Guest speaker and former Governor shares his life lesson at annual dinner.The former governor of Connecticut told Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry members Thursday of his bitter lesson in the arrogance of power and the power of arrogance.

John G. Rowland made his comments at the chamber's annual dinner, which took place at Longwood Gardens.

Scandal-plagued Rowland went from being governor of Connecticut to being prisoner No. 15623014, who waited in line with the other convicts for a roll of toilet paper.

"The last two years I've crisscrossed the country talking about the experiences we all have as we try to achieve success," Rowland said. "We go to the right schools, play the right sports, get the right job with the right pay, then we are surprised when we fall from grace; that we've broken a law, made a terrible mistake."

But the real test is if failure can make someone embrace grace and humility.

Rowland, a Republican, was in office from 1995 to July 2004, when he resigned during a corruption investigation. He later pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge that he traded the power of his position for more than $100, 000 in gifts and favors, including home improvements.

He served 10 months in a federal prison camp for mail and tax fraud. He was released in February 2006 to serve four months of house arrest at his home in West Hartford, Conn.

Considered a rising star in the Constitution State, Rowland was the first Connecticut governor to be elected to three terms since 1784 and the youngest governor in the history of the state.

When people are put on a pedestal it becomes a disease, the disease of power, Rowland said.

"You start to believe your own press releases," Rowland said.

Rowland, 50, now works as an economic development coordinator for the city of Waterbury in Connecticut. He also has become a counselor and speaks openly about his faith to church groups and other organizations.

To contact writer Gretchen Metz, send an e-mail to gmetz@dailylocal.com.

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