Tuesday, November 1, 2016

On 23-cents gas-tax hike, editors are in the pocket of Big Oil

An FBI agent using the trunk lid of an unmarked car as a desk this morning as other agents and law enforcement officers entered a house at 248 Fairmount Ave. in Hackensack, above and below.

One agent is carrying a folding table into the house. The large, expensive Mercedes-Benz sedan in the driveway has a Pennsylvania plate. A call to an FBI spokesman about the nature of the investigation wasn't returned immediately.


Staff Writer Christopher Maag of The Record normally covers NJ Transit, the state mass-transit agency bus and rail commuters love to hate.

But his reporting today on the 23-cents-a-gallon hike in the state gas tax shows he really is in the pocket of Big Oil and the auto dealers who advertise in the Woodland Park daily.

Instead of leading his Page 1 report with a gas-pump jockey who is saddled with an 11-mpg Mustang, he should have used the River Vale man who says that at $2 or $3 more per fill-up, the first gas-tax hike since 1988 is no big deal (A-1).

At Costco Wholesale in Teterboro today, a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.08.9, compared to the $2.30.9 shown in the photo on A-1 today.

Plus Costco members get 4% cash back on gas purchases worldwide.

Ballot question

If voters approve a constitutional amendment next Tuesday, all of the revenue from the motor fuels tax, which now totals 37.5 cents a gallon, will go to road and rail improvements, instead of being siphoned out of the Transportation Trust Fund to balance the state budget.

When gas prices dipped below $2 a gallon, auto dealers saw the sales of big, high-profit SUVs rise dramatically.

Nissan and other manufacturers are marketing big SUVs and pickups to take advantage of low gasoline prices. Ford is actually shifting small-car production to SUVs and trucks for the same reason.

Those gas-guzzling vehicles only aggravate air pollution and climate change, and contribute to the death of 53,000 people a year from auto emissions.

Today's hike also is a victory for rail commuters, especially if the extra revenue pays for NJ Transit safety improvements, including an automatic braking system that could have prevented the fatal train wreck in Hoboken on Sept. 29.

And which New Jersey motorist doesn't relish the prospect of less traffic when all those New York motorists who came here for cheap gas just stay home?

I won't miss those New Yorkers, many of whom drive like maniacs.

Bridgegate trial

No one knows whether federal-court jurors in Newark will convict two former associates in the politically motivated George Washington Bridge lane closures, which created five mornings of gridlock in Fort Lee in 2013.

But readers can only hope a verdict will finally end all of these Charles Stile columns that begin, "For nearly seven years, Chris Christie" said this or did that or portrayed himself as this or that -- only to be unmasked by testimony in the trial (A-1).

Stile, the paper's biggest apologist for the GOP bully since he took office in early 2010, and the paper's other Trenton reporters have done a poor job of covering the Christie administration.

Follow the vetoes

They should have been following the more than 500 vetoes and the other unilateral actions Governor Christie employed to thwart the majority Democrats in the state Legislature.

They should have been pestering the governor whenever he vetoed a hike in the minimum wage or a tax surcharge on millionaires -- not just chalking it up to politics.

The cancellation of the Hudson River rail tunnels in late 2010 should have set off alarm bells in the Woodland Park newsroom, but it didn't, and that allowed Christie to stave off the gas-tax hike, and use mass-transit money to fix roads and bridges.

Local news

On L-1 today, two stories on animal abuse get better play than a Black Lives Matter protest over a Paterson police officer who shot and wounded a man outside the municipal safety complex.

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