To the editor:
After reading Rebecca Chase Williams’ column “Pink Pony’s arguments have no legal merit” [Brookhaven Reporter, March 7-20], I have four questions and a simple suggestion for a solution.
When we were elected, the council members were asked if we wanted to limit the negative secondary effects of strip clubs. We all said “yes.”
My first two questions: Just who approached the council and asked this well-worded question structured in a way that only a moron would say no to? And do they reside in Brookhaven?
You identify secondary negative effects as blight, crime, drugs and prostitution. My next question is: Just how many charges of these crimes have been reported at or around the Pink Pony during their agreement with DeKalb County or since Brookhaven became a city?
Mrs. Williams says the city’s attorneys advised her and the council that the settlement agreement between DeKalb County and the Pink Pony was unenforceable. The settlement is a tax to the Pink Pony. The Pink Pony has been paying the tax (cash payments to use Mrs. Williams’ words) for several years and I assume without issue. My fourth question: Where is the concern of enforcement?
Mrs. Williams says that if the council accepts the agreement and allows the Pink Pony to continue to operate, then you cannot cut a special deal with one strip club without giving the same pass to other sexually-oriented businesses. I am pretty sure Brookhaven isn’t going to have a line of people waiting to open strip clubs or other sexually-oriented businesses with a “special pass” (tax) of $200,000, per year, added to the cost of doing business.
Mrs. Williams continues with the constitutional guarantee of equal protection requires the city to treat similar situations similarly. The agreement is a tax to the Pink Pony. The Constitution offers no such protection when it comes to taxes. (Louisville Gas vs. Coleman 1928). And governments at every level: city, county, state and federal have, and will continue to offer, special tax considerations for locating or developing businesses in specific areas.
One example that comes to mind is New York’s commercial, inviting business to their state with a 10-year tax abatement. There are Enterprise Zones in Atlanta, and most recently President Obama’s creation of the Promise Zones. All offer tax advantages or incentives not available to existing businesses.
Mrs. Williams, I am not at all sorry you feel offended for being accused of fighting the citizens (in your district). You and the council have made a decision on a very controversial issue without any prior discussions. Not during the fight to cityhood, not during the campaign. And I don’t recall the council seeking citizens’ input before making their decision.
Here’s a solution: Why not put it on the November ballot? Should the city of Brookhaven drop its challenge to the Pink Pony and allow the Pink Pony to operate as it has in the past, with a special tax assessment?