They say that on Labor Day, eight white golfers, including Highland Chairman Mark DeFabis, were allowed to cut in front of them to tee off. It was the 'last straw' in what the three described as a series of questionable incidents over several years involving everything from being asked to produce identification to being seated at "less than optimal" tables to dine.Apparently Smith never bothered to grasp the real reason eight white golfers were allowed to play ahead of Drummer, Johnson and Odle. As one club member explained in the comments to the story as the real reason the three did not get to play when they wanted to play was because they were still missing the fourth person in their foursome, who didn't arrive until after the three walked off the course:
Let's get the facts straight here, since The Star cannot. Mr. Johnson , Mr. Odle and Mr. Drummer did not have their full group ready to tee off that morning. They were waiting for their fourth. Since that was the case their names could not go on the list. That is why the other groups of four were offered the tee. They were not offered the tee because Mr. DeFabis is the Chairman. He simply had a group of four, ready to go. There was absolutely no racism based on the facts. It was just ignorance of the rules. They have known that is how the tee box works on busy mornings. By the way. their fourth showed up after they left.It is paritcularly galling for these three men to raise the issue of racism given their records. Ask Drummer how many Caucasians he employed in his office when he was Center Township Trustee compared to African-Americans. You may also remember how Drummer helped engineer the bar/restaurant in the Julia Carson Government Center, along with Johnson, who is paid exorbitant legal fees to represent the township and who holds an ownership interest in the restaurant/bar.
Johnson used his clout at the Indianapolis Airport Authority to force through the hiring of John Clark as its CEO simply because of his race despite his controversial past at the Jacksonville International Airport, which has followed him to his new job in Indianapolis. That was after he axed BAA's contract to run the airport because it refused to play along and hire all of his crony friends and give contracts to all of his minority-owned contractor friends. As I recall, Drummer told the Star at the time why he had given the space in the township-owned government center to Johnson's investment group for their restaurant/bar without following applicable laws concerning zoning and leasing of public property was so blacks could have a nice place to eat that had white tablecloths as if the restaurant/bar was meant only to serve African-Americans. "It'll be a place where African-American professionals can go after work and relax and network and enjoy one another's company," Drummer told the Star at the time.
I've also heard some employees at Methodist Hospital, which Odle runs for Clarian Health, complain that the hospital favors black employees over white employees after Odle took charge of the hospital and put an African-American in charge of human resources. You may also recall that Johnson tried to cut Odle in on an ownership interest in a new hotel at the new airport terminal before the deal got nixed by the Ballard administration. Johnson, who served as president of the airport authority at the time, still serves on the airport authority as the county commissioners' appointed member. Johnson also got his good buddy Odle appointed to the waterworks board to help keep the legal work flowing to his law firm.
A staff member at Highland shared this comment on the Star's website about how he has been treated by the three men:
Having worked as a staff member (bag room) of Highland for many years, Also having met all of the individuals involved, lets not act like these gentlemen are victims. I have several specific instances where I was treated poorly by these men and numerous others at the club for the single fact that I was a "bag boy" (not race, but rather my title). Race is not the issue here, its "social status." I could see Defabis starting first because of speed of play and social status more than race, but then again I was not there nor know what was said.I think these guys are making complete fools of themselves trying to claim victim status. If these men have $15,000 to blow on an exclusive club membership and $450 a month in dues, drive Bentleys, Corvettes and Mercedes, they're going to be hard-pressed to find sympathy from very many people. I'm now waiting for Amos Brown to demand Mayor Greg Ballard give up his free membership at Highland because it supposedly discriminated against his three buddies who never miss an opportunity to help themselves to our money. I wish Smith devoted as much time looking into how these three men have used their political insider status to help themselves as she did this nonsense.
A word to Erika Smith. Please don't insult members of the legal profession by calling Carl Drummer a lawyer. He is not one, and if you had done any actual research for this story you would know that. Also, Highland is not a Protestant country club that had a long history of discriminating against minorities as your story suggests. It was founded by Catholics who wanted a country club of their own because other country clubs dominated by Protestants wouldn't allow Catholics to join.
UPDATE: Another Highland member shared with me this comment on what happened and similarly takes the view that it was not racism:
"This is not racism. It's a bunch of country clubbers getting into a rumble over who gets to tee off first. The first tee at Highland is always congested on holidays. The worst thing that can be said about this incident is that the club did a poor job of managing the tee. But racism? No."