Borzellieri, the notoriously ultra-conservative member of the school board that once oversaw public education in Glendale, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Elmhurst, and Corona, was the main topic of nearly every monthly meeting of the school board from 1993 to 2004.
Reviving memories of his school board days, when angry controversy seemed to follow him everywhere, Borzellieri details meetings, articles in local papers (including, of course, this one,) and some behind-the-scene antics in the operation of School Board 24. Our newspapers covered those meetings in detail, where a sideshow of personal attacks, information leaks, and police protection were guaranteed to take place. Hatred was rampant. This book reeks of much of the same.
"In Lynched: A Conservative's Life on a New York City School Board," Borzellieri quotes from a wide range of news accounts at the time and also recounts his appearances on talk shows such as 20/20 and The Geraldo Rivera Show, when School Board 24 was at the forefront of the conservative/liberal education curriculum debates.
What may be of particular interest to local residents is some of the names mentioned in the book, including parent association leaders, many of whom Borzellieri does not treat kindly. He also details that he dated five women on the inside - including teachers and mothers - who regularly fed him information. He told the paper, "I'll reveal the teachers' names, but not the mothers'."
Among those listed and mentioned regularly throughout the pages of the book are Mary Crowley, Louisa Chan, Jake LaSala, Kathy Masi, Linda Sansivieri, and Catherine Marlow. Borzellieri had few kind words for any of these former school board members. For example, about Robert Cermeli, he wrote, "[a] white liberal who voted for all multicultural and bilingual programs, squandering millions of tax dollars on anti-American nonsense."
In an interview early this week, Borzellieri said, "Actually, these people are not being attacked by me; they are being exposed. It's only an attack if you consider revealing your actual reprehensible left-wing voting record to your neighbors as an attack. But they can't hide from the facts. They were all extreme liberals and extreme cowards. Public voting records and public statements don't lie."
Subjects Fire Back
"Frank's picture is on the cover of every one of his books," said LaSala, a Queens attorney who appears in the book. "Is anyone to believe that Frank infiltrated the parents and teachers for information by (having a relationship) with them? Come on. Don't take it personal, Frank, but who are you kidding."
Revisiting controversies, labeling members of those boards by revealing voting records, and recounting the details of what he terms "the most thoroughly sourced book in history," Borzellieri, in "Lynched," has given his supporters what they most admire about him - the courage of his conservative convictions and saying out loud what most people would only think privately. He has also given his detractors what they most despised about him - the ability to say things in an outrageous right-winged manner in order to make his point.
For those of us in the media who were paying attention through this time period, it was considered better than Thursday night television. As Borzellieri points out throughout this 175-page book, conservatives' motives are assumed to be informed by bigotry, hatred, and a lack of tolerance. The motives of liberals are typically assumed to be honorable, passionate, and even avant garde. This made for an uphill battle at every turn. Borzellieri did not want to be considered an anomaly, but as a true crusader for the conservative movement and an example of the plight of truly living and being active as a conservative.
One of the issues in "Lynched" that has typically garnered wide attention is the battle over how to foster multiculturalism in the classroom through books. This book reprints the actual transcript discussion from public meetings in which the board members voted for multicultural books like "Jambo Means Hello: The Swahili Alphabet," but rejected Borzellieri's list of pro-American books like "Paul Revere's Ride" and "Daniel Boone: Man of the Forests."
Borzellieri also excoriates board members for authorizing millions of dollars for failed bilingual education programs which, he says, prevent children from learning English "in order to suck-up to radical alien groups." The book also blasts board members for spending millions on programs for illegal aliens. On virtually all of these issues, Borzellieri was outvoted eight to one.
In vintage Borzellieri style, there is a section in the back of the book called the "Rogues Gallery of Liberals," where he features photos, the voting record, and brief bios of 16 individuals, mostly board members, and most of whom he labels "white liberal hypocrites for claiming to love multiculturalism but living in safe, lily-white neighborhoods."
Glendale's Kathy Masi and Borzellieri frequently went toe-to-toe during their decade together on the board. Although Borzellieri contends that at least Masi admitted she was liberal in her voting, Masi had a few words for us after reading his book.
"Just when I thought that Frank had buried his ugly head of hate, it surfaces once again, but this time in a completely delusional state,” she said. “The fact that he writes that he dated many teachers and parents to get ‘inside’ information can only convince one that his book can only be fiction. The book, however, makes a very good case for why school boards were eliminated and replaced. Hopefully our elected (officials) will read Frank's latest tirade and understand why they need to vote to continue mayoral control."
While he would not disclose his financial book advance, saying it was "less than Hillary Clinton's but enough to not need a second job," Borzellieri, now a Journalism professor at St. John's University, said the book has already been selling out at some national retailers. Borzellieri says his publisher is working on planning a local book signing.
"Lynched: A Conservative's Life on a New York City School Board" is available for $24.95 at www.culturalstudiespress.com.