The 401st Blow :: Thoughts On Media

DIWO Politics

Posted in Uncategorized by Noah Harlan on September 26, 2010

The posting has been infrequent of late largely due to our film, RETURN, going into production and some very exciting moves happening for Two Bulls. Stay tuned for more news about all of that and I’ll try to keep posts coming. The reality of making a smaller film though is that you have a lot to do and not a lot of free time to write your thoughts down.  In the meantime, here’s a story I had forgotten about (or perhaps never really knew).

There has been a lot of talk in the film community about DIWO (Do It With Others) as a new paradigm for getting films made. It’s more collaborative and powerful than DIY, but requires more mutual consent than traditional hierarchical filmmaking. It strikes me that DIWO is essentially model for democratic (small “d’) politics. People have to learn to work together, collaborate, and head towards common goals. At least, that’s how it is supposed to work – something which has clearly fallen by the wayside for some time now. These thoughts led me to a discussion about New Jersey politics and the very strange sequence of events that took place the week of January 8th, 2002.

Christine Todd Whitman was elected Governor of New Jersey in 1994 and four years later was reelected to a term that would end in January of 2002. In 2000, George W. Bush was elected President and in January of 2001, Governor Whitman resigned her position to accept the job as Administrator of the EPA.

In 2001, New Jersey didn’t have the position of Lieutenant Governor, instead the President of the Senate was the next in line for the position of Governor and would serve in both positions at once. On January 31st, 2001, Donald DiFrancesco, the then-serving President of the New Jersey Senate became Acting Governor and he would serve out the remainder of Governor Whitman’s term.

However there was a hiccup. DiFrancesco decided not to run for Senate again and thus his term as Senate President ended on January 8th, 2002 which meant that his term as Acting Governor ended that day as well despite the fact that the new Governor, James McGreevey, would not have his inauguration for another week. The next in line would be the new Senate President, however that person wouldn’t be sworn in for another 45 minutes, so John Farmer, Jr., the State Attorney General was sworn in and became the Acting Governor until the swearing in.

But there was a problem. New Jersey had elected a perfectly split Senate and this meant that there were actually Co-Presidents: John Bennett, a Republican, and Richard Codey, a Democrat, and only one person can be Acting Governor at a time. So an arrangement was made, Bennett and Codey would share the week.

So, on January 8th, John Bennett was sworn in as Acting Governor of New Jersey, a position he would hold until January 12th. In those three days, according to Wikipedia, he:

“appeared on national television as part of the “five governors in a week” news cycle. He signed legislation into law, appointed judges, granted a pardon, created a nursing advisory council, and hosted several parties at Drumthwacket. The nursing advisory council was a tribute to his wife, Peg, a nurse. Peg Bennett was active during her tenure as First Lady of New Jersey.”

Then, on January 12th, Richard Codey took the position of Acting Governor until January 15th when Governor McGreevey was sworn in, thus concluding one of the most volatile weeks in the New Jersey Governor’s office.

A footnote to this is that Richard Codey would actually become Acting Governor a second time in November of 2004 after Governor McGreevey resigned from office following allegations that he had been blackmailed by a former lover.

A second interesting footnote is that this also reminds us of the so-called “President of the United State for one day” David Rice Atchison who some claim was President of the US on March 4th, 1849 after the term of President Polk ended and before the term of Present Zachary Taylor began because Taylor refused to be sworn in on a Sunday. Atchison spent the entire term of his Presidency in bed.

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