Thursday, April 30, 2015

LOL: Christie calls millionaires the 'people of New Jersey'

Two of the unfilled potholes on Euclid Avenue, between Prospect and Summit avenues, in Hackensack, where residents say the block hasn't been re-paved in about 30 years.

Big stones that are thrown off can damage car tires.


New Jersey's faltering economy, soon-to-be bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund and a host of other problems under Governor Christie can be explained in four words.

In response to another attempt to place a tax surcharge on the wealthy, the GOP bully claims millionaires are the "people of New Jersey," The Record says (A-3).

"So the Democrats are once again firmly in the place of raising taxes on [the] people of New Jersey," Christie told reporters in New Brunswick.

Staff Writers Dustin Raccioppi and Melissa Hayes simply quote Christie making the most ridiculous claims, and never challenge him.

For example, he claims his "economic policies" and "reforms," if not blocked by Democrats, would have allowed him to "cut taxes" -- but the reporters don't ask him which taxes he is referring to (A-3).

'Millionaires tax'

Of course, many of the millionaires that would pay such a tax surcharge -- raising more than $1 billion a year in new revenue -- are Christie supporters.

They are part of the 1% and the source of campaign money that elected him governor and, he hopes, will send him to the White House.

They are far from being "the people" he has tried to screw from the outset, whether they ride mass transit, teach in our schools or work for state government.

Just folks

You'll find one of them on the first Business page today -- Goya CEO Bob Unanue, whose billion-dollar Hispanic food empire received an $82 million state tax break to build a new world headquarters in Jersey City (L-7).

Staff Writer Hugh R. Morley, who covered the "dazzling ceremony" to open the building, is a good reporter, but he didn't say anywhere is his report whether the Unanue family or the company have contributed to Christie's campaigns.

Instead, he quotes Christie extensively on the importance of Goya to New Jersey, which has lagged the nation and nearby states on job creation under the conservative's misguided rule.

And another multimillionaire who is just folks to Christie is real estate mogul Jon F. Hanson, one of his biggest fund-raisers and a personal friend of the Borg publishing family, owner of The Record. 

Hanson's links to Christie and the Borgs may explain why Editor Martin Gottlieb continues to run an endless stream of boring Charles Stile columns on Page 1, exploring in mind-numbing detail Christie's chances of winning the GOP nomination (A-1).

Vietnam War

Staff Writer Todd South is a veteran of Afghanistan, but he could have turned in a far more complete Vietnam War retrospective than readers find on A-1 today.

Like our second war in Iraq, U.S. government officials may have lied to the American people to justify the invasion.

And South doesn't discuss all of the health problems veterans experienced from the use of Agent Orange and napalm to eliminate hiding places for guerrilla fighters.

When I worked on The Record's copy desk, I often edited the obituaries of those veterans, many of whom died in their mid-50s.

And like returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, the country turned its back on those who fought in Vietnam and their health problems.

Finally, Vietnam was the first war that made the nightly TV news, where the horror sparked protests to bring it to an end, such as the one I attended in San Francisco.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Christie ignores Silk City slaughter, editors fail old drivers

On a day like today -- when The Record doesn't call for the impeachment of Governor Christie for sending state troopers to Baltimore, while continuing to ignore the gun violence in Paterson -- the only good that can come of the newspaper is to recycle it.


Riots in Baltimore and the slaughter of innocent teens in Paterson are front-page news in The Record again today, with the stories played side by side.

But clueless Editor Martin Gottlieb fails to connect the dots and put Governor Christie on the spot for sending New Jersey troopers to the Maryland city and once again screwing Paterson.

On A-6, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes' story on state troopers helping to restore order in Baltimore notes they have been sent to Camden in the past.

But Hayes and an editorial on A-10 today don't put Christie on the spot for failing to send state police to help Paterson's dysfunctional Police Department.

Under the direction of Police Director Jerry Speziale, they seem unable or unwilling to stop the drive-by shootings of innocent young people, three of whom have died in the past 10 months.

The text of Hayes' story is partially covered by an advertisement, in another production screw-up courtesy of six-figure Editor Liz Houlton, who is laughing all the way to the bank (A-6).

No taxes

In the name of "no new taxes," the GOP bully cut state aid to Paterson, Newark and other poor cities in late 2011, resulting in the layoffs of many hundreds of police officers.

Silk City's force still hasn't recovered, despite new hires, and basketball star Armoni Sexton, 15, is the latest victim of Christie's mean-spirited policies. 

It's time to impeach Christie for this and all of his other transgressions.

Raise gas tax

We should also get rid of Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, and other members of the state Legislature who refuse to enact a gas-tax hike to fix our roads and bridges, and then override Christie's veto (A-1).

This is just more of the editors exploiting politics and ignoring what is good for state residents.

No one has been able to shake the irrefutable logic that drivers are the ones who should pay -- through higher taxes on fuel -- for fixing the roads and bridges they use.

Dissing elderly

Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza -- and Road Warrior John Cichowski -- continue to treat older drivers who crash their cars as so much chopped liver.

In desperation, Sykes and Sforza again ordered layout editors to blow up as big as possible two gee-whiz photos of mishaps blamed on older drivers to fill huge holes in their local-news report today (L-1 and L-3).

As usual, the 85-year-old driver who probably got sick and crashed into a truck on South Summit Avenue in Hackensack, killing himself, isn't identified (L-1).

Was he a grandfather or father? No one in the Woodland Park newsroom cares, because his only value to the laziest of lazy editors is as a space filler.

Pedal error

Nor do they care why a confused driver ignored barriers and drove his Mercedes-Benz into a large hole in Westwood, becoming the laughing stock of first responders visible in the photo (L-3).

Cliffview reported the Mahwah man, 67, was issued summonses for careless driving and driving on a closed road.

Even more egregious, the Road Warrior column has ignored the challenges faced by older drivers in the decade or more The Record has published photo after photo of the mayhem caused when they mistake the gas pedal for the brake pedal. 

Readers are desperate for anything that would cut down on the endless stream of court, police, fire and accident news the incompetent local editors so desperately need to fill their pages today and every day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Black lives aren't worth much to Paterson police, editors

In the past two years, Main Street in Fort Lee has been closed for utility work and other projects more than any other two-lane road in Bergen County it seems, as it was Monday afternoon, when traffic was funneled into one lane at Anderson Avenue, above, and at Center Street.

Meanwhile, work continues on Hudson Lights, the huge retail and residential project near the George Washington Bridge. And across the street, an expanded Plaza Diner has reopened after renovations, offering free valet parking.


"I've had enough of these killings. Enough is enough."

"Everyone says it has to get worse before it gets better. But we don't see any progression. It's only getting worse."

"I'm scared."

How many ways can Paterson residents and friends of slain basketball phenom Armoni Sexton say it (A-1 and A-7 in The Record today)? 

They are wondering when Police Director Jerry Speziale and his force are going to do something to prevent more killings of young people like Sexton, 15, who was slain by gunfire attributed to a gang rivalry city officials have known about for decades.

Today's Page 1 coverage of Armoni's funeral on Monday doesn't even raise the responsibility of police to prevent gun violence in Silk City's impoverished neighborhoods, even though the force has been depleted by Governor Christie's mean-spirited aid cuts.

The A-1 headline is predictable:

"Mourners seek meaning"

The line over the front-page photo of young mourners reads:


Burying anger

Quotes from fed-up residents are buried deep on the continuation page, and reporters didn't even bother asking Speziale and Mayor Joey Torres for their reactions. 

If black lives are cheap in Paterson, they are even cheaper in the Woodland Park newsroom, which doesn't have a great record on minority employment or an editorial policy that holds cops' feet to the fire.

Armoni was the third innocent young person killed by gunfire in the past 10 months.

Typically, The Record's Monday edition carries a story on the latest weekend shooting in Paterson, the same kind of body count journalism the media practice in wartime.

'Best towns'?

Have you ever heard of New Jersey Family magazine? Neither have I.

But all over the Local front today is a story about four Bergen County towns the magazine calls "Best Towns for Families" in 2015.

What follows is more reporting about Oradell, Closter, Harrington Park and Demarest than readers have seen in the last five or 10 years (L-1 and L-3).

You know the assignment editors, Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, are lazy and incompetent when Palisades Park changing seven streets to one way makes the front of the Local news section.

Better to warn readers Pal Park is one of the few towns that keeps meters in effect until 9 p.m., as well as on Sundays, hoping to fleece customers of dozens of Korean restaurants.

Second look

In his column on the Local front a week ago, Road Warrior John Cichowski played dumb on the reasons pedestrian deaths are rising in New Jersey.

He only had to report a major development across the Hudson River, where New York City is now charging drivers with a crime if they injure or kill a pedestrian or bicyclist who has the right of way.

Cichowski knows most New Jersey drivers are treated far more leniently -- a major factor in the rising death toll.

And he has even quoted one of those morons saying he wanted to run down a pedestrian who didn't use the crosswalk.

Sloppy reporting

A week ago, Cichowski also listed some of the pedestrians who were killed in Bergen County, but didn't bother reporting the lenient treatment some of the drivers received.

He listed Hue Dang as one of the 17 "walking deaths" in March.

The veteran reporter noted the Hackensack woman, 64, was fatally injured crossing Jackson Avenue at Kennedy Street.

But the confused Cichowski forgot to say no charges of any kind were filed against a Bergen County Prosecutor's Office detective, John Straniero, who was driving the unmarked car that ran her down.

That accident is being reviewed by the Union County Prosecutor's Office.

Monday, April 27, 2015

North Jerseyans lining up for crappy hot dogs is A-1 news

More photos of the aftermath of a three-alarm fire that gutted a building at 76 Main St. in Hackensack on Saturday, prompting officials to order its demolition, above and below. Today, The Record corrects the number of apartments on the upper floors, reporting that 34 people in 12 families lived in the same number of apartments (L-3).


Hundreds of people flocked to tiny Norwood and waited on a long line for a dose of nostalgia and indigestion on Sunday at the re-opening of a Callahan's hot dog restaurant.

Why is this on the front page of The Record today?

Staff Writer Minjae Park describes the deep-fried hot dogs as a "greasy bite," but otherwise doesn't discuss whether they are all beef or contain harmful antibiotics, growth hormones or preservatives (A-1).

Owner Dan DiMiglio, whose grandfather, Leonard Castrianni, launched Callahan's at a Fort Lee gas pump in 1950, says "the restaurant is offering an experience, not just food."

He doesn't describe the "experience," but it likely includes heartburn from all those fried hot dogs with chili and cheese or spicy onions and fried potatoes.

From all the publicity DiMiglio has received in The Record since he launched a Callahan's food truck, you'd think Food Editor Esther Davidowitz has a crush on him.

Or maybe he just signed a contract with the Woodland Park daily's advertising department.

Typo, error

On the continuation page, a historical photo of the Fort Lee Callahan's as it looked in the 1950s has a caption with an embarrassing typo, calling the place a "North Jersey hot dot institution (A-6).

The second photo on that page notes some diners in Norwood waited outside nearly two hours "to join the crowded dining room inside Callahan's on Sunday [italics added]."

Dining rooms are almost always "inside" restaurants, but the clueless editor probably meant to write diners "joined the crowd" inside Callahan's.

The Callahan's ad disguised as a news story appears on the same day that Chipotle Mexican Grill became the first national fast-food chain to stop serving food with genetically modified ingredients.

See: Chipotle is now GMO-free

Christie P.R.

Also on Page 1 today, Columnist Herb Jackson joins colleagues at The Record in trying to boost Governor Christie's sagging chances at the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 (A-1).

New Jersey's unemployment rate is the seventh highest in the nation, reports Jackson and a news story on the Business page today (A-8).

Ignoring speeders

In a letter to the editor today, Gerald G. Van Ess of West Milford describes the "crazies" you find driving on Route 23 north during the afternoon rush hour, "speeding, tailgating, cutting off other drivers -- just plain wild and reckless driving" (A-9).

But you find the same type of drivers on the turnpike, parkway and many other New Jersey highways -- a problem Road Warrior John Cichowski has ignored for more than a decade.

It's apparent to everyone except the confused, house-bound columnist that enforcement has declined dramatically.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

In teen's death, editors miss a powerful seat-belt lesson

A three-story building at 76 Main St. in Hackensack, at Bridge Street, was torn down early today after a 3-alarm fire began on Saturday in the kitchen of Choripan Rodizio, an Argentinian-Brazilian restaurant, and spread to 10 upper-floor apartments.

When the restaurant opened in early 2013, it was a welcome sign of renewal in downtown Hackensack. Choripan Rodizio offered great salads and some seafood dishes, in addition to lots of grilled meat, pizza and pasta aimed at Argentinians with Italian ancestry.


Would Stephanie Morgan be alive today and preparing to graduate from Emerson High School, if she was wearing a seat belt on Wednesday night, when her best friend lost control of a speeding SUV, rolling it several times?

A Road Warrior column from staffer John Cichowski on the Local front today and a news story on Saturday's front page don't even discuss the possibility.

Cichowski, along with the rest of the news and editing staff in Woodland Park, again drop the ball, as they have so many times before in reporting fatal crashes and pedestrian fatalities.

Could the local editors' disdain for safety belts be traced to the sad fact that some of them are so fat they wouldn't be able to buckle up, even if they wanted to?

Charges filed

On Friday, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli announced the filing of charges against the unnamed 17-year-old girl who was driving the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder, a large SUV, at what "is believed to be a reckless, high rate of speed."

"The SUV flipped numerous times, leaving the roadway and coming to rest on its driver's side" in a yard, according to the press release.

No mention was made of whether Morgan was wearing a seat belt in The Record's initial Thursday story or Saturday's Page 1 story on the charges.

They are juvenile delinquency with the underlying offense of vehicular homicide and several motor vehicle summonses, including reckless driving, speeding and failure to abide by probationary driver's license requirements.

But from the outset, Jerry DeMarco's Cliffview quoted "authorities" saying Morgan wasn't wearing a seat belt and was ejected through the vehicle's sunroof. 

Finally, today's story on services for Morgan mentions she wasn't buckled in, but that the driver and a third occupant were (L-3).

Brother in car

Morgan was found on the street with severe head injuries, meaning her 15-year-old brother, who was in the back seat and climbed out of vehicle along with the driver, saw his big sister dying.

She was pronounced dead early Thursday at Hackensack University Medical Center.

An unbelted Morgan also is likely to play a big part in any lawsuit her family files against the driver's insurance company for damages, which would be extremely large considering the earning potential of a bright 18-year-old.

But those damages could be reduced based on Morgan's contributory negligence -- not buckling up.

A death notice today notes Morgan "had a real love of cats," and is also survived by "her cherished pets, Mia, Tommy, Joey a/k/a Dio, Sandy and Petey" (L-5).

Page 1

A long story on a "bloody feud" between street gangs in Paterson leads the paper today, reporting that the rivalry has claimed at least two innocent lives, basketball star Armoni Sexton, 15, last weekend and Nazerah Bugg, 14, another basketball standout, last year (A-1 and A-8).  

Reporters quote Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes and Mayor Joey Torres extensively on the decades-old rivalry.

Where's Speziale?

But no one asked Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale why his department hasn't confiscated the gang members' guns and gotten the murderers off the street long before the shootings of Nazerah and Armoni.

If you've been on the moon and missed all the TV and front-page coverage of Armoni Sexton's death last weekend, burned-out Mike Kelly has written just the column you're looking for. 

The entire text on the Opinion front is mind-numbing background information, enough to discourage any reader from turning the page and searching for Kelly's opinion about the easy access to guns in Paterson and other cities (O-1 and O-4).

Christie lies

Another story on Page 1 today reports Governor Christie, "who is expected to run for the GOP nomination in 2016," frequently "bends the facts" when he meets with voters in New Hampshire or New Jersey.

Gee. New Jerseyans have known that since he took office in early 2010.

Mercury in tuna

In her The Corner Table column today, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung shirks her responsibility as a journalist to tell other women of child-bearing age to avoid the fatty underbelly of tuna called toro, because it contains high levels of harmful mercury (BL-4).

The giant blue-fin tuna -- which can weigh 600 pounds or more -- is prized by the Japanese, whose exploitation of this fast-moving predator has led to it being raised on fish farms in Spain and other countries.

The tuna get their revenge on humans with high levels of mercury, which is especially harmful to children and women of child-bearing age.

Friday, April 24, 2015

No stars for dessert-obsessed restaurant critic Elisa Ung

The Bergen County Human Services Shelter for the homeless was built on South River Street in Hackensack opposite the Bergen County Jail, below. Police Director Mike Mordaga credits his quality of life patrols and cooperation by shelter officials for a reduction in the number of homeless on Main and Anderson streets.

The county shelter serves three free meals a day, attracting a large number of homeless. But police say many of those with criminal records appear to be staying away from Hackensack.


Despite a growing awareness in the United States of heart-healthy foods and the harm to humans of antibiotics used to raise animals, The Record's chief restaurant critic seems to be stuck in the 1970s.

Today, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung gives only 3 out of 4 stars to the widely respected Esty Street in Park Ridge, and throws a temper tantrum over what she calls "a sad list of options for sweet-toothed customers" (BL-16).

Ung never explains whether the desserts are what led her to deny the 23-year-old "institution" that coveted fourth star (Outstanding), but slams the place for being "in expense account, price-is-no-object territory."


In the eight or nine years Ung has had this job, I'm sure she has reviewed far more expensive restaurants, especially steakhouses where she thinks nothing of dropping $85 of the newspaper's money for a huge hunk of aged mystery beef pumped full of harmful antibiotics and growth hormones.

Naturally raised?

I would think the $39 short ribs and $43 filet mignon she sampled at Esty Street were raised naturally and came from animals that were grass fed, justifying the prices.

But all Ung says about their origin is "the steak quality here cannot be contested."

She does complain the restaurant's menu doesn't "note" the prices of three steaks or such "enhancements" as crispy oysters.

Yet, she is guilty of praising the wine selection and "enticing" cocktails, but forgetting to tell readers how much they cost.

No sugar high

Then, she devotes an entire long paragraph to her disappointment over the "leaden" creme brulee, "too-thick chocolate" in another dessert and the lack of "lush creaminess" in an ice cream.

The first sentence of that paragraph, one of 10 in the review, is missing commas: "Avoid the leaden creme brulee pound cake French toast and a chocolate trio ...."

Anyone concerned about their weight or heart health would avoid all of those artery clogging desserts like the plague.

'Health vice'

And despite all the years she has been stuffing her face on The Record's dime, her writing remains rough, and she doesn't seem to get any editing.

She claims the restaurant's "finesse screeches to a halt at dessert."

A starter of grilled octopus with creamy gigante beans contains a "health vice," Ung reports, referring to a few slices of chorizo.

Yet, the overweight reviewer doesn't warn of a "health vice" in any of the desserts she sampled.

Ung's unhealthy eating habits don't serve the vast majority of readers, who are older and may be diabetic, watching their weight or trying to avoid heavy cream and butter.

Her departure would be no loss. 

Page 1

The 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide certainly deserves front-page coverage, but why didn't the editors assign any reporters to question North Jersey's Turkish residents on their views concerning the standard denials from officials (A-1)?

The Record's coverage of the two hostages killed by a U.S. drone doesn't contain a word on whether we will compensate the families or defend lawsuits filed by them (A-1).

President Obama's statement that the deaths were "not necessarily the result of negligence" suggests the latter (A-1 and A-8).

Clueless reporting

Another fatal accident exposes the deeply flawed editing and local reporting staff in the Woodland Park newsroom (L-1).

The first question any reporter should ask when a passenger is ejected from a vehicle is whether he or she was wearing a seat belt.

Instead, Staff Writers Andrew Wyrich and Stephanie Akin knock themselves out getting quotes on what a wonderful person Stephanie Morgan was before the Emerson High School senior died Thursday.

The first paragraph wasn't even edited. 

Morgan died from head injuries suffered, the reporters say, "when she was ejected from a single-car accident hours before" [italics added].

Of course, she was ejected from a vehicle, not an "accident." 


Cliffview quotes Prosecutor John L. Molinelli as saying Morgan, 18, wasn't wearing a seat belt, and that she was ejected through the vehicle's sunroof.

Jerry DeMarco also reports the driver will be charged with a juvenile offense, and he supplies details on how the vehicle crashed that you don't find in The Record today.

See: Emerson teen wasn't wearing seat belt

Nissan recall

From The Record's description of the one-vehicle crash, the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder involved may have had a mechanical problem, causing it to flip"numerous times," or the driver, Morgan's friend, could have been speeding.

According to, the 2008 Pathfinder was recalled in 2010 to replace a control arm in the front suspension for improper welds that could lead to separation and a crash. 

This kind of flawed reporting is evident in almost every motor vehicle or pedestrian fatality covered by the inept local assignment editors, Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, and edited by staffers under the supervision of six-figure Production Editor Liz Houlton.

Recall the single story on the March 9 pedestrian death of Hue D. Dang, 64, a Vietnamese-American woman who was run down in Hackensack by a detective driving an unmarked car from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

The story never mentioned a crosswalk at the T-intersection, Jackson Avenue and Kennedy Street, or that Dang was struck when she was walking in or near it. 

Hackensack police filed no charges against the driver, Detective Sgt. John C. Straniero, 49, of Wayne, but another prosecutor's office is investigating the accident.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Readers' eyes are rolling over upbeat Christie coverage

Volunteer jazz musicians entertaining visitors at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center on Wednesday.


Governor Christie was popular as late as November 2012?

That's the ridiculous assertion of The Record's burned-out political columnist, Charles Stile, who continues to try and sell the GOP bully's supposed bipartisanship in yet another Page 1 analysis of the 2016 presidential election. (A-1 and A-8).

What about the loss of $400 million in federal education aid in 2010 -- his first year in office -- followed several months later by Christie pulling the plug on new Hudson River rail tunnels and the biggest expansion of mass transit in decades?

What about repeated vetoes of a tax surcharge on millionaires and hundreds of millions in tax breaks for wealthy business owners?

Or rubber stamping higher tolls on Hudson River crossings operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an agency he packed with his cronies?


A second story that gives a favorable spin to Christie's actions cites "weak economic growth" as the reason Christie "slashed legally required payments to the state pension system in recent years in order to balance the budget" (A-4).

But the governor is personally responsible for that weak growth as well as lagging tax revenues.

An editorial today blames Christie for not honoring the state's obligation to make full contributions to state pensions for teachers and other workers (A-10).

The editorial notes Christie claims making next year's full pension payments "would require raising the 7 percent sales tax to 10 percent or increasing income tax rates by 29 percent."

Of course, what Christie and The Record aren't saying is that a tax surcharge on millionaires would have raised about $1 billion a year for the last several years, making those pension payments and balancing the budget a lot easier.

Page 1

For the second day in row, Editor Martin Gottlieb leads the paper with a rabid coyote or possibly two (A-1).

The poor man. 

After years of practicing journalism for The New York Times, probably the best newspaper in the world, Gottlieb must find the suburbs really dull.

That likely explains his frequent slide into sensationalism.

Food promotions

The job description for food editor and food writer at The Record calls for someone who is willing to wildly exaggerate the greatness of restaurants and other food businesses that advertise in the Woodland Park daily.

That's the only explanation for why Food Editor Esther Davidowitz would call Callahan's a "legendary North Jersey hot dog restaurant" (A-1 and BL-1).

Maybe, she is referring to legendary heartburn or diarrhea.

Her Better Living cover story carefully omits describing the harmful preservatives, antibiotics and hormones that go into Callahan's deep-fried beef hot dogs.

Jon Hanson

I didn't see anything in The Record on this report from International Business Times:

"New Jersey rules require Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration to cancel investment contracts with firms whose officials raise or donate money to the governor’s political campaigns. But his administration has paid more than $16 million in pension fees to the financial firm that was led by Christie’s chief fundraiser and top donor, Jon Hanson.
"The money -- far more than previously disclosed -- flowed to Hanson’s company, Prudential Financial, and its related funds that the state pension system has invested in. The new information, obtained through an open records request by International Business Times, comes as the Christie administration is facing a government investigation into whether it has fully disclosed all fees paid to financial firms -- some of whose executives have made donations to GOP groups backing Christie." 

Hanson is a close friend of the Borg publishing family, which owns North Jersey Media Group and its flagship daily, The Record.

The real estate company Hanson founded recently backed the sale-leaseback of NJMG's printing plant in Rockaway Township, a deal worth about $30 million.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Our slow justice system: Zisa is free years after conviction

In Hackensack on Tuesday, fewer than 1,000 of the city's 20,000 registered voters approved the $74.8 million tax levy to support the school budget, and returned three incumbents to their seats on the Board of Education. The board keeps the election in April to exploit voter apathy and ensure the status quo year after year. At the Fairmount School, above, poll workers far outnumbered voters on Tuesday evening.


An appeals court will decide whether "prejudicial comments by a prosecutor" are enough to overturn the official misconduct and insurance fraud convictions against former Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa, The Record reports today.

But thanks to our glacially slow justice system and a well-paid lawyer, the man who destroyed his family's reputation in a city they ruled for decades remains out of prison -- nearly three years later (L-1).

On May 16, 2012, a jury convicted the chief of Bergen County's largest police force of three counts of official misconduct, one count of a pattern of official misconduct and one count of insurance fraud.

Staff Writer Todd South, who covered an appeals-court hearing in New Brunswick, appears unfamiliar with trial reporting, and no editor seemed to notice.

On L-3, South reports in the same sentence "Zisa was convicted on charges of insurance fraud and official misconduct in May 2012 on allegations he tried to cover up a 2008 car crash involving his girlfriend, Kathleen Tiernan" [italics added].

Besides the redundancy, they stopped being "charges" and "allegations" when a jury found Zisa guilty.

School election

How does the Hackensack Board of Education ensure the status quo and exploit voter apathy?

Members have kept their election in April, rather than shifting it to the general balloting in November, and the polls don't open until 2 in the afternoon, meaning residents can't even cast ballots on the way to work or when dropping off their children at school.

Two challengers faced three incumbents in Hackensack, and the incumbents kept their seats. No surprise there.

The incumbents are so sure of success they don't even mail campaign material to residents or offer to debate the challengers.

Such issues as the low-quality of food service and lofty administrators' salaries in the high school aren't even addressed.

Mass transit

An editorial today is so unequivocal about Governor Christie's poor mass-transit policies and voodoo budget balancing readers are wondering why the editors and reporters who fill the news columns are so far behind (A-10).

"No way," the editorial states in reaction to an NJ Transit proposal to raise fares 9 percent and cut service.

The editorial notes Christie slashed dedicated state funding to NJ Transit to $34 million in 2013 from $309.4 million in 2012.

The editorial also notes Christie is "averse" to raising the low gas tax to fund road and bridge repairs, but The Record says a 9 percent fare hike "is just a tax by another name."

A letter to the editor on the same page notes mass transit isn't one of Christie's "favorite things."

"I guess he's more partial to helicopter rides," writes Jack Bell of New Milford.

But Michael DellaFave of Emerson, who bought a home "along the Pascack Valley line of the NJ Transit system," tries to garner sympathy for what he calls the "nightmare" of frequent weekend and holiday rail service in the past six years (A-10).

Of course, DellaFave's letter doesn't explain what exactly he was thinking when he made the naive decision to buy a house next to NJ Transit railroad tracks. 

More Christie lies

The New Jersey Education Association is joining other unions to challenge the GOP bully's decision to significantly cut the state's pension contributions (A-1).

NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer said a "memo describing concepts" the union signed "was misrepresented by the governor" as an "unprecedented" accord.

Photo captions

Two photo captions on L-3 today describe "fire crews working to control a two-alarm fire" and "an emergency crew working on one of seven people" led to safety from another fire.

But in the foreground of the first photo, a half-dozen backup firefighters are standing at the ready, and in the second photo, no one is working on the woman on the stretcher.

Nutrition advice

Clueless freelancer Kate Morgan Jackson advises readers to eat their veggies, but to make sure they top them with ham and poached eggs (BL-2).

Maybe Jackson is just trying to drum up business for cardiac surgeons.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why don't the editors just say it? Mass transit truly sucks

Traffic on Route 4 in Paramus this afternoon.


Seats on NJ Transit trains into the city are at a premium during the morning rush.

Homebound commuters continue to face gridlock-related delays at the antiquated midtown Manhattan bus terminal.

The PATH commuter rail system hasn't been expanded for decades, and NJ Transit's light-rail system still hasn't reached Bergen County, even though it was inaugurated about 15 years ago.

Yet The Record refuses to recognize that public transit is struggling and traffic congestion has worsened, especially since Governor Christie took office more than five years ago. 

He said/she said

Today's Page 1 story on NJ Transit's proposed 9% fare hike is treated like just another he said/she said account where everything is attributed (A-1).

That's because Staff Writer Christopher Maag likely hasn't taken any buses or trains since he was given the transportation beat, and doesn't know how the service can suck at times.

So, he quotes "commuters, legislators and transportation advocates, who say service has declined and who blame the Christie administration for not doing enough to support mass transit in New Jersey" (lead paragraph on A-1).

Christie himself is not to blame, according to the Woodland Park daily, which more and more resembles the GOP bully's elaborate P.R. machine rather than a newspaper.

It's the amorphous "Christie administration."

The Road Warrior column has largely ignored commuting issues for more than a decade.

And when you add this kind of uninformed reporting on mass transit, the editors give readers the impression of being in the pockets of the car dealers whose advertising revenue helps make the Borg publishing family rich.

Spring showers moistened flowers.

Torres, Speziale

In following up on the shooting death of basketball star Armoni Sexton, 15, The Record continues to give a pass to two political hacks, Paterson Mayor Joey Torres and Police Director Jerry Speziale (A-1).

The arrest of a suspect is little solace to a community that has seen three innocent young people die on the streets from random gunshots in less than a year.

At least an editorial today criticizes Torres for failing once again to be "the first and loudest voice of outrage" (A-8).

Why not call for his impeachment? The editorial is kinder to Speziale, who should be pilloried.

There may be no "simple solutions," as the editorial states, but at least Speziale should have police work harder to get rival gang members and illegal guns off the streets.

In the dark

On A-2 today, the editors admit they didn't know which county U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance was from when he was in the state assembly.

Lance, a Republican, was from Hunterdon, but the story said Burlington.

Christie polls

Editor Martin Gottlieb today also buried two polls on Christie's eroding approval rating and the poor job he is doing in New Jersey (A-7).

Neither are news to readers and residents.

Local news?

An animal story dominates the Local news section for the second day in a row (L-1).

Expect that little of the data in John Cichowski's Road Warrior column on pedestrian deaths is accurate (L-1).

But the clueless columnist ignores the reason for the rising toll -- mean-spirited drivers who have little regard for other human beings, even if they are in a crosswalk.

And did you see this gem of a paragraph?

"Like cheap toothpaste that prevents decay but rots gums, really bad news can come wrapped in good news" (L-6).

Hackensack news

The Record reports today that Jason Some, 25, sales director of family owned Some's Uniforms on Main Street, has been appointed to fill the City Council seat of Rose Greenman, who resigned (L-6).

I guess it's a coincidence the story is played next to the continuation of the Road Warrior column on pedestrian deaths.

In October 2013, Jason's father, Jerome S. Some, 87, was killed by a car after he left his building and started to cross Prospect Avenue on the way to a meeting at Bel Posto Restaurant.

The meeting room in his high-rise was being renovated at the time, forcing the building's co-op board to meet across the street.

The driver said she didn't see Some.