Friday, December 4, 2015

Dark days ahead if Ken Zisa returns as Hackensack chief

If you stay off Route 17 or Route 4, below, driving on Bergen County's two-lane roads can actually be a pleasant experience.


A Record story that could have been written by former Police Chief Ken Zisa's defense attorney had many Hackensack residents soiling their underwear this morning.

Staff Writer Todd South reports on the Local front today Zisa intends to sue the city for nearly $35 million in damages, and is fighting to get his old job back.

But the reporter leaves the other side of the story to deep on the continuation page:

Zisa remains under indictment on an official misconduct charge, and Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli is seeking a new trial on that count (L-6).

And the police chief position no longer exists in Hackensack, which has a police director.

"He cannot be reinstated to a job that no longer exists," City Attorney Alexander H. Carver III said of Zisa.

Legal arguments

Zisa's defense attorney, Patricia Prezioso, has wide latitude when filing a lawsuit notice, but that is no excuse for The Record to basically adopt her arguments in paragraph after paragraph, and leave any rebuttal for deep into the story.

Zisa was convicted in 2012 on charges of official misconduct and insurance fraud, and sentenced to five years in prison. 

He was under "house arrest" for three years as he appealed the convictions, and managed to get the insurance fraud charge dismissed. 

Lawsuits galore

Zisa's conduct as police chief and as a onetime state assemblyman was cited in lawsuits filed against him and the city by more than 20 police officers.

City officials say Zisa cost the city at least $8 million in settlements and related legal costs.

Now, his motive in suing Hackensack and the county prosecutor for damages may be an attempt to recoup the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees he paid Prezioso to defend him on criminal charges.

San Bernardino

Today's front page carries a story about another Rutgers University athletic team, showing just how cavalierly Editor Martin Gottlieb is acting just two days after one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history (A-1).

Meawhile, in New Jersey and the nation, the political stalemate over gun control doesn't appear to be easing (A-1).

Governor Christie must have had too much kosher wine to drink at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington on Thursday.

"We need to come to grips with the idea that we are in the midst of the next world war," said Christie, who focused on his years as U.S. attorney, not his terrible record as governor of New Jersey (A-3). 


The one time I tried to eat at Yamagata in Fort Lee, I walked into a crowded, noisy restaurant, and was repelled (BL-16).

Then as now, I could retreat to a quiet, family run Japanese restaurant less than a mile away with a large menu of high-end sushi and cooked dishes that seems to have escaped Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung's notice.

Her 2.5-star review of Yamagata, which has new chefs and owners, includes a photo of a 20-piece shushi platter for $60.50.

But some of the pieces must be very small, because I counted and re-counted and can't find 20 items.

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