Wednesday, June 22, 2016

This isn't the first time Christie has vowed to lower our taxes

Visitors to the Great Falls in Paterson on Tuesday missed the usual roar of water at the main falls, above, but did better at the upper falls, which are accessible from Mary Ellen Kramer Park, below.


If you promise to lower property taxes in New Jersey, you can get long-suffering homeowners to do almost anything.

That was the case in November 2009, when voters elected a Republican who has ruled by veto as he rolls up the worst record of any governor in state history.

His only so-called accomplishment is a 2% cap on municipal budget hikes that doesn't keep homeowners from tearing their hair out four times a year, when they pay their increasingly higher tax bills.

Now, Governor Christie is renewing his failed promise -- this time claiming he can lower the average property tax bill by $1,600 to $2,200 in 75 school districts that would receive more state education aid (A-1).

The Record's front-page story is silent on whether Hackensack -- the biggest Bergen County district -- is one of the towns that would get more aid under Christie's plan.

In fact, Editor Deirdre Sykes again fails readers across North Jersey by listing only three towns -- Fair Lawn, Teaneck and Wood-Ridge -- that would benefit by getting more aid.

To make that a reality, Christie would have to succeed in amending the constitution to allow the state to pay $6,599 per pupil in both rich and poor districts.

That seems unlikely in a Legislature controlled by Democrats.

Hackensack schools

Hackensack's Board of Education has been known to spend more money per pupil than Ridgewood's, yet the city has two failing elementary schools.

In the April school election, a small minority of registered voters approved a bigger school budget and elected two board candidates who were backed by the Zisa family political dynasty -- a story The Record ignored.

HUMC merger

The Page 1 story on a North Jersey-shore merger of hospitals skimps on how patients will benefit.

Deep on the continuation page, Staff Writer Lindy Washburn reports, "Recent studies have shown that when hospitals consolidate, prices go up" (A-6).

Then, she quotes Robert C. Garrett, president and CEO of Hackensack University Health Network, as saying "he did not expect it to be true in this case."

What else would he say? 

An A-6 photo shows Garrett with a big smile on his face as he contemplates his reported annual salary of about $3 million. 

As a public service, I'd like to see Washburn list the salary of all of the executives at Hackensack University Medical Center, which claims a non-profit exemption on $10 million in property taxes in the city.

Don't hold your breath.

Local news?

Sykes leads Local today with the results of a vote on a bond ordinance to finance a municipal parking garage in downtown Ridgewood (L-1).

This proposal has received more ink in The Record -- including a front-page story last Saturday -- than bigger projects in other towns, including the enormous expansion of HUMC.

Sykes also directed her reporters to cover every single hearing on the expansion of The Valley Hospital, even though none of the construction would be outside the Ridgewood hospital's campus.

In both case, readers' eyes rolled at the excessive amount of coverage, even as the local staff neglected the beleaguered downtowns of Hackensack, Teaneck, Englewood and other communities. 

Two elderly men

More than two days after two elderly men were run down as they were walking on a sidewalk in Park Ridge, Sykes finally identifies them on L-3.

Ioannis Kapatais, 69, a resident, was fatally injured and Maochia Hu, 64, of Montvale remained in critical condition at a hospital, acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal says.

He did not identify the 61-year-old driver, also a Park Ridge resident. His 2015 Volvo "left the roadway" and struck the two men.

Readers aren't told anything about the men who were struck on the sidewalk.

The Record also doesn't report the injured men were taken to Hackensack University Medical Center, where Kapatais died and Hu remained in critical condition, according to the acting prosecutor.

Why weren't they taken to a closer hospital? 

'Great athletes'

Meanwhile, two former Don Bosco Prep athletes, killed in a crash on Route 287 on Sunday continue to be accorded front-page coverage (A-1 and L-1).

Today, The Record corrects earlier reporting that both men were ejected when their luxury SUV went off the road and crashed in Mahwah, suggesting neither was wearing a seat belt.

The driver, Leo Vagias, who wore a seat belt, was found inside the vehicle. His passenger, Sam Cali, who wasn't wearing a seat belt, was found outside. Both were 19.

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