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 13, 2009

Election? What Election?: The Star Ledger's Path to Mediocre Journalism

In today's article, "Highland Park's Path to A New Mayor," Star Ledger reporter Ryan Hutchins continues his once-excellent newspaper's downhill slide to mediocrity, sacrificing the traditional watchdog role and instead choosing to be little more than a venue for politicians' self promotion.

Today's article reaches a new low. Hutchins seems to have forgotten that in Highland Park, we hire our mayor through a general election. For a reporter, forgetting an election is not by any means a minor oversight!

The article can be found at

Hutchins also reiterates at face value Mayor Frank's deceptive claim that she alone authored the state and federal family leave acts. He describes her smiling and saying at a council meeting that her administration accomplished a lot. Details? None given.

This administration has been controversial from day one. Did Hutchins even attempt to get a perspective from the opposition? It's not hard; there are plenty among the business owners on Raritan Avenue. How about the owner of Ubry's, a successful mechanic shop that for four-and-a-half years has posted a large sign in its front window reading, "Mayor Frank, please don't take our business" in response to his property being declared "in need of redevelopment" and therefore vulnerable to eminent domain?

Below is an email I sent to Hutchins expressing my dismay at his lackluster and biased reporting:

"Dear Mr. Hutchins,

I am writing to point out several inaccuracies in your article today regarding the current mayor of Highland Park and process of selecting a replacement.

Frank is not the author of the New Jersey Family Leave Act of 1989 and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. She is one of several hundred volunteers who worked on this bill. For ten years, she has deceptively portrayed herself as the single author of these bills to inflate her political experience and mislead the public of Highland Park. It is disappointing that you would print her words at face value and not check into the veracity of her statements or those of any politician before printing them as facts.

Second, in discussing Frank's term as mayor, you quote her citing her own accomplishments while failing to acknowledge the controversial nature of her term or the fact that there has been significant opposition to her controversial redevelopment policies for many years. Good journalism requires presenting both sides of an issue, and to do this, the responsible thing would be to seek an alternative opinion from her many active, vocal opponents.

Third, the choice of a new mayor is not solely partisan and up to the Municipal Democratic Committee. You failed to mention that whoever the party chooses will face an election in November. That means an independent or Republican could challenge the party's choice. The public of Highland Park deserve to know that they will have this choice, and you failed to provide this important information.

I have been one of many leading opponents of Frank for the past ten years, and I would be happy to speak with you to present the other side and/or to refer you to others, including business owners, who can present you with this very different perspective as well. Please feel free to check out my Blog for Highland Park, representing the voice of the opposition, at .
Thank you,

Laurel Kornfeld
2005 Democratic candidate for Highland Park Borough Council

When it comes to newspapers, the public also gets a vote--with our dollars. I encourage anyone disgusted with this sham that passes for reporting to write letters to the editor, call the Star Ledger's Middlesex County bureau, and consider cancelling their subscriptions to this newspaper. In this recession, why pay for a shabby product?