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.

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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."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Always "I, I, I"

Can Meryl Frank ever turn over the spotlight to anyone other than herself? At a public reading of excerpts from The Ditchdigger's Daughters, part of the Library's and Arts Commission's jointly sponsored "One Book, One Highland Park program," Frank once again snagged the spotlight from author Dr. Yvonne Thornton when she inappropriately compared her 1996 public appearance with President Bill Clinton with Dr. Thornton's graduation from Columbia University.

Thornton grew up poor, took on her father's dream for her of becoming a doctor, and successfully navigated the grueling path of organic chemistry, medical school, 36-hour shifts, etc. Comparing this long term accomplishment with a one-time campaign appearance that is largely theater is an insult to Dr. Thornton and the obstacles she has overcome.

Graduation from college and medical school are the culmination of long, hard work that requires incredible stamina, perseverance, and determination. A one-time public appearance, even with the president, is none of these. I can vouch for that personally because I too introduced President Bill Clinton in front of a large crowd, this time in 2000 when he appeared in New Jersey to endorse Congressman Rush Holt. Yes, it was exciting and fun; yes my parents were proud, but I would never compare it to becoming a physician.

Is it really so difficult for Frank to refrain from inserting herself into everybody else's moments in the sun? Why was it necessary to use this occasion to tout herself and her so-called accomplishments? For once, can't she let someone else have the limelight?

King Louis XIV of France once said, "I am the state." With Frank, like with Louis, it's always I, I, I. Someone needs to remind her that she is not the borough of Highland Park and that the rhetoric of a leader in a democracy should center around the word "we."

Then again, what should we expect from a mayor who compares her job to that of a prostitute? That's right, she actually compared her efforts to "sell" the green community idea to those of a prostitute selling her body. To quote from The Auditor in The Star Ledger of Sunday, April 22:

"What the ...?
Mayors are often called leaders, visionaries or idealists. But at least one Jersey mayor compares the job to the world's oldest profession. Last week, about 20 civic leaders and curious residents visited various contaminated sites in Middlesex County on an environmental health and justice tour. Nearly two hours after the program began, the bus stopped on Donaldson Street in the borough of Highland Park. There, Mayor Meryl Frank told the group the current construction waste zone, situated across the street from mostly low-income immigrant residences, will become a community garden by next year. It's all part of her grand 'green' plan. One tour participant asked the mayor how long it took for others to catch on to the environmentally friendly model? 'You know, Highland Park became New Jersey's first green community four years ago,' Frank responded. 'I've been fighting this fight for years. Finally, people are noticing. It's sort of like being prostitutes, who sell their bodies. Mayors sell themselves for the good of the people.'"

Thank you, Mayor Frank, for speaking your truth. No one could have better stated just why this town needs new leadership.