Thursday, March 10, 2016

Editors turning N.J. affordable housing law into dirty words

An NJ Transit train stopping at Hackensack's Anderson Street Station. For commuters, a strike or lockout is a moving target, according to The Record. The deadline was reported initially as "March 13," then "Sunday at midnight" and now "Saturday at midnight." 


In the front-page coverage of a builder's plan for 142 apartments in Dumont, you'd never know a 1985 law requires New Jersey towns to accommodate their fair share of affordable housing.

In fact, Wednesday's Page 1 story in The Record and today's front-page follow-up don't even mention the Fair Housing Act or the two state Supreme Court Mount Laurel rulings, in 1975 and 1983, on which the law was based.

But Editor Deirdre Sykes is hiding more than that from readers, because mostly white North Jersey towns have long tried to subvert the requirement for low- and moderate-cost housing, and they've found a champion in Governor Christie.

According to the 2010 census, nearly 76% of Dumont's estimated population of 17,863 were white.

But the stories by Nicholas Pugliese don't even explore whether residents oppose the plan because 18 of the 142 apartments would be rented to minorities.

Today's paper

Sykes' front page today is another snoozer, dominated as it is by a suit over the Dumont apartments, the Republican Party primary ballot, college basketball and a state Supreme Court ruling on "burner phones."

The editor gets point for putting local news on Page 1, but she continues to neglect many stories from Hackensack and other towns.

Bethany Koval

I've been reading the stories about Bethany Koval, 16, the Fair Lawn High School student "who caused a firestorm ... with multiple Twitter posts criticizing Israeli treatment of Palestinians," according to an editorial today (A-10).

School officials wisely decided her political opinion is not bullying, "even if that viewpoint stirs opposition."

But the editorial, and every story before it, reported Koval "describes herself as an Israeli Jew."

Well, is she or isn't she? The way it's been put makes readers think the Woodland Park daily is skeptical.

Local news?

Sykes leads today's Local section with yet another crime story (L-1).

And a big feel-good photo of a circus clown visiting a bald 12-year-old patient is just more P.R. for Hackensack University Medical Center, the hospital taxpayers love to hate.

The hospital's questionable non-profit, tax-exempt status denies the city more than $10 million in taxes, raising the bill of every homeowner and commercial property owner.

An L-3 story reports on the proposed $100.4 million Hackensack budget, introduced Tuesday night, but The Record hasn't had anything on the city school board's $104 million spending plan, which was approved on March 1.

School taxes make up 44% of a Hackensack resident's property tax bill.

Mystery meat edition

Wednesday's Better Living section promoted nine dishes of mystery meat at North Jersey restaurants, including meatballs, hamburgers and a pork shank ($8 to $24).

Readers couldn't find a word from Food Editor Esther Davidowitz or Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung on whether the turkey, veal, pork, beef or lamb was raised naturally or pumped full of harmful antibiotics and other additives.

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