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."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Meryl Frank, Stop Lying!

My goal in starting this blog three years ago was and today remains presenting an alternative perspective from that of the current administration on the political scene and public policy in Highland Park. I really want to stick to the issues and not get personal, but when the mayor and her supporters falsely, via the Internet and word of mouth, attempt to criminalize me and my record of public service, which they are still doing to this day, the truth must be told.

It has always been a tactic of those in power to demonize their opponents with broad brush denigrations such as labeling them “crazy,” “extremist,” “fringe,” or “stupid.” From the beginning, Meryl Frank has targeted me this way solely because I opposed her candidacy for mayor and her vision for our town.

In 2001, she told a reporter that “Laurel has a past, and I know what it is.” Beyond my having spent some time on this planet, the implication that I somehow have skeletons in my closet or something to be ashamed of is blatantly false. Yes, I have acted since childhood and have done many low budget horror films, including many with next to no plot, but that is not a crime or something to be embarrassed about. There is no past whatsoever that would negatively impact my ability to serve this town.

The mayor and her supporters, over the last year and a half, have falsely attempted to portray me as someone with a criminal record, claiming there was a restraining order against me approaching her or her family. This is blatantly false. A restraining order must be issued in a court via a judge. No such restraining order was ever issued against me at any time. This can be verified with the Highland Park Police Department.

Their claim regarding the non-existent restraining order is based an even worse false accusation, that I somehow threatened the mayor or anyone with bodily harm. This is another lie, and a most vicious one. The only “threat” I have ever made was a political one regarding future campaigns. Some people may have been dissatisfied with the disturbing issues the 2007 mayoral race brought to light regarding possible corruption in this administration. I do not regret raising these questions and have made it clear that I will do so again, even more forcefully, during future elections. That is the one and only “threat” that ever came from my mouth. I fight with words and words alone, and never, ever would threaten to inflict bodily harm on anyone, much less even think of doing so. Spreading this lie constitutes a convenient but ugly pre-emptive attack on any future candidacy of mine for public office.

Contrary to yet another lie repeatedly spread by the mayor and her political machine, I have never, ever suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder or from any other mental illness. Passion, intensity, and quirkiness are not diseases, and it is shameful for a public official to attempt to twist these character traits into something sick that simply is not there. Call me a “diva,” a “drama queen,” a “character,” etc., but do not shamelessly lie about the state of my health.

I am a very happy, lucky, idealistic and yes, passionate person, a proud non-conformist who believes everyone should follow his or her own convictions in life rather than do what society expects. The choices I have made, such as staying single, are conscious and voluntary. I have never been bitter over any elections in which I ran, in spite of the repeated accusations of this by the mayor and her supporters. I am proud of the 42 percent I received in my 2005 council primary and am not angry over the outcome of a legitimate election. I’m a person who looks ahead, not behind. What I take issue with are the meanspiritedness, the name calling, the false rumors, and the attempts to criminalize me for no reason other than my desire to serve this town.

I realize that too often, this meanspiritedness is part and parcel of the political process, both here in New Jersey and nationwide. What a disservice to democracy. It is one thing to bring to light questionable actions and policies of an elected official. It is quite another to rest one’s entire campaign against the opposition on unfounded, baseless personal attacks.

That’s why I’m trying to set the record straight, even after all these months. Like any concerned citizen, I plan to continue being involved in public service and the political process here in Highland Park for a long, long time. I will respond when lies are told about me, but I will never, ever be intimidated from public participation.