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You are here: Home News "Beyond Bergen" - News From Across New Jersey Firing a former governor: Fulop's dumbest feud? | Editorial

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Firing a former governor: Fulop's dumbest feud? | Editorial

Crucial re-entry services are now in jeopardy, for no substantive reason.

An ex-governor who has done admirable work helping people who get out of prison find jobs and reacclimate suddenly gets fired, and nobody can figure out why.
 
But somewhere behind it all is Steven Fulop. The Jersey City mayor won't answer our questions. As usual when he gets into hot water, he's hiding under his desk.
 
All he'll say is that former Gov. Jim McGreevey was canned over accusations of "misappropriating funds." What funds? How? He won't explain.

McGreevey alleges he is victim of Fulop retaliation
 
And there's plenty of reason for skepticism here. The backstory is that Fulop has been stacking the board that oversees this re-entry and unemployment center, called the Jersey City Employment and Training Program (JCETP), with his political minions, including one of the mayor's drivers.
 
Now they've canned its famous executive director, McGreevey. The program they're messing with is well-renowned, with bipartisan support. It's left us scratching our heads. Why pick a fight with this guy?
 
McGreevey says he's being retaliated against for firing Fulop's political operative last year, who was caught shaking down ex-offenders. Maybe. Perhaps it's a clash of egos. Regardless, crucial services are now in jeopardy, for no substantive reason.
 
The new head of the board, Sudhan Thomas - a Fulop ally who is also president of the school board, and just abruptly fired the superintendent - won't give any justification for canning McGreevey.
 
"New Jersey is an at-will employment state," was all he'd say on the record. "The board hired him, and the board fired him."

Jersey City police chief: Fulop devised 'illegal' operation to snarl traffic at Holland Tunnel
 
Please. This is a public program, funded by our tax dollars. If you can present evidence of a real problem, fine. But they've given no tangible, remotely credible reason for McGreevey's firing, either on or off the record.
 
It makes this look like nothing more than a turf patronage war. We have no cause to think Fulop is above that. Remember when he was accused of plotting a Bridgegate-style payback on the Port Authority, as part of a legal tiff?
 
The mayor ordered cops to do traffic stops that created gridlock, to cause problems for the Port Authority, the police chief claimed. Fulop denied it all, but stops did happen, and did snarl traffic.
 
The program targeted now is especially sympathetic: a one-stop center in which people coming out of prison aren't just hooked up with job training, but all kinds of other services, like drug treatment, mental health counseling or housing.
 
It's audited regularly because it receives public funding, McGreevey says. The state and federal money decreased over the years, because it's tied to a falling unemployment rate. But it's not hard to see why, as a former governor, he was known as an able fundraiser.
 
McGreevey says he's raised more than 4 million for JCEPT in his nearly six years as executive director and tapped into other grant money as part of his statewide nonprofit, The New Jersey Reentry Corporation, which also benefits clients in Jersey City.
 
Why should we feel confident that Thomas, a first-time board member who just appointed himself to McGreevey's job, and another board newcomer as his deputy, can be as effective?
 
A board once made up of independent members is now stacked with city officials tied to Fulop; it fired an executive director and gave no cause. For donors, this is politically rancid. Why give money?
 
We have no reason to believe they're going to come close to the success McGreevey has achieved. In jeopardy are vital services for people released with little more than a bus ticket, who genuinely want to turn their lives around. They deserve better. We all do.

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