Columbus Underground Posts A Photo Of A Confidential State Informant For The Hell Of It, Apparently

It looks like this is the week local media decides ethics are for losers.

First it was the Dispatch’s strange hit piece on the Columbus Land Bank Program.

Now it’s Columbus Underground carrying water for local attorney Jim Andrioff and Park Street Cantina and making a breathtaking publishing decision that we’ll get into in a minute.

At issue is Columbus City Council’s December 4th vote to reject the renewal of Park Street Patio’s liquor license.

Andrioff is quoted in Underground calling the vote a “witch hunt” and taking a bizarre shot at Ohio State’s campus gateway project:

“This witch hunt has more to do with development, similar to what happened on campus decades ago when the city systematically got rid of the bars on south campus to make way for the failed Gateway project”

I’m going to stop this narrative right here to note that I was an underage student at Ohio State in the late 90’s when much of the Campus Gateway controversy was ramping up and, I hope Jim Andrioff is sitting down when he reads this, there was in fact a great deal of underage drinking happening in south campus bars.

Moving on.

Assistant City Attorney William Sperlazza’s response to Andrioff’s comment above is fairly dripping with disdain, pointing out the city had little to do with this investigation:

“Unfortunately, these are the types of false and outlandish statements that our country has become too familiar with … The State brought this establishment to our attention in July of this year. To my knowledge, Columbus City Council became aware of this State investigation no earlier than November 28th of this year.”

This would all be a bad look for Columbus Underground as it stands. Walker Evans writes less and less on the site these days, presumably spending his time on administration and behind the scenes efforts, which leads one to infer that this must be a topic he finds particularly important. Park Street Cantina and Columbus Underground have a longtime business relationship that includes Park Street Cantina advertising on CU:

as well as hosting CU events:

Now we get to Walker’s editorial decision today.

Jim Andrioff provided Evans with a photo of an undercover confidential informant that was served alcohol underage, and Evans published this person’s photo:

To be clear, this person is under 21 years of age. Andrioff shared his photo with the belief that the individual “looks older” (presumably because he has a fairly impressive beard). The thought being this would help make the case that Park Street Cantina was entrapped.

But it doesn’t sound as if Park Street Cantina was done in due to confidential informants at all. City Attorney Sperlazza is quoted in the article saying that “only two of the 51 incidents reported at Cantina involve confidential informants.”

The 51 incidents being noted here were times Park Street Cantina was found serving underage patrons during 2016 and 2017.

Sperlazza also adds “The Ohio Department of Public Safety has more arrests and liquor citations at Cantina than any other bar in Columbus.”

So, we have Park Street Cantina’s attorney Jim Andrioff understandably doing his best to move public opinion. Hard to fault him for that. It’s what he’s been hired to do, yeah?

What is harder to understand is why Columbus Underground was so willing to out a confidential informant – and for such little gain, given how little it seems to matter to the overall story.

It’s inexplicable.

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