Zapata: Canessa, The Observer should really stick to old-school, fact-based journalism

To the Editor:

In a recent article titled “Doyle in, Zapata out, as clerk to the Hudson commissioners,” Kevin Canessa presented a distorted version of events at the County Commissioners’ reorganization meeting on Jan. 2. In contrast to my previous decision to avoid engaging with such narratives, I aim to provide an unbiased account, as seen in The Jersey Journal’s article “Kearny mayor nearly doubles her salary by taking on job as clerk for Hudson County commissioners.”

As the clerk to the board, my responsibility was to run the meeting until the final vote, following prior discussions with board counsel. After the vote, I promptly handed over responsibilities to the new clerk, in accordance with the resolution’s immediate effect stipulation.

Despite Canessa’s claim of a “terse departure,” my actions aligned with the resolution, and the chairman acknowledged my professionalism, ethics and principled approach throughout my tenure. Canessa’s narrative distorts the reality of the situation, focusing on soundbites rather than providing the public an impartial and transparent account.

The paperwork in question was my personal checklist for the day and I instructed my deputy clerk to assist the new clerk upon my departure. Since assuming the role in August, I received no formal guidance on day-to-day responsibilities, but conducted the necessary legal research and studied my predecessor’s approach to succeed in the role. Common sense dictates that job seekers should research a role’s demands before making a claim.

The rhetoric suggesting the clerk’s post belongs exclusively to Kearny’s mayor does not align with historical facts. Prior to Santos, Councilwoman Burns held the post until her retirement, several years after Santos became Mayor, succeeding former Mayor Sansone, who replaced Harrison Mayor/State Sen. Frank E. Rodgers.

This assumption contributes to selective memory we are seeing of late, where we uphold certain traditions while discarding inconvenient ones. My hope is for our local newspaper to return to the informed and impartial journalistic approach I remember from growing up in Kearny.

Councilman George Zapata

Editor’s note: The verbiage of the The Observer’s original story reads: “The position, itself, has traditionally gone to the Kearny Mayor or that person’s designee.” This change was made by the Hudson County Democratic Organization after the mayoralty of Rodgers.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.