Former Gov. Jim McGreevey (D) was fired from his job as the executive director of the Jersey City Employment & Training Program last night and he and Board Chair Sudhan Thomas both made bold accusations after the fact.
“I just want to say, please, take into consideration that we all love him: we love this man here, we love him. Thank you, thank you Mr. McGreevey and I think everyone in this program,” said Gary Span, a JCETP client who served 120 months in prison and credited McGreevey for helping him get back on his feet – culminating in his right to vote being restored.
The public portion of the meeting lasted for about 90 minutes, with all 27 speakers from across the Garden State, hailing from locations spanning from West Caldwell, Paterson, Bayonne, and North Bergen, speaking in McGreevey’s favor.
“I don’t get into politics, but I smell politics. I smell poli-tricks going on. Now, you hear from a lot of people that are telling you their experience,” said Jeffrey Jones, who did not mention where he was from.
“You said the program’s not going anywhere, but you’re hearing from people whose telling you that the program is working as it is, with the people who are in place working and serving the community.”
Another speaker, Pastor Steffie Bartley, the New Jersey Coordinator for the National Action Network, warned the board that the organization was watching and that keeping McGreevey was the right thing to do.
“I believe that you’ll understand, that in order to do what Jim McGreevey does, he has to be able to look at individuals that have dirty hands but clean hearts,” he said.
Prior to the vote on McGreevey’s employment, Board member Jake Hudnut, also Jersey City’s municipal prosecutor, urged the board against ousting the executive director in a hasty fashion.
” … The effect that you are going to have on court involved, formally court involved, low income people of color, predominantly, unfortunately because of the criminal justice system, is unbelievable,” he said, urging the board to be rational and meet in the middle to resolve the conflict.
Hudnut’s remarks were not enough to turn the tide of the vote, with McGreevey being terminated by a tally of 5-3(1).
Thomas, Rudolph Daniels, Mark Rowan, Stacey Flanagan and Jeremy Farrell voted yes, while Hudnut, Darrell Laval and Vice Chair Robert Knapp voted no.
Anthony Lewis, a police lieutenant and Mayor Steven Fulop’s driver, abstained.
Speaking one-on-one with HCV, McGreevey expressed disappointment that he was never given an official reason for being removed and attributed his downfall to firing Eugene McKnight, a Ward F political operative who has been utilized by Fulop, back in March.
“What I did, I believe was proper. Mr. McKnight was a former employee, a political operative of the mayor, was candidly asking for $40 a month from our clients – I thought that was improper, Chairman Jones thought that was improper,” McGreevey stated.
“He was dismissed, we were asked to talk to the Federal Bureau of Investigation – unfortunately we suffer the consequences.”
He declined to comment further, but in a separate interview, Thomas called the notion that the McKnight firing cost McGreevey his job “imaginations and fantasies.”
“This is just one more smokescreen among the many that has been put in front of us. The mayor has nothing to do with this, he doesn’t given instructions, but if he did, you know that I wouldn’t listen to him,” Thomas exclaimed.
“So I think I have that reputation out there so this is more or just imaginations and fantasies.”
Fulop has previously accused McGreevey of misappropriating funds, a claim he has refuted and asking the mayor to retract. No evidence regarding misappropriation of funds came up at the meeting, nor was the subject even addressed.
Thomas declined to get into any specifics as to why the executive director was removed since he had sent all the board members a letter threatening to sue if he was fired, but he indicated that McGreevey had been using JCETP to promote his New Jersey Re-Entry Corporation – a separate entity – which was a disservice to Jersey City residents.
As part of the approved resolution to fire McGreevey, Thomas will take over as JCETP’s acting executive director for six months with no compensation. McGreevey earned an annual salary of approximately $119,000 a year.
This is the second high-profile hearing Thomas has been a part of in the last week.
On Thursday, the Jersey City Board of Education, where he is the president, passed a resolution that said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles will not have her contract renewed next year.
On Twitter minutes ago, Ward E Councilman James Solomon said that Fulop either hired McGreevey for political reasons in 2014 or had him fired for political reasons last night – either of which is not good government.
Either Mayor Fulop hired a bad manager in 2014 for political reasons or he fired a good manager in 2019 for political reasons. Either way, we can do better.
— James Solomon (@SolomonforJC) January 8, 2019
While a city spokeswoman did not immediately return an email seeking comment, Thomas reiterated that McGreevey was fired via a board vote and that the NJ Re-Entry Corporation and JCEPT are two separate entities.
The meeting streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: