Why didn't Drummer make sure that investors had necessary permits before allowing them to proceed with construction? His spokesman, David Ayers, says the
trustee "thought they had the proper permits," but he evidently didn't check. A building inspector, following up on a complaint in June, issued a stop-work order after citing the lack of permits.
Landlords generally won't lease space before getting the proper zoning approval, or variance. Potential occupants usually won't consider a property if it isn't legally ready for use. But Drummer struck the deal, and the investors began work, without the zoning process being completed.
Landlords won't allow tenants to build in a space without having them sign a lease because the former could be held liable for injuries. But Drummer didn't get the group to sign on the proverbial dotted line before allowing investors to take over the space, renovate the interior and add an outdoor deck. Essentially, Drummer let them trespass on taxpayer-owned property and expose citizens to unnecessary financial risks.
All of this points to the reality that this deal was a handshake arrangement among friends. Don't believe it? Backers include such friends of Drummer as Mays, Johnson, Indiana Black Expo President Joyce Rogers and the wife of City-County Council President Monroe Gray. They could lose their $500,000 investment if the city's Metropolitan Development Commission doesn't belatedly approve the project, which
is scheduled for a vote Oct. 4.
The lack of responsible handling by Drummer should be no surprise. After all, he earlier had failed to disclose the deal to citizens and unsuccessfully attempted to convert part of Al E. Polin Park into a parking lot for 300 East. At the very least he should have had a public bidding process to find tenants for the ground-floor space located in the center. A deal handled by a government official must be conducted scrupulously.
AI is glad to see the editorial writers bring these important details to the attention of their readers. But why were these little details not covered in a news story? And Matt Tully gave the bar's investors a crack at defending their insider deal, but he's not buying their pitch. He writes: "Their idea is a bad one. A horrible one, actually. And they've used their political clout to push their horrible idea."
So we now know that another state law was broken. The question is how many laws must be broken before someone responsible for enforcing our laws holds these public officials and political insiders to account for their unlawful conduct?