Thursday, March 24, 2016

In reporting Hackensack news, editors ignore big conflict

One of the projects proposed Tuesday night would return Hackensack's Main and State streets to two-way traffic, something that many residents and merchants have long hoped for as they try to navigate the congested business district. This photo was taken in late January, when parking was banned on one side of Main to clear away snow.


Today, The Record carries a follow-up to Tuesday night's Hackensack City Council meeting, where officials proposed four major downtown and recreation projects.

In the second paragraph, Staff Writer John Seasly quotes Chief Financial Officer James Mangin saying the projects wouldn't increase taxes.

Seasly actually wrote that Mangin "insisted" taxes wouldn't go up, as if the reporter had contradictory information in hand.

Still, even that wasn't sexy enough. 

Seasly later quotes a resident, Chris Colli, asking, "How much more of a tax increase will that equate to for this town?"

Seasly doesn't say if Colli is hard of hearing, came in late or just missed Mangin's statement.

The proposals are scheduled to be presented at a public hearing on April 4, when a final vote will be taken.

Towns v. hospitals

To many residents, a far more controversial issue is major non-profit institutions that pay reduced or no taxes, shifting the burden onto Hackensack homeowners and commercial property owners.

A front-page story today reports Teaneck and Englewood have joined a growing number of towns challenging the tax-exempt status of their local hospitals (A-1).

The Record's report doesn't even mention Hackensack University Medical Center, which also was missing in recent stories on Governor Christie trying to immunize the hospitals from suits for two years.

Nor has The Record asked Hackensack officials why they aren't filing their own lawsuit after a landmark Tax Court decision last June that stripped Morristown Medical Center of its century old exemption from property taxes (A-4).

The potential tax liability of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center is missing from today's story, but Holy Name Medical Center would have to pay about $2 million a year.

HUMC's potential tax liability is far greater, more than $10 million, Hackensack officials have said.

Auto show

On Wednesday, The Record's business editors went out to lunch, and never returned to the office.

At least that's the impression readers have from today's stale preview of the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center (L-7).

"Hyundai will join Toyota in showing off new electric and hybrid vehicles," The Associated Press reports today.

In fact, those cars were introduced on Wednesday, the first of two press days, as the photo and caption clearly indicate.

Old Prius news

And Tom Krisher, a clueless AP reporter, adds, "Toyota will show a plug-in Prius than can run on electricity alone." 

But since the first Prius was imported in 2000, the hybrid's gasoline engine turned off when stopped at lights, when coasting and at other times, allowing the battery and electric motor to power it. 

In another major error, Krisher claims hybrids and electrics appealed to the "environmentally conscious" and "lacked the power and handling of gas-powered rivals" (L-7).

But electrics accelerate far faster than a conventional car, because all of their power is available immediately.

Krisher's story on L-7 carries a New York dateline, but a related piece on L-8 carries a Detroit dateline. 

How was he in two places at the same time? 


  1. "On Wednesday, The Record's business editors went out to lunch, and never returned to the office." Good one, Victor. That made me laugh. Of course taxes will go up for anything done in Hackensack. They give so many tax breaks to builders, and the hospital doesn't pay -- of course homeowners will be stuck paying the bill. And as you always report -- the BOE's budget always goes up.

    1. Tax revenue for the first completed project should come in this year, plus the hospital agreed to a $4.5 million payment, over three years, so maybe city can hold the line for new projects.

      Thanks, Austin.


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