Former Gov. Jim McGreevey is out of a job, his fate all but sealed even before entering the standing room only meeting of trustees of the nonprofit he’s led since 2013. In a 5 to 3 vote with one abstention, the board quickly moved to terminate McGreevey, but not before hearing from more than two dozen supporters who were asked to attend via email by the governor himself, who calls his ousting political retaliation.
“I was appalled. I was appalled and I was scared because he is the only one who looked at a person like myself like a human being,” said program client Alma Colon.
“I smell politics. I smell poli-tricks going on,” said former program client Geoffrey Jones.
“I’m just asking for the truth, and I would ask the board members, indeed those new members, many of which this is their first board meeting, to give me a single reason why I am being terminated,” McGreevey said.
McGreevey says he’s being removed because he fell out of favor with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. Fulop appointed the former governor as executive director at the Jersey City Employment and Training Program, or JCETP, known as Martin’s Place. But McGreevey insists things went sour after he fired a Fulop political operative and says Fulop began replacing board members with his political allies, including the chairman and Jersey City Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas. Thomas will take over as interim executive director without pay for six months.
“Like I said, this is an HR issue and we can’t talk about the grounds as such. But all I can say, which I have said repeatedly in public, is the JCETP is an authority of the city,” said Thomas.
The city is referring all questions to the board, reiterating their allegations. Thomas says McGreevey has focused too many resources for people outside the city. Fulop accused him of misappropriating funds. McGreevey denies all of it.
In a surprising vote favoring McGreevey, board member and Fulop appointee Jake Hudnut called the entire situation troubling.
“There are ways that your concerns, our concerns, some of which are my concerns, about JCETP can be addressed in a rational way. I strongly urge those who are members who are undecided to vote no,” Hudnut said.
Hudnut also took issue with the board’s hasty vote hiring an attorney and auditor for JCETP, public contracts that’ll cost more than $50,000 a year for the nonprofit. Several board members urged the vote after an attorney for McGreevey sent a letter threatening to sue if he was fired. In the end, McGreevey pledged to continue his work. He handed over his keys and was escorted out.
“I have, personally, a friendship with the governor. I am just completely appalled and disappointed that every time we’ve a meeting, these folks have show up and they are being told their services are going to be disrupted and they’ll be on the streets, and I say shame on McGreevey,” said Hudnut.
The board says Wednesday the doors will open, services will be available and it will be business as usual. The only difference is McGreevey won’t be on the job.