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John Mercure: Mercurey Rising

Silk Exotic Gets the Smackdown

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It has happened again. Silk Exotic has once again had their bid to build a downtown strip club shot down. They want to put it downtown near the convention center.

Silk currently owns clubs in Madison, Juneau and on Milwaukee's north side. All reports are they are good neighbors. Police are seldom called. The Juneau Mayor even went so far as to write a letter to the Milwaukee Common Council describing what responsible and orderly neighbors Silk Exotic has been. The Mayor spoke up on behalf of the strip club!

So on Tuesday the Milwaukee Common Council rejected Silk's liquor license application without discussion. The owners were not even allowed to make their case. Attorneys for Silk even asked if they could speak on behalf of the club. They were told no.

"I think it is ridiculous and over the top," Silk Exotic owner Jon Ferraro told me. "This isn't about public safety or about what is best for Milwaukee. This is about alderman covering their behinds with voters, who are uneducated."

Ferraro says the high end strip club would generate 50 or 60 full time jobs, in addition to the dancers that would be hired. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax money would also be generated for the ailing Milwaukee coffers.

So now Silk has filed their second lawsuit against the city saying that the rejection is unfair and unconstitutional. "We are going ahead with our federal lawsuit. We will continue to fight," Ferraro says.

Milwaukee is an outlier on this issue. Most major cities have strip clubs downtown near the convention center. Those cities don’t report increases in crime.

My biggest problem with this whole issue is how disingenuous the council is. They don’t say they are rejecting the project because of the dancing or other moral issues. They claim it is things like traffic and congestion. Yeah, right. If Ikea wanted to build a store at that same location, I’m doubting that traffic or congestion would be an obstacle. Have some courage. If you don’t want a strip club than own it. Don’t hide behind traffic issues.

Apparently Ferraro isn't the only one that Common Council President Willie Hines doesn’t want to hear from.  Hines wouldn't return my phone calls.


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