Friday, September 30, 2016

Editors bury Christie's role in fatal NJ Transit train wreck

In this photo from Pancho Bernasconi, train personnel inspect the lead car of the NJ Transit train that crashed and jumped the platform on Monday morning at the Hoboken Terminal, killing one woman and injuring more than 100 others.


The Record today buries readers under an avalanche of words from more than a dozen reporters assigned to cover Thursday's fatal train crash in Hoboken.

No one can absorb this many news stories and columns about the same event, especially when little was done to edit out all of the repetition, and replace that with answers to several crucial questions (A-1, A-6, A-7, A-8 and L-1).

And it's unclear just how many readers will search out Mike Kelly's column on A-7, where the banner headline declares:

"The deadly consequences of neglect"

Even if they do find the column, Kelly as usual buries the lead, this time in the fifth and sixth paragraph:

"You could sense the defensiveness in Governor Christie ... during a news conference ... not far from the wreckage.

"After all, it was Christie, boasting to Republicans of his tax-cutting prowess as he ran for president, who blocked a proposed increase in the state gasoline tax. The new revenue would help" pay "for rail-safety upgrades ...."

Then, Kelly notes Christie dodged a question on whether an automatic braking system -- which federal officials have advocated for 46 years -- could have slowed the commuter train from Bergen County before it crashed.

Readers have to plow through numerous paragraphs of background on previous train crashes before getting to the last paragraph:

"We live with an outdated rail system and a government that is too slow to repair it," Kelly writes with the impact of a wet noodle.

Gets off light

Christie gets off easy today, having fought mass transit improvements since he took office in 2010.

He cancelled an earlier project to build two new Hudson River rail tunnels, and grabbed more than $1 billion in leftover funds to fix roads and bridges, allowing him to avoid raising the low gas tax.

He also cut state aid, forcing NJ Transit to raise fares and cut service; and he's looted the agency's maintenance budget.

Holes in stories

From all accounts, the three-car train and locomotive were traveling about 30 mph, instead of 10 mph, when they entered the station, failed to slow and crashed.

That doesn't seem to justify the screaming banner headline on Page 1 today:

"High speed into chaos"

"Chaos" is a good word to use when describing the scene in the Woodland Park newsroom whenever the editors have to cover a big, breaking news story.

They've shown time and again they aren't up to it.

Today, the name of the woman killed on the platform by falling debris appears on A-6, but for some reason the story doesn't say Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, of Hoboken leaves her husband and their 18-month-old daughter, as reported by other news media.

Today's extensive coverage also is missing information on the makeup of the train -- three passenger cars that were being pushed by a locomotive.

A news story and the Road Warrior column on L-1 conflict on whether the engineer was operating the train from the lead passenger car or from the locomotive pushing the passenger cars or were there two engineers on board? 

And Staff Writer John Cichowski, the so-called Road Warrior, should be ashamed of himself for including so many gory details on the injuries suffered by De Kroon, the wife, mother and innocent bystander who died on Thursday morning. 

Local news?

There is more Paterson news in the local-news section delivered to Bergen County readers than from any other community.

If you are a community activist, you have to have a school named after you before The Record will cover you.

That seems to be the lesson from an L-1 story on Paterson school activist Hani Awadallah.

Staff Writer John Seasly, who is assigned to Hackensack, hasn't covered a single Board of Education meeting, and didn't write a word about Tuesday's City Council meeting, which he attended.

Who is confused?

Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung bestows 3 stars out of 4 (Excellent to Outstanding) on Aquarius Seafood Restaurant in Fort Lee, but calls the dim sum service "confusing" (BL-14).

"We found a language barrier at dim sum," Ung claims, "which may frustrate the 30 percent of the customers who are not Chinese and makes this restaurant hard to recommend to those with no knowledge of the cuisine."

Dim sum and tea are hardly new to North Jersey and especially not to Fort Lee, where Silver Pond Seafood Restaurant served wonderful dumplings and other delights in the same Main Street space for decades.

And if necessary, Aquarius will give you a menu that lists the nearly 50 dim sum in English and Chinese.

Fish story

Where Ung should have deducted a half-star or more, she just warns readers to ask about the price of whole live fish before ordering it.

After years of watching the owners of Greek fish houses in Bergen County rip off customers by charging for fresh whole fish by the pound, the Chinese owners of Lan Garden in Ridgefield and now Aquarius in Fort Lee are getting in on the action.

Ung was shown the whole live bass she ordered -- "wriggling ... in the net, shaking water everywhere and scaring many people nearby" -- but not told about the $28-per-pound price.

Nor was it listed on the menu.

That kind of dishonesty shouldn't be rewarded by a restaurant reviewer, especially one who is on an expense account. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Christie's mouthpiece cursed probing Bridgegate reporters

Commuters on stretchers this morning after an NJ Transit train on the Pascack Valley Line failed to stop in the Hoboken Terminal and jumped the platform, below. TV stations reported at least one person died and more than 100 were injured in the crash, which brought down a canopy over the tracks. Witnesses reported seeing the engineer slumped over the controls. Both photos are from Getty Images.

The train was described as a "pusher" -- with a diesel engine being operated by an engineer at the rear of passenger cars.


Add another one of Governor Christie's closest aides to the list of those who knew a "partisan plot was behind the George Washington Bridge traffic jams" in Fort Lee, according to a Page 1 story in The Record today.

In Bridgegate trial testimony on Wednesday, star prosecution witness David Wildstein, the crony Christie appointed to a powerful post at the Port Authority, fingered Michael Drewniak, a former Star-Ledger reporter who served as the governor's chief spokesman.

Wildstein, who has pleaded guilty in the lane closures, testified he met with Drewniak on Dec. 4, 2013, and told him "specifically, this was political retaliation" against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich "for not endorsing Governor Christie's [re-election] campaign" (A-6).

Wildstein and Bill Baroni, another former Port Authority official who is one of the defendants, asked Drewniak to respond to a Star-Ledger reporter looking into the controversy.

The former reporter "used an expletive" [likely the F-word] and called the reporter a "mutt" [as in "F-ing mutt"], The Record reported on Jan. 16, 2014.

He used the same expletive in response to a request for comment from a Star-Ledger editorial writer:

"[Expletive] him and the S-L [Star-Ledger]," Drewniak wrote in an email.

In May 2014, Drewniak testified before a legislative panel investigating the lane closures, insisting Wildstein said he was responsible for the traffic gridlock, but that the cause was a "traffic study."   

For his loyalty to Christie, Drewniak was given a cushy $147,400-a-year job at NJ Transit on April 1, 2015 -- an April Fool's joke on taxpayers.

He was being paid $134,000 a year as the governor's press secretary.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bridgegate trial testimony so far: Christie, Christie, Christie

The cover of today's New York Post sums up testimony by Bridgegate trial star witness David Wildstein, a crony Governor Christie appointed to a powerful position at the Port Authority, owner and operator of the George Washington Bridge.


Despite Governor Christie's denial -- repeated on Tuesday -- the weight of the evidence in the Bridgegate trial places him at the center of the plot to punish the mayor of Fort Lee in September 2013.

Christie wasn't indicted in the George Washington Bridge lane closures -- five mornings of gridlock designed to retaliate against a Democrat who refused to endorse the GOP thug's re-election.

Still, only his sworn testimony before a federal jury would effectively answer the accusations from prosecutors and David Wildstein, described by The Record today "as the admitted mastermind of the plot" (A-1).

Wildstein pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against two Christie allies who are on trial in Newark, but the judge will consider a reduced sentence only if the former Port official tells the truth.

On Tuesday, Wildstein said he and his boss, defendant Bill Baroni -- then deputy executive director of the Port Authority -- looked forward "to telling Christie of the traffic jam and unheeded pleas for help from their target," Mayor Mark Sokolich (A-1 and A-4).

They did so at the 9/11 ceremony on Sept. 11, 2013, as attested to by a photo of the trio that shows Christie laughing.

Two of three local access lanes to the bridge were shut down from Sept. 9, 2013, the first day of school; to Sept. 13, 2013.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes asked Wildstein if he and Baroni were bragging to the governor.

"Yes," Wildstein testified, "... I was pleasing our one constituent. I was happy that he was happy" (A-4).

Other news?

Usually, Staff Photographer Tariq Zehawi's gee-whiz photos of non-fatal accidents end up on L-3 to fill holes in the local-news report.

But today, his Page 1 photo captured the aftermath of a crash of a large SUV that rolled backward, hit a utility pole and pulled down electric wires -- all of this after a woman parked and got out of the vehicle on Van Schaik Lane in Wyckoff, leaving her 2-year-old son inside.

"The mother did not wish to be identified," the photo caption says of the seemingly irresponsible woman.

Clinton won debate

After not committing to either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald J. Trump after their first TV debate, an editorial today says Clinton "commanded" the stage (A-8).

"One candidate prepared to talk about the issues, while the other was prepared to talk about himself."

"Hillary Clinton obviously won Monday's debate in a rout," said Op-Ed Columnist David Leonhardt.

Local news

In a rare story about Hackensack, Staff Writer John Seasly reports that city officials celebrated the start of construction on a new Performing Arts Center (L-1).

Under that is the obituary of J. Herbert Leverette, 87, a Korean War veteran who was elected Hackensack's first black council member in 1965.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Time to poll Americans on who we trust in the news media

In his first debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton, GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump didn't mention the wall he wants Mexico to build on the U.S. border. This cartoon is from Christo Komarnitski in Bulgaria.


"Clinton and Trump
come out swinging"

Is this trite, non-committal Page 1 headline the best The Record's editors can do today to describe the first presidential debate?

With the names changed, this same headline probably has run every time presidential candidates engaged in their first televised confrontation.

Democrat Hillary Clinton looked and sounded far more presidential than Trump, the wacko racist who didn't prepare for the debate and at times did a good imitation of a blithering idiot.

On, David Leonhardt, an OpEd columnist, listed 26 lies Trump told during the debate -- from the loan his father once gave him to "birtherism" to calling women "pigs."

Then, Leonhardt asks, "So ... who won the debate?"

The Times has already endorsed Clinton for president, leaving readers of The Record wondering when the editorial board of the Woodland Park daily is finally going to take sides.

"Our endorsement is rooted in respect for her intellect, experience and courage," The Times said on Sunday.

A recent Record editorial claimed Americans don't trust either presidential candidate, but no one has polled readers on whether they trust the paper's editorial board, which didn't call on Christie to resign after endorsing Trump in February, as did seven other dailies.

A 'Cichowski'

A second blithering idiot appears on A-1 today --Road Warrior John Cichowski, who slams David Wildstein, the former Port Authority executive who pleaded guilty and is testifying as the chief prosecution witness in the Bridgegate trial.

Cichowski's column is one of two pieces that attack Wildstein's credibility (A-1 and A-4).

As usual, Cichowski's column is padded with so much nonsense you have to wonder why the editors ran it at all.

"The governor's childhood chum explained the makings of something so bizarre [conspiring with other officials to cause a traffic jam] that it might some day be called a 'Wildstein'" (A-1).

Well, there are a few 'Cichowskis' in the column -- stuff he completely makes up -- like reporting for the first time that closure of two upper-level access lanes to the George Washington Bridge from Sept. 9 to 13, 2013, "paralyzed Fort Lee and several other towns." 

A second "Cichowski" is noting "the world's busiest bridge ... links America's biggest city to New Jersey's biggest county."

Oh, that's why they built it.

Can readers trust anything they read in the Road Warrior column, which Cichowski has mishandled for all of the 13 years he's been doing it?

Shuber told?

On Monday, Wildstein testified he alerted Pat Shuber, a Port Authority commissioner, to the plan to create gridlock in Fort Lee in 2013 to punish the borough's Democratic mayor for not endorsing Governor Christie's reelection.

Wildstein said Shuber, who was appointed by Christie, "understood," but an attorney for the former Bergen County executive denies the conversation ever took place.

Abused seniors

Staff Writer Colleen Diskin, the closest thing the paper has to a reporter who covers the elderly, today describes a Bergen County nursing home with a free room for any abused senior -- "a temporary place to stay to get away from exploitative, neglectful or violent circumstances" (A-1).

What about the majority of Bergen seniors, who travel, dine out frequently, go to Broadway shows and subscribe to The Record?

When is Diskin going to pay any attention to them? 

Local news?

The Local front today reports on a major endorsement for Josh Gottheimer, the Democrat trying to unseat Rep. Scott Garrett in the 5th Congressional District (L-1).

Gottheimer has repeatedly attacked Garrett as a Tea Party radical, but that identification doesn't appear anywhere in the story on retired Gen. Wesley Clark's appearance at a campaign event for the former Microsoft executive.

A second story reports Teaneck Councilman Mark Schwartz, a Democrat who is Jewish, is endorsing Garrett, claiming the congressman is "one of the best friends Israel has" (L-1).

Four major stories about Paterson appear in a local-news section that has little news about the 70 towns in Bergen County.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trial explores how Christie's politics turned into criminality

This Jan. 9, 2014, front page from a New York tabloid shows the kind of aggressive reporting that assumed Governor Christie had a central role in the George Washington Bridge lane closures -- a conclusion only now dawning on The Record's editors after a week of testimony in the Bridgegate trial.


From the looks of The Record's front page today, the editors appear to be the last people on Earth to realize Governor Christie had a central role in the Bridgegate scandal.

Meanwhile, opinion Columnist Brigid Harrison says the state Legislature should consider articles of impeachment against the governor, if the evidence shows he knew all along about retaliating against a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse the GOP thug's reelection (O-3).

Harrison -- a professor at Montclair State University -- wrote the same column for The Star-Ledger three days ago.

What has Record Columnist Mike Kelly been saying about the criminal trial of Bill Baroni, who was at the Port Authority, and Bridget Anne Kelly, who was Christie's deputy chief of staff?

"Consider what we are learning about all of these public servants who took on tasks that were never part of their job descriptions," Kelly says.

"All this extra work. Truly amazing to behold" (O-1).

Harrison's impeachment column should have run on Page 1, and Kelly's sophomoric attempt at satire shouldn't have run at all.

Nail in coffin

One of the final nails in Christie's coffin was driven by David Wildstein, the crony he appointed to a powerful position at the Port Authority, owner and operator of the bridge.

Wildstein, the government's star witness, testified on Friday about what he called "the one constituent rule" at the massive bi-state transportation agency (A-1 on Saturday).

"The one constituent rule meant that the only person who mattered was Governor Christie," Wildstein told the federal jurors.

"He was the one constituent. If it was good for Governor Christie, it was good for us."

Wildstein referred to Kelly, one of the defendants, as one of his main contacts in the Governor's Office and his "boss" (A-8 on Saturday).

In fact, prosecutors allege Kelly's email to Wildstein, using their personal accounts -- "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" -- set into motion closure of GWB access lanes and five mornings of paralyzing gridlock in September 2013.

His testimony suggests that is when Christie's politics turned into criminal acts -- including  conspiracy to deny the civil rights of Fort Lee residents and others, as well as wire fraud.

Wildstein also testified the Port Authority had a "goody bag" to help Christie's reelection effort and presidential aspirations, including surplus vehicles sent to Washington Township's emergency squad.

Wasted space

As The Record has done many times in covering Christie, Saturday's front page carries a long, detailed news story on Wildstein's testimony in Newark federal court and a political column that basically rehashes what he said.

But Staff Writer Charles Stile's Political Stile column is a colossal waste of space, failing to add any insights or express any strong opinions about Christie's mean-spirited policies, reelection campaign or failed White House bid.

And in an editing oversight, Stile refers to the "Constituency of One Rule," and the news story calls it "the one constituent rule."

Local news?

S0-called commuting columnist John Cichowski could be writing about greater fuel efficiency, the transition to hybrid and purely electric vehicles, and the benefit to the environment.

He could advise his peers that even EVs with a range of 100 miles on a full charge suit the limited driving of most senior citizens.

Instead, Cichowski's Road Warrior column today revives the age-old debate over whether car engines really need premium gasoline (L-1).

On L-3, a story discusses added parking spaces at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood instead of what the district is doing to improve graduation rates.

Mixed message

On Friday, Staff Writer Elisa Ung gave 2.5 stars out of 4 stars (Good to Excellent) to Brookside Bistro in Riverdale, a Morris County town far from the heart of the circulation area in Bergen County.

Yet, she also told readers the restaurant would be good for "a casual dinner, if you live in the neighborhood," but less appropriate for a "destination ... dinner." 


Friday, September 23, 2016

Columnist protects cops who allowed murder in crosswalk

In this photo from, investigators use a sheet to block a view of the mangled body of Leyla Kahn on Aug. 7, 2014, after she was struck in a Leonia crosswalk and dragged for 71 feet as horrified onlookers tried to alert the driver of the minibus that ran her down.


Leave it to one of The Record's most confused and error-prone reporters to compare the "illicit" lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 to traffic jams on Fort Lee Road in neighboring Leonia.

Even more shameful is Staff Writer John Cichowski ignoring the August 2014 death of Leyla Kahn, 60, who was struck in a crosswalk at Fort Lee Road and Broad Avenue in Leonia, and dragged to her death by a minibus driver who failed to yield to her (L-1).

On the day the restaurant owner died, Leonia Police Chief Thomas Rowe deflected responsibility from his department by complaining about an "inordinate amount of traffic" in his town from the turnpike and bridge, and appealed to the state for help.

Rowe even told his borough was too broke to keep a crossing guard stationed at its busiest intersection year-round, and was so understaffed putting an officer there was out of the question.

Instead of exposing Rowe, The Record allows him to continue complaining about that bridge traffic, as readers can see from the criminal Road Warrior column today.

Not related to GWB

Of course, despite what the police chief said, Kahn's death was totally unrelated to the traffic that seeks a short cut via Leonia's Fort Lee Road when the bridge is jammed.

She died at the hands of a driver who had received summonses for nine motor vehicle violations and whose driver's license was suspended five times since 1992, The Record reported on Sept. 22, 2015.

That's when former minibus driver Esperanza Jaramillo of Tenafly pleaded guilty in Leonia Municipal Court to failure to yield to a pedestrian who had the right of way and driving a vehicle with badly worn tires.

She was fined $328.

The prosecutor basically allowed her to get away with murder, and decided not to pursue a third charge of careless driving.

The judge thought the punishment was too light and also imposed a 180-day license suspension on Jaramillo, who worked for Rainbow Transportation and was taking special-needs students to a day camp in Tenafly, when she struck and killed Kahn.

The dead woman's husband filed a negligence lawsuit against Jaramillo; Rainbow Transportation of Bergenfield; and the owners of the company, Julia and Robert Carozza.

Takes credit

Cichowski even takes credit for a "Road Warrior exclusive" on Sept. 13, 2013, that, he claims, prompted the Port Authority's executive director to halt a bogus traffic study, and reopen the closed bridge access lanes in Fort Lee.

He names five readers for tipping him to the lane closures, when, in fact, then-Publisher Stephen A. Borg wrote in an email to subscribers one of his friends called from the GWB traffic jam he was trapped in to see if the paper knew what was going on.

Borg then contacted Cichowski.

Impeach Christie

Columnist Brigid Callahan Harrison is asking the state Legislature to consider charges of impeachment against Governor Christie.

She says Christie should be impeached, if prosecutors show he lied about the September 2013 GWB gridlock on Jan. 9, 2014, when he claimed he "had no knowledge and involvement in this issue, in its planning and its execution."

Harrison wrote the column for The Star-Ledger on Thursday.

In her column for The Record last Sunday, Harrison discussed Christie's "policy of rewarding ... friends and punishing ... enemies."

Fort Lee's mayor, Mark Sokolich, wasn't the only Democrat who suffered after refusing to endorse Christie for reelection in November 2013.

Two others she lists are Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

And when Democrats endorsed the GOP thug, there were abundant rewards.

The columnist reports Christie funneled $6 million in federal funds for Superstorm Sandy recovery to build a long-desired senior citizens housing project in Belleville -- two weeks after the Democratic mayor endorsed the governor -- "even though there was no significant damage" to the town.

In Harrison, the Port Authority agreed to spend $256 million for a new PATH station at Christie's behest.

"A mere week" after construction plans were filed with the town, the "then-mayor and eight Democratic council members endorsed Christie."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lies by mayor, PA official pale in comparison to Christie's

Solar-operated trash compactors and large recycling containers popped up this week at several locations inside and outside Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.


The Record's coverage of the Bridgegate trial has deteriorated into describing the political pissing match between the governors of New York and New Jersey.

Defendants Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelley, former allies of Governor Christie, are accused of closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor for not endorsing reelection of the GOP bully that year.

But the charges against them don't include "playing politics."

The nine-count indictment charges them with conspiracy against civil rights, deprivation of civil rights,  wire fraud and other counts.

Today, Page 1 trial coverage is provided by the reporter who covers the Port Authority, which owns and operates the bridge; a Trenton reporter; and Charles Stile, whose political column often tries to burnish Christie's image.

What experience they have covering criminal trials isn't known.

Much of today's coverage focuses on Christie and two prosecution witnesses -- the mayor of Fort Lee, and the executive director of the Port Authority, none of whom are on trial.

Feared Christie

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich testified on Wednesday he lied when he denied in a letter to the editor of The Star-Ledger in November 2013 the lane closures were retaliatory (A-1).

"I was petrified of further retribution [from Christie]," the mayor told the jury.

And Patrick Foye, appointed executive director of the Port Authority by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, admitted that before he ordered the lanes reopened on the fifth day of gridlock he OK'd a press release that said the agency was conducting "a traffic study."

Foye testified Baroni, his deputy, said the  lane closures were "important to Trenton," a veiled reference to Christie.

Christie's lies

Of course, the Christie administration has been one big, elaborate lie since he took office in early 2010.

And when you fast forward to September 2013, Christie also lied about what he knew about the lane closings and when he knew it, according to federal prosecutors.

The prosecution witness we are eager to hear is David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority who has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Baroni and Kelly, who was the governor's deputy chief of staff.

Kelly's email to Wildstein -- "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" -- set the political payback scheme into motion on Sept. 9, 2013, a Monday and the first day of school.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Editors: America is under attack! America is under attack!

An image from the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Facebook page shows the garbage pail torn apart by an explosive device that discharged before thousands of runners were due to participate in a charity race on Saturday in Seaside Park to benefit Marines and sailors.


The potential for many injuries and deaths from weekend bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey can't be denied.

But the overwrought coverage in The Record since Sunday exaggerates the danger of the lone suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, and feeds into the demonization of Muslims by wacko racist Donald J. Trump, the GOP presidential nominee.

Today's front page is dominated by a photo of the bearded Elizabeth man, who "fought violently with a family member, had a court battle over child custody and support, and struggled with joblessness," according to the melodramatic lead paragraph.

That could also describe thousands of people living in the metropolitan area.

On Tuesday, Record Staff Writer Mike Kelly wrung his hands and gnashed his teeth over law enforcement being powerless to detect "the enemy disguised as neighbor and friend," as the headline over his column put it.

Kelly was too quick to compare the killing of 49 people in an Orlando, Fla., gay nightclub to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in which nearly 3,000 died. 

I haven't seen any Kelly columns on how, summer after summer, Paterson police have been powerless to stop the gang violence that results in the killing of innocent bystanders.

Fort Lee favors

In Bridgegate trial testimony on Tuesday, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, described many enticements from Republican Governor Christie, but testified he ultimately refused to endorse him for reelection in November 2013.

And the borough's police chief said that he recommended relatives of anyone who died as the result of the September 2013 traffic jams caused by closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge sue the bridge owner and operator, the Port Authority.

Two of the governor's former allies, Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, are accused of causing the traffic jams for five days to punish Sokolich.

Local news?

The local editors' fascination with photos of cars that flip or roll over continues (L-3).

A rare story about Hackensack, the biggest community in Bergen County, appears on L-6 today.

Staff Writer John Seasly reports the city has dropped plans to privatize sanitation pickups, citing "minimal savings," according to a press release from Mayor John Labrosse, whose name is misspelled "Lacrosse" throughout the story.

The last name of City Manager David Troast is misspelled "Toast," and the last name of Chief Financial Officer James Mangin is misspelled "Margin."

Seasly, who was assigned to cover Hackensack in February, spells only one of the names correctly, that of Bergen County NAACP President Anthony Cureton, who denounced the plan because most of the sanitation workers are black and Hispanic.

Since Seasly took over the beat, he has covered only the City Council, Police Department and downtown redevelopment.

As far as readers know, he hasn't covered a single Board of Education meeting. Nor did he cover the campaign of nine candidates for three seats in the April school election.

The school budget, which was approved by a tiny minority of registered voters, accounts for 44% of the property tax bill in Hackensack.

Unhealthy recipes

If I didn't know better, I'd accuse Food Editor Esther Davidowitz and freelancer Kate Morgan Jackson of Upper Saddle River of trying to kill older readers with recipes that use sugar, butter or full-fat cheese, none of which is good for your heart (BL-2).

Today, the clueless Jackson promotes a Brown Sugar Poundcake with 2 whole sticks of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar and 4 whole eggs.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Columnist who spins Christie's every word can't help now

From New Jersey native Christopher Weyant of The New Yorker magazine.


Even after prosecutors and defense lawyers in the federal Bridgegate trial fingered Governor Christie, The Record tries mightily to put his actions in the best light.

The first paragraph of the Page 1 news story today isn't filled -- as it should be -- with prosecutors' bombshell allegation that Christie knew about the George Washington Bridge lane closings as they were occurring in September 2013, and knew they were retaliation against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee.

Instead, the lead paragraph reports for the umpteenth time in the last three years Christie "has not been charged with a crime or found to have direct knowledge or involvement in the scheme" to to punish Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing the governor's reelection (A-1).

This isn't how a news story on opening statements in court is supposed to be written, though it fits with The Record's history of treating the GOP thug far less harshly than does The Star-Ledger and other dailies in the state.

It also fits with The Record being the only major daily in the state that has refused to call for the governor to resign after endorsing wacko racist Donald J. Trump for president.

Meanwhile, political Columnist Charles Stile, the paper's chief apologist for Christie's mean-spirited policies, is beside himself today over the governor having "no one in the courtroom to defend him" (A-1).

And he goes on and on in that vein for thousands of words.

Also evident is sloppy editing of Stile's second paragraph.

'Ventriloquist doll'

"When David Wildstein spoke, Governor Christie's voice came out and everybody knew it," defense attorney Michael Baldassare told the jury on Monday (A-4).

Evidence will show that Wildstein "looks like a ventriloquist doll sitting on Christopher J. Christie's lap," the lawyer said.

Wildstein, a Christie crony who was deputy executive director of the Port Authority, pleaded guilty and will be the government's star witness against two former Christie associates, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, who are being tried on conspiracy and other charges.

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Kelly told Wildstein in an email before upper level access lanes to the PA-owned and operated bridge were closed for five days in September 2013.

A photo on A-4 today shows Christie, Baroni and Wildstein allegedly discussing the lane closings at the 9/11 ceremony in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2013, as they were occurring.

Local crime news

The front of today's local-news section is completely devoted to crime and court news, and reaction to the arrest of a Muslim who is charged in the Elizabeth bombings (L-1).

Still, the local editors needed two long wire service obituaries and a large photo of a burning bus on Route 23 in Butler to plug holes in the section (L-6).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Prosecutors: Christie knew traffic jam was to punish mayor

A 2013 cartoon from the New York Daily News lampoons Governor Christie's direct role in the George Washington Bridge lane closings -- confirmed today by federal prosecutors at the trial of two former Christie administration officials.


Federal prosecutors told a jury in Newark today Governor Christie "knew that his close associates were involved in a plan to shut down lanes ... as it was happening and that the closings were intended to punish a local mayor for declining to support him," The New York Times is reporting.

"It was the first time Mr. Christie, a Republican, has been accused of knowing about the scheme as it unfolded," the newspaper says.

"The prosecutors made the assertion during opening statements in the trial of two former Christie administration officials" charged with closing upper level George Washington Bridge access lanes in September 2013 and then covering it up. 

The GOP thug was found guilty long ago in the court of public opinion.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Excusing Christie's many sins finally catches up to editors

Bridgegate trial defendants Bridget Anne Kelly, Governor Christie's former deputy chief of staff, above right in a photo from the New York Daily News; and Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority, below, will testify in their own defense, and are expected to finger the governor. The federal criminal trial opens on Monday in Newark.

Photo credit:


Today, not one but two of The Record's long-winded columnists choke readers with thousands of words of background on Governor Christie's mean-spirited politics and how they relate to Monday's Bridgegate trial (A-1 and O-1).

Just 10 days ago, the Woodland Park daily ran the last of three long, front-page stories on the defendants, the government's star witness, the jury and Christie's continued claims of innocence in the George Washington Bridge lane closures in September 2013.

Prosecutors and witnesses are expected to explore how the Christie administration used dirty tricks to retaliate against the Fort Lee mayor and other Democrats who refused to endorse the GOP thug for reelection.

All of this piling on comes years after Christie took office -- declaring war on teachers, the rest of New Jersey's middle class and the Democrats who control the state Legislature.

Until now, all The Record's editors and columnists did was shrug.

'Political bully'

In his Page 1 column today, Staff Writer Charles Stile reports the lane closures "permanently saddled him [Christie] with the image of a political bully" (A-7).

That's hardly breaking news, especially in view of the hundreds of vetoes Christie has used to enforce his conservative agenda since he took office in early 2010.

On the Opinion front today, Columnist Mike Kelly sounds like an echo of Stile when he declares "the essential lesson of the Bridgegate trial may turn out to be a reminder of how petty politics can be ..."

Local news?

Readers again question the news judgment of the local editors, who found more value in an idiotic quiz by the Road Warrior columnist (L-1) than the well-written obituary of Raymond X. McCoy, 80, a funeral director-turned-candy apple maker (L-2).

The lazy, incompetent editors also were desperate to plug a hole on L-3 with a gee-whiz picture of a car that flipped onto its side on a highway off-ramp.


Today's editorial begins by noting Christie "has refused for nearly seven years to do anything about truly reforming New Jersey's education system" (O-2).

Now, he wants to overturn the landmark state Supreme Court ruling that sought to end the inadequate and unequal funding of poor districts.

But instead of condemning Christie, the editorial calls on him to work "across the aisle with Democrats for real and lasting changes ...."

Isn't that naive in view of the more than 500 vetoes Christie has used to get his way?