Decriminalize Prostitution Now Coalition
Your Tax Dollars Are Being Wasted Ruining Citizens Lives
Instead of fighting real crime


I have been requested by the writer of this letter to the City to send it to the media and other interested parties. It shows in more detail how the City's own vice and other reports contradict the City's report for the need of more regulation of SOB's (Sex Oriented Busineses)

November 2, 1998

To: Phoenix City Councilman John Nelson, chairman Ethics and Public Safety CommitteeCc: Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza and all other Phoenix City Council Members

Subject: City Council Report authored by Michael D. House, Chief Counsel, dated August 27, 1998, sent to Marsha Wallace, Deputy City Manager

Dear Councilman Nelson:

On Wednesday October 28, 1998, I attended a public hearing on the proposed ordinances outlined in the report. It is my understanding that Mayor Skip Rimsza and the other City Council Members will make their decisions based in part on this publicly available report. This report is itself based on reports produced by the Phoenix Vice Squad operating in an undercover manner at the businesses. I would like to address some of the wording in the report. I allege that an average, reasonably intelligent citizen, would find that, after reading the Vice Reports, several words, statements, sentences, and paragraphs contained within the Phoenix City Council report are misleading, inaccurate, or unsubstantially supported with evidence. I will address each word, statement, sentence, or paragraph by first stating the aforementioned text, then offering reasons why it is misleading, inaccurate, or unsubstantially supported by the Vice Reports.

In the opening section, paragraph two, the statement "often in violation of zoning laws" is misleading and unsupported by the facts. The fact is, only one sex club was in violation of zoning laws. The statement implies that the clubs are in violation of zoning laws many times, and that such violations are also intentional. In fact, the one zoning violation was a misunderstanding. This broad-based statement should be stricken from the report.

Same paragraph as before, the sentence which reads "This type of business charges customers an entrance fee to engage in sex with other customers or to view other customers engaging in sex." Is misleading. The sentence implies that the entrance fee guarantees the customer sexual relations or viewing other customers engaging in sexual relations. This is inaccurate, as the entrance fee described only permits the customer access to the premises and whatever services the club offers, such as a free buffet. The customer is not led off to some back room with a girl of his choice automatically, nor is there a theater on which other customers engage in sexual relations. All sexual relations that do occur within these clubs are between consenting adults and not subject to further fees. This sentence should be reworded.

Under the heading adult cabarets, the sentence "These semi-nude performances often occur in partitioned-off areas where acts of prostitution and other sexual conduct cannot be observed by law enforcement officers." Is not substantially supported by the Vice Report. On the contrary, the Vice Report detailed the good lighting and the closed-circuit video system that allowed even the officers sitting at a table to see what was going on. The fact that an officer did observe sexual conduct in one of the reports speaks volumes about the visibility of the areas in question. I move that, because the Vice Report does not substantially support this sentence, that is be shortened to say, "These semi-nude performances often occur in partitioned-off areas."

"These provisions are the subject of a lawsuit now pending in federal court." While technically accurate, the reader of this document would not be able to determine that the new provisions are substantially different from the ones currently being litigated. Therefore, a brief description of the current provisions, along with the proposed ones and highlights on how the new differs would clarify why or why not these new provisions should or should not be approved.

"…adult cabarets will not hire performers who have been convicted of prostitution or related offenses." This sentence leaves too much interpretation into what a "related offense" might be. Prostitution itself is difficult to prosecute. Determination of a related offense is too broad, and left largely to the moral values of whomever is licensing dancers. Would jaywalking to get across the street count as a related offense? Ideally, this sentence should exclude "related offenses" or instead list off prosecutions that apply.

Under the heading "Topless Bars." "State law was recently amended to authorize cities to regulate the age and conduct of erotic entertainers in topless bars." While this is true, you must also remember that, when a local law and federal law contradict each other, the federal law supercedes the local law, thus preventing its enforcement. Although the City of Scottsdale did adopt such a regulation, it must be noted that the regulation affected only one business. Implementing such a regulation in Phoenix would affect many more businesses, in which a class-action lawsuit may be taken against the City of Phoenix alleging age discrimination. This lawsuit would likely be won in a federal court, which would issue a permanent injunction requiring the city to overturn this provision or preventing it from being enforced. Furthermore, there is no evidence or precedent that raising erotic entertainers’ minimum age to 21 would substantially protect them from any danger, or that the public would be protected or benefit from the same requirement.

Under the heading "Private Room Nude Dancing", there is a sentence which reads "…private room nude dancing is not presently regulated by the City." This is a blatant lie. In fact, they are regulated as an Escort Bureau under City Code Definition 10-87(I). Furthermore, the dancers are licensed, individually, by the city and background checks are already conducted on them. This statement implies that they are free to conduct any type of business they desire since the City does not regulate them. Additionally, the "same types of law-enforcement problems occur in this type of business as in adult cabarets and topless bars…" has already been discredited earlier in this document. Furthermore, the Vice Report that is offered as proof only contains factual information on one "law-enforcement problem," and that event was an escort masturbating herself, which is hardly a danger to the general public or an activity in which there is a STD risk. Additional proof provided was the testimony of one dancer, whose statements may or may not be true, may or may not be factually supported, and may or may not have any logical reasoning. Lastly, the copies of Internet advertising and local advertising consume many pages, but only end up proving that these places exist. Nowhere in the advertisements are statements that can be assumed to mean illegal sexual activity. They are merely statements meant to entice the reader and potential customers. The part reading "…private room nude dancing is not presently regulated by the City." Should be stricken, and the other statement concerning law-enforcement problems should be reworded as previously indicated.

I am skipping over sex clubs as I feel that strong enough arguments have been made which will prevent its passing. To sum up those arguments:

There is no evidence that they contribute to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

There is no evidence that they have a negative impact on surrounding neighborhoods, as their neighbors are industrial in nature.

There are zoning laws in which regulate their effect on neighborhoods.

Eliminating their existence would not eliminate the type of activity that occurs within.

Adopting these rules would violate basic Constitutional rights that have been upheld by the Supreme Court in many preceding cases.

Under the heading of "Alternatives."

While I obviously object to most of what is put under there, as previously discussed in this report, I would like that the following statements be added.

Although passing of these laws will technically limit the activity of dancers, enforcement of these laws will continue to be a problem due to the lack of police officers, the number of adult cabarets, topless bars, nude modeling studios, and sex clubs, and the relative lack of harm violating these laws will cause. They may even create more problems, as officers who arrest dancers for merely touching themselves will continue to clog an already congested jail and court system. Furthermore, there are precedents on the book that allow the kind of touching which is already technically outlawed to continue as a normal part of business at adult cabarets. Passing of these laws may invite intervention by the ACLU on several issues, including age discrimination and violation of Constitutional rights. These lawsuits will cost money and will likely end in federal injunctions preventing enforcement of many of the provisions.

Adding that paragraph will further help those who make the decisions make a logical decisions that is in the citizen’s best interest, which will server the greater good, and which will not violate federal law or basic Constitutional provisions.

Councilman Nelson, while I realize you are attempting to protect citizens, the fact is that if one does not wish to patronize these businesses, no one is forcing them to. If you don’t like them, but they aren’t hurting you, why do you wish to shut them down? The right to choose what we do with our time is a valuable one. Clearly, the City should not be interested in an issue that has no substantiating claims other than some testimony and a few police reports. There are guarantees of our basic Constitutional rights which we will pursue. They are the same guarantees that allow the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi sympathizers to exist, rally, recruit members, and spread propaganda. While I despise these groups immensely, it is not my right, or yours – as decided by Supreme Court precedent - to take away their right to exist as long as they do not pose a threat to myself or to the general population. Perhaps a better use of resources would be to clean up the air in our city, which affects everyone who lives here. Certainly some of that money that went to "terrible" lap dances could contribute to clean air, which everyone could enjoy.



Phoenix, Arizona

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