Warning - some colorful language ahead, but it's only clinically colorful, and that's part of the point of this post.
I'm not sure how they pulled it off, but the gaggle of prudes known as the Scottsdale City Council and City Staff proposed and passed an update to the City's Sexually Oriented Business (SOB) ordinance with almost no mentions of anything, well, 'sexual' in nature.
The night started off slowly, with approximately 50 minutes of debate and questions devoted to the various items on the 'consent' part of the agenda, including a [cue sarcasm] stimulating [end sarcasm] discussion on the comparative nuances of "in-lieu" parking versus "parking credits."
Don't ask - my brain cells start seizing up and dying just from the memory of it.
After that, the fun started. Or at least, it was supposed to. The expected fireworks, or at least the expected titillation, fizzled out.
Mostly because the Council and City staff members were too shy to talk about that which they would regulate.
Very brief background -
Approximately a year and a half ago, the Council passed an updated SOB ordinance (the original was created in 1995) written by a right-wing lawyer from Memphis? that, if enforced, would have put the two strip clubs in Scottsdale out of business. Not being fools, the clubs' management immediately started a petition drive, and in nearly-record time, gathered enough signatures to force the issue to a referendum.
Last September, the voters of Scottsdale overturned the new ordinance.
Tonight's agenda item was intended to update the 1995 ordinance in a manner acceptable to the clubs (and the voters.)
The fun part of the evening was the presentation by City staff; not for what it included, but for what they couldn't bring themselves to talk about specifically - a new definition of "specified sexual activity".
Well, as a public service, here it is (from the Powerpoint presentation):
Specified sexual activity means:
(1) Intercourse, oral copulation, masturbation or sodomy; or
(2) Excretory functions in connection with any of the activities in (1) above.
(3) Intentionally or knowingly touching the anus, vulva, genitals, or female breast of any other person with the intent to sexually arouse or excite. This definition is not intended to include incidental touching or physical contact between the buttocks or an adult service provider and the lap of a patron.
Yes, that last paragraph means that lap dancing is allowed.
During the staff presentation, the City's attorney not only didn't talk about this slide, she didn't even flash it on the screen that they have in the Council's meeting area.
The staff presentation itself was an exercise in saving face, with a number of different citations included in an attempt to defend and even bolster the City's original position that it could set whatever standards it wanted for the SOB licenses.
Which was interesting given that the Council approved one tonight that was basically written by the attorney for one of the strip clubs that they originally tried to shut down, but I digress. :))
Even the Staff's timeline of events regarding the SOB ordinance was spun - instead of saying truthfully that the voters slapped down their 2005 ordinance, they simply said
- 2006 - referendum election; most of the 2005 ordinance did not become effective.
There was a bit of humor during the proceedings when Councilman Tony Nelssen asked for a clarification of the meaning of 'incidental' touching, especially of certain unnamed parts of the body. City Attorney Deborah Robberson responded that it had to do with 'sexual intent' and that things like hugs were OK.
Nelssen quipped wryly "I wasn't talking about hugs," eliciting a loud round of laughter from the audience.
There were only a couple of public speakers on the issue -
Lyle Wurtz (sp?) criticized the use of City resources and time on this "nonsense," but he did volunteer to help out with the ordinance's required "direct observation" of dancers from a manager's station.
That brought a smile to everyone's face. :))
Council candidate Joel Bramoweth took a slightly different tack in the briefest speech that I've heard from him yet - he advised the clubs to police themselves and their patrons.
He was trying to come off as stern, but the thing that most of the audience members noticed the most (and were happy to note at that) was his merciful brevity.
The Council had a couple of choices - pass an ordinance that offered minimal changes to the 1995 ordinance, mostly due to new case law, or to pass one that incorporated a number of requests floated by the clubs.
They unanimously approved the clubs' version.
Mayor Mary Manross tried to put a positive spin on things, saying that her personal concern was the 'quality of life' near the clubs and then reminding everyone present that this vote, like the one in 2005, was unanimous, and that the referendum margin (1200 votes out of approximately 32,000 cast) to overturn the 2005 rules was a close one.
The Scottsdale City Council is on hiatus until August 21, 2007.
As an aside - How do these people communicate with their doctors? A coded series of winks, nudges, and ear twitches?
When they stood for election, they signed on for this stuff! And more specifically, they picked this fight where one did not exist beforehand. How can they then have trouble talking about subject matter that they themselves chose?!?
It's like a doctor going through medical school and into practice before realizing he was unable to be around sick people.
AZ Republic coverage here.
EV Tribune coverage here.