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Club 69 'nothing' compared to latest gaffe uncovered by Flint's mayor: She wrote letter of support for disgraced UAW leader Norwood Jewell
If any strong union folks were tempted to ignore our Endorsement Monday recommendations for Tuesday's voting in Flint's mayoral race, they can now be jolted into paying attention.
Monday's big story was Flint's mayor making national news once again while the Metro Flint area media again gave her a pass. If you didn't watch Detroit's TV reports, read national news stories, watch Detroit's TV newscasts, listen to Detroit's radio reports, read this space on TheDailyGazette.net or listen to The Morning Gazette Radio Show, Flint area media would have simply kept you in the dark on the biggest reason why union members would likely choose to vote for anybody but Dr. Karen Weaver in Tuesday's primary election.
If spending $7,500 on "consulting" at a stripper joint called Club 69 as her biggest campaign expense wasn't bad enough, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman revealed more bad news for her campaign by telling a packed court room about letters of support he received for disgraced former UAW official Norwood Jewell. Judge Borman told everyone Monday during the sentencing proceedings that one such letter came from Mayor Weaver.
Not a single letter, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gardey argued, came from a single UAW member. Only letters from people who were able to benefit from money funneled to them by the corrupt union official, Gardey said.
The judge rattled off the names of many who wrote letters. One must wonder what kind of gifts and money went their way to earn such scorn from Gardey — a government guy tasked with slapping handcuffs on bad guys and sending them away to prison for as long as possible.
Norwood Jewell was sent to prison for 15 months. That's exactly how long the government asked Judge Borman to put him behind bars.
Jewell's attorney, Mike Manley, described his client as a "hero"and as a "great man. He asked the federal judge to give his client either probation or home confinement because Jewell has "suffered enough" by the embarrassment of losing his gig as one of three Vice Presidents at the UAW's international office in Detroit.
Manley noted how Jewell rose up the ranks from line worker in the 1970's to become Executive Director at Flint's Region 1C, before going to Detroit in 2014 as a Vice President at the international union headquarters. A 40-year career with an eye on possibly some day becoming UAW President, Manley theorized. All ruined by an honest mistake, Manley argued.
Manley got to go first.
He almost made me feel sorry for Jewell. He's a good talker. It was indeed "lawyer talk" as his close friend, Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell says about all the lawyers he doesn't like very much.
Mike Manley didn't get the judge's attention.
He tried to argue about how a state senator may go to Congress as the new guy in Washington, not knowing the ropes, so to speak. Manley said if the old Congressman's entire staff was corrupt, how could the former state senator be expected to do anything to fail there. He likened to the situation he says Jewell walked into on Chrysler's team. It was one of nine areas Jewell was asked to be in charge of in his new role. It was the Chrysler team, Manley argued, that "set him up to fail" because of all their corruption.
Manley says his client "went along with it" and as the Detroit News noted: "His lawyer portrayed the UAW vice president as a negligent dope, consumed by responsibilities and betrayed by crooks in the union's top ranks. Jewell trusted underlings to protect him but they, instead, let Fiat Chrysler executives pay for lavish meals, travel and entertainment for Jewell and other senior UAW officials."
"Bad judgment" his defense lawyer said.
He rattled off others convicted in the scandal, calling them "crooks" and repeating how his client was "set up to fail."
"Was he asleep at the switch? Absolutely," Manley said. "Was he a crook? Absolutely not."
Then Assistant U.S. Attorney Gardey got his turn.
Let's just say he gave Manley what amounted to a good lawyering-style spanking.
As to the state senator going to Washington tale by Manley, Gardey told Judge Borman he liked the story better about "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." In that famous old movie, lovable Jimmy Stewart portrayed a naive man appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he didn't back down and fought against them.
It was the same spanking handed out on Manley's letter before sentencing day when he compared Jewell to the captain of the Titanic, calling him a hero who went down with his ship.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gardey told the judge he saw the captain of the Titantic as no hero. He noted how the captain steered the ship into chunks of ice to clause it to sink and cause many people to die.
"His client is no hero," Gardey argued.
Norwood Jewell stole from the very UAW members who trusted them to steer their union, Gardey said.
He said Jewell "lacks remorse (and) willingly betrayed blue-collar workers so he and other top UAW officials could live lavishly."
Gardey told the judge that Jewell refused to cooperate with federal investigators. "I can't call him a hero for that," Gardey said. "That shows where he placed his loyalty. Not with (UAW) members and their families but with other high-level officials under investigation."
Gardey also said, "This wasn't negligence. This was corruption and greed."
He added, "It's about a betrayal of trust, greed and ambition."
Jewell denied taking "anything for myself" while describing himself to Judge Borman as remorseful, saying, "I stand before you as a very humbled man."
UAW Local 961 President Mike Booth asked Judge Borman to throw the book at Jewell and give him the maximum. He spoke on behalf of about 800 UAW members at the Marysville axle plant, claiming they're losing their jobs because of Jewell.
Jewell shook his head in denial as Booth talked to the judge, saying, "This was never a clerical error. This was greed and gluttony."
Booth agreed to appear this week on The Morning Gazette Radio Show. Booth also met with a throng of media members outside the court building after the sentence was handed down. Jewell and Manley did the same thing after a guilty plea was entered to felony charges last spring. They were no where to be found after Monday's proceedings.
Maybe the saddest part of the day was Jewell turned around to Marysville union members who helped pack the court room and telling them: "I am proud of my career. I never compromised the collective-bargaining process."
They disagree and said outside the court room that Jewell traded their livelihood for a lavish lifestyle with friends. The government claimed there were steak dinners, premium liquor, expensive Disney vacations, illegally accepting a shotgun worth $2,182, a $25,065 "decadent" party with strolling models lighting labor leaders' cigars, wine bottles featuring Jewell's name on the label and $8,927 for a three-bedroom villa with a private pool and hot tub in Palm Springs, California where he enjoyed golf at luxury courses.
U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider called it a "strong" message for winning in their request for the judge to send Jewell to prison.
"It's an ongoing investigation and we're not done," Schneider told reporters outside court on the steps. "We will continue to work on this until we're confident that we have leadership in the UAW that represents the men and women of the union and does what they're supposed to do," he added.
Schneider noted how Jewell was "greedy" by saying he "knowingly conspired to betray rank-and-file members so he could live a lavish lifestyle."
He pleaded guilty to felony activity that could have landed him five years in prison. Because Jewell had no previous criminal record, sentencing guidelines called for Judge Borman to give him between 12 months and 18 months in prison. The government asked for 15 months as noted above, and that's exactly what Judge Borman gave him.
It came despite the letter from Mayor Weaver, and others trying to paint his defense attorney's picture of a "hero" in the Flint area community where most of his union career took place.
State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich also penned a letter to the judge to say what a swell guy Norwood Jewell is. So, too, did the Chairman of Flint's Concerned Pastors for Social Action — Rev. Alfred Harris from Saints of God Church. Another letter came from Mayor Weaver's chief aide Aoine Gilcreast's wife, Frances Gilcreast who is President of Flint's branch of the NAACP.
But as Assistant U.S. Attorney Gardey noted, "Not one letter from anybody in the UAW. He devoted 40 years to the union, yet not one letter from a UAW member except ones from his son and step-son."
The disgraced UAW official was allowed to wait until the first week of January to report to prison. Manley asked the judge for the delayed reporting date and also asked for an assignment to Morgantown, West Virginia. The judge said he couldn't promise his recommendation on the latter matter could be honored by others in the prison system who will be ones making the decision on his location.
Manley's only other victory for his client on Monday was convincing the judge not to go along with the government's request for a fine of $95,000. Court filings show Jewell's debts are more than his assets.
Listening to how he spend thousands on luxury items, it's not surprising to me although anybody helping him hide money is a good bet to become an inmate in my opinion.
Mike Killbreath hosts The Morning Gazette Radio Show weekdays from 8 am until 9:30 am on CCNRadio.net. He also hosts The Daily Gazette Sports Weekend Show every Saturday from 10 am until noon, and The Daily Gazette Sports Night Show weekdays from 6 pm until 7 pm.
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Meet Mike: Our award-winning Executive Editor
Mike Killbreath is a veteran newspaper man who began hosting a radio show in 2011. He currently serves as Executive Editor at The Daily Gazette and at My AM Advantage while hosting "The Morning Gazette Radio Show" on the local radio air waves live every weekday morning from 8 am until 9:30 am. Mike's background includes winning awards at the state and national levels for investigative reporting, local columns, feature writing, sports writing and sports columns. He has also served as President at the Flint Area Chamber of Commerce since 2011 and has served on its Executive Board since mid-2010. He also counts experience on other local Chamber of Commerce boards and has served for many years on numerous civic groups and non-profit organizations. Mike also hosts the longest-running local sports talk show on the local air waves with his Saturday 10 am broadcast of The Daily Gazette Sports Weekend Show. He talks sports every weeknight, too, on The Michigan Sports Zone Show and The Daily Gazette Sports Night Show. You can find Mike's programs by clicking to CCNRADIO.net for links to them.
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August 6, 2019