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My Hometown Paid 1 Million Dollars to Buy a Stripclub

Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
edited September 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
MSNBC had a story about my hometown, and I thought it might make a good starting point for a discussion about Puritanical values and sex.

Here's a slightly abridged version of the article; here's the original article.
MSNBC.com wrote:
LAVONIA, Ga. - The windowless building that once housed the town's only strip club sits empty in the middle of a sprawling gravel parking lot, made all the uglier by the scars from its final party.

This summer, a mob led by the mayor tore down gaudy billboards advertising topless dancers, put plywood over glass doors bearing a nude silhouette and purged the awnings proclaiming the incendiary name of the club — Cafe Risque — in a diesel-fueled bonfire.

Now Mayor Ralph Owens stands at the place where XXX once marked the spot, his grin widening as he takes out a set of jingling keys from his blue jeans.

"You want to take some pictures inside?" he says with a smirk, walking toward the metal building. "We own it."

Seven years after Lavonia was duped into allowing the strip club to open, it got even by secretly buying the club in a backhanded property swap. It cost the town $1 million, or roughly a third of Lavonia's annual budget. The deal could have come cheaper if Lavonia hadn't gone through a middleman.

Interstate 85 brushes by Lavonia on its way out of northeast Georgia and has fueled some growth there. But the 10 churches within a shout of downtown — that's nearly a church for every 200 people — still have only a handful of shops and a few sit-down restaurants for neighbors.

That's why the Florida businessman who came to town in 2001 seemed so promising. Jerry Sullivan vowed to build a mom-and-pop restaurant geared toward families, and drummed up support for the idea by presenting the plan to locals.

Inspectors who took a final look at the building found a typical restaurant: a few tables, a stocked kitchen, a small counter area.

By the next morning, the place had transformed. A makeshift stage hugged its walls, complete with poles for the dancers. The lunch counter was replaced by a bar. Neon signs graced the walls and four stalls in the back served as changing rooms.

Owens, who has led Lavonia since the late 1980s, quickly dispatched police to close the place down. The tussle soon landed in federal court, where a judge ruled as others before him have done, that nude dancing is a constitutionally protected form of expression.

Soon billboards in jarring red, yellow and black colors were posted along the highway, trumpeting the club's wares. Neighbors, already irritated they had been outsmarted, grew even more upset.

In recent years, Lavonia's elders learned the club's owners wanted to sell but figured they wouldn't want to negotiate with the city, which might have been a false assumption.

"We have no gripes with the city at all," says Edinger, who represents Sullivan's estate. "They helped pay my mortgage. We would have sold it to them in a heartbeat — their money spends the same as anyone else's does."

Owens turned to a middleman, Stacey Britt, to buy the club himself and then turn it over to the city. On July 29, he bought the club for $762,000 and sold it hours later to the city for $995,000, making a cool profit of close to a quarter of a million dollars.

"It's just business," says Britt, a former commissioner for a nearby county.

The city paid for its share through a bond for a water treatment upgrade, which could end up costing Lavonia $1.2 million in interest payments.

The proud new owner of Cafe Risque called a town meeting after the sale, and all the churches in Lavonia advertised it. A standing-room-only crowd of dozens showed up to city hall and rewarded the mayor and his council with a standing ovation when they announced the deal.

Then the mayor led about 50 citizens a few miles down the road. The group counted down from 10 and tore down the cafe's 12-foot-wide sign. They poured diesel on it and watched it go up.

"It was a disgrace, it was embarrassing," says LeCroy. "It's the best money this town has ever spent. Whatever it took to get rid of it, we'll make it back. It's just money.

A few facts that MSNBC missed: For several months after Cafe Risque's opening, a sign out front advertised a website titled "Dumbass Lavonia", and nearly immediately after opening a white wooden cross was erected close to the establishment. So close, in fact, that it had to be moved farther away because it was on the strip club owner's property.

Hexmage-PA on
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    DefunkerDefunker Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    So did you go to the final party or not?

    Other questions include: Why didn't the town pull their business license after they had blatantly mislead inspectors. Fraud is the word I'm looking for here.

    I'm assuming since it was a strip club, they had a liquor license. Where I'm from, these licenses are hard to get. Businesses don't have their liquor license on day one; the board never allows it. Why even grant a liquor license to a 'mom-and-pop' restaurant?

    Why didn't anyone man up, and just burn the place down? Lord knows the owner was begging for it, probably planning on it (insurance pay-outs, ect).

    Defunker on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    SenjutsuSenjutsu thot enthusiast Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    So this guy isn't winning any ethical business man of the year awards, but your town sounds goddamn retarded

    Senjutsu on
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    Flippy_DFlippy_D Digital Conquistador LondonRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Pretty much what Senj said.

    However, if so many people thought that strongly of it then I think it's their mistake to make.

    Talk about an easy way to make money though.

    Flippy_D on
    p8fnsZD.png
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    redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    wow, that's fairly retarded, and it seems like the city has pretty poor representation and no clue about how to properly use things like zoning laws or those governing liquor licenses.

    redx on
    They moistly come out at night, moistly.
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    Flippy_DFlippy_D Digital Conquistador LondonRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Man I just looked up the size of your place.

    That is poor representation.

    Flippy_D on
    p8fnsZD.png
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    DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I like how one person made a quarter of a million dollars in days literally just buying it from the owner and selling it back to the city at the cities request.

    DeShadowC on
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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I like that the city never seemed to even consider asking him themselves before going to a third party.

    Quid on
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    DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Georgia thread.

    DarkPrimus on
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    redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    shame they are already pretty much broke due to spending money on the strip club.

    :whistle: monorail, monorail, monorail...

    redx on
    They moistly come out at night, moistly.
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    Rhesus PositiveRhesus Positive GNU Terry Pratchett Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    They could recoup the losses by starting a new business in its place. For example, I heard that the town's only strip club recently closed down - there's an opening in the market.

    Rhesus Positive on
    [Muffled sounds of gorilla violence]
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    JokermanJokerman Everything EverywhereRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Hm, this is giving me an idea to make money in MY hometown...

    Jokerman on
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    Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Jokerman wrote: »
    Hm, this is giving me an idea to make money in MY hometown...

    It only works if you live in the Bible Belt.

    Hexmage-PA on
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    RingoRingo He/Him a distinct lack of substanceRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Goddamn, I wish I had made a quarter of a million bucks on this deal.

    Ringo on
    Sterica wrote: »
    I know my last visit to my grandpa on his deathbed was to find out how the whole Nazi werewolf thing turned out.
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    JustinSane07JustinSane07 Really, stupid? Brockton__BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2008
    redx wrote: »
    shame they are already pretty much broke due to spending money on the strip club.

    :whistle: monorail, monorail, monorail...

    JustinSane07 on
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    SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    My home town of Bexley, Ohio had a nifty porno theater. Quite the blight on this white, upper-middle class town outside Columbus. So, one day the theater sold the property to McDonalds. If you thought the town was outraged at a porno theater, they literally flipped the fuck out over the thought of a McDonalds going in. The story made both CNN and Jay Leno's monologue (why not combine them and have a real Happy Meal?). My house was actually on CNN, which was neat.

    In the end, McDonalds had to promise not to include a drive through, and the building itself had fucking roman columns, the workers all wore ties... it was the fanciest McDonalds to ever go under in about a months time. Now there is a delicious Chipotle there though.

    Sentry on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
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    WerdnaWerdna Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Sounds like a good start for a Full Monty sequel.

    Werdna on
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    Flippy_DFlippy_D Digital Conquistador LondonRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    redx wrote: »
    shame they are already pretty much broke due to spending money on the strip club.

    :whistle: monorail, monorail, monorail...
    I have no idea what that link might be.

    Flippy_D on
    p8fnsZD.png
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    TalleyrandTalleyrand Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Well what the guy did in the first place was a pretty sleazy move but the town's prudish retardedness not only kinda justifies it, it makes it goddamn hilarious.

    Talleyrand on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I am thinking I too should open a strip club in your town.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    it was the smallest on the list but
    Pluto was a planet and I'll never forget
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    DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Talleyrand wrote: »
    Well what the guy did in the first place was a pretty sleazy move but the town's prudish retardedness not only kinda justifies it, it makes it goddamn hilarious.

    The town would of tried to stop it even thought it wasn't violating any laws. Plus it stayed in business a while, so its not like part of the town didn't want it.

    DeShadowC on
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    JokermanJokerman Everything EverywhereRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    Jokerman wrote: »
    Hm, this is giving me an idea to make money in MY hometown...

    It only works if you live in the Bible Belt.

    <---lives in georgia

    Jokerman on
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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Dyscord wrote: »
    I am thinking I too should open a strip club in your town.
    I have a better idea.

    Let's go to Vegas and claim to be opening a strip club but, the night before the doors open, open a fireman themed mom and pop restaurant.

    Quid on
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    JustinSane07JustinSane07 Really, stupid? Brockton__BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2008
    Flippy_D wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    shame they are already pretty much broke due to spending money on the strip club.

    :whistle: monorail, monorail, monorail...
    I have no idea what that link might be.

    Well it was supposed to auto URL to the Simpsons Monorail song, but it didn't.

    JustinSane07 on
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    Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited September 2008
    Sentry wrote: »
    My home town of Bexley, Ohio had a nifty porno theater. Quite the blight on this white, upper-middle class town outside Columbus. So, one day the theater sold the property to McDonalds. If you thought the town was outraged at a porno theater, they literally flipped the fuck out over the thought of a McDonalds going in. The story made both CNN and Jay Leno's monologue (why not combine them and have a real Happy Meal?). My house was actually on CNN, which was neat.

    In the end, McDonalds had to promise not to include a drive through, and the building itself had fucking roman columns, the workers all wore ties... it was the fanciest McDonalds to ever go under in about a months time. Now there is a delicious Chipotle there though.

    The McDonalds in Ashland, OR is a similar deal. It's a little town made famous by it's Shakespear festival, and in the last decade, Independant Film Festival. So of course the McDonalds looks like a log cabin or something.

    Bionic Monkey on
    sig_megas_armed.jpg
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    DetharinDetharin Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Wow. They need to change the name of your town to "Epic Fail". First they allow a strip club to open. Seriously its pretty easy to zone these things. Second they are freaking out because ZOMG naked woman. Third instead of trying to negotiate with the owner they try and get sneaking and end up costing themselves an extra quarter mil.

    Just how much inbreeding is going on in that town?

    Detharin on
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    DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Detharin wrote: »
    Wow. They need to change the name of your town to "Epic Fail". First they allow a strip club to open. Seriously its pretty easy to zone these things. Second they are freaking out because ZOMG naked woman. Third instead of trying to negotiate with the owner they try and get sneaking and end up costing themselves an extra quarter mil.

    Just how much inbreeding is going on in that town?

    You have to love the conversation too.

    "I'd like you to do a weeks worth of work buying and then reselling this property, We'll pay you a quarter million for it."

    DeShadowC on
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    enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Strip club owner successfully operates and then sells his business. Clever middle man makes a quick quarter million.

    Honestly, I feel a lot better about those two respectable business men having the $1MM, than that local government body.

    enc0re on
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    Crimson KingCrimson King Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    enc0re wrote: »
    Strip club owner successfully operates and then sells his business. Clever middle man makes a quick quarter million.

    Honestly, I feel a lot better about those two respectable business men having the $1MM, than that local government body.

    Well the first guy pretty much blatantly lied to get his property, so 'respectable' might be pushing it. But the other guy is just the luckiest motherfuker in Lavonia.

    Crimson King on
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    DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I thought I read he used to be a government employee too. Is anyone else thinking fraud?

    DeShadowC on
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    Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    DeShadowC wrote: »
    I thought I read he used to be a government employee too. Is anyone else thinking fraud?

    He was a government employee in another county. Also, fraud? Fraud, most foul...

    Hexmage-PA on
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    DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    DeShadowC wrote: »
    I thought I read he used to be a government employee too. Is anyone else thinking fraud?

    He was a government employee in another county. Also, fraud? Fraud, most foul...

    And probably friends with the mayor who paid him a quarter mil for a weeks work.

    DeShadowC on
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    RentRent I'm always right Fuckin' deal with itRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I like how a small town outraged over the business' lack of morals and unethical standards close it down...by being immoral and unethical.

    Rent on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited September 2008
    oh, local government. Ha ha ha!

    The Cat on
    tmsig.jpg
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    ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2008
    enc0re wrote: »
    Strip club owner successfully operates and then sells his business. Clever middle man makes a quick quarter million.

    Honestly, I feel a lot better about those two respectable business men having the $1MM, than that local government body.

    Well the first guy pretty much blatantly lied to get his property, so 'respectable' might be pushing it. But the other guy is just the luckiest motherfuker in Lavonia.

    Well, it was a mom and pop establishment. Or mom, pop, and broken condom, at least.



    They probably got the liquor license by saying pop would have a glass of Rodney Strong.

    Scalfin on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
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    DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Dyscord wrote: »
    I am thinking I too should open a strip club in your town.

    Wanna split the difference? I'll invest with you. We could make a strip-megaplex.

    It kind of reminds me of the people who were protesting the French not supporting the Iraq war by going into stores, buying all the French wine, and pouring it into the gutter. They BOUGHT the French wine, then poured it out. In protest.

    Some people don't get it.

    Dalboz on
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    FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Dalboz wrote: »
    Dyscord wrote: »
    I am thinking I too should open a strip club in your town.

    Wanna split the difference? I'll invest with you. We could make a strip-megaplex.

    It kind of reminds me of the people who were protesting the French not supporting the Iraq war by going into stores, buying all the French wine, and pouring it into the gutter. They BOUGHT the French wine, then poured it out. In protest.

    Some people don't get it.
    To be fair, that would offend the more hard core oenophiles.

    Fencingsax on
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    Bloods EndBloods End Blade of Tyshalle Punch dimensionRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I hate strip clubs.

    No moral hang ups or anything, but I hate working across from them and dealing with the refuse that leaves the club after closing time and come over to pass out in my parking lot. Also, I dislike when the dancers come over and pay entire in wet one dollar bills. Sorta killed my desire to ever go into one.

    Bloods End on
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    JokermanJokerman Everything EverywhereRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Bloods End wrote: »
    I hate strip clubs.

    No moral hang ups or anything, but I hate working across from them and dealing with the refuse that leaves the club after closing time and come over to pass out in my parking lot. Also, I dislike when the dancers come over and pay entire in wet one dollar bills. Sorta killed my desire to ever go into one.

    The closest i've ever come to going to a strip club was waiting for some friends to come out of the pink pony in atlanta. When they closed down for the night, it was a clusterfuck the likes to which i've never seen, including two very drunk persian men fist fighting.

    Also, there were two people having sex in the parking lot in a F-150.

    Seriously, who takes a date to a strip club then fucks in the parking lot?

    Jokerman on
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    The Black HunterThe Black Hunter The key is a minimum of compromise, and a simple, unimpeachable reason to existRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    strippers?

    The Black Hunter on
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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Bloods End wrote: »
    I hate strip clubs.

    No moral hang ups or anything, but I hate working across from them and dealing with the refuse that leaves the club after closing time and come over to pass out in my parking lot. Also, I dislike when the dancers come over and pay entire in wet one dollar bills. Sorta killed my desire to ever go into one.

    Ugh.

    Yeah, even besides the "ZOMG sex!" aspect, strip clubs can often be a blight on the local community...even more so than regular bars.
    DeShadowC wrote: »
    The town would of tried to stop it even thought it wasn't violating any laws. Plus it stayed in business a while, so its not like part of the town didn't want it.

    It staying in business doesn't mean the town necessarily wanted it. I doubt the population of Three Forks, MT (roughly 200 people and a couple mules) keeps their local strip club in business...people drive there from surrounding towns that don't have strip clubs, enjoy the strip club, then go back to those towns where they don't have to deal with strip clubs. I remember guys driving from Fort Riley, KS all the way to Salina to hit the strip club (clubs, maybe?) there...I, uh, I hear they were better than the ones in Junction City, not that I'd know, or, um...yeah.

    Basically strip clubs are like garbage dumps with naked women...huge NIMBY effect, but "benefits" that are enjoyed by people for miles around.

    mcdermott on
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