Editorial: City strips Silk of its rights
By now, the strip club’s attorney should know all the moves by heart.
First, his client applies for approval of a new strip club. Next, the city rejects the request using a convenient but flimsy argument because everyone in the room knows “approving a strip club isn’t good for my political career” is just too honest for any politician who thinks that way.
But the attorney knows that’s the real reason, so he sues the city for restricting the club owner’s First Amendment right to free speech. He crushes the city in court, the club owner gets his approval, and the attorney happily collects his fees from the city’s taxpayers.
It’s easy money if an attorney can find it.
Jeff Scott Olson found it in representing Menomonee Falls-based Six Star Holdings LLC, which owns Silk Exotic clubs in Middleton, Juneau and on Milwaukee’s west side.
He sued Juneau and Middleton for his client’s right to open strip clubs and won. His fight with Juneau cost the city $100,000.
But that kind of cover charge, apparently, isn’t high enough to sway Milwaukee’s Licenses Committee and Common Council.
The committee on June 1 unanimously rejected Six Star’s liquor license request for the proposed Silk East in downtown Milwaukee. Alderman Joe Dudzik, a committee member, made it clear he recognized the potential fallout.
“I think we’ll probably get sued by them,” he said after the decision. “There’s not much evidence to support the reasons we voted no.”
The irresponsibility of knowingly voting the wrong way when taxpayer money is at stake drowns out the refreshing frankness of the acknowledgement. City leaders listened to the objections of potential neighbors and then conveniently cited a comprehensive plan for the area.
The strip club, they said, doesn’t fit the goals for the area.
But there already is a bar operating at the site of the proposed strip club. The only difference between the two is the bar encourages women to keep their clothes on.
The mere mention of a comprehensive plan, though, was good enough for the Common Council, which unanimously accepted the committee’s decision.
Olson said he’s planning another lawsuit.
He should win. Again.
Sadly, even that won’t hurt those Common Council members. The expense of losing the lawsuit will be a pittance in the city’s overall budget, and on Election Day, incumbents, especially cynical ones, rely on voters not to worry about, or even remember, such pittances.
It’s a timeless political lesson taught in a present-day morality ploy: Politicians timidly and dishonestly cover a part of their anatomy that the strip club’s employees gladly and honestly would reveal.