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.

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