Monday, November 2, 2015

Editors to blame for the voter apathy they are bemoaning

HOMEOWNER, NOT POLITICIAN: Richard L. Cerbo is the only sensible choice in Tuesday's special Hackensack City Council election, if you are interested in electing someone whose main goal is to reverse rising property taxes and give city residents jobs on downtown renewal projects. An unexpired term is at stake.

The sample ballot mailed to Hackensack residents shows a horizontal column of candidates, as opposed to the usual vertical one. Cerbo's name appears first, in "Column 1."


The Record and other news media do a terrible job of covering elections.

At the Woodland Park daily, the bored, burned-out editors -- who have been pounding keyboards for decades -- actually reduced coverage of local elections, especially those for school board members and budget approvals.

Much of the other election coverage focuses on boring politics, fund-raising and spending by special interest groups -- but hardly ever on issues and what is good for a town, the state or the country.

Today, Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin has the balls to lecture readers on the importance of voting, even in an off-year election like the one on Tuesday.

Voter apathy

An editorial, "Voting matters," says, "... The truth is that all elections are important, from town council to freeholder to the State House" (A-11).

"Tuesday is the time to show your representatives how you feel. It's also an opportunity to maintain control of your community."

Yet, the editorial doesn't mention the special election to fill a City Council seat in Hackensack, the most populous community in Bergen County.

Voter apathy is high in a city once derided as "Zisaville" after decades of rule by a single family.

School spending

Although Hackensack boasts about 20,000 registered voters, fewer than 1,000 of them voted in April's school board election, and this year, they approved an irresponsible $106.88 million budget, one that exceeds the council's own.

Hackensack spends more per pupil than Ridgewood, where schools are considered far superior.

Despite this, school board President Jason S. Nunnermacker has the chutzpah to run as a fiscal conservative in his second bid for a council seat, while hardly mentioning his affiliation with the schools.

Another candidate, Jason S. Some of Some's Uniforms on Main Street is only 25, yet he was appointed in April to the council seat that is now up for grabs on Tuesday.

Young Some is backed by powerful forces, including the Main Street Business Alliance, business and property owners pushing the city's ambitious downtown rehabilitation plan.

I received two comments in reaction to Sunday's post on the special interests behind Nunnermacker and Some:
peanutNovember 2, 2015 at 10:53 AM
Very sketchy on your facts Victor. Some & Geddis are both backed by Zisas, Geddis is NOT backed by union. Current political climate is strange bedfellows - current council & a Zisa both back Some. Nunnermacker is not backed by a Zisa but by quite a few of former "reformer" supporters. A council meeting is not the place for BOE issues, although you keep bringing the subject up there. Go to a BOE meeting to discuss education. Check NJ ELEC for donor reports.
Steven GelberNovember 1, 2015 at 10:26 PM
Gaddis received no such endorsement.... In fact the union President said so....
It is unfortunate that you can take to a keyboard with how off base you are with the actual political climate in this town. You do know that there are 2 Zisa candidates? That the Zisa's themselves are divided? That Nunnermacker is fractured from both Zisa factions? Or was the relevance of "double chins" as far as you got into the issues? 

If true, Hackensack really is in deep doo-doo with more political factions muddying the waters than before.

Hackensack news

The Record's Local section today leads with a story on a new executive director at the Main Street Business Alliance, which despite the name doesn't represent the entire street.

Patrice Foresman of Ridgewood is being paid $75,000 a year by a group that only reluctantly contributed money to the Atlantic Street Park, a downtown amenity for which the alliance lobbied hard (L-1).

Her last position was at Community Blood Services in Montvale, which might be relevant in view of how Hackensack taxpayers have been bled mercilessly by litigation against onetime Police Chief Ken Zisa, who also was a Democratic state assemblyman.


Today's story by Todd South notes:

"The group has been the driving force and partners with the city administration in promoting redevelopment," which would add thousands of new residents in downtown apartments (L-1).

"Those new residents, business owners hope, will bring new retail and restaurant options to the city's rehabilitation zone, which ... spreads outward to include State and River streets" [and 19.7 acres owned by the Borg family's North Jersey Media Group, publishers of The Record].

"The total number of residential units among the five projects already approved for redevelopment is 1,880," including up 700 on the old Record property (L-2). 

Holes in story

There is much missing from South's story.

For one thing, the strategy of building many hundreds of apartments to revive a downtown has already failed miserably in Englewood.

For another, South and previous Hackensack reporters have shirked their responsibility to identify the members of the Main Street Business Alliance who are profiting from redevelopment.

Finally, South doesn't address statements by Richard L. Cerbo, a homeowner seeking the City Council seat in Tuesday's election, that Hackensack could have attracted developers with 10-year tax abatements, instead of those lasting 25 and 30 years.

Cerbo also has criticized the council for not getting guarantees from developers to provide a good percentage of construction and other jobs for city residents.

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