Ready to Run Non-Partisan? NOT!
Why? One of the speakers is none other than Meryl Frank, a politician up for re-election less than three months from the date of the training. In the past, CAWP has made a policy of not engaging panelists who are currently candidates for election or re-election, as this provides these people with a "bully pulpit" from which to campaign. That a professional center like CAWP would engage in such blatant partisanship is an outrage. If they want Meryl Frank to speak, they should have chosen a different year. Then again, they did. She has spoken at about three of the nine annual trainings--more than any other female politician including those elected at the county and state levels. Her presentations are always centered on dredging up all the old mudslinging against the previous administration even though nearly a decade has passed since they were in power.
It's interesting that Frank describes the director of CAWP, an openly strong supporter of hers who lives in Highland Park, as "above reproach." It's also interesting that in 2000 and 2001, when I spent $100 on this seminar, I was each time subjected to verbal abuse and harassment for telling my political story (as many other participants told theirs), which in this case involved battling an established party structure. Sound familiar? The only problem is, in my case, the battle was with a party led by Frank.
Above reproach??? Non-partisan??? Conflict of interest and lack of professionalism are more apt descriptions. The director of CAWP is apparently using her professional position to help her personal friend get a heads up on re-election in June.
Not that the speaking engagement will give Frank any kind of advantage. This is 2007, not 1999. Morale at Borough Hall is in the toilet; frivolous spending of taxpayer dollars is out of control; businesses are over-taxed to the brink through the BID yet receive few to no benefits; the Fire Department and First Aid Squads are left in the lurch because so much public money is going into supporting redevelopment and fighting its opponents, and no one is minding the store when it comes to our tax dollars. This administration has sunk to new depths of mismanagement, and CAWP and its director will not be able to save it.
However, in the meantime, I urge all to protest the blatant partisanship being shown by CAWP and boycott this year's Ready to Run. There will almost certainly be another in 2008--maybe even one featuring a newly-elected Highland Park mayor.