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Eating Out + Eating In: $13.50 for a Greek Salad, brunch in Red Bank and fish stories

DID THEY SHRINK THE SALAD? I met a friend for lunch at the Suburban Diner, 172 Route 17 north in Paramus, and paid $13.50 for a Greek ...

Friday, March 31, 2017

Since 2010, 500-plus vetoes show clearly it's Governor Christie's way or the highway

In Dave Granlund's cartoon, dictator and Syrian war criminal Vladimir Putin is sitting pretty despite probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign and election. 
On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on his first day in office, but ultra-conservative Republicans wanted even more drastic cuts than proposed in the bill that was withdrawn by House Speaker Paul Ryan. "Well, we took a stab at it," killing the patient, the GOP says in this cartoon from Rick McKee.
Cartoonist John Cole notes that President Trump and his surrogates, Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Press Secretary Sean Spicer, have turned the nation's capital into "Lie Lie Land."

 -- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

From his very first veto and such major unilateral actions as killing the Hudson River rail tunnels, Governor Christie laid the groundwork for the "banana republic" New Jersey has become.

Today's Page 1 story in The Record focuses on comments by a federal judge about Christie's 2013 re-election machine, which led to closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, triggering five mornings of gridlock to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor.

On Wednesday, when she sentenced two of his former allies to prison, U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton noted that at the time of the lane closings in September 2013, Trenton under Christie sent out a clear message:

"You are either with us or against us," and that anyone perceived to be against the administration faced retribution, she said.

Lee Cortes, a federal prosecutor, noted:

"The use of government power at a publicly owned bridge to create traffic ... just to mess with one person [Fort Lee's mayor] ... are the actions out of the playbook of some dictator of a banana republic."

Early signs

But signs that Christie demanded his way or the highway were clear as early as 2010, his first year in office:

He delayed the biggest mass-transit expansion in decades and used leftover money to fix roads and bridges; pulled out of a multi-state environmental initiative, and started vetoing or threatened to veto every bill passed by the state Legislature's Democratic majority.

Among the GOP bully's vetoes: A tax surcharge on millionaires, and a phase-in of a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

For the most part, The Record's coverage focused on politics, not issues, and Staff Writer Charles Stile ignored the mounting number of vetoes in column after column polishing Christie's image as a "bipartisan compromiser."

That quality, Stile argued time and again, could propel Christie into the White House.

Alas, when the Bridgegate scandal broke, Christie's bid was dashed. 

Then, in February 2016, Christie endorsed Donald J. Trump for the GOP presidential nomination, leading The Star-Ledger and five other New Jersey dailies to call for the governor's resignation.

The Record never joined that chorus.

Starving seniors

Editor Richard A. Green's choices for the front page continue to bewilder readers.

Today, he runs a story bemoaning Trump's proposed cuts to Meals On Wheels programs for seniors, many of whom are shut-ins or disabled (1A).

That appears above the fold, but below the fold seniors and other readers are told they "must" try eight restaurants, including three of the most expensive in Bergen County (1A, 10BL and 11BL). 

Maybe, Green is suggesting that after the Meals on Wheels program ends, vans can be retrofitted to carry seniors in wheelchairs to $100 dinners at the Saddle River Inn, Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern and Cafe Panache.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

As Christie cozies up to Trump, ex-allies won't be going to prison anytime soon

A 2014 cartoon from the New York Daily News goes to the crux of the Bridgegate scandal: Allies of Governor Christie executed a plan to close access lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge to retaliate against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, who didn't endorse his November 2013 re-election bid, and in the process violated the civil rights of drivers and others caught in five mornings of gridlock.
Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, above, and co-defendant Bill Baroni were found guilty by a federal jury last Nov. 4 (photo by Mel Evans of the Associated Press)

HACKENSACK MAYOR
CLASHES WITH ZISA ALLIES

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Despite the big black headline on the front page of The Record along with three news or opinion pieces today, the story of the Bridgegate scandal is far from over.

It definitely isn't "prison time" -- as the main headline claims -- for Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, the former allies of Governor Christie who will appeal their convictions and sentences in the September 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closures (1A).

That process can take up to two years, extending their freedom from 24-month and 18-month federal prison terms, respectively.

And David Wildstein, Christie's onetime Port Authority crony and the government's star witness, still faces sentencing on his 2015 guilty plea to conspiracy.

New probe?

Meanwhile, Assemblyman John Wisniewski called President Trump's announcement that Christie will head a new commission on opioid addiction an attempt to distract from Wednesday's sentencings of Baroni and Kelly.

Wisniewski also appealed to the Democratic majority in the state Legislature to re-open the state level investigation into Bridgegate.

Christie was never charged despite testimony from Wildstein, Baroni and Kelly the GOP thug knew about the lane closings as they were happening in September 2013.

"I will not allow myself to be the scapegoat," Kelly, 44, said after she was sentenced in Newark federal court on conspiracy, wire fraud and civil rights violations.

Baroni, 45, the former Port Authority executive who was found guilty on the same charges, said he was "wrong and I am truly sorry," but noted "a number of people outside of this courtroom were involved in Fort Lee that day -- some charged, some not."

Three days in row

Today's coverage is the third day in a row the Baroni and Kelly sentencing hearing appeared on Page 1.

Monday's news story reported federal prosecutors were asking for a 3-year prison term for each, and that both were asking for leniency.

On Tuesday, Columnist Charles Stile basically duplicated Monday's news story, and focused on the "first-time offenders" hoping for leniency.

Today, Stile's Page 1 column claims Christie "launched his latest political rehabilitation Wednesday as the compassionate and caring crusader, vowing to stomp out the opioid drug epidemic [italics added]" (1A).

This despite The Record reporting for months that Christie has vowed to end the epidemic, and just last month signed into law a bill mandating insurance coverage to give addicts immediate access to treatment (6A).

Meanwhile, Columnist Mike Kelly tries to calculate to the penny the "cost" of Bridgegate (10A), reportng incorrectly that the plan "to re-arrange the traffic cones" near the bridge "ended on Wednesday" in U.S. District Court in Newark.

Local news?

Hackensack residents aren't as interested in the Bergen County executive's $522 million spending plan as they are in the growing value of tax-exempt county property in the city (1L).

Unfortunately, Staff Writer Steve Janoski and his predecessors have never explored how that tax-exempt property -- including the newly opened Justice Center on Court Street -- unfairly shifts the property tax burden onto city residents.

Nor has The Record reported on what, if anything, the county has returned to the city to compensate for that growing tax burden. 

Hackensack news

Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse and Board of Education Attorney Richard Salkin clashed over a teacher "who appears to have distributed campaign material on school time, which is a potential violation of school policy," Staff Writer Rodrigo Torrejon reports (3L). 

A photo of an angry, finger-pointing Salkin runs with the story on Tuesday's school board meeting.

Salkin has good reason to be angry with Labrosse, who headed a slate of City Council reformers elected in May 2013 over five candidates backed by the Zisa family political dynasty.

After the reformers were elected, they stripped Salkin, a Zisa ally, of his second job -- municipal prosecutor.

Salkin has never forgiven them, and he has appeared regularly at City Council meetings to criticize, scold and berate them.

Now, a new slate backed by the Zisas opposes the May 9 re-election bid of the mayor, three other incumbents and a fifth candidate, all of whom are running as the Labrosse Team for Lower Taxes and Honest Government.

Both Salkin and school board President Jason Nunnermacker are lawyers for the Zisa-backed slate, Hackensack United for Progress.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Eating out: Enjoying a Korean beef-and-shrimp feast around a wood-charcoal fire

A steaming egg souffle in a stone bowl is one of the complimentary side dishes served at So Moon Nan Jib, a popular Korean barbecue restaurant in Palisades Park.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J. 

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

When you walk into the dining room at So Moon Nan Jib, the faint but distinct smell of smoke is a sure sign of the Korean barbecue feast to come.

On Saturday, we were delighted to find not much has changed at the popular Korean barbecue restaurant since our last meal (in 2011), except the prices.

Me and my wife were served by a waitress we knew from past visits, and she was just as attentive, cooking our food over a wood-charcoal fire, serving us an array of complimentary side dishes and bringing us more when we finished one of them. 

Korean barbecue is a fun meal as you wrap your food in red-leaf lettuce, add rice, kimchi, garlic or all three, and stuff the package into your mouth.

The Korean kitchen is a cornucopia of colors, textures and flavors -- sweet, spicy, salty and vinegary.

Though I stopped eating meat years ago, we had dinner there last weekend, because my wife can choose beef or pork barbecue, and I can order shrimp.

To cook at a table with a wood-charcoal grill, you have to order a minimum of two barbecue entrees -- such as beef, pork, tongue, chicken breast or jumbo shrimp, each costing a minimum of $25.99.

We ordered Bulgogi, thin slices of marinated sirloin ($27.99, compared to $28.99 in 2011), and a dozen butterflied Jumbo Shrimp ($31.99, compared to $24.99 six years ago).


Using long metal tongs, an employee places two containers holding wood charcoal into the opening of your table before they are covered with a grill.
Bulgogi, top, and butterflied shrimp cook quickly over the hot wood charcoal, above and below.
Complimentary side dishes, which will be replenished if you ask for more, include cabbage kimchi, spicy raw skate wing, shredded and seasoned scallions for stuffing into your lettuce package, bean sprouts, shredded radish, a green salad, mushrooms and a dip for beef or shrimp barbecue, above and below.


Too much for two

This a lot of food for two -- and expensive -- even if you don't order a small appetizer, such as the translucent yam noodles called japchae ($7.99).

We did and took home leftovers, but with eight complimentary side dishes and rice, there is plenty of food for three or four people.

Ideally, you can wash down your lettuce packages with cold Korean beer or soju, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from rice or grain, though we stuck with the hot tea that comes with the meal.

Our dinner totaled $82, including tax and tip.


A small meatless portion of japchae -- translucent yam noodles with mushrooms, onions and sweet peppers -- was $7.99. 
I always thought this complimentary drink offered at the end of the meal contained sweetened yogurt, but ingredients listed include water, fructose corn syrup, sugar, skim-milk powder and glucose.
The dining room at So Moon Nan Jib.
Waiters and waitresses will do most of the cooking for you.
So Moon Nan Jib has been packing them in for about 20 years.

Details

So Moon Nan Jib, 238 Broad Ave., Palisades Park; 1-201-944-3998. Korean barbecue, sushi and sashimi.

Open 7 days. Liquor license. Valet parking behind restaurant, and street parking with meters that accept credit cards.

Our previous visits

For the last 5 years or so, the meat eaters in my family have been making Korean barbecue at home, using thinly sliced, grass-fed filet mignon from Australia that we buy at ShopRite, and a stove-top grill that straddles two burners.

Here is what we ate on our last visit to So Moon Nan Jib in 2011:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Overshadowed by an evil Trump, Christie is getting away with murder in New Jersey

In view of President Trump's crackdown on undocumented immigrants, cartoonist Dave Granlund suggests first lady Melania Trump, a native of Slovenia, would be arrested for working illegally as a model in the United States.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Today, Editor Richard A. Green plays a story on possible prison terms for two former allies of Governor Christie above the GOP thug's approval of spending $400 million on transportation projects.

If that was deliberate, it amounts to a royal F.U. to The Record's readers (1A).

In the court of public opinion, Christie long ago was found guilty of masterminding the George Washington Bridge lane closings in 2013 as political payback after the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee refused to endorse his re-election.

But in recent months, coverage of Christie has been flattering, focusing mostly on his initiatives to fight drug overdoses in suburban towns.

Lousy credit

In fact, why did Green run the upbeat transportation funding story on Page 1 and bury another alarming story about the state's lousy credit rating on 6A?

"Wall Street has downgraded New Jersey's credit rating once again, renewing warnings about the state's poorly managed budget and ailing pension system for state workers," reporter Salvador Rizzo says.

Former Christie allies Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly have maintained their innocence and pleaded for leniency, but federal prosecutors are asking a federal judge to sentence each of them to three years in prison on Wednesday (1A).

Just hot air?

Environmental reporter Scott Fallon is one of the few veteran staffers to have escaped last week's layoffs at the Gannett-owned daily.

Today, Green devotes most of the front page to Fallon's tongue-in-cheek report on a so-called statewide battle over the release of helium balloons (1A). 

That's rich, considering The Record's environmental and transportation reporters continue to ignore the role auto emissions play in climate change and the premature death of 53,000 people a year -- apparently out of respect for car dealers, who are among the paper's biggest advertisers. 

Death pays

Talking about revenue, The Record's editors appear to have monetized the obituary pages in the Local news section (4L to 6L).

Starting today, paid obituaries are set in wider type, and In Memoriam notices carry larger photos than before. 

They also look like they cost survivors a lot more money to insert in the paper.

Food criticism dies

I am one of the biggest fans of Jerry's Gourmet & More, the Italian-American specialty food shop in Englewood.

But Food Editor Esther Davidowitz's puff piece on the Better Living cover is exaggerated, not to mention inaccurate.

More troubling, food criticism at The Record appears to have died.

Yes. There are great buys at Jerry's, but you can do better than his so-called discounts on whole-wheat pasta, coffee beans, extra-virgin olive oil and so many other products.

For example, Jerry's sells only conventional whole-wheat pasta from Italy, but he charges more than ShopRite, Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's do for their imported organic whole wheat pasta

Costco Wholesale beats Jerry's on Lavazza Coffee Beans for espresso machines, as well as on such Italian cheeses as Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano.  

Gannett: My bad

On Monday, NorthJersey.com posted a report on an Edible Books Festival at the Rutherford Public Library, but a headline said the event took place in East Rutherford.

On Facebook, John Hughes commented:


"This is a wonderful event that Rutherford residents, their library and the boro are very proud of. 
"More than 'several people' attended and the event was not in East Rutherford. 
"I thought this paper was bad when we were forced to read about the editor's church & friends every week -- now look at this mess of a newspaper!
"Shameful."

On Saturday, I couldn't find The Record in my driveway, but I did find it the next day in the large plastic bag holding the Sunday edition, as if the news in the print edition isn't outdated enough on the day it is delivered.

Monday, March 27, 2017

In a shocking omission, no all-electric car makes Top 10 list at Consumer Reports

Honda will show an all-electric version of its Clarity fuel-cell sedan at the New York International Auto Show in April. 
The Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier, with an MSRP of $41,780 and a range of 238 miles on a full charge, is being sold in seven states, including New Jersey, according to Green Car Reports.


 -- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

The annual Auto Issue from Consumer Reports crowns the 10 best new cars of 2017, but every single one of them uses gasoline.

That's really bad news for the environment, and for readers who are looking for a zero-emissions vehicle to reduce their carbon footprint.

Climate change

In fact, the nation's leading consumer publication published a letter from a 20-plus-year subscriber in the previous issue:

"I am writing ... about something troubling that I just realized," said Charles Dunn of Fairfield, Conn.

"Nowhere in the past 10 years have I read anything in CR about climate change and the effects that the products reviewed ..., namely automobiles, among others, have on the environment.

"This bothers me even more because while mileage ratings have gone up in some classes of vehicles, they are still very poor for SUVs and pickups, which a majority of consumer are buying.

"If CR cares about our global climate future, it's imperative that CR hold manufacturers accountable for improving mileage standards and offering more hybrid-electric vehicles."

CR claims 'active role'

The editor defended the magazine's record of "holding automakers accountable for fuel economy over the past decade."

She also said testers have identified "discrepancies" between the official fuel-economy rating on window stickers and real-world experiences; and added that CR "is a champion for increased fuel-economy standards."

But nowhere in the response to Dunn's letter or in the annual Auto Issue does CR mention the role EVs can play in slowing climate change or cutting the 53,000 premature deaths from auto emissions annually in the United States.

The "10 Top Picks" article in the April 2017 issue declares:

"The best new cars of 2017 are outstanding all-around performers -- shown to be reliable, safe and satisfying."

Only one of the 10 is a gas-electric hybrid, the Toyota Prius, which CR says gets 52 mpg.

There's no mention of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, which has a range of 238 miles on a full charge; or other all-electric cars, including the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf and Hyundai Ioniq Electric.

Among luxury SUVS, Consumer Reports crowns the Audi Q7 as one of the top 10, even though it struggles to get 20 mpg, instead of the zero-emissions Tesla Model X. 


Tesla says the zero-emissions Model X, with seating for up to 7, is the safest SUV you can buy.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Media blast Trump as the fake president, con man, sucker, but they may be too late

Cartoons by Daryl Cagle, above, and Adam Zyglis, below, delight in the humiliating defeat suffered by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who withdrew the bill meant to replace the Affordable Care Act before it went down to defeat.
Zyglis is the cartoonist for The Buffalo News.


-- HACKENSACK, N.J. 

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Despite President Trump's sinking popularity and a rising chorus of boos from the news media, the actual process of impeaching him is complicated and may be impossible while his fellow Republicans control Congress.

The bottom line is Trump would have to be convicted and removed from office by two-thirds of what is currently a Republican-controlled Senate.

"Removal actually requires five separate votes," Mike Rothschild of attn.com wrote in February, "two by the House Judiciary Committee, two by the entire House, the another vote in the Senate to convict."

So, it looks like the best chance the news media had to derail the serial liar was during the 2016 presidential campaign, and we all know how that turned out.

On Saturday, the lead story in The Record of Woodland Park didn't mention Trump until the fifth paragraph.

The first paragraph called cancellation of the vote on the GOP bill to replace the health-care law on Friday "a stunning defeat for Republicans."

The rest of Page 1 was devoted to a sensational court story, and a puff piece about Toys "R" Us, a major advertiser. 

Editor Richard A. Green, a veteran Gannett hatchet man, is already bored by the most difficult week Trump has had since he was inaugurated a little over two months ago.

Today's front page contains absolutely no mention of Trump.

Ex-employees

And today's Opinion section is missing the usual Sunday cartoon from Jimmy Margulies, meaning he may have been one of the 350 employees of North Jersey Media Group laid off by Gannett since the paper changed hands last July.

Readers can see his cartoons about Trump at the Cagle.com website.

In Friday's Better Living section, Radio Waves Columnist Raymond A. Edel wrote a gracious farewell, and didn't even mention he was one of the 141 NJMG staffers laid off by Gannett last week.

Edel, who worked at The Record for 35 years, also wrote a gardening column.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Free organic sweet potatoes at ShopRite; plus, Armenian takeout in Hackensack

SWEET CONFUSION: The ShopRite in Paramus stocks two brands of organic sweet potatoes in 3-pound bags. The Garden Sweet brand, above, rings up at $5.98, compared to $3.99 for the other brand, below. On Thursday in Paramus, only the pricier potatoes were available, but they were placed over the price sign for the cheaper brand.
The cheaper organic sweet potatoes also are sold at the Englewood ShopRite.


-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Confusing and conflicting price signs at the ShopRite in Paramus had an upside:

On Thursday, I received a 3-pound bag of organic sweet potatoes and a jar of imported pasta sauce for free.  

Normally, the organic sweet potatoes are $5.98, but they were placed on a shelf with a $3.99 price sign for a second organic brand, which was out of stock.

The Botticelli Fra Diavolo Premium Pasta Sauce from Italy was displayed near the liquor section for $1.99 (24-ounce jar).

But the two jars in my cart rang up at $2.99 each, so I was given one for free and the other for $1.99.


BAIT AND SWITCH: In the produce section at the ShopRite, Route 4 and Forest Avenue in Paramus, I found this display of Pearls Colossal Olives for 99 cents a can. But in the olive aisle, the same item was marked 2 for $3, below. The two cans in my cart rang up at 99 cents each.

CONFLICTING SIGNS: In the pasta aisle, Botticelli Premium Pasta Sauce from Italy, with no added sugar, was on sale for $2.99 with a store card, but a display near the supermarket's liquor section had the same bottled sauce for $1.99 each.

HOW SWEET IT IS: I baked the free organic sweet potatoes from ShopRite at 350 degrees until they were soft and their natural sugar oozed out of them.

Armenian takeout

The Armenian food at Lavash City Grill & Bakery in Hackensack is familiar to anyone who has eaten in a Syrian, Turkish or Greek restaurant.

The counter-service restaurant offers home-made "Middle Eastern Cuisine," and pledges everything is made from scratch, including the lavash, an addictive Armenian flat bread.

I stopped there on Thursday afternoon for takeout, including six delicious Grape Leaves stuffed with creamy rice; and sides of 10 Baked Veggies, Kale & Nut Salad and Tabbouleh.

Grape leaves were 50 cents each, and the other dishes were $4 each for small (16 ounces). A small container of  Tzatziki, a yogurt sauce, was $1.50.

I also bought 5 extra-large pieces of preservative-free lavash ($7), a thin, chewy flatbread that is a guilty pleasure for anyone who is on a no-bread, no-pizza diet like me.

Lavash is ideal for wrapping grape leaves and other food, and for scooping up dips. I like to make lavash wraps with Greek yogurt, za'atar thyme mixture and extra-virgin olive oil.


NOT BY BREAD ALONE: At home, my plate of takeout from Lavash City, clockwise from top, included Kale & Nut Salad, Bakes Veggies, Stuffed Grape Leaves with Tzatziki, and Tabbouleh, a salad of finely chopped parsley, scallions, bulgur wheat, tomatoes, mint, olive oil and lemon juice.

If you have a cold ...

I love the food and moderate prices at Lavash City, but the young man who assembled my takeout order was sneezing and said he had a cold.

So, I wondered why he was handling my takeout containers, and filling them with the grape leaves and the other items I ordered, when there were other employees available.

That reminded me of a visit to the Costco Wholesale Business Center in Hackensack, where I placed organic spring mix and two or three other food items on the conveyor belt, and the cashier sneezed all over them.

I asked for a sanitary wipe on the way out and used it on my packages.

Details

Lavash City Grill & Bakery, 331 Main St., Hackensack; 1-201-464-5445. Serves a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Parking lot behind restaurant.


Friday, March 24, 2017

As region chokes in traffic, The Record ignores our broken mass-transit system

Traffic congestion at Hudson River crossings has only worsened since July 2014, when these drivers inched up a Manhattan ramp to the George Washington Bridge on a warm Friday night.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Drivers have a special place in the hearts of the editors and transportation writers at The Record.

Road Warrior John Cichowski, who is supposed to be writing a commuting column, has spent more than 13 years fighting for drivers, raging against their every impediment -- from potholes to long lines at the Motor Vehicle Commission. 

Even as hour-long waits at Hudson River tollbooths have become the rule, Cichowski and The Record's editors ignore growing traffic congestion and the failure of government officials to expand bus and rail transit.

Typical of mass-transit coverage is today's front-page column about a couple who spend nine hours on trains every Friday night to go and have pizza for dinner (1A).

This past Monday, Cichowski ignored mass transit's potential for slowing climate change to reprint comments from readers who were upset that former Port Authority Chairman David Sampson got off without a jail sentence after pleading guilty to bribery.

He followed that on Wednesday with his first column ever on the long-delayed expansion of NJ Transit's electrified light-rail system to Bergen County.

The big news? A public hearing on a revised plan to add 10 miles of electrified rail service to downtown Englewood and terminate at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.

The first leg of NJ Transit's light-rail system was opened in 2000.

But Cichowski doesn't bother to comment on Tenafly's short-sighted refusal to bar extension of light rail to the borough, where residents believe they have a constitutional right to commute to Manhattan in a car or SUV. 

Local news?

The Record's Local news section is dominated today by another story from Paterson, where "a large African cat" was found roaming the streets (1L).

A large photo and story reports a fire in Passaic city displaced 10 residents (3L).

In education news, Wyckoff has decided against switching to full-day kindergarten (10L).

Free advertising

The Better Living centerfold today carries a gushing report about the expected opening of a new restaurant in far-off Ossining, N.Y., that tells you everything except how far the place is from Sing Sing Prison (10BL and 11 BL).

The story includes a large photo of Chilean sea bass, which even fish lovers avoid, because of its high mercury content.

I'm not sure what motivated Gannett to give this restaurant a million dollars worth of free publicity, but readers have come to expect little more than crumbs when it comes to food and restaurant coverage.

On Wednesday, the "Now Open" feature focused on a new pizzeria that is about as welcome as another Turkish restaurant in North Jersey.

Last Friday, Food Editor Esther Davidowitz was beside herself over "six appetizers we can't get enough of," including a spinach dip that looked as appetizing as a bread bowl brimming with vomit.