-- HACKENSACK, N.J.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
The Zisa Puppet Company is hoping for a comeback.
On Tuesday night, the family political machine that dominated Hackensack for decades introduced their slate of City Council candidates in the non-partisan May election.
Some would call them puppets, but no strings were visible as the head of the slate, school board Vice President Lara Rodriguez, walked onto the stage at Mount Olive Baptist Church to address supporters.
Another member of the slate, Rommy Buttafuocco, was identified in a campaign brochure as a 16-year employee of the Board of Education, which Zisa allies controlled even after their council candidates were defeated in 2013.
Hackensack taxpayers should be concerned about the candidacy of Rodriguez and Buttafuocco, because the school board budget soared over $100 million in the past two years, surpassing the city's own budget.
More than 44% of each resident's property taxes go to support the schools.
In last April's school election, the Zisas backed three candidates under the "Team Hackensack" banner, and all three were either elected or appointed to the board.
The Record of Woodland Park didn't cover the election -- which included six opposing candidates -- or report that the family that stuck Hackensack with the moniker "Zisaville" were attempting a political comeback.
Now, the Zisas' five council candidates are running under a different banner, "Hackensack United for Progress."
In addition to Rodriguez and Buttafuocco, candidates are businessman Jason Some, former cop Michael Williams and former legislative aide Carlos Merino.
See The Zisas and the Borgs, a post I wrote in 2010, based on recollections of a self-described Hackenack old timer.
Lynne Hurwitz, a Zisa ally who heads the city's Democratic Party machine, also was at the kickoff.
Board of Education Attorney and Zisa ally Richard Salkin lost a second job as municipal prosecutor after the City Council headed by Mayor John P. Labrosse took office in 2013.
|Lara Rodriguez, the head of the ticket, addressing supporters.|
Today's front page is dominated by the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the Russia probe, suggesting that lying is a way of life in the Trump administration (1A).
The court of public opinion convicted Governor Christie in the Bridgegate scandal, and as a result, his White House dream fizzled and he was denied a top position by President Trump.
But it doesn't look like he will ever face a judge or jury for inspiring the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that caused five mornings of gridlock in September 2013 (1A).
Meanwhile, a federal judge denied motions by lawyers for two of his former aides, Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, who were convicted in the political conspiracy, and they will be sentenced on March 15 (4A).
The Garden State has a well-earned reputation for great beefsteak tomatoes, blueberries, corn and other produce, as well as incredible seafood -- from lobsters to clams to monkfish.
But they're not good enough for Food Editor Esther Davidowitz, who would rather promote unhealthy Taylor ham, fries, hot dogs and mystery ground beef as the state's "iconic foods" (1BL, 10BL and 11BL).
Davidowitz and food writer Sophia F. Gottfried continue to scramble in an effort to distract readers from Gannett's decision to end the weekly restaurant review in November.