The full political ramifications of City Councilman Marty Jewell's arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol this past weekend remain uncertain. But a former city councilman burned by more vigorous political flames says Jewell's arrest will likely be a cold ember by November 2012.
“This is somewhat of a small prairie fire,” says former City Councilman Henry W. “Chuck” Richardson, who resigned in 1995 after being videotaped selling heroin. Before that, Richardson had served four terms on council despite a prior drug possession charge. He continues to live in his home near the Carillon and Byrd Park — the same general vicinity where Jewell was arrested in the early morning hours of Oct. 24.
According to a source, Jewell had been celebrating the Virginia Union University homecoming at a friend's home on South Side and was about a mile from his home when police stopped him.
Calls to Jewell's home and cell phone were not returned and voice mail systems for both were full.
But the source says that the unmarked police vehicle that stopped Jewell followed for nearly the entire drive before making the stop. Jewell's adult son, who was with the councilman, was allowed to walk home from the scene, the source says.
At the arrest scene, the unmarked police unit was joined by “eight to 10” other police cars that “converged” on the scene.
Richardson says he has second-hand knowledge of the events, but declined to confirm the source's account.
“But I know there are enough questions around the motivation and circumstances of the arrest,” Richardson says. “I'm not an expert on politics, but I'm an expert on the police. They're as capable of doing the kind of behind-the-scenes ambushing as anyone else. There may have been some [political] motive there.”
Richardson also suggests that police may have been hunting council members out of season. Jewell has three years left in his term and even if convicted of drunken driving, the misdemeanor conviction and its attendant $250 fine (and possible five days in jail if he had more than .15 percent blood alcohol content) will not preclude his continued city service. Jewell serves as an alternate on council's finance standing committee.