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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Samson skips 2-year prison term, defies his Delilahs (The Record and prosecutors)

David Samson, onetime chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in a photo from his former law firm, Wolff & Samson



Like Governor Christie, who installed him as Port Authority chairman, once high-and-mighty David Samson has escaped a prison sentence in the fallout from the Bridgegate scandal.

Today's front-page coverage of Monday's federal court hearing carries a weak headline, and includes a Charles Stile column dripping with sarcasm, but missing any condemnation of the evil twins, Christie and Samson (1A and 3A).

The headline doesn't tell readers who didn't see the TV news on Monday night that Samson escaped jail time:


Someone should ask the Gannett headline writer where Samson "got" the sentence -- at Macy's?

To make matters worse, captions under the two large photos of Samson don't identify the man and woman flanking him and appearing to run interference for the convicted felon as they left the courthouse in Newark (1A and 3A).

Samson was a mentor to Christie, who called him a father figure. Christie referred to the former state attorney general as "The General."

Samson's law office served as Christie's transition office after the GOP bully won his first term, and he traveled with Christie when he became chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

The charges

Samson pleaded guilty to bribery -- by abusing his position and pressuring United Airlines to provide a special, money losing flight that would make it easier for him to travel to his vacation home in South Carolina.

The charges stemmed from a federal probe that was an offshoot of the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

To rub salt into the wounds of federal prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares ordered Samson to serve part of his probationary sentence confined to "the tony vacation home in South Carolina that served as inspiration for the flight scheme in the first place" (6A).

"I don't think it's enough deterrence, obviously," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said outside the courthouse.

Prosecutors had asked for a 24-month prison term, noting anything less would be perceived as "a slap on the wrist."

Zisa team

The Local front today carries a superficial story on candidates for the April 25 school board and May 9 nonpartisan municipal elections (1L).

Under Hackensack, Staff Writer Rodrigo Torrejon lists three slates of five candidates vying for four-year terms.

The four City Council incumbents are Mayor John Labrosse, Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino, and Councilmen Leo Battaglia and David Sims.

The fifth member of the slate is Stephanie Von Rudenborg, a member of the Planning Board. 

Torrejon doesn't mention the Hackensack United for Progress slate challenging the incumbents is being backed by former four-term mayor Jack Zisa and former Police Chief Ken Zisa.

See: The Zisas kick off campaign to defeat reformers

The reporter also doesn't mention the third slate, Hackensack Strong, includes Richard Cerbo, son of former Mayor Fred Cerbo, who was elected in 1981, defeating Frank Zisa, father of Jack and Ken Zisa.

In the Hackensack school election, four candidates filed for three seats on the board, and voters will be asked to approve a $104 million budget -- 44% of your property taxes go to support the schools.

Candidates are listed as incumbents Johanna Calle and Robin Coles, and challengers Leila Amirhamzeh and Chimelozonam Patrick Allagoa.

Voter apathy

The Record has never attempted to explain the tremendous voter apathy in Hackensack, where only about 3,500 voters out of 20,000 who are registered cast ballots in the municipal election.

The turnout in school elections is even lower.