UPDATE: The Commission meeting begins at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow and not 10:00 a.m. as shown on my earlier post. The Star's Will Higgins has once again weighed in with an imbalanced story in favor of the bar's proponents. He writes:
They’ll go before the commission to seek a zoning variance to operate the enterprise, which they would call 300 East. They also need state regulatory approval of its liquor license transfer . . .
Their plan to open the establishment in the Carson building bogged down in August, when some neighbors complained they had not been properly alerted to the development. The investors have said they won’t open for business if the neighborhood doesn’t want them.
Some have objected to serving alcohol in a government building, or to opening a bar in the neighborhood.
The establishment’s backers last summer proposed to open a family restaurant in the location, and received a positive recommendation from the Department of Metropolitan Development, the staff for the commission. Last month, they amended their petition and asked for permission to open a bar. The DMD recommended the commission deny the request.
Last week, the investors returned to the family restaurant concept, by adding a rail that would separate the bar area from the tables. The DMC recommended approval.
Nowhere in Higgins' report do you see it mentioned that the bar's investors built out the space for a bar without obtaining the appropriate construction permits or zoning variance required before construction commenced. Nowhere do you see it mentioned that a stop work order had to be issued by the DMD. Nowhere do you see it mentioned the number of building code violations which the bar's owners were cited for. Nowhere do you see it mentioned that a children's park was demolished to benefit the bar's investors. Nowhere do you see it mentioned that the DMD hearing officer who recommended approval of the zoning variance for the bar is the spouse of City-County Councilor Lonnell Connelly, a close ally of City-County Council President Monroe Gray, whose wife Teresa Gray is an investor in the bar. Nowhere do you see it mentioned that Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer turned over the government space to the private investors without entering into a formal lease pursuant to Indiana law. Nowhere do you see references to comments made by Drummer and investor Bill Mays that this bar is a place for "African-American professionals" only. And nowhere do you see it mentioned that the neighborhood association refused to vote on the proposal because Al Polin, who ran the last meeting, is close to the bar's investors and knew it would be voted down if a vote was taken.
Is it not fair to ask if Higgins is giving preferential treatment to the bar's investors, who are African-American, in his reporting of this story? If you look at his reporting from day one, he has meticulously insulated Drummer and the bar's investors from the most damaging details. It's hard to think any differently. He certainly can't be accused of doing good reporting. Each time he has reported on 300 East, his omissions have been observed by this and other blogs. I can understand the initial omission, but once it has been pointed out time and time again, it is difficult to understand. Note: Higgins is not African-American.