Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In unending Ken Zisa saga, lawyers are the biggest winners

In this February photo from the Bergen Dispatch, defense attorney Patricia Prezioso is asking a Superior Court judge to throw out an official misconduct charge against former Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa, right.


A Page 1 headline in The Record today -- "Zisa can pursue return to force in Hackensack" -- set off panic attacks in thousands of residents.

But if they bothered to read the entire story about Ken Zisa -- especially the last four paragraphs -- they'd learn the disgraced former police chief must first "face a disciplinary hearing for his conduct," City Attorney Alexander Carver says (A-7).

"Another roadblock for Zisa," Staff Writer John Seasly reports, "is ... that the city eliminated the position of police chief following his arrest."

Today's story focuses on Superior Court Judge Susan Steele dismissing the single remaining criminal charge against Zisa, citing misconduct by the prosecutor (A-1).

Seasly quotes defense attorney Patricia Prezioso saying "Mr. Zisa will begin the impossible task of reconstructing his life."

Reviving 'Zisaville'

But nowhere does The Record mention residents' anger and resentment toward the Zisa family political dynasty that transformed the city into a North Jersey laughing stock called "Zisaville."

Nor has Seasly reported that Zisa; his brother, former four-term Mayor Jack Zisa; and their cousin, former City Attorney Joseph Zisa have launched Team Hackensack in their bid to wrest control from a reform City Council elected in 2013.

In fact, Team Hackensack already succeeded in putting three candidates on the Board of Education this year, and the organization is expected to challenge the council in next May's municipal election.

$8M in legal fees

After Ken Zisa was indicted in 2010, about two dozen police officers sued him and the city, alleging corruption and intimidation.

"Most of the lawsuits stemmed from a bitterly contentious relationship between Zisa and police officers who accused him of engaging in campaigns of retribution and harassment as paybacks for their refusal to go along with his political demands [as a Democratic state assemblyman]," The Record has reported.

The city racked up $8 million in legal fees defending against those allegations, and insurers paid out many millions more to settle the cases, minus the deductible.

See: Zisa nearly broke Hackensack

Pay to play

If you live in New Jersey -- where "pay to play" seems to have been invented -- you have to laugh at Republican charges that many of the people who met with Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state gave money to the Clinton Foundation (A-1).

Pay to play is ingrained in New Jersey's home rule communities -- political donations often lead to an appointment as auditor, engineer and so forth -- as well as in Trenton and in the nation's capitol.

In Washington, congressional lobbyists are actually writing bills to protect the biggest, wealthiest corporations from regulation.

At least in the case of the Clinton Foundation, the money went to good causes -- not to corrupt our law-making process.

Oscar leaving N.J.

In another Page 1 story today, Staff Writer Lindy Washburn again gives Governor Christie a pass for refusing to set up a New Jersey marketplace for buying coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Christie isn't even mentioned in her story about another insurer, Oscar Health Insurance, withdrawing next year.

But an editorial slams Christie for peddling an "unfair school funding plan" (A-8).

Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin calls the proposal "Jersey Wrong," a play on the governor's "Jersey Strong" message after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

That fortifies the impression Doblin can't write an editorial or opinion column about Christie or anything else unless he can find a play on words or a movie, play, book or song to compare it to.

Scallops and steak

Food Editor Esther Davidowitz apparently thinks those extraordinary wild-caught sea scallops are so weird she has to sell them to readers by comparing them to "a good piece of steak" (BL-2).

Better she should advise readers to look for "dry" scallops -- the ones that are sold in fish markets without a liquid preservative.

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