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, January 07, 2010


Decade in review columns have abounded in newspapers and online over the past few weeks as one decade ended and another one began. Here in Highland Park, Mayor Meryl Frank has formally and finally resigned, ten months after making her announcement. During her years in office, she made a few memorable comments--memorable because they reveal a person who bragged about how rich she was and viewed herself as the center of the universe, memorable in some cases because they were just plain ridiculous. So here are the highlights, with the most outrageous ones in bold for emphasis:

“They (the Borough Council) wouldn’t treat me this way if I had a penis.” January 2000

“Why didn’t they run you? Why did they run a sick old man instead?” July 2000, regarding the previous Democratic Committee’s support for budget genius Leon Cohen

“My husband negotiates million dollar contracts for PSE&G” May 2001

“We have to compute the economic value of 13 votes.” May 2001 in response to school budget defeat and question of cuts council will impose

“Why don’t you just fire her?” Summer 2001, to my employer

“You’re either with me or against me.” January 2002 to me, regarding Board of Health reappointment

“You didn’t do that well.” January 2002, regarding my 2001 Democratic Committee race, in which I received 78 votes to my opponent’s 106

“You were used,” January 2002, regarding my support for her opponents in 1999.

“We’re the establishment now.” 2002

“Jewish women who go to the synagogue every Saturday don’t want to shop at a store called “For Less.” 2002, to owner of Dresses for Less

“Why are you all alone? Why is no one with you?” June 2002, two days before Democratic primary in which I received 40 percent of the vote.

“It’s a beautiful building.” August 2002, regarding the old Senior Center on Raritan Avenue

“Those were my professionals, and I had to take their word for what they said.” Autumn 2002 in a court deposition on eminent domain taking of former limousine lot

"We’re not suburban. We’re urban." April 2003

“It’s not a tax—it’s an assessment,” 2004, regarding the BID

“You didn’t vote for me.”
December 2004, to a business owner who objected to his business being cut out of an architect’s design for the block.

“In some cases, there are some (businesses) that clearly don’t belong.” December 2004

“It was a no brainer” December 2004, regarding which Raritan Avenue properties should be deemed blighted.

“We have a damn good reputation. I do for keeping my word.” December 2004

“We do not take money from developers.” December 2004 Frank’s ELEC reports show contributions from several major developers

“It’s either my way or no bank.” 2005 to a meeting of Commerce Bank executives looking to build a branch in town

“It’s just boys and their toys.” Spring 2006, regarding arrest of three teenage boys including her son for shooting a BB gun on Raritan Avenue in broad daylight.

"I don’t believe that everything needs to go on a referendum before the public. This is a complicated issue. We were voted into these offices to make these decisions." November 2006, after being asked to hold a public referendum on the use of eminent domain for redevelopment.

“I can’t imagine that this group, that our Planning Board or that this community wants to move in another direction. They haven’t shown us that they’re interested. We have no objectors. None of the property owners are objecting to this.” December 2006, regarding redevelopment. Several property owners took legal action objecting to their properties being placed in a redevelopment zone.

“We have a redevelopment plan with, yes, at the very, very end of a process, if under dire circumstances, the use of eminent domain, which we really will probably never use.” December 2006

“This is a complicated issue. We were voted into these offices to make these decisions. If they (the public) had access to the same information, I believe they would come up with the same conclusion.” December 2006, on redevelopment

“That’s a violation! That’s a violation!” Winter 2007, jumping up and down with glee in front of a Woodbridge automotive business.

“My friends have Rolodexes they can access with people who will give enormous sums of money.” February 2007

“I swear on my children’s lives, I knew nothing about the cell tower.” March 2007, after having signed a contract on the tower one year earlier

“It’s sort of like being prostitutes who sell their bodies. Mayors sell themselves for the good of the people.” April 2007

“They’ll ruin the schools,” Spring 2007, said about Frank’s opponents in the mayoral/council race.

“Higher density is a principle of smart growth.” Repeated numerous times between 2002 and 2008.

“I kept a tantrum voice of calm when my opponent became combative in debates.” August 2008

“If you can’t afford it, then move. You could get a lot of money for your house.” Said to at least three different residents between 2002 and 2008 in response to complaints about high property taxes.

And finally, my all-time favorite: “Don’t you understand? She could actually win!” June 2002, to a supporter of mine two days before the Borough Council Democratic primary.

Regarding that last quote, thanks for the compliment.