The Weekly Retail Report

Tod Hunter
MISSOURI

Local Pressure Group Cheers Porn Ruling

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A local group says a ruling by a federal court in Kansas City should clear the way for state lawmakers and Jasper County leaders to regulate adult-oriented businesses.

“I think if the [Jasper County] Commissioners want to go ahead with their ordinance, they have the assurance now that the courts will uphold their actions,” said John Putnam, rural Carthage resident and founder of Citizens for a Decent Environment, a group of rural Jasper County residents that organized to combat the spread of adult video stores and cabarets.

In a ruling issued on Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Judge Fernando J. Gaitan Jr. dismissed a petition by owners of an adult video store in Jackson County seeking an injunction to prevent that county from enforcing new regulations on sexually oriented businesses.

The ordinance, which was passed in March 2008, requires all adult entertainment businesses obtain a license and employ licensed staff who could not have sex-related convictions or illegal drug convictions. In addition, a manager must be on duty at all times, with name posted, to prevent entry of minors and any sexual activity or narcotics on site.

The ordinance also prohibits solid doors with locks on booths or holes in the walls, which people might use to have anonymous sex.

Jackson County legislators approved one ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses in January 2008, then, when a company named Enlightened Reading Inc., which operates sexually oriented retail outlets in Jackson County, sued to block that ordinance, the county revoked it and passed a revised ordinance in March 2008.

Scott Bergthold, a Tennessee attorney who specializes in writing legislation regulating sexually oriented businesses, helped write the Jackson County ordinance. Bergthold has also helped Putnam and the CDE group write an ordinance for Jasper County, but the local commissioners declined to act on it until the court case was settled.

Two bills are being considered in the Missouri General Assembly, which would expand, the powers of county commissioners to regulate sexually oriented businesses.

“I don’t expect things to change much, but if there is any great result, it might be that it could help the bill that’s being brought up in the legislature,” Putnam said. “This and similar legislation has been upheld 23 times in the federal courts, so we had every reason to believe the court in Kansas City would uphold this ordinance.”

NEVADA

Neighbor Wants Topless Bar Closed

RENO, Nev. — If they can't be better neighbors, business owner Kathy Brown is asking Reno city officials to shut down the new Goldfinger topless bar, a 10,000-square-foot building with three floors of adult entertainment, dining and sports on widescreen TVs.

The adult entertainment business opened six months ago across the street from Brown's ABC Fire & Cylinder Services, it has been nothing but trouble, she said.

Brown said Goldfinger customers park in her parking lot and urinate and vomit on her property. They also have left behind broken glass and marijuana cigarette butts and turned her lot into a party zone. One customer rammed a vehicle into a garage door at her business, getting her and other employees up late at night to deal with it.

"If they can't be better neighbors, they need to have their liquor and cabaret licenses pulled," Brown told the city council. "Since they've opened, it has been nothing but bad things."

After she complained to Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza, Brown said, police officers have started patrolling the area.

Goldfinger owner Gary Jorglewich told reporters he tries to be a good neighbor. He employs a security guard who uses a golf cart to patrol his property and a neighboring mini-warehouse. Goldfinger also has two parking valets and offers free parking.

"We try to do our best and patrol and keep people from parking in other people's properties," Jorglewich said. "I certainly don't want to be a bad neighbor. I will go over to apologize to ABC Fire."

When staffers see customers parking on private property, he said they ask motorists to move their cars. He also said people are not allowed to take glassware or drinks when they leave.

He said guys younger than 25 years of age are not allowed in the club. "They are guys who can't afford to come in and leave screaming and hollering," he said.

Drunks and rowdies also are not allowed in the club. These as well as younger guys turned away, he suspects, are the troublemakers.

Jorglewich doesn't deny one customer rammed into the ABC business. He said the guy had stolen a fire extinguisher and then used it to beat his employees. Jorglewich said he has called police when he suspected someone was trying to break into ABC's property and he complained that people who rent mini-warehouse spaces to live in urinate in his parking lot.

He also believes crime has gone down since Goldfinger opened.

WASHINGTON

Yakima Approves Adult Business Ordinance

YAKIMA, Wash. — The Yakima City Council has approved tough new restrictions for sex shops. Adult businesses can't be within 500 feet of a school, church, park or residential area, and businesses can't set up shop within 1,500 feet of each other. Properly located adult businesses cannot be open 24 hours, must be in neutral colored buildings, have screened windows and are limited to what they can have on their signs.

The four existing adult shops in Yakima are exempt from these rules.

Yakima County is now considering similar restrictions on land around Yakima city limits. County Commissioner Kevin Bouchey says the city would like the restrictions to apply to land that could be annexed in the future.

WEST VIRGINIA

Strip Club Bill Moving Through Legislature

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Legislation that would allow West Virginia counties to control where strip clubs are located was passed unanimously by the Senate Government Organization committee.

House Bill 2412 now goes to the Senate Judiciary committee, explained Clint Hogbin of Berkeley County, who has been shepherding the bill through the legislative process along with Berkeley County Commissioner Tony Petrucci.

HB 2412 already has passed the W.Va. House of Delegates.

Last year, Judge Christopher Wilkes threw out a Berkeley County ordinance that controlled where exotic entertainment clubs could be located in the county, because state law is quite clear that only those counties with zoning or without planning can enact ordinances to control strip club locations.

Berkeley County — which does not have zoning, but does have planning and a planning commission — could not control the location of strip clubs under state code.

Petrucci said in a telephone interview that he feels good about the bill's prospects for passage. He has been working on this issue since before the general election last year.

"I was disappointed with Judge Wilkes' decision, but he had no choice," Petrucci said. "We need this ordinance, especially for southern Berkeley County. But we need to get some help from the state."

CANADA

Toronto Council Members Tour Strip Club

ETOBICOKE, Canada — With bass-thumping techno music blasting away and a naked woman on stage, three city council members walked into a dark Etobicoke strip club yesterday, took a tour and sat near the stage for lunch.

On a break from a community council meeting, Councilmen Frank Di Giorgio, Giorgio Mammoliti and Cesar Palacio took an "industry facility tour" at the invitation of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, a group representing many of the city's 21 strip clubs.

"I think we made constructive use of our lunchtime," Di Giorgio said. "We basically came over to see what the facility was like: what kind of facilities they have for the girls that work in there, whether everything was clean, whether they had space to store their materials.

"And everything was OK in my estimation," he added.

The councilmen said they didn't watch the performers.

"Absolutely not. We just took a tour of the facility," said Di Giorgio, when cornered by the Star outside the House of Lancaster on The Queensway.

Mammoliti, who co-chairs the West Toronto crime task force along with Palacio, defended the visit. "We had lunch, which we paid for. We spent about 20 minutes in here," he said.

Tim Lambrinos, executive director of the association, said the community council had been invited to visit, with free transport and food offered, but apparently not accepted, so they could better understand issues involving strip clubs when they come up at city council.

Lambrinos said he was properly registered as a lobbyist at city hall.

"It's open and transparent," he said, noting his group has organized similar visits for politicians in Ottawa and Mississauga. "I thought it was very productive. I thought it was essential."

He compared it to other site visits a councillor might make to better understand an issue, such as to a sewage treatment plant or a manufacturing plant.

Although the invitation promised transportation to and from the Etobicoke Civic Center, where community council was meeting, the councilmen said they paid for a minivan taxi, which waited for them. They were late returning for council's 1:30 p.m. start.

The other eight community council members who had been sent an invitation turned it down.

Mammoliti moved a request at the end of the community council meeting to ask city staff and police to report back on the number of illicit activities in a wide range of establishments including strip clubs, massage parlors and holistic centers as well as bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the Etobicoke York district within the past two years.

No other facility tours are planned.

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