Good-bye, Mary Jo Patterson: New Jersey loses a great journalist–and I lose a friend.

Good-bye, Mary Jo.

Good-bye, old friend.
Good-bye, old friend. (Star-Ledger photo)

It was a crazy idea, I knew, and so did she–but it was the sort of crazy idea that drove young people like us to a profession like no other. Mary Jo Patterson and I, then both 31 and reporters at The Star-Ledger, would pose as young lovers in the New York neighborhoods haunted by the so-called “Son of Sam” killer. Be bait for the homicidal maniac and, in the process, snare a story like no other.

Hey, NJ and the nation–the feds say you can’t handle the truth about Christie and the bridge


"You can't handle the truth!"
“You can’t handle the truth!”

In a few weeks, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire—in contests with portentous consequences for the nation—will be deciding who they want to be president of the United States. One of those candidates could very well be an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal criminal case. His name is Chris Christie and he is the governor of New Jersey, but the feds won’t tell us whether he is on the secret list of co-conspirators .

Watch the “State of the State”? No thanks. Try this instead.

He looks familiar, doesn't he?
He looks familiar, doesn’t he?

Today, Gov. Chris Christie delivered a “State of the State” address, a worse than meaningless media event that serves only his sinking presidential campaign. It will be subjected to equally meaningless punditry laughingly called “analysis” and predictable “he said, she said” comments from state Democrats, most of whom owe their allegiance, if not to the Republican governor, then to the Democratic bosses who sleep regularly–politically, of course–with the governor. Instead, this site will present a counter statement from  Better Choices for New Jersey, a coalition of progressive groups that are generally ignored by the main-stream media. This will be one of the few news sites where these views are given due exposure.

Christie as federal prosecutor: Part One–FBI agents as props carrying empty boxes of “evidence”

emptyboxesThey say it all: Pictures of FBI agents hauling what media outlets in 2009 called “boxes of evidence” away from the home and office of former New Jersey Assembly Speaker Joseph Doria (D-Hudson). The pictures are all anyone—especially Republican voters in New Hampshire—need to know about the personal and professional integrity of presidential candidate Chris Christie. Well, there is one thing more: they need to know those boxes were empty—because the whole raid on Doria’s home and office,  part of a what was termed a “massive crackdown on corruption” was pure theatre, pure fiction, pure lies, pure politics.

Charter schools and journalistic ethics

Natasha Levant, from her Facebook entry
Natasha Levant, from her Facebook entry

Today The Star-Ledger published an op-ed column by a woman identified as Natasha Levant in which she credited the school her son attends, the North Star Academy Charter School in Newark, for “changing” her son’s life and “saving” him.  The newspaper described her only as “a resident of Newark and mother of five.”

The financial crisis, as planned by the state, has become a political crisis in Newark

Damage control for Christie and Anderson
They call it reform

The crisis is at hand. The decision by Cami Anderson, appointed by Gov. Chris Christie to run the Newark schools four years ago, to cut neighborhood school budgets by an additional five percent brings closer the day, predicted by a deputy state education commissioner, when the financial crisis becomes a “political crisis”–and the political crisis results in a decision to turn the entire district over to private hands.

What’s wrong with New Jersey?

Mayor Baraka joins the march
Mayor Baraka joins the march

The mayor of the state’s largest city joined hundreds of others–teachers, students, parents– in a march that closed down its largest thoroughfare. And the mayor promised the demonstrations would continue and be even more creative. In any other state in the nation, the event would have made, not just statewide news, but national news.  But not here in New Jersey. Here in New Jersey, Mayor Ras Baraka’s bold action and aggressive words were ignored by the media, including the state’s largest newspaper. Only a few digital journalists and photographers did cover it–along with a public television station looking to balance a ridiculously one-sided interview the day before with the target of Newark’s anger, state superintendent Cami Anderson.

In Payne flap, Cami proves stupidity is no bar to working as Christie’s agent in Newark

Payne, far right, hosts meeting of Newark leaders cpmplaining about Cami Anderson.
Payne, far right, hosts meeting of Newark leaders cpmplaining about Cami Anderson.

Newark’s public schools face a “crisis,” says the congressman representing New Jersey’s largest city, but its leadership “lacks the ability” to improve them and, instead, has imposed a “critically flawed” plan that, in fact, limits student performance. “I am deeply concerned about the state of education in Newark and its children, who are seeing their educational opportunities eroded under the guise of school reform,” wrote U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., in a letter to state-appointed Newark school superintendent Cami Anderson. Payne had once been Anderson’s ally.