As the landlord, Drummer shouldn't have allowed the bar's ownership to build out the space and construct an outdoor deck without obtaining the proper permits from the Department of Metropolitan Development. It shouldn't have required an anonymous complaint, filed in June, along with an inspector's stop-work order, to cease construction.
Given his relationship with the club's owners, which include longtime powerbroker Lacy Johnson and his son, Drummer shouldn't have been so closely involved in the deal. The fact that the bar's clientele was originally intended to be Center Township employees and their guests -- essentially making it a club for Drummer and his allies -- adds to the perception of cronyism.
The blame doesn't belong to Drummer alone. No one, from Judith Hawley Conley (who approved the partial demolition of Polin Park) to the City-County Council, was looking out for residents' best interests. If not for community activist Clarke Kahlo, no hard questions would have been asked about the propriety of opening the bar.
No good reason exists to open a bar in the Carson Center. Drummer should reverse course and kill the lease.
So the editors caught on to the fact that the bar was constructed without the proper permits, and that a stop work order was issued after the DMD received an anonymous complaint. They think Drummer is a little too close to the deal given his relationship to "longtime political powerbroker Lacy Johnson and his son." The Star's editors also conclude that it was the original intent to run the bar as a private club for Center Township government employees and their guests, a point we have speculated on here but could not conclude based upon the limited information available online.
The Star editors omit, however, the fact that all this was done without first seeking to rezone or obtain the appropriate zoning variances to allow this use of the property. They also skip over the conflict of interest raised by Lacy Johnson's law firm, Ice Miller, representing the township and the bar's owners at the same time.
While AI is glad that the Star has finally weighed in on this issue, their only recommendation--kill the lease--seems a rather tepid response considering the breadth of their conclusions on the matter. This is public property afterall and the damn bar has already been fully constructed in violation of numerous state and local building regulations---for use as a private club for political insiders! Where's the Star's sense of outrage? Why is there no call for an investigation? Laws were broken--weren't they? And if the Star's editors knew all this, why the hell didn't they have one of their reporters cover the most pertinent matters that were omitted from its previous news coverage on its news pages? Am I missing something here?
UPDATE: Star editorial writer RiShawn Biddle adds some more comments over at Expresso to today's coverage, including a response to our concern that the newspaper has not thoroughly covered this issue.