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).

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