Cook, Tony. 2023. Neighbors’ relief turns to anger as bar is OK’d: El chila’s license was denied, then extended. Indianapolis Star, Apr 09, 2023.

Last month, the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission used a new policy intended to crack down on problem bars to deny a liquor license extension to El Chila Sports Bar.

Nearby residents breathed a sigh of relief. They blamed the westside bar for violence that sometimes spilled into the surrounding community.

Now, it would finally be closed.

Their relief, however, was short-lived.

Just days after voting unanimously to deny the license extension, the ATC suddenly reversed its decision. The flip-flop happened at a meeting last week where license extensions are not typically considered. The issue did not appear on the meeting’s public agenda.


Britt said in an email that he advises government agencies that “any controversial or big-ticket items be tabled until it makes it on an official agenda.”

Surprise actions tend to leave citizens feeling like their government pulled an end-run around the public, he said.

Zachary Baiel, president of the Indiana Coalition for Open Government, gave the agency a failing grade for transparency.

“This sets a dangerous precedent,” he said. “It’s very poor practice.”

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