City Attorney Tom Carr just left me a voicemail about a post I wrote earlier today on Carr dropping his crusade against a hard liquor license for the Faire Gallery on Capitol Hill. You can listen to his testy message:
Here's the text:
Hey, Dominic. Tom Carr. I just read your crap about the Faire Gallery. Uh, do you really even care at all about anything remotely resembling the truth? [He leaves cell phone number.] The things that you are printing are just so absolutely ridiculous even for The Stranger’s standards. I’m outraged. Give me a call. Bye.
I called back Carr to find out what he was "outraged" about. First off, he thought I didn’t call him until after the post went up. In fact, I called his personal assistant Ruth Bowman, his press person Katie Lindstrom, and the City Attorney liaison for the East Precinct Tienney Milnor, seeking comment before the post went up. I waited, I didn’t hear back—Carr’s office rarely returns our calls, and blogs move quickly—so I went ahead and posted it.
But what was untruthful? Carr was angry that, in the post, Faire Gallery's attorney, David Osgood, stated that Carr’s office resented the media pressure.
“There is a suggestion that we caved to political pressure," Carr told me when we spoke. "I don’t do things for political pressure. We have enough trouble with people who don’t trust government. I take so many hits because I don’t cave to what people want me to do. To suggest that in this case is beyond the pale.”
Indeed, Carr does what he wants to do—despite pressure, despite the law, and despite common sense.
Carr still argues that filing an objection to the liquor permit in June was the right thing to do. The owner's husband (and one of the permit applicants), Matthew Drayton, had a warrant for his arrest after failing to take a class for a negligent driving conviction (which was reduced from DUI). I agree with Carr on this point: People with warrants out for their arrest—especially warrants stemming from DUIs—probably shouldn't get liquor permits. But the issue here—because everyone agrees that driving under the influence is wrong—is whether Carr’s office should have dropped the objection to Faire Gallery's liquor permit after Drayton met the conditions of his probation.
“We don’t do that,” Carr said, when I asked about withdrawing the objection. “Why would we withdraw the objection?”
Could Carr have withdrawn the objection?
“I could have.”
The other issue is whether failing to take class renders Drayton an incapable steward of a liquor permit, which Osgood insists is irrelevant. But Carr says, “I have concerns about people who have trouble with alcohol. And taking care of the warrant after-the-fact doesn’t show responsibility.” Drayton claims he didn’t know he had a warrant out for his arrest, but Carr notes that it's Drayton's job to update the court with his current address and take care of probation conditions without being told.
In the end, however, Carr decided not to appeal the decision—not because of political pressure—but because he knew it was a lost cause. Even the liquor board didn’t care about the warrant or the misdemeanor, because it was taken care of.
“The board denied it and we didn’t think they would change their mind," said Carr, "and we didn’t think an appeal was worth everybody’s time.”
I assured Carr that I would post a follow-up so that his points—which I wanted so badly to include in my original post that I called three people in Carr's office seeking them—would appear here on Slog. So, hey, maybe we do have some standards after all, huh?