The Columbus Dispatch

Judge tossed other misdemeanor charges

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
NEWS   03C

By Mark Ferenchik

Melinda T. Swan, the chief of staff for Columbus City Council and an influential political player at City Hall, recently was convicted of drunken driving and sentenced to a three-day alcohol education program.

Swan, 41, of Clintonville, also was fined $300 and had her driver's license suspended for six months, although she is allowed to drive for work.

Her attorney, Sam Shamansky, called it a "run-of-the-mill DUI, nothing out of the ordinary.

"It's an error in judgment. She strikes me as a very capable, able woman.''

Swan declined to comment yesterday.

Swan pleaded no contest to one count of drunken driving, a first-degree misdemeanor, on June 29. Franklin County Municipal Court Judge H. William Pollitt threw out a second drunken driving charge and misdemeanor charges of failing to yield for a police vehicle and staying in a continuous lane.

Swan was pulled over at 12:35 a.m. May 29 while she was northbound on I-71 at Hudson Street. A test showed her blood-alcohol level at 0.117 percent, above the Ohio legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Shamansky said she cooperated with the officer.

City Council President Matt Habash, who created the chief of staff position four years ago, said he has not discussed Swan's case with other council members.

"This is not a city issue. It is a personal matter,'' Habash said. "She's been a great employee of the city of Columbus.''

Councilman Kevin L. Boyce said he didn't want to comment on it, and said it was her personal situation.

Swan, long active in Democratic politics, was hired in May 2000 after running a public-relations consulting business. She was then-Ohio Attorney General Anthony Celebrezze's press secretary from 1987 to 1989 and spokeswoman for his campaign for governor in 1990. She also served as Joel Hyatt's campaign director in 1994 when he ran for U.S. Senate.

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