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Posse Positive Person of the Week – Former Governor Jim McGreevey – Will You Watch HBO Special This Week? [POLL]

Former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Stonewall Community Foundation)
Former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Stonewall Community Foundation)

Here in New Jersey, the name Jim McGreevey is mainly used as a punch line in a joke about being a “gay American” or something to do with Machiavelli.

The downfall of the former Governor’s administration is chronicled best in the New York Times’ best-seller, “The Soprano State”, written by Gannet’s Statehouse correspondents Sandy McClure and Bob Ingle.

The book delves into the nascent political career of the fallen Governor and what eventually led to his downfall; culminating with the hiring his then lover, an Israeli poet, to be our national security expert; and the subsequent revelation of his secret life; leading to his resignation some months later to allow the then Senate President Richard Codey to assume the governorship.

Since that time, the man has turned his life around and has sought to join the ministry, counseling imprisoned women at a Hudson County facility.

Skeptics among us will say that he should just go away; so news of an HBO documentary which will air this Thursday night, will probably elicit sighs of “who cares!”

I believe in redemption, and while his resignation may have been a shrewd move to avoid criminal prosecution; still, to come out in as public a way as he did, and turn his life around deserves recognition.

Besides, he did have some accomplishments during his tenure.

Widening the Driscoll Bridge. (Ok, so maybe not that big a deal in the overall scheme of things).

But also giving the automobile insurance companies a more competitive climate in which to do business here in the state.

According to this:

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey is a man on a mission in the documentary “Fall to Grace,” debuting at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 28 on HBO.

The film depicts McGreevey’s post-gubernatorial life ministering to female prisoners at the Hudson County Jail, to residents of the Integrity House of Newark and on the streets of Elizabeth.

In a recent interview, McGreevey’s zeal toward the well-being of the women depicted in the film had not diminished.

“Hopefully, the documentary gives people pause to understand that women in jail and prison are all still precious and valuable children of God who seek in their own way to make sense of the world,’’ McGreevey said.

“Many of them didn’t have the necessary guidance, either because of how or where they grew up, to live a healthy lifestyle.”

“Fall to Grace” shines a light on the plight of women in prison and focuses attention on areas of the state that often are passed over when it comes to media attention: the cities.

That suits McGreevey fine.

“I’m good in the hood,” he says at one point in the documentary.

McGreevey, the former mayor of Woodbridge, was a rising star on the national political scene as governor of New Jersey in 2004 when it all became spectacularly undone. He famously declared “I am a gay American” on Aug. 12 of that year as reports swirled of an extramarital affair with Israeli citizen Golan Cipel, whom McGreevey had named New Jersey homeland security adviser.

McGreevey and his second wife divorced, a process highly detailed in the press, after the admission. He has two children, one from each wife. He received a master’s degree in divinity from the General Theological Seminary, yet ordination by the Episcopal Church has so far been denied.

He’s now put priesthood “on the shelf,” he said.

“Fall to Grace” has a glimpse of home life for McGreevey. He’s shown mowing the lawn of the Plainfield home he shares with partner Mark O’Donnell.

In the film, directed by Alexandra Pelosi, the Emmy award-winning daughter of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., McGreevey reveals that the ego-building draw of high-wattage politics “brought no more permanent happiness than heroin provides a junkie.”

Everyone deserves a second chance.

Even a disgraced politician.

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