Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hysterical N.J. gas-tax opponents don't deserve equal time

In Hackensack, the exterior of the Bergen County Justice Center is nearing completion as work continues on the covered pedestrian bridge to the courthouse, below, near the medieval ramparts of the old county jail. 


The Koch brothers -- oil billionaires who back right-wing candidates in a war against the middle class -- are financing a campaign to stop a gas-tax increase in New Jersey.

The crackpot New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the evil brothers, urges drivers to say "no to a crazy new gas tax," a Page 1 story in The Record reports.

Staff Writer Christopher Maag actually devotes his second paragraph to the group's ridiculous ad showing "a father stealing things from his kids, including the family dog Sparky to pay for a gas-tax increase" (A-1).

The story is the latest to reflect how The Record allows wealthy special-interest groups, polls and politics to shape its reporting on important public issues.

Maag gives undue weight to hysterical anti-tax opponents without ever citing the logic of drivers paying a higher gas tax to fix roads and bridges, and to improve mass transit.  

Solar farms

The first paragraph of today's solar farm story claims "the projects could depress the price of solar credits that some homeowners rely on to pay off their rooftop ... arrays" (A-1).

But nowhere does Staff Writer James M. O'Neill mention that PSE&G has placed a floor of $400 under each credit a homeowner uses to repay the utility under its solar-loan program.

That compares to the average of $220 the reporter cites in his story. In 2010 and 2011, a so-called SREC fetched as much as $650.

Ruben Enukashvili

There are few details in the story about driver Christine Ko, 20, and how she killed pedestrian Ruben Enukashvili on Sunday night, allegedly while drunk (A-1).

Was the 86-year-old Georgian native in a Fort Lee crosswalk when he was struck by Ko's car? Is she a liquor store clerk in Fort Lee or her hometown of Ewing? Was she working that night?

Ko, who is charged with vehicular homicide, a first-degree crime, also received motor vehicle summonses.

John Walton

A story on another fatality -- the death of a 101-year-old driver who grazed a firetruck and crashed into a Paterson firehouse -- doesn't say whether former firefighter and Pearl Harbor survivor John Walton suffered a medical emergency (L-1).

Walton, who crashed on Sunday, died in the hospital on Tuesday. 

A photo of the accident and a seven-paragraph story appeared on L-6 in Monday's paper.

But for some reason, the reporter didn't identify the driver or give his age, reporting only that he was "elderly."

The man was taken to a hospital after receiving "emergency medical treatment" from firefighters, according to the story.

Staff Writer Linda Moss even interviewed Deputy Fire Chief William Henderson, who witnessed the accident but apparently didn't know or didn't tell her who Walton was.

Today's obituary reports Walton was Paterson's oldest living war veteran.

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