Let's see, there's the wife of City-County Council President Monroe Gray, Teresa Gray--she's an investor in the bar. Then there's Lacy Johnson, the father who's been hiding behind his son's namesake, who is Julia Carson's long-time political campaign manager and partner at Ice Miller. Yes, that's the same law firm that represents Center Township in its request to rezone and obtain a variance for the bar in front of the Metropolitan Development Commission. Oh, and then there's Joyce Rogers, who is Indiana Black Expo President. And don't forget Patzetta Rice, who works as a spokesman for the Indianapolis airport. And we already told you about local businessmen Al Oaks and William Mays.
All of this information Tully gleaned by taking a few minutes to visit the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to review the pending petition on file for approval of the transfer of a 210, 3-way permit for the bar's owners. Isn't it just a wonder what a reporter can learn when he actually does his job? Even if it did take him two months to getting around to doing what he should have done in the first place.
Tully's column today picks up on a few other interesting items as well. He tells us that he had asked Monroe Gray why he had appeared to support the proposed bar at an earlier Metropolitan Development Commission hearing. Gray insisted he had no particular reason according to Tully. After Tully confronted Gray with his knowledge of his wife's interest, here was Gray's reaction:
One partner's name is Teresa Gray. President Gray is married to a woman named Teresa, so I called him to ask whether that particular bar partner was indeed his wife.
"Uhh, it could be," he said.
"It could be?" I asked. "You don't know for sure?"
"Oh," said Gray, who hates to answer questions directly. "I'm sure it is."
Believe me, it is.
Gray dismissed my questions, saying despite his wife's interest in the bar, "I still don't have an opinion on it" and "that's her investment, not mine." He said he has not been involved in the bar and appeared at the zoning session for another case.
He grew irritated.
"Why do I need to discuss what my wife does?" he said.
First, Gray's top council deputy, Lonnell Conley, is married to the zoning examiner who gave the bar early approval. Second, Gray has taken campaign cash from lobbyist Lacy Johnson, a bigwig in Democratic circles who is the bar's lead investor. Third, angry residents have contacted the council, asking members to stop the bar.
Still, Gray kept his family's financial interest in the bar quiet.
It turns out you could fill a corporate board with the bar investors listed on the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission filing.
Gray's lack of candor towards Tully is quite revealing about the surrepticious manner in which this whole cast of characters has behaved. Lacy Johnson, the man to whom our mayor has given free reign as president of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, to this date has refused to answer reporters' questions about his involvement; instead, choosing to hide behind his son, who is the only person representing the investors who's interest has been well known from the beginning. Judith Conley, wife of city-county councilor Lonnell Conley, approved the intial rezoning/variance petition for the bar in record time, even after the bar had already been constructed in violation of state and local building code and zoning laws. And then there's Rep. Julia Carson, who insists she knew nothing about the bar being built on the first floor of the building which is home to her congressional office. Tully writes, "And U.S. Rep. Julia Carson says she opposes a bar in her namesake building, but bar backers, who have close ties to Carson, D-Indianapolis, say she isn't really opposed." As for Mayor Peterson, Tully writes, "Mayor Bart Peterson has kept disappointingly quiet, even though he has been eager in the past to speak out on zoning issues that didn't involve such political allies."
Tully is promising another column on Friday which will discuss a meeting he had with some of the bar's investors this past weekend defending their actions. That's fine, but we need much more. Nobody has provided any explanation as to how, under color of government authority, the bar got built in the first place in violation of numerous state and local building code and zoning laws? Also, nobody has even bothered to take a look at the lease to determine whether the terms of the lease are fair to the taxpayers who own the damn building.
And what about an investigation? Mr. Brizzi? Hello, are you there? The fact that a grand jury hasn't been convened and subpoenas served by this late date shows why our public officials in Marion County feel they can thumb their noses at the law. Marion County does not try political corruption cases against people who matter. And our U.S. Attorney sits in her office in the federal building turning a blind eye to it all as well. God, if we only had a prosecutor like Patrick Fitzgerald, we could clean up this cesspool.