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mysteryman
12-31-2008, 09:20 PM
Judge Orders Penthouse Club Houston To Be Closed Permanently

Dallas Penthouse was busted doing the samething, prostitution in the VIP.
So now Houston will lose another Gentlemen's Club.

Yes its true and here is the article:

http://www.themonitor.com/articles/stripclub_21587___article.html/houston_judge.html

Melonie
01-01-2009, 08:44 AM
I'm curious as to the basis for the Judge's ruling. The AP blurb refers to the invoking of a Houston 'nuisance law'. From the little bit I was able to find on the web, it would appear that this 'nuisance law's legal basis stems from businesses which provide a venue for the commission of other 'crimes' ...

(snip)"HOUSTON - A new law sponsored by State Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) is giving much-needed aid to local law enforcement to crack down on nuisance properties around Houston. The nuisance abatement law went into effect this fall and will secure new funds for enforcement personnel to crack down on illegal activities such as gambling, prostitution, illegal drugs, gang activity and health and safety code violations.

“The nuisance abatement law gives the City of Houston the ability to go after offenders who maintain a common nuisance and threaten public safety,” said Bohac. “It is the intent of this legislation to give law enforcement the resources that they need to keep our streets and our community safe, especially with regard to problem apartments and ‘hot sheet motels’.”

Senate Bill 1010, passed during the 78th Regular Legislative Session, directs the City of Houston to create a fund as a separate account in the treasury consisting of money awarded from nuisance abatement actions. In the past, the money from tickets and bonds has simply gone to the general revenue fund. The money will now go to a “lock box” and may be used only for the purpose of ongoing nuisance abatement, including regular and overtime compensation for nuisance abatement or enforcement personnel and hiring additional personnel for nuisance abatement as needed.

Rep. Bohac worked with the city's Forfeiture Abatement Support Team, or F.A.S.T. Unit, to develop the language in the new law. The F.A.S.T. Unit is an interdepartmental approach involving HPD, HFD, the city's Legal Department and the Planning Department's Neighborhood Protection Division to address nuisance violations on property vulnerable to criminal activity. The F.A.S.T. Unit encourages compliance by property owners to correct violations and curtail criminal activity at locations where suspected criminal activity may be occurring. If a property owner fails to comply, they face possible legal action from the city."(snip)

... if this judge's ruling is allowed to stand, it ultimately creates a direct linkage between the (alleged) commission of crimes related to prostitution, drug possession etc. by dancers and/or club customers, and enforcement action taken by local police / courts against the business owner who (allegedly) permitted prostitution, drug possession etc. to take place on his premisis. This is a fundamental departure from prior legal precedent, where virtually all legal penalties resulting from dancer busts for prostitution, drug possession etc. were confined to the dancers who (allegedly) committed such crimes. I'm no legal scholar, but it would appear at first glance that the only evisting laws establishing this sort of precedent are RICO related.

At any rate, if allowed to stand, this new law represents a 'double whammy' ... since it not only results in the closure of a club under existing management, but it also makes it impossible for new management to take over in the same location. This effectively provides local politicians with a powerful tool to enact de-facto 'adult business zoning' policies ... which typically result in both a reduction of total adult businesses, as well as the remaining adult businesses becoming much 'dirtier' in order to continue to attract customers to their more distant, less desirable location which in turn is more or less 'ignored' by local police. Given that Houston clubs weren't all that 'clean' to begin with, I can only imagine where the future trend will lead.

Paris
01-01-2009, 09:03 AM
Here we go! Just like at the end of the original Burlesque era (1960 or so), the same is happening again. The law can only be pushed so far before an end is put to the breaking of the law.

Houston has a choice (just like Seattle and other high mileage cities) legalize prostitution or close down clubs that offer sex for sale. There isn't a lot of gray area here. Houston has been known for a very long time, maybe even decades, for having extras available on the cheap in the strip clubs. It was only a matter of time until the city cracked down on the problem.

mysteryman
01-01-2009, 07:55 PM
Melonie I have posted the long article published by Houston Chronicle.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/6188845.html


Houston gets court victory in battle against strip clubs
By BRADLEY OLSON
The city of Houston claimed a significant victory Wednesday in its
effort to stamp out strip clubs and pornographic boutiques that have
set up shop too close to neighborhoods.
A state district judge ruled in favor of the city's attempt to
permanently shut down The Penthouse Club, 2618 Winrock, and ordered an
owner of the establishment to pay $42,000 in legal fees.
"This is a good day for Houstonians that want to protect the decency of
our neighborhoods for families, and also want to say no to those
businesses that degrade and exploit women for profit," said Mayor Bill
White.
"This has been a long battle."
The case was a major test of a new front in Houston's long-running
battle to enforce its "sexually-oriented business" ordinance, which has
withstood multiple challenges that finally held up under the scrutiny
of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The law, which requires such companies to operate at least 1,500 feet
from schools, day care centers, parks and churches, has been flouted by
strip clubs and porn shops since City Council adopted it in 1997.
But with The Penthouse Club, the city tried a new tack: suing to
shutter the business under the city's nuisance laws. Now, the city
intends to file a massive lawsuit this month using similar measures to
close 30 to 40 of the businesses at once.
Police and city officials believe as many as 120 sexually-oriented
businesses in Houston may be operating against the law, although about
a dozen have obtained a legal permit.
A call to The Penthouse Club was redirected Wednesday to All Stars, a
sister club across the street near the intersection of Westheimer and
South Voss. A man who answered the phone there declined to comment.
The club had been closed since September, when another state district
judge granted a temporary injunction filed by the city pending trial.
Wednesday's ruling, issued by outgoing State District Judge Caroline
Baker, is permanent.

Expensive legal fight
The location will be shut down as any kind of business for the next
year, and as real estate, the location can never again be used as a
sexually oriented business, no matter who the owner is, the ruling
states.
While White, neighbors and city attorneys praised the decision and
expressed gratitude that a threshold had finally been crossed in an
expensive legal fight, they acknowledged the road to closing other
clubs could still be a long one.
The owners of the clubs have fought every step of the way, including by
trying to force the city to pay for revenue that would potentially be
lost if they were no longer allowed to have topless dancers or sell
pornography. A separate legal case on that aspect of the law is
ongoing.
The clubs have also frequently argued they have transitioned from a
topless bar to a bikini bar or ceased sexually oriented operations, but
undercover police officers have frequently visited and found otherwise.

A year to trial
Patrick Zummo, a private attorney who represented the city in the
matter, said the the case against the clubs, bookstores and massage
parlors could take as little as a year to get to trial, far shorter
than the previous cases that have been mired in legal wrangling.
"We hope a New Year's resolution will be that these businesses won't
allow crime at their locations anymore," Zummo said.
According to city legal filings in the case, police and other witnesses
testified that the Penthouse Club was the scene of numerous crimes,
including frequent incidents of prostitution and drug-dealing. The
owner of a restaurant that abuts the club said he saw people having sex
outside his establishment in the dark. Others said they frequently
found used condoms outside or were solicited by a prostitute.
A residential neighborhood is around the corner from the strip mall
where the club is located, and a private school and the parking lots of
a church and a mosque are within 1,500 feet.

Sweet success
"People think this is about bachelor parties, but it's much more
serious," Zummo said. "There's nothing cute about the way these
businesses operate and what they're built around."
Neighbors said the taste of success in this case, for which they have
waited for some time, was sweet.
"We have supported this action in the city in its fight the whole way,"
said Bart Jones, president of the Briargrove neighborhood association.
"My rule of thumb has been if I can't walk my child in the direction of
your business, maybe your business shouldn't be in the area where I
raise my child."
Chronicle reporter Allan Turner contributed.
[email protected]

Brought to you by the HoustonChronicle.com

WiseGuy_TX
01-02-2009, 08:55 AM
....yes, Mel, it is a new angle since the SOB angle isn't working very well due to the way the SOB wording seems to let latex/bottoms circumvent the law. Penthouse plans to appeal, of course. I can see a step up in raids in anticipation of the appeal failing. P.S. Mayor Morality is running for U.S. Senate.

The city of Houston claimed a significant victory Wednesday in its effort to stamp out strip clubs and pornographic boutiques that have set up shop too close to neighborhoods.

...Yes, the ever expanding distance now at 1500ft is the issue. It makes it very difficult to find a reasonably similar property with income potential in a town without zoning. The City of Houston does not mind manipulating their ordinance laws or abusing their powers to get their way. If they were not winning their court battles I’m sure they would try another unethical tactic like abusing their eminent domain powers. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/6183847.html

A state district judge ruled in favor of the city's attempt to permanently shut down The Penthouse Club, 2618 Winrock, and ordered an owner of the establishment to pay $42,000 in legal fees.

...Wow, defeated by 42 grand. That's cheap.

"This is a good day for Houstonians that want to protect the decency of our neighborhoods for families, and also want to say no to those businesses that degrade and exploit women for profit," said Mayor Morality Bill White.

...Thus Mayor Morality reveals his true intentions. The City of Houstons predominate intent is to suppress the expression of unpopular views and by creating a "distance in a no zoning town" is able to close them or severely restrict their number. Judge Powell we miss you.

...In case Mayor Morality has not noticed, there has been no change in the quality of the neighborhood, local commercial district, or quality of local urban life during the year penthouse has been closed. Maybe the problem is that Allstars is located 100 feet from Penthouse, yea right(rolls eyes). The Renton theory is flawed in the courts application if you cant measure it after the fact, imo.

Now, the city intends to file a massive lawsuit this month using similar measures to close 30 to 40 of the businesses at once. Police and city officials believe as many as 120 sexually-oriented businesses in Houston may be operating against the law, although about a dozen have obtained a legal permit.

...The city's tactic is to conduct raids and arrests based on drugs, prostitution or public nudity laws. Since many clubs are not SOB, it makes it difficult to arrest based on SOB laws. Once a pattern of multiple arrests have been made and many found/pled guilty then the city can try shutting a club down under the nuisance law. Treasures is probably next on the list, imo, and St James, Heartbreakers, Dallas & Austin Clubs will become flooded with Houston dancers such as happened in 1997 when the licensing SOB ordinance passed. Oddly, no one seems to be trying to open a new club under the ordinance rules in Houston.

The location will be shut down as any kind of business for the next year, and as real estate, the location can never again be used as a sexually oriented business, no matter who the owner is, the ruling states.

...unless the city keeps rewriting the SOB laws, after a year they will operate as a non-sob bikini bar (latex boobs/bottoms).

The clubs have also frequently argued they have transitioned from a topless bar to a bikini bar or ceased sexually oriented operations, but undercover police officers have frequently visited and found otherwise.

..."sexually oriented operations"???? Well, I assume our goon reporter means some girls are offering extras or not wearing latex. Same as girls at regular dance clubs down street. But you don’t see vice busting those clubs nor do you see vice raiding Labare. Surely there are some closet cops dreaming of Labare raids?

According to city legal filings in the case, police and other witnesses testified that the Penthouse Club was the scene of numerous crimes, including frequent incidents of prostitution and drug-dealing. The owner of a restaurant that abuts the club said he saw people having sex outside his establishment in the dark. Others said they frequently found used condoms outside or were solicited by a prostitute. A residential neighborhood is around the corner from the strip mall where the club is located, and a private school and the parking lots of
a church and a mosque are within 1,500 feet.

...vice doesn't understand that a handful of neighbors would be happy if the clubs and cops were gone so no ones finds their "illegal operations".

"We have supported this action in the city in its fight the whole way," said Bart Jones, president of the Briargrove neighborhood association. "My rule of thumb has been if I can't walk my child in the direction of your business, maybe your business shouldn't be in the area where I raise my child." http://www.briargrove.org/

...Mr. Jones, it seems your neighborhood is a cesspool of crime. Your "monthly security report" shows multiple burglaries & thefts, male gangs roaming the streets, suspicious babysitters and disease riddled mouth foaming squirrels. Sounds like a nice place to walk your child around.

Melonie
01-02-2009, 08:55 PM
yeah but I'm still not able to put the pieces together in any way that makes sense other than an outgrowth of RICO. As your post pointed out, it appears that local LE needs to first establish a 'pattern of criminal activity' ... i.e. racking up a string of club busts, bogus or otherwise ... which can then be used as a predicate to move for permanent club closure under the 'public nuisance' law. Of course I suppose that all it would take is a handful of throwaway plea bargain offers made to (bogusly) busted dancers ... busted dancers who would basically be allowed to walk away without further consequences as long as they are willing to enter the guilty pleas needed to meet the predicate. Sneaky, sneaky ! And the busted dancers probably don't even have a clue that by accepting the plea bargain offers they are helping local LE permanently close their club !

WiseGuy_TX
01-02-2009, 11:35 PM
Amen Mel. The DA must be oh so willing to plea with dancers these days.

"Now, the city intends to file a massive lawsuit this month using similar measures to close 30 to 40 of the businesses at once."

Well, Treasures was busted several weeks ago, 15 dancers arrested and it probably had more raids than Penthouse. Excluding them, i'm wondering how the city could file a "massive lawsuit" closing 40 businesses under nuisance law. The city may have a whole different set of lawsuits if it smells like the city is creating their own selective pattern by using a different law to put an industry out of business.

And what about degrading and exploiting males at Labare or the Mayor marching in the Gay Pride parade? ...i tell ya, its corrupt politics.