At a back booth in a coffee shop in his former Flushing district, McLaughlin politely nudged the conversation toward what he most wanted to talk about: his wife Eva, his family and the life he leads today. He talked about the rewards of returning over the past couple of years to blue-collar work as a sandhog, electrician and limo driver - and about saner hours and spiritual matters, with a backward glance or two at the ruin of his public life.
Former Assemb. McLaughlin pours himself into new life
"In my case alcohol was a factor in some of what I did," he said. With his public roles always keeping him away from home, he said, "you're out of touch with the emotional needs of your wife and family, those that matter the most to you, largely without recognizing it. And unable to recognize it, because every day your work schedule and your personal lifestyle kind of take on a habit and a culture of their own.
He speaks of having moved from one life to another. He suggests his fall from grace might resemble a bit the story of Michael Vick, who'd come up "from the neighborhood" but still hung out with the old group of "knuckleheads."
The next chapter on McLaughlin will be written in federal court, a little more than two months from now.