Thursday, December 31, 2015

Last front page of '15 is same mix of sensational, political

Post offices in Fort Lee, above, and Maywood have small parking lots for patrons, but the much bigger Hackensack Post Office only offers metered street parking.

Free parking is at a premium in Fort Lee, but postal patrons luck out.


So many front pages in The Record speculate on the future -- today, the lead stories discuss the guilt or innocence of Bill Cosby, and which GOP candidate will take the Iowa Caucuses.

Yet, the vast majority of readers want the media to do a better job of reporting what happened -- the definition of "news" -- especially in their town, county and state.

Below the fold today, a story on the warmest December in state history recalled the poor job The Record did recently in reporting the anemic sale of all-electric cars in the Garden State.

The emphasis was on their limited range and lack of chargers, not on their zero emissions or how they are perfectly suited to the lifestyle of North Jersey's senior citizens.

Local obits

It's time for another annual roundup by the local obituary writer, Jay Levin (L-1).

Often, the local obit is the only relief from the editors' over-reliance on police news, trials and photos of rollover accidents.

Yet, in 2015 as in previous years, many of these well-written life stories literally were buried in the back pages of Local.

What's coming

If you want a good laugh, take a look at what the Better Living editors are predicting for 2016 in food and culture (BL-1).

The first item ignores that Italian-Americans and other ethnic groups have been eating such small fish as anchovies, sardines, herring and mackerel since the invention of the net.

The last item is another shameless plug for a restaurant that won't open until March from The Record's chief critic, whose lavish dinners are paid for by the newspaper.

Elisa Ung doesn't mention menu prices at American Cut Bar & Grill probably will induce sticker shock in anyone outside of the 1%.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

County lawman quits as pedestrian-death probe drags on

Hue D. Dang, 64, was walking in or near this Jackson Avenue crosswalk in Hackensack last March 9, when she was struck and fatally injured by an unmarked car driven by John C. Straniero, a detective sergeant in the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office. Hackensack police investigated, but brought no charges against him in her death. 

Dang was struck only blocks from her apartment on Hudson Street in Hackensack. This photo shows markings left by investigators, and the woman's blood staining the pavement, right. At the urging of Eye on The Record, the Union County Prosecutor's Office took up the investigation, which still is open.


The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office detective sergeant whose car struck and fatally injured a Hackensack woman has retired.

John C. Straniero, then 49, apparently was driving to his home in Wayne last March 9, when he started to turn right on Jackson Avenue and Kennedy Street in Hackensack, near Route 80, and struck Hue D. Dang, 64.

The Vietnamese-American woman, who was carrying plastic grocery bags, was pronounced dead at a hospital less than an hour after the 4:45 p.m. accident.

After Hackensack police cleared Straniero of any wrongdoing, Eye on The Record contacted the state police and Attorney General's Office, which asked the Union County Prosecutor's Office to investigate further.

That probe is ongoing, a spokesman for the office said this morning, but he would not discuss why it is taking so long.

See: Union prosecutor to review Hackensack death

Single story

The Record published a single story about the accident on March 11, but Staff Writer Stafanie Dazio didn't mention the crosswalk or whether the woman was in it when she was hit.

When asked this morning, Maureen Parenta of the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office said Straniero had retired.

Parenta, the prosecutor's communication director, wasn't available later in the day to provide any details.

The victim's family has filed a notice that it intends to sue the detective in her death.

The report filed by Hackensack police shows the approximate location of the unmarked car and the woman after she was struck on Jackson Avenue and Kennedy Street. But the diagram is at variance with markings on the pavement made after the accident.

Local news?

Readers looking for local or even regional news on Page 1 of The Record strike out again.

Unless they're as consumed as reporters are with how Governor Christie will do at the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1, local readers threw away their money today.

The headline over Charles Stile's boring political column contains the phrase "turn silent," leading many readers to wonder when the burned-out reporter will do just that (A-1).

For the second day in a row, Local reads more like a police blotter, with a couple of court stories thrown in, than a section devoted to news of Bergen County towns. 

The lead story is about more gun violence in Paterson, and Bergen readers are cheated even more by six other Passaic County stories, both long and short (L-1, L-2, L-3 and L-6).

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Readers grow weary of bamboo B.S., other trivial pursuits

A menorah and a nativity scene, rear, flank a welcome sign in Fort Lee, a town with a large number of Korean and Japanese residents. The Record's Page 1 story today on Japan's apology for the sexual enslavement of Korean women ignores the reaction of Japanese-Americans in North Jersey.


The Record's lazy local editors continue to do their best to avoid tackling important local issues, as a Page 1 story on "bamboo feuds" hammers home today.

Monday's front page also was largely a waste, given that most of it was devoted to a pro football team and three boring political pieces.

Today, the vast majority of readers are staring blankly at the lead story on high school sports, and racking their brains to figure out how it affects them (A-1).

Ditto on the well-written takeout on bamboo, an overlong story that appears to deliberately avoid telling readers just how few people are affected (A-1).

'Comfort women'

Today's Page 1 reaction story on Japan's apology for the sexual enslavement of Korean "comfort women" during World War II avoids a local angle -- the relationship between Japanese and Korean residents of Fort Lee and other towns.

Since Korean immigration surged in Bergen County, quickly outnumbering Japanese-Americans, The Record has never explored tensions between them.

And today's story doesn't seek any reaction from Japanese-Americans in North Jersey.

Hit-run follow

The Local front today carries the first follow-up to Friday's hit-run pedestrian death on Cedar Lane in Teaneck (L-1).

The downtown T-intersection with Garrison Avenue is described as "notoriously busy," leading readers to wonder what the reporter was smoking.

Local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza finally roused themselves from a deep sleep to provide the first details on the victim (L-6).

Turns out Steven Leitbeg, 59, was homeless and living in a shelter, and that may be why Sykes and Sforza treated him as if he was just so much roadkill.

The Record also corrects the initial story on when he died; he was hit on Friday, Christmas Day, and died on Saturday in a hospital, the editors say.

More errors

Restaurant critic Elisa Ung has described her Asian roots more than once, so the mistakes she made in last Friday's review of a Japanese ramen restaurant are puzzling.

After my own visit to Menya Sandaime in Fort Lee, I researched and wrote a post on my food blog describing one of those errors: 

A no-frills ramen parlor

In doing so, I found other problems, notably her description of the "pork-bone broth" as "tonkatsu," and her failure to mention a small parking lot in the back of the building (Friday's BL-12).

The pork-bone broth used in ramen is "tonkotso," not "tonkatsu," and the former appears several times on the menu at Menya Sandaime.

That's not just a typo; "tonkatsu" is pork cutlet, and "tonkotso" is pork bone.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Heavy reliance on crime news exposes print-edition flaws

The provinces of Cuba and the island's flag are painted on the front plate-glass window of La Pola, a West New York luncheonette that specializes in the Cuban Sandwich or Cubano.


If you are the editor of a local newspaper that covers breaking crime news as much as The Record does -- and uses Page 1 to sensationalize murder and mayhem -- you need an editing and reporting staff that hustles, and late deadlines.

Editor Martin Gottlieb has neither.

The ex-New York Times editor often embarrasses himself with stale coverage like today's lead story on an "apparent murder-suicide" in a luxury Edgewater high-rise, where a man shot both his wife and 8-year-old daughter in the head before killing himself (A-1).

The Woodland Park daily managed to get something onto Saturday's front page, but the editors couldn't hold the paper for the prosecutor's press conference on Friday night.

So, all Staff Writer Jeff Green could report was that "three people were found dead on Christmas" before padding the story with four paragraphs at the end that amounted to little more than a shameless plug for the high-rise where the "holiday tragedy" unfolded (Saturday's A-8).

Nothing like the suspicious death of three people to drum up business at a luxury high-rise, but that is so typical of the commercialism that taints too many stories in The Record.

SUV hit-and-run

More dated police news appears today -- the hit-run death of a 59-year-old Teaneck man crossing the street just before 7 p.m. on Christmas Day (A-1 and L-1).

Even two days after the accident, there is not a word on Steven J. Leitbeg, the victim, except to describe him as a "resident of the township."

He's treated as so much roadkill by the lazy, incompetent local assignment editors, Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza.

Today's story doesn't say whether he was in a crosswalk when he was hit by an SUV "at Garrison Avenue and Cedar Lane" (L-1).

Nor does the reporter explore whether limited holiday police staffing was a factor in why the driver was able to get away on what is normally a heavily patrolled downtown street.

Law & Order news

After a major newsroom downsizing and 2009 relocation of the newsroom to Woodland Park, The Record's coverage of municipal news declined dramatically.

Thanks to Sykes and Sforza, Law & Order news became the new local news as they scrambled desperately to plug holes in their section with gee-whiz photos of fires and rollovers, police news and sensational trials.

That trend continues today, even though home-rule governments and rising property taxes deserve far more scrutiny than they are getting.

Can local readers hope for a change when Gottlieb retires at the end of January, bringing to a close four years of failure?

Best photos

Once a year, the editors publish images from Record photographers that "stood out" (L-1 and L-3), but none of those photos appeared in a daily fixture on A-2, "SHOT OF THE DAY."

Typically, those photos are supplied by the wire services from all over the world in what amounts to a slap in the face to all of the talented staff photographers.

'Humble' food

On the Better Living cover today, Staff Writer Elisa Ung recalls the best dishes she ate in 2015, what she calls "humble creations" (BL-1 and BL-3).

Ung swoons over mystery chicken sandwiches and a thin-crust pizza, but also touts a pricey platter of sushi.

This feature and Ung's "Informal Dining" reviews on Friday show the limits of her competency as the paper's chief restaurant critic.

She is in way over her head on most Fridays, when she reviews expensive steakhouse and other fine-dining restaurants and ignores how the dishes she sampled were raised or grown.

Readers can see that on Sundays, especially when her Corner Table column makes excuses for why wealthy restaurant owners aren't serving more organic or naturally raised food.

Ramen and pho

On Friday's BL-12, there were a few omissions in Ung's reviews of Menya Sandaime in Fort Lee and Pho Miu in far-off Washington Township.

She reports the Fort Lee ramen restaurant has only 25 seats, but fails to mention customers also are seated at tables in the employee break room to cut down on waiting times.

Ung also didn't report the kitchen can make vegetarian versions of at least two main dishes, as I discovered during a visit on Saturday night.

And her detailed description of the soup at Miu Pho doesn't mention the anise flavoring that sets the Vietnamese broth apart from all other Asian noodle soups.

On top of all that, the headline was a real clunker:

"Where noodles step up"


In the past two decades, The Record has been derelict in covering the obesity epidemic; heart disease, the nation's No. 1 killer; and the large number of uninsured in New Jersey.

The editors prefer to assign medical writers to describe in excruciating detail children with rare disorders or a public official who survived a brain aneurysm.

On Saturday's front page, they were described as "newsmakers."

How would The Record describe all of those the editors routinely ignores?

As "losers"?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Editors ignore heart disease, even when it hits newsroom

Compare this photo of Mike Kelly, a reporter at The Record, taken from his own Web site, Mike Kelly Writer, to the dated, dark-haired thumbnail that appears with his Page 1 column today.


Mike Kelly has been writing a Record column for more than 25 years, but you would never know he is a survivor of heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States.

As you can see from his Page 1 column today, Kelly writes about nearly ever subject under the sun -- again and again -- rather than discuss the coronary bypasses that saved his life.

From working in the same newsroom with him for close to 30 years, I was impressed with how fit Kelly was -- tall, thin and in good shape from going out to jog during his shift.

So, how did a seemingly healthy man come close to dying? That would be a fascinating read.

Yet, after his operation, he returned to The Record and resumed his column, tackling the same subjects he had written about so many times before, including 9/11, Superstorm Sandy, Governor Christie and gun control.

Mostly, he pushes words around, and pads his columns with an excessive amount of background to fill a void -- Kelly rarely expresses an opinion about anything or blasts public officials like Christie.

Other staffers

But Kelly isn't the only staffer who ignores heart disease.

The Record has two medical writers, but neither has spent much time reporting on the causes of heart disease, and what readers can do to avoid ending up under the knife or dead from a sudden, irrevocable "widowmaker" attack. 

"Cardiac arrest" killed Alexander Kaplen, the Englewood resident whose obituary appears on the Local front today, and he was only 56. 

Food Editor Esther Davidowitz shows no understanding or concern, publishing numerous recipes filled with such artery clogging ingredients as butter and cream.

Restaurant critic Elisa Ung is totally obsessed with meat and dessert, and rarely orders a salad or vegetable at the lavish, expensive meals she enjoys on The Record's dime.

On Tuesday, excerpts from Ung's reviews of the Top 10 Restaurants of 2015 showed her clear preference for lamb, pork and beef over heart-healthy fish and other seafood.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Lazy editors let Bush blast Christie for lousy job in N.J.

A sign at Whole Foods Market in Paramus thanks Hackensack Middle School students for "making beautiful artwork in our cafe." That contrasts with The Record of Woodland Park's boycott of school and school-board news from Hackensack.


Is it really front-page news that Governor Christie has not done "big things" or that "New Jersey hasn't done well," in the words of the inarticulate Jeb Bush?

Yes. Readers of The Record haven't seen a similar assessment from the editors of their hometown paper in the many months Christie has been chasing his White House dreams (A-1).

In fact, Staff Writer Dustin Racioppi, one of those covering the Christie campaign, still hasn't asked the GOP bully the question on the mind of every New Jerseyan:

"Are you saying you want to run the nation the way you run New Jersey?"

Everyone but Editor Martin Gottlieb and Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin knows Christie is running the Garden State into the ground.

Bigger fish

Still, Gottlieb has bigger things on his mind today --the health of Target and other retailers who are among the paper's best advertisers.

That's why a story on insomniacs shopping at 2 and 3 in the morning leads Page 1 today.

Gottlieb wastes more space on "Real Housewives" bimba Teresa Giudice, who was released from a "prison camp," a non-story despite the best efforts of Staff Writer Virginia Rohan (A-1).

Local news?

There is so little local news in the paper today head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes devoted most of the L-1 front to a pissing match between Woodcliff Lake and Washington Township officials over a turn lane (L-1).

Law & Order news dominates Local, as it has on so many days in the past, and desperate layout editors had to run two wire-service obituaries and a gee-whiz photo of an overturned vehicle on L-8.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Editors help Uber keep secret how much drivers make

The Record and other news media haven't challenged Uber to make public exactly how much drivers make after expenses -- gasoline, insurance, oil changes, and wear and tear on their cars. This wildly exaggerated "Drive Uber" sign was on the back of a bus I saw on Madison Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday.


Page 1 of The Record today carries another upbeat story on Uber, but not a word on exactly how much drivers make after such expenses as insurance, gasoline, and wear and tear on their own cars.

Staff Writer Richard Newman reports "car-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. plans to recruit 3,000 drivers from low-income counties in New Jersey, including Passaic County" by the end of next year (A-1).

But later -- after telling readers Uber promises "self-employment with no investment required" -- the reporter finally comes clean and says applicants need a smart phone, checking account and "a car that is no more than 10 years old and seats at least four" (A-10).

A smart phone and a car are investments, aren't they?

Newman doesn't mention other expenses, such as insurance, gasoline and maintenance.

All in all, working for Uber sounds like a bad deal.

Syrian refugee

Another heart-warming story appears on the front page today, this one about a Syrian refugee who has been taken in by Ponds Reformed Church in Oakland (A-1).

The report on Sandy Khabbazeh, who is Christian, makes no reference to Governor Christie vowing to bar all Syrian refugees from New Jersey and the rest of the United States.

Local news?

Today's Local section again is filled with more police and court news than municipal news (L-1 to L-6).

Municipal stories from Oakland and Wayne appear on L-2 and L-3, but Hackensack apparently remains on the news blacklist.

The Woodland Park daily hasn't reported on the last two City Council meetings, and continues its boycott of school news.

Heart healthy?

Readers hoping to eat more heart-healthy food might be interested in a recipe in the Better Living section.

Unfortunately, clueless freelancer Kate Morgan Jackson of Upper Saddle River includes more artery clogging cheese than healthy smoked salmon (BL-2).

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gottlieb, minions putting little under tree for local readers

Slow-moving landscaping trucks are one of the biggest hazards on local streets. On Monday morning, I got stuck behind this one on Woodland Street, appropriately enough, between Palisade Avenue in Englewood and Clinton Avenue in Tenafly, a distance of more than one mile.


Editor Martin Gottlieb leads today's paper with another in a seemingly endless series of stories about human-bear run-ins, even though tens of thousands of readers have never seen one of the furry creatures.

On Dec. 12, Gottlieb even ran a detailed front-page story on how bears are butchered for human consumption. Gee-whiz.

Page 1 today is dominated by a sensational crime story, as it was on Monday -- one a cold case and the other the murder of a Palisades Park man in his Jersey City store (A-1).

Local news?

On the Local front today, the vast majority of readers search in vain for municipal news from their town, as they did on Monday.

Instead, four of the five stories on L-1 today are crime or court news or news about the police.

The editors are so inept they screwed up the name of the police chief in Rockaway Township, where The Record and Herald News are printed, according to an A-2 correction.

Page 1

Reporting on the poor job Governor Christie is doing in New Jersey seems to come in dribs and drabs.

Today, the front page reports that a panel he created wants to make it easier to carry a concealed weapon and speed up permits (A-1).

Speeding epidemic

Superior Court Judge Margaret M. Foti lectured a man sentenced to 6 years in prison in a road-rage death about the epidemic of speeding -- a story ignored by Road Warrior John "Wrong Way" Cichowski for more than a dozen years (L-1).

"There is no one out there driving on the roadways today who has not experienced someone speeding by at 80, 90, 100 miles per hour and to turn to the person next to you and say, 'That guy is going to kill someone.' It's frightening," Foti told Thomas Vanderwelt of Saddle Brook.

"And speed limits are there for a reason," the judge said. "They are there to save lives."

Pothole chronicles

In his ground-breaking reporting on long lines at the Motor Vehicle Commission and his annual awards for the biggest potholes, Cichowski not only has ignored speeding, but failed to uncover declining enforcement.

In November, Eye on The Record reported that the number of speeding tickets issued on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway had dropped dramatically:

More speeding, fewer tickets

Best restaurants?

The Better Living cover on the top 10 North Jersey restaurants in 2015 contains glaring omissions (BL-1, BL-2).

Critic Elisa Ung never says whether any of the restaurants serve the kind of grass-fed or naturally raised beef, pork and lamb that would justify their high prices.

And there is not a word about the sweet, artery clogging desserts she sampled at all of them -- the kind of food most of her readers avoid like the plague.

Monday's paper

When Gottlieb or his minions put another one of Tara Sullivan's awful columns on Page 1, readers know the editors are scraping the bottom of the barrel, as they did on Monday.

Of course, Sunday is a slow-news day, but there was even more irrelevant filler inside the paper, such as car, bus or plane crash news from several states on A-3.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ramapoughs are victims of news media, legal system, too

A 2011 image from CBS2 coverage of Ford Motor Co. pollution in the Upper Ringwood section of Ringwood.

Editor's note: My first beat as a reporter at The Record was covering Ringwood and West Milford. When staffers were researching the "Toxic Legacy" series in 2005, they came across stories I did around 1980 on Ford Motor Co. dumping in abandoned mines.


Mixed-race members of the Native American community living in Ringwood have suffered discrimination throughout history.

But in the past decade, their treatment by the news media -- including The Record -- legal community and public officials is the most despicable.

Today, a 10-year retrospective of the newspaper's "Toxic Legacy" series contains a major error in reporting on a class-action lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. for decades of paint-sludge dumping and the resulting illnesses and death among the Ramapoughs (A-1).

Chump change

Staff Writer Scott Fallon refers to "a $12.5 million award for 633 current and former members -- far less than other pollution cases across the nation" (A-12).

In fact, whatever money the Ramapoughs received -- minus hefty legal fees -- was the result of a settlement, not an "award" from a jury.

Fallon doesn't mention the Ramapoughs' lawyers rushed into the settlement, citing the financial problems of Ford and the other Big 3 automakers during the recession.

Nor does he report The Record's editorial page urged the Ringwood residents to take the deal, and not continue their long struggle for justice.

Checks ranged from $4,368 to  a maximum of $34,594, The Record's Mary Jo Layton reported in December 2010: "How much is a life worth?"

Ford and the lawyers laughed all the way to the bank. Unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford didn't need a bailout from the federal government.

Sloppy editing

The flawed reporting and sloppy editing of today's story on the Ramapoughs have become commonplace at The Record of Woodland Park. 

Another example appeared on Saturday's front page, showing the editors' ignorance of even the most momentous of issues.

Editor Martin Gottlieb or his minions could have crafted a climate-change package out of a large photo of English miners and a story on electric cars in New Jersey (see today's Opinion front).

Instead, the photo appeared by itself, leaving thousands of North Jersey readers wondering what the end of coal mining in England had to do with them.

Just shocking

And the story on the anemic sales of all-electric cars had holes big enough for a Tesla Model S to race through.

Fallon, an environmental reporter, wrote this story, too, and claimed the drawbacks of electric cars are "the limited range and lack of charging stations in New Jersey and elsewhere" (Saturday's A-1).

He never mentions the typical electric car, with a range of 85 to 100 miles, is ideal for the tens of thousands of senior citizens whose daily driving involves food shopping, visiting doctors and volunteering.

And though he reports the sleek, luxurious Model S has a range of more than 200 miles, he doesn't tell readers Tesla is the only manufacturer with a nationwide network of fast, free Superchargers that make long-distance travel a breeze. 

Health-care bias

Saturday's front page also carried the pejorative "Obamacare" in the lead headline when the words "Health care" would have fit and showed objectivity.

And once again, Staff Writer Lindy Washburn forgets to remind readers Governor Christie's refusal to set up a health-care exchange in New Jersey has slowed sign-ups in the Garden State.

GWB probe

The end of the state Legislature's probe of the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal isn't Page 1 news (A-1).

Everyone is on the edge of their seats awaiting the identification of "unindicted co-conspirators" during the federal criminal trial of two Christie aides, now set for April.

In the court of public opinion, the GOP bully certainly was involved, despite all the protestations from The Record's editors, columnists, reporters and editorial writers.

Local news

Don't look for much municipal news in today's paper, but you'll find the editors are paying plenty of attention to retailers who are among the paper's biggest advertisers (A-1 and L-1).

Staff Writer John Cichowski continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel for his so-called commuting column with a discussion of short cuts around road construction projects (L-1).

Readers are wondering when the burned-out, error-prone Road Warrior is going to find his own short cut to retirement.

Leonia stands still

On L-3, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes runs another story on Leonia, but has never explored why this town is so poorly run or why officials have downsized the Police Department (L-3).

In August 2014, the lack of an officer directing rush-hour traffic at Broad Avenue and Fort Lee Road, a major intersection, has been cited in the death of Leyla Kan, 60, who was struck in the crosswalk by a small school bus and dragged to her death.  

Nothing has changed.

In today's story, Leonia Police Chief Tom Rowe continues to bitch and moan over not having enough police officers to handle the crush of George Washington Bridge-related traffic.

Food phobia

Restaurant critic Elisa Ung's Sunday column continues to ignore the poor quality of beef, poultry and other food served in even expensive restaurants (BL-1).

Today, she complains about a far less compelling issue, small type and typos on menus. Maybe she needs glasses.

Weighty issue

Today, for a change, Real Estate takes a break from celebrating the greed of Realtors, home builders and owners to tackle a weighty issue, radon (R-1).

Friday, December 18, 2015

Dems do end run round Christie on pensions and gas tax

The reconstruction of the Route 46 bridge in Little Ferry drags on, and drivers still have only one narrow lane in each direction, above. Meanwhile, at the former Little Ferry Circle, below, cars back up in a single left-turn lane onto Route 46 from Bergen Turnpike.


With conservative Republicans refusing to override Governor Christie's mean-spirited barrage of vetoes, Democrats are asking voters to approve dedicated funding of pensions, and road-and-bridge repairs.

And given its anti-union history, The Record of Woodland Park has already come out against a constitutional amendment requiring quarterly payments to the public employees pension fund, as has the state's biggest business group.

Three other amendments to be submitted to voters would require that all gas tax revenue go into the state Transportation Trust Fund, overhaul the redistricting process and add two casinos to North Jersey, which we need like a hole in the head (A-3).

Voters already have approved two other constitutional amendments to trump Christie vetoes and break the Trenton logjam -- an increase in the minimum wage and dedicated funding of open-space preservation.

Gottlieb curse

Editor Martin Gottlieb could care less about New Jerseyans, and he demoted this important news to an A-1 brief and a full story on A-3.

But Marty reserved space on Page 1 for another exceedingly boring political column by Staff Writer Charles Stile on Christie's "greatest vulnerabilities" after Tuesday's GOP debate.

Tax on wealthy

In the A-3 story, readers have to work hard to separate partisan rhetoric from Republicans' real objections to dedicated funding of the state pension system.

Republicans called the plan "fiscally reckless," because it relies on economic growth and "a tax on the state's highest earners" (A-3).

Christie has vetoed a tax surcharge on millionaires several times among a total of 430 vetoes since he took office in early 2010, cementing his reputation as the worst governor in state history.

Hackensack news

With the Hackensack reporter assigned to the "Star Wars" premiere, municipal news from Bergen County's biggest town goes missing for another day today (L-1).

This week, readers have been hurling over every headline with a play on words off of the title of the movie, "The Force Awakens."

Mystery beef

Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung thinks nothing of driving 10 miles or more to rate a restaurant, but today, she discusses "east" and "central" Bergen County as if they are separated by a mountain range (BL-19).

That's how she ended up doing a lukewarm 2-star review of Seoul Galbi in Paramus, the successor to Pine Hill, a Korean restaurant near Bergen Community College that never achieved the A-list status of those in Palisades Park.

As usual, Ung ignores the cheap, mystery beef served at many barbecue places, and doesn't sound that knowledgeable about Korean food or restaurants.

She calls the complimentary panchan or side dishes that come with every Korean meal "snacks," and knocks a special of one free order of barbecue when you order two ($24.95 to $32.95).

Minimum of two

But most Korean barbecue restaurants in Pal Park and nearby towns require customers who want to cook their food on the table to buy at least two orders of beef, chicken or seafood.

Otherwise, a single order is prepared in the kitchen.

Ung also doesn't discuss the appeal of a Korean restaurant, where servers willingly replenish free side dishes of kimchi, seaweed and other items at least once.

Nor does she convey the fun of wrapping your barbecue in lettuce leaves along with rice, garlic and other items, and trying to stuff the entire package into your mouth at one time.

And near the end of her appraisal, what's with the highly unusual plug for two Korean soft-tofu restaurants in Ridgewood ?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

On $8M GWB inquiry, Christie had editors in his pocket

Another view of The Modern, a 47-story rental building that overlooks upper-level access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Those lanes were closed by Governor Christie's aides and cronies "to exact political retribution on the Fort Lee mayor -- a Democrat who refused to endorse the Republican governor in his 2013 reelection bid," The Record reports on Page 1 today.


It was bad enough when The Record failed to label a taxpayer-funded report on the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal as a "cover-up" or "whitewash."

But it got worse -- clear evidence Governor Christie owns the editors at the Woodland Park daily after squandering $8 million so far to conceal his role in the despicable affair.

After Christie's $650-an-hour lawyer released the report clearing the GOP bully, the editors kept on referring to it on equal terms with a federal criminal probe and the state Legislature's own investigation.

In fact, on Dec. 9, Columnist Charles Stile, one of the paper's leading Christie apologists, claimed on A-1 the law firm's probe is one of three that didn't find "a shred of evidence" Christie knew about the lane closures.

This despite a federal indictment listing "unindicted co-conspirators" who haven't been identified.


Now, a federal judge has denounced the Gibson Dunn law firm for "gamesmanship" by destroying interview notes sought by defense attorneys for former Christie aides Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, who are awaiting an April trial (A-1).

Kelly's lawyer, Michael Critchley, said the way Christie lawyer Randy Mastro conducted interviews was "akin to a deliberate flimflam" (A-8).

Today's story also contains another reference to Gibson Dunn partner Debra Wong Yang, who worked on the firm's bridge-scandal report, as one of Christie's fundraisers in his bid for the White House (A-8).

Yet, The Record has never reported the close personal and business relationship between the Borg publishing family and Jon F. Hanson, the real estate mogul who was chief fundraiser during Christie's two gubernatorial campaigns.

Real estate mogul Jon F. Hanson with Governor Christie in an Associated Press photo. Has Hanson's relationship with the Borg family, owner of North Jersey Media Group and The Record, influenced news coverage of Christie?

Whitman blast

When she was Republican governor of New Jersey, Christie Whitman raided state pension systems to balance her budgets, made deep cuts at the state Department of Environmental Protection and received a big tax break on the "farm" she claimed to live on.

Now, she finally has acquitted herself (A-1).

Whitman is denouncing GOP candidates, especially Donald Trump for "employing the kind of hateful rhetoric ... in much the same way that allowed Hitler and Mussolini to rise to power" (A-1).

Still, Whitman doesn't comment on Christie's anti-Syrian refugee stance, though she concedes the GOP bully "has assumed a harsher tone lately" (A-12).

Route 17 'deathway'

Also on Page 1 today, a photo shows the parents of Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell, 32, unveiling a sign that will rename a section of Route 17 for their son, who was killed on the highway in 2014 by an out-of-control tractor-trailer (A-1).

Instead of "Poice Officer Christopher Goodell Memorial Highway," the sign should read, "Memorial Deathway."

The Record's lazy, incompetent staff -- including head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and Road Warrior John Cichowski -- still have not questioned why Goodell was put in harm's way when a speed camera could have done the job just as well. 

Ford defects

In his column today, Cichowski mentions Vincent Brock as one of an "elite group of fallen police officers" whose names appear on highway plaques (L-1).

Brock, a Paramus police officer, was killed after his car spun out of control on Nov. 22, 1993, and hit a utility pole while responding to a report of a shooting that turned out to be false.

Brock's fatal crash was attributed to a defect in the power steering of his Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, and he was among a number of officers who died in accidents or gas-tank explosions in the cruiser, which went out of production in 2011.

Yet, The Record and Cichowski have never explained why local police departments and state police continued to buy the Ford cruiser long after the safety defects surfaced.