This story has been updated with comments from Jill Chambers about her postcard campaign in Doraville and her material being used the Sandy Springs postcards.
Anonymous postcards calling on Sandy Springs to settle its legal battles with adult businesses are hitting local mailboxes. “More lawsuits by the city = more of your tax money wasted,” the cards say in part.
Attorneys for the strip clubs say they are not behind the postcards, and it’s unclear who is. But similar postcards about Doraville’s adult-business battles were recently sent by Jill Chambers, a former Dunwoody state representative who regularly advocates for the Doraville strip club Oasis at City Council meetings. She said she designed, but did not mail, the Sandy Springs cards.
“I’m doing it on behalf of Oasis. That’s who paid me to do that,” Chambers said.
As for the Sandy Springs card, “Well, it’s my design, that’s for sure,” she said, explaining it was created to inform Doraville voters of Sandy Springs’ similar battle. “I was not personally paid to do that one. I did forward that design around.”
The Sandy Springs card is a large, campaign-style mailer that quotes recent Reporter Newspapers and Daily Report stories about the city losing insurance coverage for part of its adult-business legal battles. While the city attorney said the financial impact will be small, the postcard has a red headline saying, “Sandy Springs to pay $Hundreds [sic] of Thousands in lawsuit legal fees!”
The card also quotes an online commenter criticizing the legal strategy and the context of LGBT rights in relation to Scott Bergthold, a Tennessee attorney specializing in legal crackdowns on sexually oriented businesses who is employed by both cities. Chambers said Bergthold is subject to increasing criticism in other states, such as Texas, that she is joining.
Bergthold did not respond to emailed questions.
The Sandy Springs card highlights news story quotes from Cary Wiggins, the attorney representing the Flashers and Mardi Gras clubs and the Inserection bookstore in their Sandy Springs legal battle.
“Well, it now makes sense,” Wiggins said. “Two days ago, I received a very nasty voice message …from someone who ‘did not like my postcard.’ Of course, I have no clue what the guy is talking about. No, I did not send anyone any postcards.”
Alan Begner, the attorney for Main Stage/Coronet Club, the other adult business involved in a Sandy Springs suit, also said he is not behind the postcards. He said the business just lost its legal appeal against the city this week and is planning a further appeal to the state Supreme Court.
“I don’t know anything about the postcards…I don’t know who they’re from,” said Begner, who also represents Oasis in its legal battle with that city. “Jill Chambers has worked with me on the some of the stuff surrounding Oasis…Oasis has hired her for advice on city matters. But she’s not part of the legal team.”
Chambers said she works as an “independent contractor” on real estate research for developers and was hired by Oasis’s landlord and owners to advocate for the club.
She said her postcard campaign was inspired by a mailer sent last month by the LGBT rights group Queer Youth for Equality to announce its protest of Doraville City Council declining to immediately put a possible “LGBT Day” on its agenda. The Queer Youth card used the official Doraville city logo, which angered Mayor Donna Pittman.
Chambers said that she was inspired when she saw “the mayor holding [the Queer Youth card] up and hollering about it. I said, ‘Dang, that worked. I’m going to try it.’”
Her first card, partly labeled as a “Message to Doraville Citizens from Jill Chambers,” called on the city to settle its battle with Oasis. Her next card pointed to official and media reports about Bergthold’s 2013 testimony against a Chattanooga domestic partnership ordinance; that card also used the official city logo.
As for the Sandy Springs card, Chamber said she created its content to “educate” Doraville voters about Sandy Springs’ insurance problem with its adult-business lawsuits. She said she sent a “template” to other people she would not identify.
“I imagine volunteers [mailed it out]…Other clubs that are fighting against Scott Bergthold share friends,” she said, adding she just circulated the template and “God knows where they go from there.”
The cities of Doraville and Sandy Springs did not have comment about the most recent postcards. However, Pittman criticized the earlier postcards last month on a city website post, where she said they contained “distorted facts” and “misappropriation” of the city logo.
“The mailings, even though they featured the city’s logo, are not sanctioned by the city, and we are investigating their origins to determine if legal action can be taken for misrepresenting the city,” Pittman said in the website statement. “If anyone has received these mailings, be assured they do not represent nor do they correctly express the efforts being put forth by city leaders on behalf of Doraville’s citizens.”
Meanwhile, Chambers said she has a “next batch” of Doraville postcards ready to go, this time noting the city’s refusal to cash Oasis’s tax checks.
“It’s such a waste of money on both sides,” she said of city-versus-adult-businesses legal battles. “There’s a way for cities to have a win and for clubs to have a win.”