May 30, 2006
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Anyone following the Grand Rapids strip club debate in the pages of the Business Journal could have seen this one coming, as decency lobbyists Judy Rose and Dar VanderArk, leaders of the Black Hills Citizens for a Better Community and the Michigan Decency Action Council, respectively, found themselves co-defendants for their part in the city’s adult entertainment ordinance.

Herb Newhouse’s The Little Red Barn Adult Theatre joined Mark London’s Sensations and Lady Godiva’s Inc. in the legal battle over the ordinance last week. But unlike London’s complaint, filed earlier this month, Newhouse and Livonia attorney Michael Donaldson included the two nonprofits, its leaders, and John and Jane Doe — the unidentified financial backers of Rose’s legal defense fund — in their complaint to the U.S. District Court.

“This isn’t the way I would have gone about it,” said London. “I’ve got the city commission in my sights; they’re the ones taking away my rights. … But I have to admit there is something to the whole machine gun approach.”

Recall that Varnum Riddering Schmidt & Howlett attorney John Allen told the Business Journal the possibility for such blanket litigation existed in the March 6 story, “Adult Ordinance May Face Constitutional Challenges.”

Hopefully, the city’s outside counsel, Tennessee attorney Scott Bergthold, will be representing the co-defendants as a consolidated case (although this raises some interesting questions about the use of the city attorney’s office to defend private interests) because there should be little doubt that the Black Hills gang will pay their own bills before anyone else’s.

With the ordinance under temporary restraining order until July, there will be plenty of time to mull over some numbers. Even if the $100,000 defense fund comes through, the city has already spent undisclosed thousands of dollars on private investigators and Bergthold’s consulting to write the law. If the city loses as it did in the $250,000 Velvet Touch case and is forced to pay the expenses of Donaldson, and London’s attorneys, Gregory Fisher Lord and Allan Rubin, the combined city expenditures on failed adult-use regulation could reach seven figures.

If that happens, expect to see ordinance critic and city commissioner Rick Tormala humming T-Pain’s “I’m In Love With A Stripper” as he announces his candidacy for mayor.

  • Get your angry letter-writing pen out. The Detroit Free Press has joined the long list of newspapers to endorse The Gun Lake Casino, suggesting opponents concentrate efforts on securing tribal funding for social services in KentCounty.

For your convenience, that’s letters@freepress.com

  • Anyone notice the weird connection between AlleganCounty and Mount Pleasant? First there was the casino, and now competition for Wal-Mart (see story, page 1).

  • The Grand Rapids-Perugia Sister City Committee will be among a half-dozen delegations to the Italian city this week for The Market of the Sister Cities. The event is expected to attract 25,000 people for a celebration of food, music and cultural offerings.

Representatives of Grand Rapids include Ursula and Randall Sandifer’s Sandmann’s Barbecue, blues artists Jimmy Stagger and David Martin, along with dried Michigan cherries and blueberries from Ferris Coffee and Nut.

Nearly 100 gallons of barbecue sauce was shipped to Italia last week in an effort that will likely convince any Perugian familiar with one-time ambassador Peter Secchia that this city of blues, ribs and Republicans is somewhere near the Tennessee border.

  • Food for thought: How did the job-killer tax survive the Engler administration and the tax cuts of the 1990s?

Fifteen years ago this week in the Business Journal, the Single Business Tax was on the front page along with the now defunct capital acquisition deduction tax. According to Scott Schrager, at the time a House Taxation Committee staffer, “Even if the SBT were fixed, the state would not be able to make its payments on time.”

Also on the front page was news that developer Bob Grooters had received financing for his

Bridgewater Place
from a trio of banks from Japan, Austria and New York. (Interesting to note that this week Grooters is back in the news with what will become the city’s tallest building, the residential River House.)

Five years ago this week in the Business Journal, the front page profiled the rebound of the Grand Rapids Hoops with a new owner, Joel Langlois, and home court, the DeltaPlex. Obviously, this was before Isiah Thomas mismanaged the Continental Basketball Association into oblivion.

  • Of 43 entries, the Ad Club of West Michigan brought home nine Gold District ADDYs and 23 Silver District ADDYs.

Leading the way were Grand Rapids agency Grey Matter Group with eight, followed by Hanon McKendry with four.

The 6th District is comprised of more than 6,000 members in 17 clubs and non-affiliated organizations in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan

All Gold ADDY winners were forwarded to the national competition where winners will be announced at the American Advertising Federation National Conference, June 11-13, in San Francisco

  • For the 12th straight year, Oakdale Park Christian Reformed Church will be having a giant yard sale thanks to the students at CalvinCollege

For the past week, church volunteers have been rounding up items left behind by summer-vacation bound Calvin students — clothing, furniture, household appliances — in residence halls and the college’s Knollcrest East apartments.

“They have a parade of vehicles, and they usually have to make a couple of trips,” said John Witte, Calvin dean of residence life. “If they didn’t take these items, students would have to store them, take them home or dump them. It really reduces the amount of material that gets thrown out on move-out day.”

The sale will be held at the church,

1313 East Butler Ave. SE
, June 8-10.           

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