Friday, May 13, 2016

Even if cleared in Bridgegate, Christie still is biggest loser

This front page ran in the Daily News in January 2014, and proved prophetic. The News, Star-Ledger and other newspapers have covered Governor Christie and his administration far more honestly than The Record of Woodland Park.


Since Governor Christie took office in early 2010, New Jersey has become a laughing stock.

And a couple of months ago, Christie's endorsement of fellow Muslim-hater Donald Trump for the GOP presidential nomination prompted the editorial boards of seven major New Jersey dailies to call for his resignation.

"He has answered every crisis with neglect during his disastrous second term," The Star-Ledger noted on March 3, calling on him to leave office for "New Jersey's sake."

The state's biggest newspaper listed the state's fiscal crisis as second worst in the nation, including Atlantic City on the brink of bankruptcy, a mass-transit system in disrepair and an infrastructure fund fast running out of money.

The Woodland Park daily was the only major New Jersey paper that continued to give Christie the benefit of the doubt, filling its column recently with upbeat assessments of his selection as Trump's transition chief -- in the unlikely event the billionaire racist is elected in November.

"Make America Hate Again" is one critic's take on Trump's message.

By his side

Today and Thursday, The Record ran self-serving statements from Christie that all but absolved him in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal less than two months before he was elected to a second term in 2013.

The Record has done exhaustive reporting on the scandal, and now takes credit for leading other media companies in getting federal prosecutors to release a list of "unindicted co-conspirators" that was kept secret after Christie's close aide and crony were charged with conspiracy.

Two of three access lanes to GWB upper-level tool booths were closed in the week of Sept. 9, 2013, as political retribution against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, supposedly for not supporting the governor's reelection campaign.

A second list "is expected to offer the broadest portrait yet of who knew about the conspiracy but did not report it" (A-1).

Worst governor ever

Whether one or both lists are released today and whether Christie is on them is irrelevant in view of his mean-spirited rule of New Jersey, and his war on the middle and working classes.

For a hands-on governor to claim he didn't know what his closest aides and cronies were doing is preposterous, and he long ago was convicted in the court of public opinion.

No matter what happens in Bridgegate, Christie's reign has been disastrous for the state and its residents.

He is the biggest loser, and we are the victims of his personal ambition.

Today's paper

I've seen some terrific headlines in The Record recently, but the one over the GWB scandal today is just ridiculous:

clarity in

Readers have no clue from the main or sub-headline what "political morass" the headline writer is referring to, and it could very well be the deadlock in Congress or the State House.

Of course, a big problem is the huge story on GWB repairs that is displayed next to the scandal story, even though the project doesn't get under way until next year (A-1).

Infrastructure stories such as this are a poor choice for Page 1, but Editor Deirdre Sykes is desperate, because she can't inspire her transportation reporters -- Paul Berger, Christopher Maag and John Cichowski -- to cover the actual commuting crisis in North Jersey.

Rare victory

Another Page 1 story today marks a rare victory over the Christie administration's poor environmental policies (A-1).

The state is dropping plans to "bring large-scale development to Liberty State Park" in Jersey City.

Hackensack police Lt. James Prise, second from right, at the March 8 ceremony in City Council Chambers with his wife and children.

Hackensack news?

Staff Writer John Seasly has done a poor job of covering Hackensack, but he has been all over the embarrassing public ceremony in March to recognize the promotion of the city's first black police lieutenant to captain, another first for an African-American.

Less than a month later, Lt. James Prise was returned to his original rank after he learned he had failed part of his state civil service exam.

Now, Councilwoman Deborah Keeling-Geddis, who also is black, issued a public apology and said Prise "did not deserve to suffer this indignity" (L-1).

Today, Seasly reports her statement "angered the mayor and deputy mayor, who accused her of political maneuvering and of going against the lieutenant's wishes."

Poor coverage

Seasly disappointed Hackensack residents by not covering the issues in the April 19 school election or the Zisa family's attempted political comeback by backing three of the nine candidates.

The election deserved attention, because only about 1,300 of 20,000 registered voters usually cast ballots.

This year, only 895 of them approved a $79 million tax levy to support the $104 million school spending plan, bigger than the city's own budget.

School taxes make up 44% of the total bill in Hackensack.

Voter apathy, apparent in Hackensack's local elections, can be traced to The Record's irresponsibly poor coverage of the city it once called home.

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