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Sunday, April 30, 2017

As local news wanes, interviewing Trump voters is a colossal waste of time, money

Cartoonist R. J. Matson on the precarious situation in the nation's capital.



With President Trump in office for more than 3 months, few readers will have the patience today to plow through nearly three full pages in The Record on our "divided nation."

As news of Hackensack and many other North Jersey towns declines dramatically, Editor Richard A. Green decided to waste the paper's dwindling resources to send a reporter and photographer on a five-day road trip "to take the pulse of America" (1A, 6A and 7A).

What is the point of interviewing Trump supporters?

They were delusional when they voted for the tax-dodger, con man and liar after he claimed he would better their lives, and they remain delusional, even though he's failed to deliver on most of his campaign promises.

The bitter 2016 presidential campaign and the Electoral College election of the New York billionaire didn't divide the nation.

It split when Barack Obama was sworn in as our first black president in 2009, and grew further apart with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Mean-spirited Republicans in Congress opposed everything Obama did, just because he is black.

Readers would have been better served if Columnist Mike Kelly and Staff Photographer Chris Pedota spent five days traveling through New Jersey, exploring how we've survived Trump's dysfunctional presidency.

In just 100 days ended Saturday, he cemented his reputation as the worst president in the history of the republic.

Divisive speech

Buried on Page 16A in The Record today is a weak Associated Press story on Trump's visit to Pennsylvania on Saturday.

That's when he skipped the White House correspondents' dinner in Washington, renewed his attacks on the media and rallied his base, according to CNN.
"Trump held that divisive tone throughout the speech, prompting former presidential adviser and senior CNN political analyst David Gergen to call the remarks 'deeply disturbing' in a special prime-time edition of 'CNN Newsroom' with John Berman and Poppy Harlow.
"'This was the most divisive speech I have ever heard from a sitting American president,' Gergen said. 'Others may disagree about that. He played to his base and he treated his other listeners, the rest of the people who have been disturbed about him or opposed him, he treated them basically as, "I don't give a damn what you think because you're frankly like the enemy." I thought it was a deeply disturbing speech.'"

From cartoonist John Cole of The Scranton Times-Tribune. President Trump held a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night, delivering his most divisive speech since the inauguration.

Local news?

The Record's Local news section today carries stories or photos from about a dozen communities out of the 90 or so in the circulation area.

One of the stories on the Local front reports on Saturday's climate march in Bergen County, but a film about a Fair Lawn girl who is a "powerlifter" gets much better play (1L and a front-page banner).

The Record continues to ignore the year-old attempt by the Zisa family to return to power in Hackensack by defeating City Council reformers led by Mayor John Labrosse in the May 9 election.

In school elections last week and in April 2016, all six of the candidates backed by the Zisas' Team Hackensack won seats on the Board of Education.

More cuts

When Gannett Co. redesigned The Record last November, production of the paper was moved out of Woodland Park and Rockaway to the Design Studio of one of its other New Jersey dailies, the Asbury Park Press, in the shore community of Neptune.

Last week, Gannett announced it will be closing the Neptune Design Studio by June, with the loss of 85 more jobs.

So, production of The Record will be moved out of state to a Design Studio in Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee or Arizona.

Gannett also is shutting down the Asbury Park Press' Freehold Township printing plant, which opened in 1996, and shifting all printing functions to Gannett's Rockaway plant by June.

The Freehold plant employs 225 people, 154 full time.

Since last July, when Gannett bought The Record, more than 350 jobs have been cut at North Jersey Media Group, parent company of dailies, weeklies, a website and a magazine.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Eating Out & Eating In: Lotus Cafe's seafood, H Mart's whole fish and more

An appetizer of Calamari with Salt & Pepper at Lotus Cafe, a popular Chinese BYO in Hackensack. Not spicy enough for you? Dip your squid into chili oil, below.



We enjoyed a seafood appetizer and entree, and a side dish of greens sauteed in fresh garlic for dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Lotus Cafe in Hackensack.

And we took home plenty of leftovers last Saturday. 

My wife doesn't eat squid, so I had an appetizer of Calamari with Salt & Pepper ($9.45) all to myself. 

Tender squid sauteed with hot peppers and garlic is an unbeatable combination, and there was enough for two.

My wife ordered Wonton Soup ($2.25), but was disappointed with the small pork-filled wontons floating in broth and the absence of greens or sliced pork. 

Our entree was melt-in-the-mouth Filet of Sole with Scallions & Ginger ($17.95), and we also ordered Chinese Water Spinach sauteed with fresh garlic ($12.95).

Filet of Sole with Ginger & Scallions.
Chinese Water Spinach with Fresh Garlic.
No extra charge for brown rice.


Lotus Cafe, 450 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack (in the Home Depot Shopping Center); 201-488-7070. Reservations recommended on weekends.

BYO, free delivery within 3 miles (minimum order $12), ask for special fixed-price dinner and banquet menu for 4 to 12 people (6 to 12 courses).

Dishing more seafood

SUNDAY DINNER AT HOME: Pan-fried Whole Whiting with Mustard Greens and Sweet Plantains. Whole whiting has a single central bone, making it one of the easiest fish to eat.
PAN FRIED IN OLIVE OIL: Whole King Whiting were $3.49 a pound last Sunday at H Mart, 25 Lafayette Ave. in Englewood, where we had the fish cleaned and the heads removed. My wife seasoned them and pan fried them in olive oil, above and below.

ALASKAN POLLOCK BURGERS: A 3-pound package of wild Alaskan Pollock Burgers from Trident are on sale at the Costco Wholesale Business Center, 80 S. River St. in Hackensack, for $7.49 after an instant coupon (normally 12 burgers are $11.49). Here, I served a cooked burger with Mexican-style salsa and Greek Yogurt, both from Costco.
SMOKED WILD SALMON: Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon from Costco Wholesale in the Teterboro Landing Shopping Center ($16.99 a pound) accents two Costco organic eggs fried sunny side up, served over Costco organic quinoa with chickpeas and diced tomatoes prepared in an electric cooker.  
YELLOWFIN TUNA: My wife made a tangy salad from 2 cans of Genova-brand Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil, adding fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, onion, garlic, celery and dried basil (6 7-ounce cans were $11.99 at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro).

Thursday, April 27, 2017

With tax plan as with everything else, Trump aims to screw the middle class

President Trump's one-page tax plan may have fooled the writer of The Record's Page 1 headline, but cartoonist Dave Granlund and other newspapers denounced the phony's assault on the middle class.



The New York Times Editorial Board calls it "President Trump's Laughable Plan to Cut His Own Taxes."

The Record's Editorial Board? It's out to lunch, as usual, and hasn't said a peep about Trump's assault on middle-class tax deductions.

But the Woodland Park daily's bumbling editor, Gannett veteran Richard A. Green, is running a Page 1 headline based on spin from Gary Cohn, a Trump administration official who is a multimillionare:


The story Green should have played outside is buried on 11A.

As the headline over a story by the paper's own Washington correspondent says, "Trump's road to tax overhaul is full of potholes."

Trump's plan to eliminate the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes would hit hardest in New Jersey, where we pay the highest local property taxes in the nation.

The Times editorial thundered:
"... The skimpy one-page tax proposal released" by the Trump administration "is, by any historical standard, a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats [wealthiest citizens] looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country's future.
"Two of Mr. Trump's top lieutenants -- Steve Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, both multimillionaires and former Goldman Sachs bankers -- trotted out a plan that would slash taxes for businesses and wealthy families, including Mr. Trump's, in the vague hope of propelling economic growth.
"... Some middle-class families might not benefit much or at all, because the plan does away with important deductions like those for state and local taxes."

Today's paper

Two of the three other stories on the front page are from Passaic County (1A), as if Green couldn't find stories of equal interest to the majority of readers in Bergen County. 

The Record could run a story on "the relentless violence that plagues" the streets of Paterson every day, as it does today.

But when are reporters going to take a hard look at whether the city's Police Department is doing everything it can to protect minority residents from guns.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

$81.2M Hackensack school tax levy OK'd by tiny fraction of 22,000 registered voters

Only an American flag marked the entrance to the Fairmount School cafeteria, which served as a polling location in Tuesday's Hackensack school and budget election, above.
Me and my wife voted after 4 on Tuesday afternoon, and there were no other voters in the school cafeteria, above. Polls were open from only 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.



In Hackensack, never have so few approved so many tens of millions of dollars in property taxes to support public schools.

Only 550 residents (out of 22,000-plus registered voters) said "yes" or "no" to the $81.2 million tax levy on Tuesday's school election ballot.

The vote to approve the levy -- which supports a $109 million school budget -- was 341, including 41 mail-in ballots, the Bergen County Clerk's Office said today.

The vote against was 209, including 25 mail-in ballots.

There are 22,732 registered voters in Hackensack, according to the Superintendent of Elections.

Hackensack officials say more than 44% of each homeowner's property taxes go to support the public schools.

The Record of Woodland Park reported the owner of a home assessed at $241,342, the city average, will pay $5,109.69 in school taxes (whether you have children in school or not).

Flawed reporting

Hackensack is the biggest school district in Bergen County, but The Record couldn't spare more than six paragraphs in the Local news section to report partial results of the school election.

Today's story on 3L doesn't include mail-in ballots.

Three three-year seats on the Board of Education also were up for grabs on Tuesday, but the highest vote-getter received only 466 ballots (out of 22,732 registered voters).

All three members of the Team Hackensack slate -- backed by the Zisa family political dynasty -- were elected.

They include two incumbents, Johanna Calle with 466 votes, including 51 mail-in ballots; and Robin E. Coles, also with 466 votes, including 58 mail-in ballots.

The third member of the Zisa slate, Leila T. Amirhamzeh, received 323 votes, including 30 mail-in ballots.

Although The Record provided no biographical information on the four candidates, challenger Patrick C. Allagoa received 199 votes, including 38 mail-in ballots.

Allagoa's name was listed in today's story as "Chimelozonam Patrick Allagoa," even though that was not how he was listed on the ballot.

Editorial apathy

The results of Tuesday's election weren't a surprise as Hackensack voters have always been apathetic about the April school balloting and the non-partisan May election for City Council.

For at least the past two years, The Record didn't bother reporting any biographical information for school board candidates.

Nor did the paper explore issues or provide any details of the proposed budget, which is $5 million higher despite declining enrollment.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Record's Page 1 story downplays Trump role in growing anti-Semitism

This cartoon from Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune apparently refers to President Trump warning North Korea that an armada was sailing toward the rogue nation, but it turned out U.S. warships were moving in the opposite direction -- toward Australia.
In this February cartoon, Jeff Darcy of The Plain Dealer notes Trump denounced anti-Semitism -- after another wave of bomb threats at Jewish centers and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries -- but only after daughter Ivanka tweeted about "religious tolerance" and protecting "our houses of worship & religious centers."

Plus: What happened
 to the 'By' in bylines?



President Trump is flanked by strategist Steve Bannon, who has been accused of embracing the alt-right, a loose network of white nationalists and anti-Semites, and a globe-trotting Orthodox Jewish son-in-law who has assumed a major role in the administration.

Seven days after he was inaugurated in January, Trump was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League for failing to mention in a statement he issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day that the Nazis killed 6 million Jews -- not just "innocent people."

During a 2016 presidential campaign filled with hate speech from Trump, his supporters attacked Jewish reporters covering rallies, and at least one received a death threat. 

Trump missing

Now, a Page 1 story in The Record on a spike in anti-Semitic "intimidation and vandalism" in New Jersey and the nation in 2016 doesn't mention Trump until deep into the continuation of the story on 6A:

"The [Anti-Defamation League] report linked 34 cases last year to the presidential race, including graffiti found in Denver last May that said, 'Kill the Jews, vote Trump,'" The Associated Press reported.

"ADL Chief Executive Jonathan Greenblat was among the most vocal Jewish leaders pressing Donald Trump, as a candidate and president, to do more to combat anti-Semitism," the story says.

Bye-bye to 'By'

I've just noticed how Gannett dropped the "By" in reporters' bylines when the print edition was redesigned in mid-November.

A story on Nov. 15, 2016, would carry this byline: "By HANNAN ADELY, STAFF WRITER."

After the unannounced Nov. 16 redesign, only "HANNAN ADELY, STAFF WRITER," plus her Twitter handle, appeared, as in her story on today's front page.

The other day, her byline lost the "H" and only "ANNAN ADELY" appeared.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Zisas back Iranian-American, incumbents in Hackensack's school board election

Last Tuesday morning, these pedestrians were in the crosswalk and had a walk sign, but had to wait to cross Forest Avenue at Spring Valley Avenue in Maywood, because the drivers of several turning vehicles refused to yield to them.

And Record columnist asks if you're  'dying' to know worst crosswalks



The Record's coverage of elections has gone from bad to worse, especially if you live in Hackensack.

On Tuesday, polling places will be open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the 2017 school election.

But for the second year in a row, the Woodland Park daily hasn't reported on the issues involved or provided any details of the proposed school budget of $109 million, an increase of $5 million.

The budget has increased in recent years even as public-school enrollment is declining.

Four candidates are competing for three three-year terms on the nine-member Board of Education, but readers haven't been told anything about them.


Three of them are backed by Team Hackensack, an organization created by the Zisa family political dynasty, which ruled the city for decades.

The Zisas were responsible for bringing Hackensack to its knees, and holding it up for statewide ridicule as a backwater called "Zisaville."

Residents also can vote "yes" or "no" on the $81.2 million tax levy that supports the proposed budget.

Homeowners and other property owners fork over 44% of their taxes to support the schools.

A "no" vote would allow the City Council to examine the budget, recommend cuts in expenditures or leave it as it is.

Team Hackensack

A letter from Team Hackensack asks residents to vote for two incumbents, Robin E. Coles and Johanna Calle, and newcomer Leila T. Amirhamzeh, an Iranian-American who is director of development for New Jersey Citizens Action.

NJCA calls itself a grassroots group "fighting for social and economic justice."

The fourth candidate is Patrick C. Allagoa.

Allagoa, listed first on the ballot, is seen as a protest vote against the Zisas' continuing domination of the school board.

School board member Veronica Bolcik McKenna is not seeking re-election.

In a March 7 story listing school board candidates, Record Staff Writer Rodrigo Torrejon reported incorrectly the two incumbents, Coles and Calle, are running against Amirhamzeh and "Chimelozonam Patrick Allagoa."

A sample ballot for Tuesday's school board and budget election in Hackensack.

100 days

The Record is running a USA Today story on President Trump's first 100 days under a headline that ends in a question mark:

"A bumpy 100 days for Trump?

That calls into question what even Trump's supporters would agree have been three-plus months of legislative setbacks.

The story is a lot more unequivocal than the headline:

"The courts have blocked his signature immigration plan. Congress has balked at delivering on his promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The FBI is investigating Russian meddling in the election" (1A).

Saturday marks the 100th day of his term.

The USA Today story warns, "Just wait for the 1,361 [days] to follow."

Road kill

Staff Writer John Cichowksi, The Record's so-called commuting columnist, continues to make light of pedestrian deaths and injuries:

"If you're dying to know which crowded intersections require the most caution, here's a little ... advice to keep you from joining the ranks of nameless pedestrians who typically are killed or injured ... in Bergen and Passaic counties each year" (1A).

Of course, the pedestrians who have been killed are far from "nameless" -- The Record has covered the crashes and their deaths, sometimes in great detail, and has identified them, even if Cichowski has shown little interest in seeking justice for them.

His Page 1 story includes a photo of the second-most injury prone intersection for pedestrians, Essex Street and Prospect Avenue in Hackensack (but pedestrians are shown crossing Prospect, not the more dangerous Essex).

More errors

On the continuation page, Cichowski reports "pedestrian crashes" began plummeting in the same year as the crosswalk law took effect requiring drivers to stop -- not just yield -- to pedestrians in marked crosswalks [2010].

But the only data he cites is from 2015.

On the Local front today, the name of a teen-ager who demonstrated in Paterson against Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad was misspelled in a photo caption.

She is Mariam Alzouabi, 15, not "Alzoubabi" (1L).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

In Trump, we got an Emperor With No Brains, but news media still humor him

Essex County kicked off the 41st annual Cherry Blossom Festival at Branch Brook Park in Newark today, above and below. The event has blossomed in recent years, adding entertainment, demonstrations of Japanese cultural traditions and vendors selling everything from bonsai trees to barbecue.



Did you see the one-on-one TV interview with President Trump, who enthused about a piece of chocolate cake he was served moments before telling his interviewer about a missile attack on Iraq?

The reporter was taken aback, but corrected the president, as she would her doddering uncle, reminding him the cruise missiles were launched against Syria, not Iraq.

Early reports quoted officials saying Syrian warplanes were destroyed by the April 6 missile strike, which was in retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 people.

But later it came out that none of the missiles hit runways, allowing the Syrian government to resume the attacks the next day.

Of course, Trump was mocked on the Internet for the chocolate-cake reference, but I didn't see much push back in the news media, including The Record of Woodland Park. 

Now, Trump appears intent on bringing us to the brink of a nuclear confrontation with North Korea.

This is a president whose grasp of world affairs, economics, health care, the environment and so many other issues is infantile.

He acts as if he is still running "The Apprentice."

Entertainment at the Cherry Blossom Festival included the James Moody Jazz Orchestra, teens who have dedicated themselves to learning the art of jazz under the auspices of the New Jersey Performing Arts Cener.
Other events included demonstrations of how to wear a kimono and how to prepare sushi.
Vendors set up their tents on the parking lot of the park's welcome center.

The media

On NorthJersey.com, Columnist Mike Kelly's reaction to all the madness in Washington is to hit the road with a photographer "to assess President Trump's first 100 days in office," which includes "a report on how divided our nation is now."

That sounds like old news to me, but none of his interviews with "ordinary people" in four states has hit the print edition yet.

On Page 1, Staff Writer Paul Berger brings us yet another report on the region's rail system, which he insists is "at a breaking point" (1A).

This is basically a regurgitation of Berger's story on the front page just three days ago.

And the big photo of wrong-way Amtrak CEO Charles Moorman looking out the back of a train is barely distinguishable from the one that ran on Thursday's 1A.

Where was The Record's outrage in 2010, when Governor Christie unilaterally canceled work on two Hudson River rail tunnels, which were scheduled to be finished next year?

Saturday's lead story quoted former Vice President Joe Biden taking a swipe at the GOP thug for shutting down the project, noting, "There's still purgatory."

Local news?

What was a story about Quest Diagnostics' 50th anniversary doing on the Local news front on Saturday?

Inside, there were two especially bad headlines:

man accused
of posing as 
cop in court"

No. The suspect posed as a sheriff's officer during an attempted robbery, not while in court. But he did appear in court to face the charges on Thursday.

"Ringwood woman wanted
for disposing of body found"

Actually, the woman was "found and arrested," according to the lead paragraph of the story, so the headline should have said:

"Ringwood woman held
in disposal of dead body"

Malik Williams

An editorial today claims a lump sum payment of $180,000 by Bergen County, Garfield and two police officers means Malik Williams "is finally put to rest," according to the headline on 2O.

On Dec. 10, 2011, Williams, 19, who was black, was shot five times by two white police officers who fired a total of nine rounds inside a garage where he was hiding -- a shooting that "still seems unjustified," The Record's editorial board says.

But the news story and editorial never report whether the Williams family will get all of the $180,000.

Under court rules, the family's lawyer is entitled to a third or more of the settlement -- or at least $60,o00 -- so that would leave only $120,000 for the survivors, including his girlfriend and young son.

Bergen news?

Seven news stories from Passaic County appear in the Local news section delivered to Bergen County readers today.

Inexplicably, the closing of a Wayne restaurant is reported on the first page of the section (1L).

One of the 7 Bergen stories in the section reports on deer-population control in Saddle River, a wealthy suburb that has successfully limited the number of blacks and other minorities living there (7L).

Saturday, April 22, 2017

On Earth Day, Tesla owners count their tax savings, praise emissions-free driving

The Summon feature on my Tesla smartphone app allows me to start and back up my Model S or drive it forward from outside the car. That came in handy after a heavy rainstorm flooded my garage.

Editor's note: If you are in the market for a Tesla (Model S or Model X), using my referral code http://ts.la/victor3828 will save you $1,000 and entitle you to unlimited Supercharging.


On Earth Day and every day, reducing your carbon footprint pays handsomely.

On the federal tax return I filed for 2016, I was able to take a $1,425 credit for my purchase of an all-electric Tesla Model S in April 2015.

That reduced the federal taxes I paid over two years by the $7,500 maximum allowed on the Model S.

I also saved about $5,600 in New Jersey sales tax when I purchased the zero-emissions luxury car -- a low-slung, four-door hatchback with lightning acceleration and sports-car handling.

My federal tax return also included a residential energy credit of $1,750, which I have been taking annually since I installed solar panels on my home in 2009.

Money from the sun

Those panels generate all the electricity I need during as many as six months every year, and they also earn solar credits I can sell through a middleman to my utility, Public Service Electric & Gas.

In the first two years I had the panels, I was able to sell my solar credits for a total of $11,000.

In effect, I don't pay for the electricity I use to charge my car in the garage overnight.

And my Model S came with free lifetime use of Tesla's proprietary network of Superchargers on road trips, such as our annual visit to the jazz festival in Montreal.

On March 28, I saw these two gas guzzlers parked in spaces reserved for "low emissions" vehicles at the Whole Food Market in Closter, above and below.
Emissions from road hogs such as this BMW and other vehicles kill about 53,000 people prematurely every year, says Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Service loaner

I had my second annual service at Tesla's Paramus service center this month.

The Model S has proven to be the most reliable car I've ever owned.

The service center didn't have a Model S to loan me so Tesla paid for a rental from Hertz, a new Nissan Maxima sedan.

I admire the swoopy styling, but compared to my Tesla the Maxima had a noisy 6-cylinder gasoline engine, and the interior was far too busy and filled with cheap plastic.

I couldn't get the cruise control to work.

The car vibrated when I was stopped at a red light, and the engine noise was especially annoying during hard acceleration.

Still, the Maxima loaner only made me appreciate even more the near-silent and effortless driving I've enjoyed for the past two years in my Tesla.