Blog for Highland Park

Welcome to the Blog for Highland Park, a weblog chronicling events in Highland Park, NJ from an alternative perspective to the often one-sided slant of the official borough newsletter.

My Photo
Location: Highland Park, New Jersey, United States

I am a freelance writer and community activist who has worked on many progressive and Democratic political campaigns over the last 25 plus years and a lifelong resident of Highland Park, NJ. I have a BA in Journalism from Rutgers University, an MA in Middle East Studies from Harvard University, and an MEd in English Education from Rutgers Graduate School of Education. An enthusiastic amateur astronomer, I have just completed Swinburne University Astronomy Online's Graduate Certificate of Science in astronomy and am pursuing a Masters of Science in astronomy at Swinburne. I am also an actress with experience in theatre and film and have written a full length play. I am currently working full time on a book "The Little Planet That Would Not Die: Pluto's Story."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Local Democrats Furious Over “Secret” Corzine Appearance in Town

When U.S. Senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jon Corzine made a last-minute appearance to rally supporters in Highland Park on Sunday, October 16, large numbers of Democrats independent of Mayor Meryl Frank’s inner circle were kept in the dark, never informed of the event, and denied the opportunity to show their support for Corzine’s candidacy.

The Highland Park Democrats, an ad hoc local group formed to represent Democrats who do not support Frank but do support county, state and national Democratic candidates, condemn the shortsightedness of Corzine campaign officials who in spite of what is becoming a very close race, chose to disenfranchise and exclude over forty percent of Democrats in town who object to Frank’s controversial redevelopment plan that could potentially involve the use of eminent domain to displace local businesses.

While a chain of phone calls was made around town informing people of Corzine’s Sunday visit, members of the Highland Park Democrats and opponents of redevelopment appear to have been deliberately purged from the call list in order to stage an event that was more a rally for Mayor Frank than for Senator Corzine.

The Corzine appearance was also never publicized on the Corzine Connection web site, an Internet site designed specifically for the purpose of notifying Corzine supporters of campaign events in their respective areas.

When contacted about the miscommunication, Corzine campaign officials responded with shocking rudeness and arrogance, refusing to admit information was provided selectively in order to exclude all but Frank supporters.

Corzine campaign officials also refused to comment on a scheduled second appearance by the Senator in Highland Park this Thursday, October 20, at local synagogue Ohav Emeth, arguing that that appearance might be a “closed meeting.” When asked what circumstances determine that a meeting is “closed,” and how those included are chosen, they were either unable or unwilling to provide any further information.

Meanwhile, my phone is ringing off the hook with calls from supporters furious over and offended by their exclusion from the event.

That’s potentially almost 900 voters in Highland Park that could be lost to Corzine’s gubernatorial campaign. I am referring specifically to the number of votesGeorge Valenta and I received in a Democratic Council primary this past June.

Right now, there is nothing I can say to reassure these loyal Democrats in town that Corzine is not deliberately excluding them from his campaign efforts, and many are now seriously considering voting for a candidate other than Corzine.

If Senator Corzine cannot be inclusive of his own party members as a candidate, how can we count on him to represent New Jerseyans of all parties as governor?

It is possible that the flap could be nothing more than a communications error. However, nothing short of a formal apology from Corzine and a promise to avoid any such exclusion in future events will suffice to reassure those of us wrongly excluded.