A downtown Milwaukee night club's attempt to offer adult entertainment is denied, but at least one alderman thinks that decision is going to get the city in trouble.
Just last week the Common Council gave approval for the owners of Silk Exotic to open a strip club on Old World Third Street. But on Tuesday, the city's licenses committee turned down a similar request.
"I don't think we have the legal right to deny this license," said Alderman Robert Bauman.
Bauman is questioning the city's refusal to let the Ladybug Club on Water Street operate as a strip club on some nights.
"I think we've just invited another lawsuit, and as has already been demonstrated, if you file a lawsuit against the city, the city attorney crumbles, and the council will either hand out money, or hand out a license," Bauman said.
The Ladybug Club's attorney argues that "strip club" is not the right term for what owners want to do.
"They want to offer burlesque shows some nights," said attorney Emil Ovbiagele. "Chippendale and Thunder from Down Under type shows. The goal is to create more of a performing arts center."
Bauman admits that's a stretch. But, whatever you want to call the place, he admits the Ladybug Club has long had problems. It's been shut down in the past. That's why Bauman argues that allowing some adult entertainment might actually improve things there.
"The only way we can deny a license for exotic dancing is if there are adverse secondary effects like loitering, noise violence, and criminal activity," he said. "According to our city attorney, we can not deny based on the fact that there will be nudity. In this case, we are dealing with an existing venue that has already demonstrated significant adverse secondary effects, which are outlined in 84 different police reports over the past ten years, so how can it get any worse?"
Bauman says his concern is that the city's legal advice and license granting have not been consistent.
"I've opposed these downtown strip clubs consistently, except recently we were told by our city attorney that we have violated their constitutional rights," he said. "That we're exposed to millions of dollars in damage. That we're going to have to start giving out these licenses. So how do you explain this?"
In declining the Ladybug Club's request for an adult entertainment license, the licenses committee cited the criminal activity and public safety concerns associated with the club. The club's attorney says there have been no incidents there in more than a year.
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