Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Star Gives Thumbs Down To Bar

The Star's editors have finally spoken on the issue of putting a bar in the Julia Carson Government Center for the benefit of political insiders. Unlike reporter Will Higgins, the editors gathered a few more important details missing from Higgins' reporting to date. The editorial , calling the proposed bar "offensive to good government, reads in part:

As the landlord, Drummer shouldn't have allowed the bar's ownership to build out the space and construct an outdoor deck without obtaining the proper permits from the Department of Metropolitan Development. It shouldn't have required an anonymous complaint, filed in June, along with an inspector's stop-work order, to cease construction.

Given his relationship with the club's owners, which include longtime powerbroker Lacy Johnson and his son, Drummer shouldn't have been so closely involved in the deal. The fact that the bar's clientele was originally intended to be Center Township employees and their guests -- essentially making it a club for Drummer and his allies -- adds to the perception of cronyism.

The blame doesn't belong to Drummer alone. No one, from Judith Hawley Conley (who approved the partial demolition of Polin Park) to the City-County Council, was looking out for residents' best interests. If not for community activist Clarke Kahlo, no hard questions would have been asked about the propriety of opening the bar.

No good reason exists to open a bar in the Carson Center. Drummer should reverse course and kill the lease.

So the editors caught on to the fact that the bar was constructed without the proper permits, and that a stop work order was issued after the DMD received an anonymous complaint. They think Drummer is a little too close to the deal given his relationship to "longtime political powerbroker Lacy Johnson and his son." The Star's editors also conclude that it was the original intent to run the bar as a private club for Center Township government employees and their guests, a point we have speculated on here but could not conclude based upon the limited information available online.

The Star editors omit, however, the fact that all this was done without first seeking to rezone or obtain the appropriate zoning variances to allow this use of the property. They also skip over the conflict of interest raised by Lacy Johnson's law firm, Ice Miller, representing the township and the bar's owners at the same time.

While AI is glad that the Star has finally weighed in on this issue, their only recommendation--kill the lease--seems a rather tepid response considering the breadth of their conclusions on the matter. This is public property afterall and the damn bar has already been fully constructed in violation of numerous state and local building regulations---for use as a private club for political insiders! Where's the Star's sense of outrage? Why is there no call for an investigation? Laws were broken--weren't they? And if the Star's editors knew all this, why the hell didn't they have one of their reporters cover the most pertinent matters that were omitted from its previous news coverage on its news pages? Am I missing something here?

UPDATE: Star editorial writer RiShawn Biddle adds some more comments over at Expresso to today's coverage, including a response to our concern that the newspaper has not thoroughly covered this issue.


Anonymous said...

A PERFECT cartoon by Varvel is in the paper also.


Gary R. Welsh said...

Agreed-I've added it in the post above.

Sir Hailstone said...

I am utterly amazed. I guess enough crap hit the spinning fan blades that even the Three Blind Mice of the Star (Rynearson, Tully, and Carpenter?) could no longer keep spiking the issue.

Viva la nuevo media!

Queen916 said...

Ryerson' response to my email:

Thanks for your message. We will ramp up coverage as we get closer to the election date. We'll have more on the 7th district because it's closer to home than the others, which we've focused on early because they place Indiana in the national spotlight.


I sent this email to Tully and Ryerson this morning:

09/06/2006 08:59 AM
Subject 7th District Congressional Race

You and other media people are neglecting to cover the 7th Congressional District race. For voters in Marion County, this is the most important race for us. More coverage needs to be given to Carson's voting record and her absenteeism. She is vulnerable and will be defeated.

New voting machines and voter ID will hamper the number of votes she will receive. Her "machine" will malfunction on election day. Her voters are being encouraged to vote by absentee ballots instead of going to the polls. If they don't live in the precinct they will not be allowed to vote in person. Get my point!

Eric Dickerson is a quality opponent in this race. Carson is feeble, ill, needs to retire, because she lacks the energy to aggressively meet the people. The public should have a fair assessment of both candidates. I couldn't care less about the 3 congressional races mentioned in your article. They do not represent me. If more coverage is given to the congressional race in Marion County, I am sure voters would elect a Republican to office.

Please do not decide winner in the 7th Congressional District for me.
It is time for a change! Fair reporting of the 7th, and the other three would certainly help voters to make the right choice.

Queen916 said...

Tully's response to my email this morning:


I wrote a column about Mr. Dickerson just 10 days ago. I have attached it below. Matt

Copyright 2006 The Indianapolis Star
All Rights Reserved
The Indianapolis Star (Indiana)

August 27, 2006 Sunday


LENGTH: 515 words

HEADLINE: No joke -- Dickerson is intriguing candidate

BYLINE: Matthew Tully


Before Eric Dickerson and I sat down for sodas this past week, he said he had one goal.

"If nothing else," he said, "I want to prove to you my campaign is not a joke."

I've never called the former car dealer's congressional campaign a joke. But as Election Day nears, it is hard to know whether to take his bid against Democratic U.S. Rep. Julia Carson seriously.

At last count, Dickerson's campaign had $367 in the bank. He has generated little buzz, and he doesn't get along well with his own Marion County Republican Party.

Then there's that embarrassing lawsuit filed over loans made to Eric Dickerson Buick.

You might say that adds up to a joke. But it's not so simple.

Despite everything, Dickerson is this year's most intriguing candidate -- one you can imagine striking a chord with voters, if he could reach them. There's something about his against-the-odds, "What, me worry?" style, as well as his common-sense talk about crime and immigration, that's utterly likeable.

"It's no joke," Dickerson said about his campaign as we talked at the Old Point Tavern. "I have better things to do than put myself out here in an insincere manner."

Dickerson sold his Buick dealership this past week, then paid off the bank and ended that pesky lawsuit. Now, he said, it's time for politics.

But let's be real. His decision to skip the typical mating dance with GOP bosses has raised doubts that his party will hit the streets for him. A lack of cash is hurting him, and he hasn't gone after Carson or hit the airwaves.

"That strategy hasn't worked in the past," he argues. "If it had worked even half the time, I'd be doing more traditional stuff."

Instead, he is hanging out at Wal-Mart parking lots, where, he said, "the real people are."

Along with his Wal-Mart strategy, Dickerson is praising Carson. He doesn't want to rile her famed machine, but he is trying to tap into sentiment that she neglects the outskirts of Marion County.

"The whole district is important," he said.

The numbers tell you not to believe Dickerson when he says "We're gonna win." But there's something about him.

Maybe it's that he seems like the perfect candidate: an engaging black businessman who is often mistaken for the ex-Colts star of the same name. Maybe it's that he defeated the GOP's endorsed primary candidate back in May.

Or maybe it's that he's the city's most optimistic guy.

"Let me show you something," he said at the Old Point.

With that, he began introducing himself to diners, asking whether they knew who he was.

"You sell cars," one woman said. "I've seen you on TV."

That's what Dickerson wanted to hear. Thanks to years of dealership ads, he has what most challengers don't have -- name ID. He said that's why he doesn't need to raise the kind of cash most challengers do.

"People knowing who you are is a big thing," he said, before vowing to raise more money.

Eric Dickerson is confident, and he's not a joke.

Still, it's hard to decide whether to take his campaign seriously.

Matthew Tully's column runs on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Reach him at (317) 444-6033 or via e-mail at

LOAD-DATE: August 29, 2006

Anonymous said...

Typical Star lazy responses.

They were late to the party on this whole story (Carson Center), and then when they did send someone, as Ruth Holladay has pointed out, it was a feature writer.

Tully never steps up and says: "You're right. We dropped the ball. Thanks for pointing it out." Instead, it's excuses.

"Oh, I published ten days ago."

HEY MATT IT'S THE FREAKING U.S. HOUSE for cryin' out loud. At this rate, we can expect four or five more articles, and that's it, because poor ole Matt is exhausted with all that heavy lifting and hard work.


Queen916 said...

Amos Brown opened his show on WTLC 1310 AM at 1:00 today stating that there are more important issues to address other than a bar/restaurant in a government building. He dogged out RiShawn Biddle for writing the editorial.

He has stated that he had talked to the characters in the cartoon and they found it hilarious! He is going to open his lines up later in the show to discuss this issue. He has called the oposition to this bar stupid.

Stay tuned!

Anonymous said...

Amos needs to start singing a new tune.

He thinks the observations posted here, and talked about everywhere, are racist. Trying to hold the man down, don't ya know?

The stupidity, cronyism and outright ridiculous acts committed in this case, have nothing whatsoever to do with race. But race-baiting keeps Amos's show numbers high.

If all problems were as easily-reduced to the bottom line Amos touts daily, life would be a lot simpler.

This is all from a man who, upon hearing the Honda plant announcement, immediately went to the race card. I am one Dem who tips my hat to the state for getting that plant...the nation's top economic devleopment prize of the year.

Amos, believe it or not, we white folks are completely capable of doing stupid things, too.

Our skin color does not dictate the level of stupidity to which we'll stoop.

He's just pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Just waiting for Amos to start using the dollar words like "Uncle Tom" or "Oreo" to describe Eric Dickerson.

Wilson46201 said...

or carpetbagger?

Anonymous said...

Wilson, you could've gone a long time without that low blow.

You're in a glass house on this one, Wilson...want folks to start lobbing names at your favorite candidate?

What in the world makes ED a carpetbagger, pray tell?

Be a little more gracious, Wilson. Yourlady is probably gonna win. You dont' have to be nasty.

Anonymous said...

It's sad that so much negativity is exhibitiing itself in this thread.

Name-calling and 'bitch-fighting' are tiring and cause readers to tune out. Together, they'll lead to fewer people tuning into this blog.

It'd be great if this blog could be known for a higher level of civility and debate.

Anonymous said...

***********Hey everyone.********

Wilson is posting nasty comments about Eric because that's his job.

Wilson, a longtime employee of Julia, has always done that to her candidates and when they finally "strike back" she cry's "Why can't we be civil!?"
"Their picking on me!"

Then a cheap tabloid writer, Mighty Mouse Brown, cries bloody racism!

Well respect and civility works both ways, and we will not let a candidate hide behind these antics any longer.

We simply want her to win the race fair and square. She's the favored incumbent, so she shouldn't have to use such tactics.

If she isn't using such tactics she might want to speak with Wilson, because he is--on her behalf.

I suggest we all save these blogs and when she calls foul, produce them to remind the people of the 7th District of her employees conduct. If she can't control her own employees and consultants, then that bears on her competency to represent over 700,000 constituents in the 7th Congressional District.

By the way, it looks as if Mr. Wilson really likes and admires Mr. Dickerson...he flocks around Eric everytime their paths cross.

"Hey Wilson, submit your resume to us after all this is over, maybe you can come work for us. (wink)"

Queen916 said...

Wilson46201-Your lady will be retired election night. She's a carpetbagger from Louisville, Ky, and Drummer is one from Chicago by way of Lawrence Township to Carson's address in Center Township.

How much are they paying you to keep the smear campaign going, while they claim not to be going negative.

The winner has not been decided yet in these races, unless you have already prematurely stuffed the ballot boxes like you did in 1996.

Anonymous said...

oh queen, knock it off

It's old and tired and hateful

Stick to the issues

Julia is a carpetbagger? Guess I am, too, because she was here when I arrived in 1979. As a wee child, mind you...

Ballot box stuffing did not occur in 96. I was involved in that race. Watched first-hand as Republicans tried every trick in the book,and none worked. Watched first-hand as Julia beat the world's biggest bitch, Ann Delaney, in the primary, when no one thought she would.

Carpetbagger. Hilarious.

Move on.

Anonymous said...

RiShawn says his paper scooped the blogs. As if a short story on Aug.7 that was more noticeable in its omissions, is something of which to be proud?

Didn't blogs talk about this before that?

RiShawn has fallen into StarSpeak, where he feels compelled to defend the paper in all instances. Sad. Because I like his writing. And I like that he angers Amos so much.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I personally did not become aware of it until Will Higgins first report in the Star. But it immediately became apparent to me that much was left unreported. RiShawn has made this point before in response to my criticism. What I've said before and will say again is that the MSM too often just touches the surface of these matters and then moves on. Investigative journalism that gets to the bottom of these matters is completely missing from the Star. They did allow Kevin Cochran to do an exhaustive piece on the Marion Co. Library recently, but they dumped it all on us in one day rather than report the facts on an ongoing basis, thereby eroding the value of his reporting.

Gary R. Welsh said...

That should read "Corcoran", not "Cochran".

Queen916 said...

Anonymous-Referring to Wilson and ballot box stuffing at the special election to fill the vacancy for Center Township Trustee on November 19, 1996.

Wilson Allen and Tony Duncan, constable did stuff and switched the ballot box with paper ballots for Carl Drummer to win. Were you there?

Anonymous said...

Queen honey, try to pay attention: this thread is about the Carson Center bar.

Reliving your nightmares about the 1996 special trustee election, will only give you heartache.

Give it up already.

I have no doubt there's some truth in your allegations, based on the participants.

But we've all slept since then. If you want to continue harping about this old news, start a blog and have at it.

But this thread, on this blog, and similar threads here and elsewhere, have discussed this Carson Center bar situation. It isn't a dumping ground for All Things unJulia.

Now THAT would be agood thread...hell you could dedicate an entire blog to it.

FOCUS Queen sweetheart...focus

Queen916 said...

Anonymous-I have made my point. Lack of information reported to voters when it happens is the very reason we are having this discussion today.

This "gang" has been allowed to recruit members and usurp political power under the radar screen.

History is important! Not discussing the real issues doesn't change anything.

Ignorance of the facts is too costly. Closely examine your present group of elected officials and you will find that you have been sold a "bill of goods".

You have cast your votes for people you assumed would serve the people, and spend our tax dollars wisely, when in reality they have always been for special interests.

Only a select few have been served, while others whine and cry about being left out of the decision-making process.

That is what the comments on these blogs are all about!