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."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mayor's Lunch or Campaign Brunch???

Mayor Frank has been holding a monthly Mayor's Lunch at the Senior Center for several years now. In 2007, the event has regularly been scheduled for the second Monday of each month. However, for June, the event was moved up to the first Monday, June 4, which happens to be ONE DAY before the June primary. Coincidence? You decide.

The event is being billed as a Fathers' Day Celebration and includes a barbecue and picnic with a Scottish-based duo, Master Fiddler Sarah Naylor, and pianist Douglas Miller of the Isle of Skye, Scotland, performing, courtesy of Artists Now. Yet Fathers' Day does not take place until two weeks later, on Sunday, June 17. So why isn't this Mayor's Lunch following the regular schedule and taking place on Monday, June 11?

Artists Now is supposedly funding the Community Arts Center planned for the site where the cell tower is currently located. Are they providing entertainment on June 4 to help Frank get re-elected? Artists frequently perform at campaign events, which is all well and good when those events are billed as the partisan events they are and not an innocent outreach to seniors. It is hard to believe this is all happening by coincidence.

This is not the first time a Mayor's Lunch looks to be suspiciously timed for the eve of an election. Frank pulled the same stunt in 2005 with a Mayor's Lunch one day before the council primary. Two years earlier, she violated the ordinance against campaigning in public buildings when, in November 2003, she prominently displayed a "Meryl for Mayor" sign and balloons in the Senior Center lobby.

Scheduling this event to conveniently give herself a public platform one day before the election is a cheap shot and a desperate act. Frank has always blurred the lines between governing and campaigning, deliberately staging supposedly non-partisan events in ways that just happen to promote her, her candidates, and her agenda right before elections. In this case, the lunch should be considered a potential violation of the borough ordinance against campaigning in public buildings. All the mayor has to do is urge one person at the event to vote for her, and she has clearly violated the law.

Therefore, I call upon the Department on Aging to change this date in order to avoid potential illegal campaigning. And I urge seniors, don't let yourselves be "bribed" with food and entertainment. The direction of Highland Park's future is at stake here. Frank has hardly been responsive to seniors' concerns. She has monopolized senior lunches with her choice of topics, not allowing seniors to voice their questions and concerns on issues of their choice. She has taken more time and space in the Senior Center away from seniors and allocated it to programs for other constituents, especially children, in ways that shortchange the seniors who gave their money and hearts to build this Center.

For seniors who do attend this event, please be as vigilant as possible to note efforts on the mayor's part to bring attention to the election and to her candidacy. If and/or when this happens, even once, call attention publicly to the fact that the mayor is breaking the law by campaigning on borough property.

This abuse of scheduling is typical of the disingenuousness that has characterized Frank's entire tenure as mayor. Let's recognize it for what it is--a campaign event, pure and simple.