by Eric Sandy
Naji's been slapped with "sale of liquor without a permit" (because giving away alcohol to attendees at art events constitutes a sale in wacky Ohio) and "keeping a place" (which sounds like local prosecutors are rolling out hip-hop tags or something). He'll be arraigned June 24.
All along, Naji has said that he's been told by city leaders that everything is copacetic. Following the state liquor agents’ raid that prompted the above charges, he was assured that all would be well going forward. BOOM - and then the Cleveland Fire Department dropped in on a May 23 event and shut his gallery down for lack of an occupancy permit. He's in the process of obtaining all necessary permits from the city of Cleveland, and Councilman Joe Cimperman has publicly said that he's been "working with" Naji.
Since literally no one from the city can string together a coherent statement on this matter, one thing remains clear: The cognitive dissonance between the local arts community and City Hall remains damning and depressing for a city struggling to appear cool.