Downtown Merchants, Carrillo Seek Unity After Online Spat | WGLT

Downtown Merchants, Carrillo Seek Unity After Online Spat

Jun 12, 2019

An online dustup that later spilled over into the Bloomington City Council chambers was a learning experience for everyone, according to a downtown business owner who took exception to a council member's threatened business boycott.

Ruben Granados said a closed-door meeting with council member Jenn Carrillo and other downtown business owners at the Bistro on Tuesday night showed the breakdown in communication and helped lay the groundwork for unity in promoting downtown in the future.

“We just need to realize she needs more experience and we are more than willing to go along with her, but she needs to just realize we are people too,” Granados said. “That came up several times. It left on a good spot.”

Granados said several people left the meeting early out of frustration. He acknowledged the meeting got off to a "rocky start" before lines of communications opened. 

Granados said Carrillo apologized for how she handled the situation. She had slammed a proposed bistro and wine bar in her district that wanted to use the name Gypsy Room, calling the name racist. The owners have since said they would come up with a different name.

“I think everybody had the best of intentions at the end of the day, but I think it was just how it was handled overall, the situation with the establishment that was going to be open down here,” Granados said.

Granados also publicly criticized Carrillo’s response during Monday’s Bloomington City Council meeting. He said he wants to prevent local politics from devolving into partisan division.

“It’s one of the things that motivated me (to speak out): the national problem coming into the local government,” he said. “I don’t want that here.”

Carrillo is the city’s first Latinx person elected to the city council. Granados, who is also Latinx, said that influenced his decision to take his complaint public.

“A lot of the business owners down here, because they don’t happen to be a minority or any of the groups that are kind of getting special protections, they didn’t feel like they could say anything,” Granados said. “That’s exactly what happened with some of the sentiments I was receiving.”

Carrillo did not respond to GLT’s request for an interview on Wednesday.

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