Monday, November 30, 2015

N.H. paper backing Christie has picked losers since 1988

This Daily News front page from Jan. 9, 2014, is worth running again now that the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper has given its presidential endorsement to Governor Christie, who is last among GOP candidates in state polls.


In case you missed The Record's Sunday story on a New Hampshire newspaper endorsement of Governor Christie, you'll find another one on Page A-3 today.

The Union Leader on Saturday gave its presidential endorsement to the GOP bully, the latest in a long line of losers that paper has backed since 1988.

That means that except for 2004, none of the Republicans endorsed by the Union Leader went on to win the big prize, the White House.

The endorsement went to Newt Gingrich in 2012, John McCain in 2008, Steve Forbes in 2000, Pat Buchanan in 1996 and 1992, and Pete du Pont in 1988.

Christie is running seventh among Republican contenders in state polls of New Hampshire voters leading up to the Feb. 9 primary.

Why did The Record run stories for two days in a row on the same newspaper endorsement?

Rutgers news

The Record today corrects a major error on Sunday's front page, where it named the wrong team in reporting the loss of Rutgers University's football team on Saturday.

However, none of the half-dozen major errors in Staff Writer Christopher Maag's Sunday story on commuter rail in North Jersey were corrected.

Although today's front page is dominated by more news about Rutger's football team, the real crisis is at the Woodland Park daily.

Devoting so much of Page 1 to Rutgers football, and playing the story under a big, black doomsday headline, surely had tens of thousands of readers cursing their misfortune.

This is a non-story for the vast majority of readers, yet it seems to fascinate Editor Martin Gottieb, who left The New York Times to take over the newsroom of the Woodland Park daily.

Local news?

There is so little local news today, Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza had to run long wire-service obituaries about an obscure U.N. official and an even obscurer Japanese actress on L-6.

Meanwhile, freelancer Nina Rizzo must be trying to steer patients to a cardiac-surgery practice with three recipes for macaroni and cheese (BL-1).

They are filled with unhealthy ingredients -- butter, half-and-half, heavy cream, full-fat cheese and bacon.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Production editor misses bad headline, reporting errors

Utility work, such as this project at Passaic and Main streets in Hackensack on Nov. 24, has kept residents guessing which streets will be closed next. Meanwhile, after the work is finished, most of the streets are crudely patched, ensuring a rough ride for drivers.

Editor's note: This post has been revised to reflect yet another major error on Page 1, this one in a sports brief. As a reader in Hackensack notes, Rutgers University's football team lost to Maryland, not Nebraska. See comments section at end of post.


The Record's front page today explores how special interests have made a mockery of efforts to control guns and provide more mass transit in North Jersey.

But all of the jawboning from lawmakers and experts assembled by Staff Writer Christopher Maag and Columnist Mike Kelly will do little to advance those goals (A-1).

Meanwhile, below the fold, so-called commuting Columnist John Cichowski continues to ignore the lack of rush-hour seats on trains and buses, and Governor Christie's state-aid cuts, which forced NJ Transit to raise fares and cut service (A-1).

Those three stories or columns are simply way too long for time-pressed readers, and seem intended to fill space more than anything else.

Errors mount

Glaring errors in Maag's lead story today (A-1), and a bad headline on Saturday's front page have readers wondering how six-figure Production Editor Liz Houlton, and the supervisors of the copy desk keep their jobs.

In Maag's first two paragraphs today, meetings in May 1928 and November 2015 are said to be "86 years" apart, but if anyone bothered to do the arithmetic, they are actually 87.5 years apart.

Also on the front page, a photo caption is wrong in saying the tracks in Englewood shown in the photo are "unused." 

On the continuation page (A-12), Maag is incorrect is calling one line the New York Susquehanna & Erie railroad.

As readers can see from the graphic on the same page, it's the New York Susquehannah & Western.

And at one point, Maag says NJ Transit trains run "as far east" as Lake Hopatcong when he should have written "as far west."

The many errors in Maag's story also were apparent to reader Michael Keen, who commented on North

"So many errors in this article. Tracks in Englewood are not unused, just not used for passenger service. The 1928 plan "envisioned trains running from Englewood to Jersey City?" Like they had already been doing for decades? The New York, Susquehanna and Erie? Not Western? Today, NJ Transit runs trains "as far east as Lake Hopatcong?" That's how far west they run. The "section" of the NYS&W between Paterson and Hackensack has no electricity? Neither does any other section of that line."

Bad headline

On Saturday's front page, The Record's annual story on Black Friday shopping appeared under a puzzling headline:

Spreading the wealth

The word "wealth" doesn't appear anywhere in the story, and readers must have been puzzled over just whose "wealth" was being spread and to whom.

North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record, certainly hasn't been spreading any "wealth," judging from a freeze on newsroom raises that has been effect for several years.

Political appointee

On the Local front today, a story on Joanne M. Cimiluca doesn't explore how Bergen County's acting director of economic development was able to move with ease between a government job and private industry (Montvale-based Mercedes-Benz), and back (L-1).

Can taxpayers really afford to pay this political appointee $121,182 a year, with little or no evidence in the story that she succeeded in advancing economic development when she first held the job from November 2006 to July 2010?

That is especially galling in Hackensack, where hundreds of millions of dollars in untaxed Bergen County property unfairly shifts the burden onto homeowners.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Readers are hoping they'll survive Thanksgiving editions

On Thursday, The Record's useless Sports section joined numerous Black Friday sales fliers in going straight to recycling. The Thanksgiving edition's predictable front page focused on why a handful of people are giving thanks, ignoring the millions of middle-class residents targeted by Governor Christie.


Six years after Chris Christie broke his campaign promise to lower property taxes -- the one that likely got him elected governor -- The Record continues to ignore the millions who can't wait for his reign to end.

Today, Editor Martin Gottlieb devotes precious front-page space to a Wayne man who has overcome a childhood illness to help hold the Ronald McDonald balloon aloft during Thursday's parade (A-1).

Gee whiz. Isn't that heart warming? All our troubles are over.

Covering the few

On Thursday's front page Columnist Mike Kelly apparently could find only two people "who turned a personal tragedy into a rallying call for change."

Meanwhile, Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado interviews a handful of "refugees and asylum seekers" who are marking their first Thanksgiving in the United States.

Couldn't the local assignment editors and reporters find the energy to interview 20, 30 or 40 state residents on what, if anything, they are thankful for in the fifth year of Christie's mean-spirited rule?

2017 election

The Woodland Park daily already has started covering the 2017 election to pick the GOP bully's successor, but today's A-1 story is predictable.

Staff Writer Dustin Racioppi focuses on politics -- Democrats v. Republicans -- instead of issues or what would be good for New Jersey.

He also doesn't mention some of Christie's many failures, including vetoing a hike in the minimum wage (A-1).

For more wasted space, see Staff Writer Jim Beckerman's piece on "Betamax devotees" devastated by Sony's decision to end production of the videotapes in March (A-1).

Tens of thousands of older readers have been shut out by advances in technology -- from smart phones to computers to navigation systems -- yet I have yet to see that story reported in The Record by Beckerman or anyone else.

Traffic on Route 4 east in Paramus just before 8 this morning was much lighter than during the usual weekday rush hour.

One driver received a gift in the parking lot of 24 Hour Fitness in Paramus.

Christie and Syrians

An editorial on the contributions of Syrians to New Jersey is muted in its criticism of Chritie's hate-filled speech in the wake of Paris attacks on Nov. 13 (A-20).

"Christie, who refuses to call out [Donald] Trump for his anti-Muslim rhetoric, seems totally unaware of the Syrian community's long-standing contributions to this state," according to the editorial.

As was local Editor Deirdre Sykes, who waited eight or nine days after Christie sad he would bar Syrian orphans from New Jersey to assign a reporter to interview law-abiding Syrian merchants in South Paterson. 


Today, a story on the Local front is The Record's annual recognition of the homeless problem in Paterson and Hackensack (L-1).

But more important than the homeless are Thanksgiving Day shoppers, because that gives the editors another excuse to write about the retailers whose ad revenue is keeping North Jersey Media Group afloat (L-1).

Poor editing

Staff Writer Christopher Maag covered Zach Blaifeder of Wayne, who held a line to the Ronald McDonald balloon in Thursday's parade (A-1).

His story begins:

"Walking 45 blocks down the spine of Manhattan, tethered to a giant balloon and surrounded by 3 million people, is an exercise in endurance."

Pretty good. But the editors missed a glaring error.

If any street could be considered "the spine of Manhattan," it's Fifth Avenue, which divides the East Side from the West Side.

Yet, Blaifeder and the rest of the parade never got near Fifth Avenue.


Restaurant critic Elisa Ung deserves some credit for praising "the most flavorful veggie burger I have ever tried" at Zinburger in Westfield Garden State Plaza (BL-14).

But, as usual, her review avoids discussing how the cows who gave their lives for the regular burgers were raised.

When you pay $10 to $15 for a Zinburger, do you get grass-fed ground beef or meat from cows who were fed chicken-coop waste and the slaughterhouse remains of chickens and pigs?

Ung doesn't dare say.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reporters display abysmal ignorance of their N.J. beats

The window of a Syrian wedding store in South Paterson, a bustling district of Christian- and Muslim-owned businesses along Main Street in Paterson that draws shoppers from hundreds of miles around, below.


Nine long days after Governor Christie blasted President Obama's plan to accept Syrian refugees -- even orphans -- The Record's newsroom finally moved into action.

An assignment editor in Woodland Park shook the sleep out of her eyes on Tuesday, and told a reporter to interview merchants who have been prospering for decades in the next town -- Syrians who condemn ISIS (A-1).

"Syrians are business people. They have nothing to do with bombs," Paterson bakery owner Mohamed Souda, a Syrian immigrant, told Staff Writer Hannan Adely.

"Whoever goes against refugees, those people are absolutely wrong."

Why did it take so long after Christie's hate mongering for an editor to assign Adely to this important story?

South Paterson

Gathering reaction in South Paterson, an economic bedrock of Silk City for many decades, should have been the first story the editors assigned after the Paris attacks and the backlash from Christie and other mean-spirited Republicans.

Of course, local assignment editors like Deirdre Sykes, Dan Sforza and Tim Nostrand have been at their jobs for decades, and their ignorance, laziness and general incompetence define news gathering at The Record.

And what can you say for reporters like Adely who know their beat, yet wait for a moron like Sforza to tell them what story to report and write.

All of them work under the direction of Editor Martin Gottlieb, an arrogant Manhattanite whose international credentials should have disqualified him from the job of running the newsroom of a local daily paper.

Syrian Jews

Even today's story on South Paterson and Syrians in New Jersey is deeply flawed, because their is no mention of the thousands of Syrian Jews who live in the state and who are united with Christians and Muslim by their love of Syrian food.

This Syrian Jew has shopped for decades at Fattal's, Nouri's and other stores in South Paterson, and I have met many of the law-abiding Syrian Christians and Muslims who run bakeries, restaurants and other businesses there.

Another building was under construction on Main Street in Paterson's South Paterson Commercial District in September.

Traffic bottlenecks

Staff Writer John Cichowski has been boring readers to tears with the Road Warrior column he's been writing for more than 12 years, not to mention the hundreds, if not thousands, of errors he has made.

Could today's so-called commuting column be the first to actually acknowledge that North Jersey has some of the worst traffic bottlenecks in America, including the Lincoln Tunnel (L-1)?

Cichowski's head must have been stuck up his enormous asshole for all the years North Jersey drivers have been mired in daily traffic nightmares, whether at the Hudson River crossings or on narrow, antiquated local streets.

A transportation reporter like Cichowski shouldn't need a survey on traffic bottlenecks to tell him there is not enough mass transit in Christie's New Jersey to take drivers off of the road.

And the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity, waste of gasoline and aggravated air pollution isn't news to his readers.

The only "debate" over raising the gasoline tax to finance road and bridge repairs, and improve mass transit -- the way it has been done for decades -- is the one Cichowski and other burned-out reporters and editors  manufacturer to get people to read their trashy, irresponsible journalism.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Editors give us a rare front page with plenty of local news

At Drago Shoe Repair on the upper level of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan, a shoe shine costs $5, and a tip of less than $5 will get you a lot of attitude from the man who does your shoes.


The Record's belated recognition of decades-old property tax inequity in Hackensack, Englewood and other North Jersey communities with non-profit hospitals is front and center today.

Two other local stories appear on Page 1, including one on a family of seven Syrian refugees moving into a Paterson apartment next week with the help of an interfaith group, this despite hate mongers like Governor Christie (A-1).

For Editor Martin Gottlieb, a onetime globetrotter at The New York Times, today's front page is rare acknowledgement that he is now running a local daily paper based in Woodland Park.

Ailing city

Hackensack University Medical Center's $128.7 million in untaxed property has been an issue for city homeowners who have been paying a disproportionate share for years.

Yet, as the hospital continued to expand in Hackensack, The Record ignored the controversy until "a precedent-setting Tax Court decision and recent settlement ... between Morristown and non-profit Morristown Medical Center."

Morristown settled its case for $15.5 million, but HUMC got off easy -- a settlement of tax appeals that will bring Hackensack only $5.1 million over the next three years (A-1 and A-6).

And pleas from residents for the hospital to make in-kind contributions to the city have been largely ignored by Mayor John Labrosse, a hospital employee, and other members of the City Council.

Trump and 9/11

An editorial criticizing GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump shows how little the editors know about the Syrian community in Paterson, which boasts a bustling Middle Eastern district with restaurants, bakeries and other businesses (A-10).

"There have been various reports, over the years and even now, that people were dancing in South Paterson, home to one of the largest Arab and Muslim populations in the region, during and after the attacks of 9/11," the editorial reports.

But the Syrians who first settled in Paterson in the late 19th century to work in the city's silk mills were Christian, not Muslim, and the community, which has spread to other towns in Passaic County, remains predominantly Christian, with no love for their Muslim persecutors.

A news story on Trump's claims also says Paterson had "a large Muslim population" on 9/11 (L-1).

Second look

A Nov. 14 editorial, the day after the Paris attacks, 
contained an embarrassing error on the date of 9/11 that wasn't corrected on A-2 until four days later.

"In this country, we recall all too well that day in September 2011, and the enormity of an incident in which 3,000 lives were lost in a matter of minutes ...," the editorial said.

Of course, 9/11 took place in 2001, not 2011, but the error was never fixed in the North version of the editorial I looked at today.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Editors ignore wreck left by Christie, our homegrown terror

Radio City Music Hall on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Since the Paris attacks, The Record and other news media haven't explored why New York City and North Jersey have been safe from terrorism since 9/11 or whether Syrian refugees already living here have been anything but law abiding.


The front page of The Record's Sunday edition is filled with news of global terrorism, Syrian refugees and New Jersey's own terror, Governor Christie.

But Editor Martin Gottlieb and Columnist Charles Stile still are trying mightily not to alarm readers with daily reports of the nightmare the GOP bully has left behind as he pursues his White House dreams.

Stile's boring political column today focuses on the distant future, the 2017 gubernatorial election (A-1).

Readers might be confused by another Paris-related story, today's column by Travel Editor Jill Schensul on her indecision over flying there for her annual vacation (T-1).

After all, she arrived there on Wednesday, and has already described the changes in the city she calls a second home in a Page 1 column on Friday and again in today's paper (A-6).

The attack on a hotel in Mali still has not prompted the news media to explore France's colonial rule in West Africa, Algeria, Syria and other countries as the possible root of today's terrorism (A-1).

Local schools

Englewood's new superintendent is telling parents whose children attend minority schools to eat cake (L-1).

That's the only conclusion readers can draw from an interview with schools chief Robert Kravitz, a former cake and dessert executive, who doesn't mention the challenge of elementary and middle schools filled almost completely with minority students.

Staff Writer Kim Lueddeke mentions poor test scores, limited English proficiency and other problems, but says nothing about whether Kravitz is hoping to desegregate those schools, as his predecessors did at Dwight Morrow High School.  

Other stories on schools in Edgewater and Wayne have Hackensack readers wondering when Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza are going to get off their asses, and assign a reporter to look at all of the problems in Bergen County's biggest school district.

They include high salaries for administrators and thefts of computers, two of which were allegedly traced to the home of teacher, who has never been charged.

Seats for homeless

Road Warrior John Cichowski, the so-called commuting columnist, continues to ignore the lack of rush-hour seats on NJ Transit buses and trains.

Today, he goes on and on about the cat-and-mouse game between NJ Transit cops and the homeless using seats at Newark Penn Station and other rail hubs.

At a total loss on how to lure readers who long ago became bored with Cichowski, the veteran reporter compares a homeless man nervous about a cop kicking him out of a train station to "a driver parked overtime at a meter" (L-1).

Crazy Kelly

Columnist Mike Kelly already showed readers what a wimp he is on Saturday, when his Page 1 column was completely devoid of criticism or condemnation of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Today, the best he can manage is to label Christie a "crazy uncle" for saying he would not even allow Syrian orphans under the age of 5 to enter the United States (O-1).

Who is crazy? I'm betting it's Kelly, a burned-out columnist who has been pushing around words and desperately filling space for more than 20 years.

He has bad company in Cichowski and Stile. 

What can be said for a daily newspaper that gives precious space to so many stale journalists, and doesn't foster younger, more courageous voices?

See the Christie cartoon by Margulies on O-2.

Tipping guide?

Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung's Better Living column on tipping today ignores a question on every restaurant customer's mind (BL-1).

Is 15% still considered the standard tip or should we be adding 18% or 20% to the pre-tax total as a matter of routine?

And when will Ung or any other reporter explain how wealthy restaurant owners managed to get regulators to go along with a system of extremely low hourly pay for their staffs and tips from customers to make up the difference?

If something goes wrong in the kitchen or the owner misrepresents the food he serves, the only recourse customers have is to stiff the server.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cowardly columnist doesn't criticize anti-Muslim rhetoric

First Reformed Church on Court Street in Hackensack is said to be the second oldest church building in New Jersey. Gen. George Washington attended the funeral of Gen. Enoch Poor, who is buried in the church cemetery.


What's the point of giving an opinion column to a veteran reporter who doesn't seem to have an opinion about anything?

That's the question on readers' minds today after plowing through thousands of words from Columnist Mike Kelly of The Record on anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of the terrorism in Paris (A-1). 

Ground Zero

For some reason, Kelly doesn't mention a similar column he wrote in June 2010, when he covered a protest against a plan to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

Then, he witnessed and reported "a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims."

"'Go home,' several shouted. 'Get out,' others shouted," Kelly reported before telling readers the men were not Muslims, but Coptic Christians working for a Christian satellite TV station.

They had "come to protest the mosque," he added, noting two police officers had to pull the men to safety.


Other media were quick to pick up Kelly's account, complete with quotes, but unlike the Record columnist, they also condemned the protesters in no uncertain terms. noted the demonstration was "attended by various wingnuts, racists, riled-up nativists and terrified fools."

Conor Friedersdorf of The said:

"Of course, this would be reprehensible even if the men turned out to be Muslims.... 

"The larger objection to building a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero is irrational and incompatible with core American values: freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and the right to pursue happiness."

Strong headline

Today, the Page 1 headline over Kelly's column contains the strongest language on anti-Muslim and anti-refugee comments from Governor Christie and other contenders for the GOP presidential nomination:

"Tone on Muslims takes a dark turn"

In the text, "harsh rhetoric" and "harsh tone" are the best the weak columnist himself can manage.

Anything stronger is put in the mouths of Democratic presidential candidates and others (A-6) -- a sleight of hand the cowardly Kelly employs frequently.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Number of speeding tickets issued on turnpike and parkway has declined dramatically, New Jersey State Police say

The New Jersey State Police say they are achieving their main objective: Lowering the number of fatal accidents on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. (Photo credit: The Associated Press)


The number of speeding summonses issued on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway has dropped dramatically in the past five years.

The decline on the turnpike is especially stark -- 9,950 speeding tickets so far in 2015, compared to 18,193 in 2010, the New Jersey State Police say.

On the parkway, 6,543 summonses have been issued to date in 2015, compared to 9,669 in 2010.

At the request of Eye on The Record, the state police on Thursday also released statistics for the number of careless driving summonses issued on the state's busiest roads:

Careless driving tickets on the turnpike have dropped to 13,315 so far in 2015 from 16,414 in 2010.

On the parkway, the number of careless driving summonses has actually increased, to 19,462 to date in 2015 from 17,316 in 2010.

Drivers who speed, tailgate or weave through slower traffic are a major quality of life issue to motorists who obey the law as the state's roads become increasingly congested.

The Record's John Cichowski, who has written the Road Warrior column for a dozen years, has ignored speeding and careless driving to explore more important issues.

On Wednesday, his column quoted drivers complaining they will have to carry around letters from the Motor Vehicle Commission to show a change of address.

What does it mean?

Lt. Brian Polite, a state police spokesman, cautioned drivers against interpreting the statistics as a license to speed or an indication there is less enforcement than before.

"We still enforce the law," he said today. "When troopers see drivers violating the law, they will take the appropriate action."

When state police were first asked for the statistics, they pointed to their success in lowering the number of fatal accidents on the busy toll roads.

Fatal accidents on the parkway dropped to seven so far in 2015, compared to 25 in 2010 and 31 in 2005.

On the turnpike, which is used by both cars and trucks, there have been 19 fatal accidents so far in 2015, compared to 13 in 2010 and 23 in 2005.

Lt. Polite also points to "better driving behavior" to explain the decline in the number of speeding and careless driving summonses.

Today's paper

The lead story on Page 1 today is silent on what, if anything, Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye did to improve the lives of commuters since the political appointee took over the job in November 2011 at a grossly inflated salary (A-1).

You could say Foye, who is paid an outrageous $289,000 a year, merely fleeced toll payers at the Hudson River crossings, and fee payers at the agency's air and sea ports.

The big, black front-page headline and editing of the Foye story are amateurish:

The news isn't that he is leaving "by March," but that the board of commissioners doesn't see him as fit to be the agency's first non-political chief executive officer.

That is one of the reforms put in place after the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal in 2013.

And despite the insistence of Staff Writer Shawn Boburg, it remains to be seen whether Foye "earns" the $289,000 he is being paid (A-4).

On Wednesday, The Record's story on the departure of another political appointee, NJ Transit Executive Director Ronnie Hakim, also didn't cite any improvements for bus and train riders in her nearly two years in that job.

Gone fishing

Today's lukewarm review of Fish Urban Dining ignores the clunky name, and doesn't tell readers whether the expensive Ridgewood restaurant serves local seafood (BL-16).

Critic Elisa Ung seemed intent on sampling non-Jersey seafood -- such as redfish, Alaskan oysters, shrimp and octopus -- and couldn't wait to dive into the artery clogging desserts.

The acronym for Fish Urban Dining is FUD, rhymes with "dud."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Far more scrutiny of Christie on trail than he got in Trenton

The senior round-trip fare on an NJ Transit express bus to Manhattan from Hackensack is one of the biggest travel bargains around.

These NJ Transit buses outside the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel are among hundreds parked in New Jersey during the day, awaiting the afternoon rush hour. Then, they'll be driven bumper-to-bumper through the tunnel to the midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, causing huge delays for home-bound commuters.


The Record's scrutiny of Governor Christie on the presidential campaign trail is unprecedented, especially when you compare the coverage to his years in Trenton.

The GOP bully has been in office since early 2010, but it wasn't until this year -- in his second term -- that the editors bothered to add up the hundreds of vetoes he has used to get his way with the state Legislature's Democratic majority.

Still, Staff Writer Charles Stiles, among the first to promote the governor's presidential ambitions, wrote one upbeat column after another supporting Christie's claim of being a compromiser who was able to work with Democrats.

Isn't it rich?

Yet, as today's front-page analysis shows, most of Christie's initiatives have hurt the middle class, and he has completely failed to fund the pension system for state employees or back a tax to pay for road and bridge repairs (A-1 and A-10).

Even in the wake of the attacks in Paris, touting his years as U.S. attorney prosecuting terrorists rings hollow in view of all the time he has spent out of state, and the mess he has made in Trenton. 

"Spending in the state budget has grown every year. So have New Jersey's high tax bills for homeowners ...," Staff Writer Salvador Rizzo reports deep on the continuation page. "Private-sector job growth has been among the slowest in the country." 

Out of the bubble

The Record's local editors gave reporters a rare assignment on Wednesday: Ask people what they think about an issue.

Three reporters worked on today's Page 1 story to gather reaction to Christie and other governors who want to keep Syrian refugees from coming to their states.

But they quote only two people, both immigrants, and report on only one Syrian refugee, who arrived in 2013.

On Tuesday, a story included an interview with another Syrian refugee who moved to Paterson.

About 75 Syrian refugees have moved to the state since January.

Shouldn't The Record make some attempt to report if any of them have acted in a way to justify Christie's racism and xenophobia?

Local news?

The lead story on the Local front today reports the estate of Mahwah Public Works Director Ed Sinclair is seeking $20 million in a lawsuit, claiming officials "caused his death through stress" (L-1).

There is no mention of Sinclair's obesity, and the challenge facing his lawyer to prove he died from being fired and reinstated, and not from a condition related to his tremendous weight.

On Aug. 13, Cliffview reported Sinclair, 57, died of a massive heart attack, but that isn't mentioned in The Record today.

The Sinclair suit is only one of the crime and court stories that dominate the local-news section today.

Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza were so desperate for local news they had to run a story on Comcast dropping a sports network (L-3).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Is Waldwick chief still sending cops on suicide mission?

An aerial photo from PIX11 TV news after a tractor-trailer smashed into the unmarked car of Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell, who was parked at the side of Route 17 south on July 17, 2014, operating radar to catch speeders. He was killed instantly, authorities said.


With speed cameras readily available, posting a police officer at the side of a highway to catch speeding tractor-trailers and other vehicles is nothing less than a suicide mission.

But that's exactly what Waldwick Police Chief Mark Messner did, leading to the death of Police Officer Christopher Goodell, who was little more than a sitting duck at 1:30 a.m. on July 17, 2014.

Now, a Bergen County grand has declined to indict truck driver Ryon Cumberbatch on a vehicular homicide charge, The Record reports on Page 1 today in a story that leaves many questions unanswered.

Was driver asleep?

The story by Staff Writer Allison Pries and Jim Norman says it isn't clear whether Cumberbatch was speeding, but there is nothing on whether he fell asleep at the wheel (A-1 and A-8).

Prosecutor John Molinelli is quoted as saying at the time of the crash "Cumberbatch drove directly into the police car without stopping or attempting to stop."

Still, no one knows whether the grand jurors decided they couldn't find the truck driver acted recklessly in causing the death of Goodell, as they would have to do to hand up a vehicular homicide indictment.

The story also errs in comparing an indictment to "a finding that there is enough evidence of probable guilt to go to trial" (A-8).

Many grand juries are said to be rubber stamps of prosecutors, and one judge noted grand jurors will, if asked, "indict a ham sandwich."

More holes 

Today's story also is silent on the inevitable lawsuit Goodell's family can file, seeking damages from the driver and truck's owner, J.B. Hunt Transportation Services.

Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski, who wrote several columns about Goodell's death and people who own homes on the edge of the highway, must have been fast asleep when news of the grand jury's decision broke on Tuesday. 

Stile on Christie

In the last line of his Page 1 column today, Staff Writer Charles Stile says Governor Christie "is perhaps the most desperate" of the candidates seeking the GOP presidential nomination (A-10).

Of course, few readers will get that far after glancing at another front-page headline and Stile column that seems little more than an apology for Christie's racially inspired scree against President Obama, Syrian refugees and black victims of police shootings (A-1).

Daibes and Borgs

Another Page 1 story today -- on a proposed deal between the state Department of Environmental Protection and multimillionaire Fred Daibes -- is the second major story about the developer and restaurant owner since Saturday.

The proposal is called lenient and a slap on the wrist, with Daibes required to pay only a third of a drastically lower cash penalty (A-1).

Daibes dropped out last year as developer of 19.7 acres along River Street in Hackensack owned by North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record.

Local news

Christie isn't the only one who is desperate.

Local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza really scrambled to fill today's thin section, with two major Paterson stories on the front (L-1).

Police, court and non-fatal accident news can be found throughout the section.

There is some relief in the obituary of Alice Ramsey Burns, 105, "the product of an early Hackensack family prominent in the realms of politics and motoring," but that story is buried on L-6.

Healthy recipes

Congratulations to Food Editor Esther Davidowitz for publishing a few healthy recipes among the usual mindless promotion of fatty pork and artery clogging desserts (BL-1, BL-2 and BL-3).

Three of the recipes, all free of butter and cream, are from freelancer Kate Morgan Jackson, who has been known to use those artery clogging ingredients with abandon.