Drummer's defense of the "private club/bar" would be laughable if it weren't so serious. His entire focus is on how upscale and nice it is, making no attempt to explain why he didn't require the political cronies to enter into a formal lease or abide by zoning and building code regulations to construct it. His obsession with the establishment's appearance is quite telling. He writes:
With its wireless connections, high-tech video screens, well-polished windows and neat décor, it is suitable for hosting corporate events in a smoke-free environment. By conscious design, the 2,200-square-foot facility is upscale to reflect the upscale standards of its well-dressed clientele. Step inside, tables and chairs are neatly arranged, positioned alongside a few pieces of furniture to make for a slightly more relaxed setting.
Contradicting all of his earlier public pronouncements on the subject, Drummer asserts that 300 East is not a bar or lounge, although he concedes alcohol will be served in the "2,200-square-foot-facility", not the 900-square-feet-area described in an earlier Star report. As he puts it, "Alcohol will be served, albeit in moderation, as a complement to a menu of freshly prepared food items." Drummer's prior description of it being only for "African-American professionals" is wisely omitted from his defense. Trying to deceive us on neighborhood support for the facility, however, he says, "The Mapleton-Fall Creek CDC is opening its arms to welcome the new establishment." It is overwhelmingly in support of this endeavor," he adds. Anyone familiar with CDCs in this town know that they are run by political appointees of the mayor and do not always act in the best interests of the neighborhoods they are meant to serve.
Drummer devotes considerable time to defending his efforts to find alternative uses for the vacant space in the building. He tried unsuccessfully to lease it to McDonald's and Starbucks, but he was turned down by both. He writes:
Efforts included listing space for lease with Summit Realty for more than a year and frequent self-directed inquiries into the business community. In its commitment to maximize the economic return on township assets, management evaluated and agreed that the recent proposal to invest more then $500,000 by a group of respected community members, now known as 300 East, was a prudent decision.
Remember, the Julia Carson Government Center is a government office building first and foremost. What Drummer doesn't mention is his refusal to move the Center Township Small Claims Court out of the city-county building and into the government center. Instead, he accused County Auditor Marty Womacks of engaging in partisan politics when she attempted to move the court out to make room for newly-added county courts. In fact, Center Township is the only township which had ever been allowed to maintain its small claims court in city-owned property rent-free. Drummer decided he would rather start paying the county more than $12,000 a year in rent for the space rather than utilizing the empty space the township already had in the Julia Carson Government Center.
While Drummer has obviously misapprehended what his official duties as trustee are, his Republican opponent has not. As she explains, "The real story about Polin Park and the bar at the Julia Carson Government Center is being overlooked." She writes:
The real story is that the Center Township trustee spends millions on buildings instead of people. Redeveloping the neighborhood is not the same as feeding, clothing and sheltering the most vulnerable among us.
The Julia Carson Center was bought for about $400,000 and more than $5 million was spent renovating it. Only one of its seven floors is used for township administration purposes. Any operations in the center could be housed in the Massachusetts Avenue building because the top floor and basement are empty. The annex building behind it is also empty.
The latest Center Township purchase, the old Fall Creek YMCA, also has questionable utility. The sport facilities are leased to a members-only health club. Most of its 100 dormitory rooms and apartments remain empty. But there are great plans: $1.8 million was appropriated in the 2006 budget to move the sewer lines (the whole facility cost only $1.5 million). The purpose is to create space for new development: A bank and a fast-food restaurant are envisioned.
Ivey hits the nail on the head. Just when did it become the duty of the Center Township Trustee to buy up buildings and spend millions of taxpayers dollars to develop them for private use? "Under the law and by principle, the primary goal of the trustee must be to provide service to the poor and needy of Center Township," Ivey writes. She continues, "Trustee Carl Drummer seems to believe owning buildings will do this. If elected, I will make sure tax dollars go to help pay for medical care, clothing, utilities and transportation. Our poor relief tax dollars should heat homes, not office buildings and bars."
Linda Ivey gets what the Center Township Trustee is supposed to do. It's time for the voters of Center Township to send Drummer packing. He should have no problem finding employment from one of the political cronies he's gone out of his way to help ahead of the needy people he was elected to help. He'll be more comfortable working under their "upscale standards" with their "upscale clientele."
UPDATE: RiShawn Biddle has added his thoughts on Carl over at Expresso. He finds him to be quite a riot. Here's a sample:
The funniest part about this latest bit of public relations work this government leader is performing on behalf of the proposed bar's investors is what he leaves out: The fact that he allowed the investment group to build out the space without signing them to a lease, a practice most "business people" wouldn't tolerate by half. The attempt -- with the acquiesence of Indy Parks czar Joe Wynns -- to transform part of nearby Al E. Polin Park into a parking lot. The original plan to make the bar a private club for himself and his pals.
Drummer is so funny that he should take his act to Crackers or Morty's; even better, he can start his own comedy tour. That way, he can get out of his current gig of serving Center Township's citizens -- which he's proven to be quite inept at handling -- and let someone else take a crack at doing the job right.