By VICTOR E. SASSON
A change of one letter in a headline today would have made Page 1 of The Record far more relevant to the lives of readers than it is:
Gee. Doesn't Editor Martin Gottlieb and burned-out political Columnist Charles Stile know by now it's the gun-control debate in N.J. -- not N.H. -- that matters most (A-1)?
The lead front-page story on a global climate change accord certainly is important, but why has Gottlieb completely ignored what the Port Authority is doing to expand mass transit and reduce traffic congestion and smog (A-1)?
God bless Sandy Hillburn, a Fort Lee woman who is alive today, a decade after being diagnosed with the deadliest form of brain cancer and given only three months to live (A-1).
Still, far more compelling would be if the paper's medical and Trenton reporters explored how greedy special interests managed to kill a bill "intended to reign in exorbitant, surprise medical costs," as The Record's front page reported on Saturday.
Why not name the state legislators who essentially were bribed with contributions or promises by what is described as "the medical and insurance communities."
And where is the reporting on whether Christie backs the status quo or is behind the seven-year-long effort to end the exploitation of consumers?
The Local front today carries The Record's annual sob-sister coverage of a Bergen County ceremony for victims of drunk drivers (L-1).
But Staff Writer John Cichowski screwed up again last Sunday, as an A-2 correction noted on Saturday, and he couldn't resist ending this week's Road Warrior column with another plug for a ride service for seniors and the visually impaired.
The addled columnist finally managed to list the correct telephone number for ITN North Jersey, a non-profit group that charges about $10 for "short trips" to supermarkets and doctors.
Still, Cichowski never says whether affluent but frugal seniors are exploiting the inexpensive ride service and its volunteer drivers or explain why he doesn't mention a free ride service available from NJ Transit.
'Inside' food biz
Elisa Ung, the paper's chief restaurant critic, continues to test the limits of irrelevancy.
Her Better Living cover story on "three Bergen County residents [who] play key roles in the culinary empire of [celebrity chef] Jean-Georges Vongerichten" is a colossal waste of space (BL-1).
Thousands of Bergen residents work in Manhattan. Imagine how the editors could fill column after column with stories about their jobs, too.
On BL-2, readers are in for diabetic shock after seeing Food Editor Esther Davidowitz's shameless promotion of cupcakes, pastry, gelato and other desserts available locally or online.
The only item worthy of note in Opinion is the Margulies cartoon on Christie's performance as governor of New Jersey [O-2].
Unfortunately, Publisher Stephen A. Borg muzzled the cartoonist, whose work appears only on Sundays, while giving free reign to burned-out Columnist Mike Kelly, who bores readers today with another history lesson (O-1).
This Dec. 7 front page from the Daily News and a Dec. 5 front-page editorial in The New York Times -- "End the gun epidemic in America" -- are far stronger and more unequivocal than anything that has appeared in The Record of Woodland Park.
Does The Record of Woodland Park have any institutional values beyond making a profit?
One glance at today's Business front (B-1) shows another in an endless series of stories exploring the health of malls and shopping centers, among the paper's biggest advertisers.
Meanwhile, downtowns in Hackensack, Englewood, Teaneck and other towns have withered without hardly any attention from the editors.
In more than a dozen years as the so-called commuting columnist, Cichowski -- aka Road Warrior -- has virtually ignored crowding on mass transit and obsessed over issues facing drivers.
Articles on new Hudson River rail tunnels and a new midtown Manhattan bus terminal constantly emphasize the cost and potentially higher fares.
Is The Record saying they shouldn't be built?
Does all of the ad revenue from automakers and car dealers shape The Record's news and editorial policies?
Today, the Better Living front reports multimillionaire chef Vongerichten wants to ban genetically modified ingredients in all of his restaurants.
Are any chefs in New Jersey going 100% organic to eliminate GMOs?
Anyone who reads Ung's restaurant reviews and other food writing hasn't a clue.