Friday, September 16, 2016

Christie should be on trial for a lot more than Bridgegate

On Thursday, Governor Christie told Brian Williams of MSNBC that the 2013 decision to close traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge to punish a political foe was "a factor" in his not being picked as GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump's running mate.


One of the federal court jurors who will hear opening statements in the Bridgegate scandal on Monday says "it should be Chris Christie on trial." 

We're certain to hear a great deal about the role of New Jersey's governor in the 2013 lane closures in Fort Lee when two former aides testify in their own defense, and Christie himself may be called to the stand.

But in the court of public opinion, the GOP thug has already been found guilty of a myriad of offenses.

They include bungling the recovery from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and giving more aid to homeowners than to renters, who were more likely to be minorities or have low incomes (A-1 in The Record on Wednesday).

He's also tried to sabotage two landmark affordable-housing rulings in New Jersey, as well as implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act in the state.

Education aid

Christie continues his campaign to throw out the state Supreme Court's landmark school-funding ruling, which gave the bulk of education aid to 31 of the poorest districts after decades of inequality.

On Page 1 today, The Record's coverage of Christie's legal challenge sounds like reporters Hannan Adely and Salvador Rizzo quoted liberally from the GOP bully's press release:

They call his bid to nullify the Abbott v. Burke ruling in 1985 "a historic legal challenge" instead of quoting legal experts, who likely would say Christie will be laughed out of court.

Christie claims equal funding to rich and poor districts "will lessen the tax burden for suburban homeowners" (A-1), but the story doesn't remind readers the governor has failed miserably to deliver any of the tax relief he promised on the campaign trail before he took office in early 2010.

N.J. economy

The lead A-1 story on Thursday reported "New Jersey lagged behind the rest of the country on a series of economic measures last year, including a 0.3 percent increase in median household income that raked last among the 50 states."

But reporter Dave Sheingold didn't seek comment from Christie, whose rigidly conservative anti-tax policies have left the state too poor to even fix roads and bridges.

An embarrassment

Staff Writer John Cichowski continues to be an embarrassment, as shown by a close reading of his Road Warrior column.

In his first sentence on A-1 today, he calls seat belts one of the "technologies" that have reduced road fatalities.

Later, he refers to airbags and anti-lock brakes as "self-driving features" that have made roads safer (A-6).

Local news?

Bergen County readers continue to suffer from a single local-news section that includes reports from Paterson and other Passaic County towns (L-1 to L-6).

That saves Gannett a lot of money on newsprint, but robs residents of Hackensack and other towns of any meaningful coverage.

Today, the local editors plugged gaping holes on L-6 with a Dean's List, a photo of a minor accident and the obits of two obscure people.

Soggy fish

In her review of Yasmeen in Clifton on BL-14, Elisa Ung complains the waiter-recommended fried whiting "was soggy, bland and in desperate need of more tahini sauce ($12.95)."

She might have enjoyed the fish more, if she asked the kitchen to broil the flaky fillets, a request that is rarely turned down.

And Ung should have reported that when colder weather arrives, patrons will be able to use those annoying hookahs only on the second floor of the restaurant, leaving the main dining room smoke free.

Gannett layoffs

A large number of North Jersey Media Group's 426 employees have received letters from owner Gannett, informing them they have been terminated and will have to reapply for their jobs or accept severance.

Workers who decide to leave would receive only one week's salary for every year of employment.

Employees who successfully reapply for their jobs might have to agree to lower salaries.

NJMG -- which includes two dailies, The Record and Herald News;, 50 weekly papers and (201) magazine -- plans to lay off about half of the staff by mid-November.

'I'll bring the wine'

Today, Keith J. Kelly of the New York Post reports Gannett-installed Editor Richard A. Green of The Record "wants to hang out with staffers he plans to ax."

"The axman of North Jersey Media Group wants staffers -- many of whom he plans to fire -- to invite him to their barbecues. 

"Insiders are scratching their heads over what may be one of the more flagrant examples of cluelessness," Keith says in his Media Ink column.

Keith notes Green "sent shock waves" through NJMG on Wednesday, "when Gannett, which bought the company in July for $40 million, revealed it was going to fire about 213 0f 426 employees.

"But as part of a memo the day before, Green said he'd like to crash some staffer barbecues in the weeks ahead," Keith reports.

He promised to "bring the wine."

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