Sunday, June 11, 2006

Confused in Duluth

The Duluth Newspaper is clearly confused. In an recent editorial they blame the potential closure of a strip club on the fact that another club is trying to open.

Ever have a teacher who, to discipline one student for talking during a lesson, made the whole class stay in for recess? Fair or not, the idea is that everyone has to pay for the misbehavior of one.

The operators of the Saratoga Club must be thinking as much after the city moved to limit the hours of exotic dancing or shut down the Canal Park venue yesterday. The enforcement follows a hornet's nest of protest over Dr. Eric Ringsred's plans to convert his historic NorShor Theatre into a strip club -- a notion that city officials are seeking to thwart by invoking a newly passed state law prohibiting adult entertainment establishments from operating near residences, schools and houses of worship. Now, having uncorked the legal genie to halt the NorShor's plans, city officials appear to have little choice but to apply the law equitably throughout Duluth.

The new state law does have a section suggesting previously established clubs may be allowed to continue, a provision that would seemingly exempt the Saratoga. But city officials and the law's co-author, Sen. Steve Dille (R-Dassel) maintain the grandfather clause only applies to permitting, not the restrictions on location and hours of operation.

Expect it all to end up in court.

Legal challenges were anticipated even before the bill was signed into law by Gov. Tim Pawlenty on May 26. But forcing an establishment that has been operating relatively unobtrusively for four decades to go to court to stay in business is a shame, the blame for which lies squarely at Dr. Ringsred's door.

Yes. You see if you want to exercise your right to free speech, and the politicians don't like your kind of speech, they might actually have to employ their censorship to everyone, thus making it the fault of those who wanted to exercise their rights. I think this is one of the worst cases of blame the victim I've seen.

It will be interesting to see how the new Minnesota law (HB 3779) progresses. Here is when I wish I had a GIS capable computer map readily at my hands. It can't locate near another adult business, church or school.
Proximity. An adult entertainment establishment may not operate in the same building as, or within 1,500 feet from, another adult entertainment establishment; within 500 feet of residential property, regardless of how the property is zoned; or within 2,800 feet of a public or private elementary or secondary school or a church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship. Distances are measured between the closest property lines.

I'm pretty sure that covers most land in Minnesota, except of course the Boundary Waters.

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