Thursday, November 10, 2005
It looks like the Stardust Strip Club is coming to Laurel according to the Laurel Leader today. This is another situation where some parts of our government are pointing fingers at each other and saying that the law has their hands tied. The City of Laurel is the only government institution that is standing up and willing to go on the record and spend their own time and money to fight this thing. And the club isn't even in the city!
I attended the meeting in late August where Chairman Jackson of the P.G. Board of License Commissioners tried to explain his reasoning at the Cypress Community Center. Joe Murchison had a great piece in the Laurel Leader.
Chairman Jackson was brave as he explained his reason for approving the liquor license transition by saying that although his board revoked the Stardust's license for poor management control, the board decided that Laurel would be a better place for them as part of a deal to end an appeal of the original decision. This came about before the judge could rule on the original appeal, so the suit was dropped without a ruling. Not only did they transfer the license, they changed the type of use and the hours of operation to boot.
Seems to me that the fix was in. There are also significant questions about the process that led to the hearing where the deal was made and approved.
Many of our leaders filed letters of opposition but Chairman Jackson said that only personal testimony at the hearing could be considered evidence. There was nobody at the hearing in opposition to this 'deal', so the board had to find for the applicant.
Here is what I think we should do:
1. This is not just a Laurel problem. No community wants a strip club. But we can't just keep schlepping it around the county based on which neighborhood happens to scream the loudest. We need to get rid of it once and for all. We need to ask our state delegates and county council to change the law that allows nude dancing in our county regardless of the sale of liquor. Do we really need nude dancing? Lots of communities around the country have driven out this kind of business with zoning and other local ordinances. Is P.G. county so dysfunctional that we cannot?
2. We need timely information. We must demand that the Liquor board initiate a useful website and an email subscription process to inform everyone of their docket at least 30 days in advance of the hearing. What better way to deal with this kind of crud than with bright sunlight on the process?
3. The liquor board members are appointed by the State Senate therefore Senator Giannetti and Senator Green should be asked to fire this board and appoint members who are willing to think for themselves and who are not so willing to disregard the community's input.
We can beat this thing once and for all if we stick together and work to change the zoning law. It must be more than simply a local fix. We must drive nude dancing completely out of the county, if not the state. We must not settle for anything less.
Here are the email addresses of our local representatives. Please write and offer your support to help them clean up this crud for the entire county. I'm sure they want to get rid of this problem as much as we all do. They just need to know that our community is behind them and willing to help them fight the powerful, well connected, and extremely well financed adult entertainment industry.
District 21 (Laurel City & West Laurel)
Brian Moe (firstname.lastname@example.org); 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3114
Pauline Menes (email@example.com); 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3114
Barbara Frush (firstname.lastname@example.org);1-800-492-7122, ext. 3114
John Giannetti (email@example.com) 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3141
District 23 (South Laurel)
Leo Green (firstname.lastname@example.org); 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3631
Mary Conroy (Mary_Conroy@house.state.md.us); 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3098
James Hubbard (email@example.com); 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3103
County Council District 1
Tom Dernoga Phone TEDernoga@co.pg.md.us; (301) 952-3887
Laurel City Mayor
Craig Moe firstname.lastname@example.org 301-725-5300