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Planning to rent a car at Miami's airport? First, you'll have to walk, walk and walk

WALK, THEY SAID: After my flight from Newark to Miami, I picked up my luggage and set off for the rental-car center, using elevators, ...

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Melania Trump slaps away her husband's hand, seems to join the MeToo movement


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Today's selection of cartoons from Cagle.com focuses on Melania Trump, first lady of the United States, and her distaste for the husband who cheated on her after the birth of their son Barron.

Here are a half-dozen glimpses into her life as President Trump's third wife:

SUPPORTS A BIG BEAUTIFUL WALL: David Fitzsimmons, staff cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson says Melania will be the one to build a wall -- between her and President Trump. 
GREEN CARD VIOLATION IN '96: Cartoonist Dave Granlund suggesting Melania might be arrested by Trump's ICE police for having worked illegally in the U.S.
STATE OF THE UNION IS STORMY: J.D. Crowe, staff cartoonist for the Mobile Register in Alabama, capturing the tensions of the Trumps' marriage. Adult film star Stormy Daniels bared most of the details of her sexual encounter with Trump, despite a $130,000 payment intended to shut her up.
NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT: Cartoonist Jeff Darcy of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland suggesting this is the big question on everybody's mind in the event she seeks a divorce from the Liar-In-Chief.
BROMANCE WITH FRENCH PREZ: Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune trying to explain the touchy feely meeting between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.
TRUMP SHITS ON WIFE'S CAMPAIGN: Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News commenting on Melania's attempts to stop cyber-bullying when Trump is one of the biggest such bullies.

See more cartoons: Chaotic Trump presidency

Friday, April 27, 2018

Eating Out: BCD Tofu House in Fort Lee; Burger Walla, cherry blossoms in Newark

KOREAN BELLY BUSTER: Look for Lunch Combo Special L7 at BCD Tofu House in Fort Lee for a belly busting meal of broiled Croaker or Mackerel (above), small Soft Tofu Soup, complimentary side dishes and rice ($17.50).
ORGANIC TOFU: BCD Tofu is our go-to place for the comforting soup made with organic soft tofu and seafood, beef, pork or vegetables. You can chose the level of spiciness: Plain, mild, medium, spicy or danger.
DELICIOUS NO MATTER THE SPELLING: A half-dozen Kale Vege Dumplings, stuffed with kale, spinach, vermicelli noodles and tofu --fried or steamed -- are $6.25 at lunch, $7.25 at dinner. Every meal at BCD Tofu comes with seven free side dishes, including a small battered-and-fried croaker, below.


NEWARK, N.J. -- We agreed on going to see the cherry blossom trees in Branch Brook Park last Saturday, but not on where we would eat afterward.

That's how I ended up doing takeout at Burger Walla, a fast-casual, Asian Indian-inspired place on Halsey Street, a few blocks from the Rutgers campus.

Then, me and my wife drove to Fort Lee for a belly busting late lunch at BCD Tofu House, where the organic tofu soup, wonderful kimchi and other complimentary side dishes are served in a noisy dining room filled with contented customers.

There were a few glitches: 

No whole egg for cooking in the bubbling tofu broth was available, because of a salmonella scare; two of the seven free side dishes we were served contained raw squid, which my wife doesn't eat; and the Dyson hand dryer in the men's room wasn't working.

And when you look at the Seafood Soon Tofu Soup shown on the website -- with jumbo, head-on shrimp and large clams -- it bears absolutely no resemblance to what you are served in the Korean restaurant.

I went for a lunch combo; my wife ordered Pork Soondubu or Soft Tofu Soup, a complete meal with rice and side dishes ($12.99)

I had enough leftovers from my takeout and restaurant meals for two light dinners at home.


BCD Tofu House, 1640 Schlosser St. in Fort Lee, is open 7 days a week; 201-944-2340. Free parking in strip mall lot.

Burger Walla, 47 Halsey St. in Newark; 1-862-259-2552. Closed Sundays. Metered street parking.

In Indian culture, a walla is a salesperson or specialist, and the couple who run the place add, "We are your Burger Walla."

HOLLA AT YA WALLA: At home on Sunday night, I plated takeout from Burger Walla on Halsey Street in Newark prepared with some of the many spices Asian Indian food is famous for: A house-made Veggie Burger with caramelized onions, spicy mustard and mango chutney on a whole-wheat bun ($7); Curry Cauliflower and Chickpeas ($3.50), and Sweet Potato Tots ($3). We also took out vegetarian, Punjabi-style Samosas stuffed with potatoes (2 for $5).

BRANCH BROOK PARK: The cherry blossom trees in Newark were in full bloom last Saturday afternoon, and hundreds of sightseers were snapping photos or picnicking under their branches. 
SACRED HEART: Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart also was open for visits.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ghosts of The Record's old headquarters will be buried under new housing on river

Hackensack planners envision a riverfront development of up to 700 residential units, 70,000 square feet of retail and possibly a hotel on what they call the 150 River St. site, including the old headquarters of North Jersey Media Group and The Record, which moved to Woodland Park in 2009. 


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- I always imagined the old headquarters of The Record and the newsroom where I worked for nearly 30 years would be leveled by explosives.

Or, an enormous wrecking ball would tear through the wall of the fourth-floor newsroom, which gave editors and reporters a sweeping view of the Meadowlands and the Manhattan skyline beyond.

Instead, the three buildings at 150 River St. will be pulverized after they are taken down with extended mechanical claws and large misters to keep down the dust.

The pulverized masonry and concrete will be left on the redevelopment site, where city planners envision a riverfront community of up to 700 apartments with public spaces and a Hackensack River walk in the first phase of construction.

They would be followed by up to 70,000 square feet of retail, including restaurants and bars, and possibly a hotel with a minimum of 100 rooms.

The pulverized material likely will be used to raise the site 3 feet, as city officials require before construction begins, because the land is in a floodplain.

That means the many ghosts of the landmark building where the once-great local daily newspaper was published will be buried there.


Fourth Edition, a Borg family company, is expected to partner with the Hampshire Real Estate Cos. and Russo Development to build on the Record site.

Jon F. Hanson, chairman of Hampshire, and Malcolm A. Borg, former chairman of North Jersey Media Group, are close friends who once co-owned a private jet.

The current development plans apparently don't include the USS Ling, a World War II submarine that hasn't been boarded in years and may be beyond salvaging.

The nearby naval museum lost its lease in 2016, when Stephen A. Borg, then-publisher of The Record, said the sub wasn't on family property.

19.7 acres

The 2015 plan by DMR Architects of Hasbrouck Heights includes adjacent parcels: 80 River St. (Heritage Diner), and 62 and 76 Bridge St., a total of 19.7 acres -- all owned by Bergen Evening Record Inc. and Macromedia Inc.

The Record and NJMG moved out of the 3- and 4-story building where The Record was pubished in 2009.

But the Borg family didn't include the 19.7 acres in the sale of their publishing company to Gannett in July 2016 -- the beginning of the end for more than 350 NJMG employees who would lose their jobs.

City planners say the development must include "open space that will provide a visual connection and public access to the Hackensack River."

A public riverfront walkway would have to be at least 30 feet wide.


Demolition of the building at 150 River St., a warehouse and a maintenance garage is scheduled to begin in August after removal of wires, bulbs, thermostats and refrigerants; hazardous material, and water and sewer pipes, among other items. 

Employees of the Vannuzzi Group, a demolition and recycling company based in Kinnelon, have begun stripping the buildings.

The newsroom in The Record building, completed in 1951 with an addition from the 1980s, ran the length of the fourth floor, above. Garage bays were used to load copies of The Record into delivery trucks, but printing was moved out of Hackensack in 2006. 
The 3-story structure closest to River Street was completed in 1957. The top floor had executive offices and a dining room.

An early concept of apartments on the Hackensack River, with courtyards and parking garages, was given a new address, 155 River St., and showed the USS Ling moored in its usual spot.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The chaotic Trump presidency in cartoons from Stormy Daniels to Russia meddling

"Nothing to see here," President Trump says in this cartoon from Daryl Cagle of Cagle.com, a site for artists worldwide. Try as he might, Trump hasn't been able to distract the news media from his affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels, his lawyer Michael Cohen's $130,000 payment to silence her, and the FBI raid on Cohen's home and office. Below, Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio explores the menage a trois among Trump, Cohen and Sean Hannity, the Trump shill on Fox. "It's all consensual," Hannity claims.

Hannity is portrayed as Trump's lap dog in this cartoon from Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has so many leads to follow in another cartoon from Zyglis called "Which Hunt."
In another Daryl Cagle cartoon, Trump calls the FBI raids on Cohen, the lawyer who is often called the president's fixer, "an attack on our country." Not a single reporter laughed in Trump's face when he made that ridiculous comparison.
"The Unraveling," another Zyglis cartoon, notes publication of a book by fired FBI Director James Comey brought vicious attacks from the president and calls for his arrest by Republican leaders.
Trump as the puppet of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, the Syrian war criminal, is explored by Jimmy Margulies, former editorial cartoonist at The Record of Woodland Park.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Just when you're not looking, Trader Joe's finally expands cramped store in Paramus

BREATHING ROOM: Trader Joe's in Paramus is putting up a new sign as one of the finishing touches on a long-overdue expansion of the cramped specialty foods market that began in November.
20 FEET: A manager said the store is now 20 feet wider front to back (taken from a vacant space next door), allowing for noticeably wider aisles, such as the one below.
WIDE-OPEN SPACE: Look at how Trader Joe's has expanded the aisle with the antibiotic-free hot dogs, cold cuts, cheese and other items. Juices have been moved into this aisle from the other side of the store.


PARAMUS, N.J. -- Has it been 14 months since my last shopping trip to Trader Joe's on nail-biting Route 17 north?


And when I stopped there today to make a video complaining about the cramped market and grumpy customers who won't allow others like me to stop and read nutrition labels, I was in for a pleasant surprise.

The popular specialty foods market is putting the finishing touches -- including a new sign -- on a long-overdue expansion.

A manager said the Paramus Trader Joe's -- which first opened in 2007 -- is now 20 feet wider front to back, using space from a vacant store next door.

The work began last November. The store, at 404 Route 17 north, is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

This afternoon, I spent more than $40 there on antibiotic-free cold cuts, beef hot dogs and bacon; organic sweet potatoes, juices, and small jars of cut beets and grilled artichokes for salad.

And no one slammed a cart into me as I stopped to read a label.

CHECK OUT ALL THE SPACE: Trader Joe's check-out counters were moved into the expanded space.
ROTTEN APPLE? A 6-pound bag of organic Fuji Apples for $5.99 (about $1 a pound) is a good deal, but I couldn't find a bag without at least one bruised apple. 
SWEET! One of my favorite items at Trader Joe's is the 3-pound bag of Organic Sweet Potatoes for $4.49 or about $1.50 a pound. The sign suggests "slice and make fries" or "bake with some butter," but I prefer to cut up and boil the sweet potatoes with peeled cloves of garlic, drain them and mash them with extra-virgin olive oil, cinnamon, black pepper and other seasonings.
SMOKED WILD SALMON: Trader Joe's offers two kinds of smoked wild salmon, but they are far more expensive than the 1-pound package of Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro.
NO ADDED SALT: Trader Joe's offers an organic Marinara Sauce with no salt added, but most of the other bottled sauces on the shelves contain 19% to 24% of the maximum daily recommended amount of sodium in a half-cup.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Victorious school board challengers will be seated Monday; $82.8M tax levy approved

Frances Cogelja, holding up broom; Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse and Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino celebrating on Tuesday night after Cogelja and two other challengers defeated three incumbents for seats on the Board of Education.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Three challengers who ran with the support of the mayor and City Council will be seated on Monday at the Board of Education's reorganization meeting.

Frances Cogelja, Carlos A. Velez and Lance Powell defeated school board President Jason Nunnermacker and two other incumbents, Mark A. Stein and Daniel F. Carola, in Tuesday's school election.

They won three-year terms on the nine-member board.

The reorganization meeting at which they will be sworn in starts at 6:15 p.m. in the Hackensack High School Media Center.

Voters also approved an $82.8 million tax levy to support a budget of $117.1 million budget.

That means nearly half of every property owner's taxes will go to pay salaries and other expenses at the city's public schools.

Get Zisas Out

The challengers, who called themselves the Putting Our Kids First Team, campaigned against Nunnermacker, Stein and Carola as stooges of the Zisa family political machine.

Former four-term Mayor Jack Zisa and his brother, disgraced ex-Police Chief Ken Zisa, held onto power at the school board after their allies were defeated in City Council elections in 2013 and again in 2017.

At the height of their power, Hackensack was mocked far and wide as "Zisaville."

Cogelja, Velez and Powell pledged to provide better security for children by putting a retired cop in every school; stop insurance and legal fee abuses; and improve the working relationship between the board and city officials.

Election results

In unofficial results released by the Bergen County Clerk's Office, 1,629 or 7.65% of the 21,303 registered voters cast ballots.

That includes 100 mail-in ballots. The Board of Elections put the number of registered voters as of last Wednesday at 23,401 -- higher than the county clerk's figure.

The totals for the candidates in Tuesday's balloting:

Velez, 961; Cogelja, 935; and Powell, 923.

For the defeated incumbents, Carola, 632; Stein, 573; and Nunnermacker, 557.

Since 2013, Nunnermacker has tried but failed three times to be elected to the City Council, so voters may have felt his commitment to the schools was weak.

After Mayor John Labrosse and his slate of reformers were elected in 2013, Nunnermacker, others members of the board and board attorney Richard Salkin appeared at every council meeting to harshly criticize the winners, their appointees and their policies.

School budget

Although 1,629 ballots were cast, only 1,142 people voted "yes" or "no" on the tax-levy proposition, which was approved 695-447.

That means only 695 out of 44,000 city residents approved the use of $82.8 million in property taxes to support the school budget.

The Record

The election results that appeared on NorthJersey.com this morning were incomplete, both for the candidates and the vote on the tax levy.

The story also included an incorrect figure for the tax levy, $83.5 million, instead of the correct $82.8 million.

In late March, The Record also reported the proposed 2018-19 school budget incorrectly as $112 million before correcting that two days later to $117 million.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Exposing excessive salt, sugar in processed foods; plus, organic spaghetti from Italy

MARONE! Sugar is just as worrisome as excessive sodium in pasta sauces. A half-cup of Frescorti-brand Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce contains about 2 teaspoons of sugar in addition to 27% of the maximum amount of sodium you're supposed to consume in one day.
SWEET TOOTH? Rienzi-brand Marinara contains a little over 2 teaspoons of sugar and 25% of the maximum daily recommended sodium in a half-cup.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- If you love pasta, shopping for a bottled sauce without too much salt and sugar involves a lot of label reading and Google searches.

Although the "Nutrition Facts" label on jars of marinara and other sauces gives you the percentage of the maximum daily recommended sodium in a half-cup, the amount of "sugars" is given only in grams.

A Google search reveals 4 grams is equal to one teaspoon of sugar.

So, the Frescorti-brand Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce I saw in the Paramus ShopRite has 2 teaspoons of sugar in a half-cup.

The Rienzi Marinara nearby had a little over 2 teaspoons of natural and added sugar in a half-cup.

To reduce the salt and sugar in the pasta sauce you prepare at home, blend half a jar with a low-sodium alternative, such as ShopRite's Wholesome Pantry Organic (8% sodium in a half-cup), or with a can of no salt added or low-sodium crushed tomatoes.

For example, Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes (no salt added) lists 1% sodium and 3 grams of "sugars" in a half-cup.

Another way is never to salt the water you use to boil your pasta, and if you use anchovies, to drain the can of oil and rinse the tiny fish before adding them to your sauce.

I also usually add red wine, extra-virgin olive oil, dried herbs and red-pepper flakes.

BETTER: Of the three bottled pasta sauces I saw at the Paramus ShopRite last week, Botticelli-brand Tomato & Basil had the lowest amount of salt and sugar. Still, with 20% sodium and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a half-cup, Botticelli had more salt than Victoria-brand sauces.
TWO SIDES OF GAROFALO: A 16-ounce package of non-organic Garofalo Linguine from Italy, above, was a pricy $2.89 at the Paramus ShopRite, Forest Avenue and Route 4 east. For Garofalo Organic pasta, you have to go to the Costco Business Center on South River Street in Hackensack.
ORGANIC SPAGHETTI: I bought eight 1.1-pound packages of Garofalo Organic Spaghetti for about $1.49 each at the Costco Wholesale Business Center. The best-if-used-by date is September 2020.
ORGANIC PASTA AND ANTIBIOTIC-FREE SHRIMP: For dinner one night, plus plenty of leftovers, above and below, I used a package of Garofalo Organic Spaghetti and 2 pounds of Responsibly Farmed Shrimp from Whole Foods Market in Paramus ($9.99 a pound); extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, a can of organic diced tomatoes, some organic pasta sauce, red wine, anchovies, dried herbs and other seasonings.

Organic pasta

In the last few years, I've become a big fan of organic whole wheat spaghetti and other shapes from Italy, including the brands sold at ShopRite, Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's.

In fact until recently, whole wheat was the only organic, non-GMO pasta available for a reasonable price at the North Jersey stores where I shop (currently about $1.50 for a full 1-pound package).

Now, the Costco Business Center at 80 S. River St. in Hackensack is selling packages of Garofalo Organic Spaghetti and other shapes, including Gemelli (twins) and Penne Rigate.

Pasta Garofalo was first produced in 1789, according to the Italian company's website.

But the site seems somewhat dated, as in this entry:

"We could boast about the fact that Pasta Garofalo has been considered the quality pasta par excellence since the twenty year Fascist period" -- a reference to former Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, who was strung up in April 1945.

If some Italians are taking this long to get over Mussolini, imagine how long some Americans will take to get over President Trump.

OTHER SHAPES: The Costco Business Center also bundles six 17.6-ounce packages of Garofalo Organic Gemelli, Penne Rigate and a third shape for $9.49 or about $1.58 each.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Hackensack's really lazy, clueless residents are major factor in school-budget elections

Frances Gogelja, center; Lance Powell, right; and Carlos Velez are challenging three incumbents backed by the Zisa family political machine in Tuesday's Board of Education and budget election.




The next time you hear a Hackensack resident bitching and moaning about high property taxes, ask them if they vote.

No. I'm not talking about the general election in November, when the outcome rarely affects local property taxes.

I'm talking about the election 97% of the registered voters in Hackensack love to ignore:

The April election for Board of Education members and the proposed school budget -- which accounts for nearly half of all the property taxes residents pay.

In fact, many homeowners pay only a few hundred dollars more in municipal taxes than in school taxes.

Of course, not all of the 97% of registered voters who sat out the last school election paid property taxes, but many were parents of schoolchildren, so what was their excuse?

What's your excuse?

Tuesday's election

On Tuesday, the many thousands of property tax payers will have another chance to tell the school board they are unhappy with yearly increases in the budget and the local tax levy required to support seemingly unchecked spending.

Voters can say "no" to the proposed budget of $117,143,515 by voting against the $82,865,444 tax levy or property taxes the board proposes to spend in 2018-19.

A "no" vote would allow the City Council to review the proposed spending plan, cut it or leave it as is.

Ten years ago, the tax levy was $56,698,771, so about half of any increase in property taxes in the past decade was driven by higher school budgets. 

In the current tax year, one homeowner in the Fairmount section is paying $8,843 in municipal taxes and $8,495 in school taxes; county, open space and library taxes brought his total tax bill t0 $18,874.

Apathy or ignorance?

Whether from apathy, laziness or ignorance, only 642 ballots were cast in the last school election in 2017 -- that was 3% of the 21,307 registered voters at the time.

The tax-levy proposition passed 342-210; only 552 of the 642 residents who voted appeared to know they could say "yes" or "no" to the budget.

As of last Wednesday, 23,401 residents of Hackensack were registered to vote, Bergen County election officials said.

Turnout in prior school elections: 1,133 in 2015, 864 in 2014 and 1,929 in 2013.


Residents can also vote against the three incumbents seeking another 3-year term: Mark A. Stein, Jason Nunnermacker and Daniel F. Carola -- all stooges of the Zisa family political machine.

Since 2013 and with the Zisas' backing, Nunnermacker, a lawyer who is the board president, has tried but failed repeatedly to get elected to the City Council.

So, why waste your vote on a board president who has been dying to get as far as possible away from the schools?

Difficult ballot

Voting in Tuesday's election won't be as easy as voting in the May municipal and general elections:

Polls on Tuesday won't open until 2 p.m., and will close at 8 p.m.

Although there are two groups of candidates running for seats on the school board, the three members on each slate aren't grouped together or allowed to use the name of their team.

So, you'll have to search for your choices.

On Tuesday's Board of Education ballot, challengers from "The Putting Our Kids First Team" -- Frances Cogelja, Carlos A. Velez, Lancelot Powell -- appear on Lines 2, 4 and 5.
Next to the column of candidates on Tuesday's ballot, parents and property tax payers will find the nearly $83 million tax levy proposition, which they can vote against and send the proposed budget to the City Council for review.

Kick out Zisas

The message from the three challengers is simple:

"Put our kids first ... and the Zisa Brothers last!"

Of course, the reference is to former four-term Hackensack Mayor Jack Zisa and his brother, disgraced former Police Chief Ken Zisa, who held onto power in the schools after reformers defeated Zisas-backed City Council slates in 2013 again in 2017.