, John Muller V, 26, of Glen Ridge, was a graduate student and teaching assistant in the creative writing program at Rutgers University-Newark. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

If this is best Sunday work editors can do, we're in trouble

On Friday, lane closures on Main Street, above, and River Street in Hackensack were only a foreshadowing of what is to come this Monday, when State Street south of Central Avenue will be closed for a week to replace the bumpy railroad crossing.


When a ShopRite supermarket ad wrapped around The Record's front page piques reader interest more than so-called news stories, we're really in deep doo-doo.

Editor Martin Gottlieb keeps hitting us over the head with baseball, sensational local or international news, and an endless series of columns on Governor Christie's pathetic showing in the race for the GOP presidential nod (A-1).

I got a kick out of a Christie quote in an A-1 Charles Stile column that sounds exactly like the ones he's been writing for a year or more:

"I've always said bet on the people who have been tested. When the lights get really bright, let's see who shines."

It won't be Christie, because the bright lights have been shining on his dismal performance in New Jersey since he took office in early 2010, and all residents can see is the dull reflection from a huge GOP turd. 

Keyless, witless

The Record's witless Road Warrior columnist focuses on a problem that takes far fewer lives than the greater menace of elderly drivers who mistake the gas pedal for the brake pedal (L-1).

The solution to forgetting to push the stop-start button and turning off you're engine is 1) buy an all-electric car, 2) move to a house with a detached garage or 3) buy one of the many vehicles with a traditional ignition.

Local news?

In Local today, more Englewood school news appears on L-3, but there is no education story from Hackensack, the biggest district in Bergen County.

Another story on L-3, about Holocaust survivor Marthe Cohen, is far more compelling than anything on Page 1 today.

Family owned

A story on local family owned companies is welcome, but the editors of Business continue to ignore downtown merchants (B-1).

Could spilled takeout soup really be the biggest problem Elisa Ung has encountered in eight years of reviewing restaurants and writing about delis and other food shops (BL-1)?

On the Opinion front, readers get another news-in-review column from burned-out Mike Kelly (O-1).

This one refers to Pope Francis' appearance in Santiago, Cuba, nearly a month ago -- in a column that is of absolutely no interest to anyone who isn't Catholic.

Jet lagged

Jill Schensul has been The Record's travel editor for more than a decade, so how believable is it that she traveled all day and found herself without a hotel reservation two hours before midnight (T-1)?

Instead of cutting the confusion over "proliferating" hotel brands, she simply adds to it in this overlong complaint that fills nearly two pages of the thin, 4-page Travel section.

And there is hardly a word about hotel loyalty programs that many travelers belong to, such as the rewards of the Hyatt Hotels credit card with a $75 annual fee.

This year, my payoff was two free nights in a $700-a-night perch at the luxurious Park Hyatt on 57th Street in Manhattan, near Carnegie Hall and the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle.

Saturday's paper

Baseball led Saturday's front page, too.

And there was yet another so-called Election 2016 story about Christie's fundraising on A-1, even though the election is more than a year away and there seems little chance the worst governor in state history will be the GOP nominee.

Saturday's Local section was dominated by crime news (L-1, L-2, L-3 and L-6).

Hackensack debate

Only three of the four candidates for an open Hackensack City Council seat took part in a debate at Temple Beth El (Saturday's L-3).

The fourth candidate, Deborah Keeling-Geddis, declined to participate, noting moderator Larry Eisen is a council-appointed zoning board member.

The debate took place Thursday night among Richard L. Cerbo, son of a former mayor; school board President Jason Nunnermacker, and Jason Some, who was appointed in April to fill the council seat left vacant when Rose Greenman resigned and filed a discrimination suit.

I don't recall seeing a debate announcement in The Record or any effort by Temple Beth El to get the word out that it was taking place.


Cerbo was quoted about a "heavier tax burden on homeowners," but not on his complaint about Hackensack University Medical Center and other non-profits that pay no taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars in property.

Nunnermacker, an attorney who ran unsuccessfully for council in 2013 as an ally of the Zisa family, is being backed by the city's Democratic Party machine in a desperate bid to claw its way back into power.

The board president said he feared "downtown redevelopment" could bring "as many as 500 new students in the next few years to an already overburdened school system," and put the cost of educating each one at $18,000 a year.

Inflated salaries

But no one asked how he could possibly know how many new students will be moving into the city.

And Nunnermacker also wasn't asked to explain high administrative salaries, such as the $172,000-plus being paid to the principal of Hackensack High School, just a few thousand less than Christie is being paid.

At two Hackensack elementary schools, lunch aides are being paid $22 an hour.

And this year, fewer than 1,000 of the city's 20,000 registered voters approved a $100 million dollar-plus school budget, which exceeded the city's own.