It took them a week after area blogs first reported it, but the Star finally got around to reporting on the arrest of Lacy Johnson, III for driving while under the influence and public intoxication. Johnson, a principal partner in the controversial, proposed "private club/bar" in the Julia Carson Government Center, refused to take a breathalyzer test, which means his driver's license is automatically suspended for one year under Indiana law. The Star's Jon Murray writes:
The majority partner in a proposed bar in the Carson Government Center has been charged with driving while intoxicated and public intoxication.
Lacy Johnson III, 27, is leading a group of investors -- including his father, prominent attorney and chairman of the Indianapolis Airport Authority Lacy Johnson, and businessman Bill Mays -- in the controversial 300 East venture. The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission will consider a liquor license transfer Oct. 16, but construction on the restaurant and bar is complete at the center, 300 E. Fall Creek Parkway.
Johnson was pulled over at 1 a.m. Aug. 26 on Michigan Road near 68th Street after another driver waved her arms at a Marion County sheriff's deputy, according to a police report. Johnson said he had consumed three beers, the report said, and he consented to be taken in for a breath test.
But after he sat down in front of the device, Johnson would not take the test, the report said. In Indiana, refusing to take a breath test automatically results in a one-year suspension of a driver's license.
Musical chairs among superior court judges is being played in Johnson's case as two Democratic judges have already recused themselves from hearing Johnson's case. The maximum penalty Johnson could face is a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. He is being represented by attorney Dennis Zahn.
On another front, the Star's editors say today that Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer's failure to consult with the township's board is another reason to reject the proposed "private club/bar" in the Julia Carson Government Center. The editorial reads:
Here's one more reason the Metropolitan Development Commission on Wednesday should reject plans for a tavern at the Julia Carson Government Center: Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer did not consult the elected advisory board that
serves as the township's legislature.
Drummer allowed the investment group that would operate the bar to renovate space in the government center without even mentioning the project to advisory board members.
Drummer's spokesman, David Ayers, argues that the trustee is required to approach the board only for approval of a budget and the annual report. He also notes that the project does not involve spending township money.
But township property would be used to house a privately owned bar and restaurant. The fact that several close associates of Drummer have invested in the business should have made the need for outside consultation obvious to the trustee.
Instead, at least one advisory board member, Jon Elrod, learned of the controversial proposal through the news media.
Part of the problem lies with the board itself. It has met only 12 times in the past two years, according to Ayers. Elrod says the board failed to meet even after township residents raised serious questions about the proposed bar. "My experience on the board has been more than disappointing,'' Elrod says.
Yet, it was Drummer's responsibility to seek the advice of officials who represent Center Township residents. If anything, the board's approval of the project could have given the trustee some much-needed political cover.
That opportunity, however, was lost. Along with it should go the idea that the government center is an appropriate place for a private bar.
It seems to me that the Star's editorial today misses the more important issue. State law has specific procedures a local government executive must follow before he disposes or leases any government property. Those procedures were clearly not followed or the public would have been put on notice and, in certain circumstances, the township's fiscal body would have been required to approve the lease. Drummer's failure to follow state law for leasing township government represents official misconduct in office and he should be appropriately charged.