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Coast legislator giving McRae a run for his title'

By By Sid Salter/ syndicated columnist
July 3, 2002
One would think that state Supreme Court Justice Chuck McRae had permanently retired Mississippi government's "How's My Driving?" Award.
Not so. Seems there's a new contender for the title. Meet Rep. Jamie K. Creel, D-Biloxi the Next Big Thing in Mississippi's long tradition of "YEE-HAH!!" politics.
No matter how hard the state's 174 legislators work to get rid of their stereotypical hard-drinking, hard-partying image, it seems there's always at least one legislator like Rep. Creel around to prop it up.
As I've written on many occasions, the image of the Legislature as a fraternity or sorority house run amok is patently false. Most legislators live a rather mundane existence during their three-to-four months in Jackson each year.
Not Creel's first rodeo
But Creel a freshman lawmaker with seats on the Conservation and Water Resources, Judiciary B, Labor, Municipalities, and Universities and Colleges committees seems determined to raise the curve. Creel, 32, was arrested last week in Biloxi on charges of simple assault and malicious mischief. He was released on his own recognizance.
Police accused Creel of throwing an ashtray in the face of bartender Ralph Duncan and breaking windows at Cheryl's Bistro and Martini Bar about 3 a.m. on June 16 after being asked to leave the bar.
As if a legislator getting arrested in a 3 a.m. bar fracas isn't enough to set make this story interesting, it seems this isn't as the cowboys like to say Creel's first rodeo.
Suffice to say that Rep. Creel is one lawmaker who has had a judicious amount of personal experience with the law, to wit:
On Feb. 6, 1994, Creel was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license and DUI refusal, meaning he refused to submit to breath analysis. Creel was later found guilty of the reduced charge of reckless driving.
On June 26, 1995, Creel was again arrested on the charge of DUI refusal. Again, Creel was found guilty of reckless driving and placed under house arrest.
On Nov. 17, 1999 days after being elected to the state House of Representatives Creel was again arrested for DUI and refused the breath test, but was later convicted of DUI.
On April 24, 2000 during his freshman legislative session Creel paid $631.50 in fines for leaving the scene of a northeast Jackson accident and failure to yield the right of way.
Poor example displayed
Creel told The Clarion-Ledger after that 2000 incident that he had "taken responsibility for my actions" and that he had made a "mistake." Just as Justice McRae remains an embarrassment to the Supreme Court, Rep. Creel is an embarrassment to the Legislature. Both have mocked the state's DUI laws from a position of authority and both have done so more than once.
The question is just why their constituents keep re-electing them to positions of public trust? Multiple DUI arrests by the same elected officials indicates at best a serious lack of respect for the public responsibilities to which they were elected. If judges and lawmakers don't respect the DUI laws, how, pray tell, will kids?

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