Archive for Wednesday, August 16, 2000

County, city ban nude dancing

Eldridge alleges dirty politics

August 16, 2000

Tonganoxie City Council members, following the lead of Leavenworth County commissioners, have banned nude dancing.

On Monday, the city council adopted an ordinance aimed at banning nude dancing in any establishment, regardless of whether the business sells alcohol. The county commission last Thursday approved a resolution that prohibits nude dancing and sexual activity in public places in rural areas of the county. The mayor of Basehor said he would like his city commission to consider strengthening its laws.

County Commissioner Wayne Eldridge said at last week's commission meeting that he would prefer all cities in the county adopt strong laws against such activities.

The Rev. Rick Lamb of Tonganoxie's West Haven Baptist Church praised both the county and city for taking action.

"I'm glad you're going this direction," he told county commissioners. "I'd just as soon keep it all out of Leavenworth County."

Previously, the county's ban on such activity covered only businesses that served alcohol.

"It's not restrictive as to whether a premises has a liquor license," said David Van Parys, county counselor. "It is far more comprehensive."

Violation of the county resolution carries a jail term of up to 30 days and a fine of up to $500, Van Parys said.

The tougher stance now is possible, Van Parys said, because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.

"This does not ban adult entertainment," Van Parys said. "You just have to wear your clothes."

The commissioners pledged to fight in court any attempt to repeal the resolution.

County Commissioner Don Navinsky asked Van Parys to determine whether the county could broaden its 1991 resolution because Navinsky said he'd heard rumors that so-called juice bars were planning to open in Leavenworth County.

In fact, a rumor has circulated in recent weeks that Ma Belles, a bar on Kansas Highway 7, would become a juice bar. Commissioner Eldridge's wife owns that business. And Eldridge adamantly denied the rumor, saying it is politically motivated. Eldridge is running for re-election to the commission.

"My wife is livid," Eldridge said.

In May, he said, she did not renew the lease of the people who ran the business.

"She was going to sell it," he said.

So she listed it with a Leavenworth Realtor.

"There were some people from Missouri who came over and looked at it, and also some people from Topeka," Eldridge said. "They own these types of places. I distinctly told them that there was a resolution against any nude dancing in Leavenworth County. I got the resolution to make sure. Finally, they were satisfied with that. That was the end of it."

Ultimately, he said, his wife decided not to sell the business, but to remodel it and resume its operation as a restaurant/bar and site for receptions.

Eldridge said the rumor was designed to hurt him politically.

"They tried to get this out before the primary election," he said. "If you knew my wife and the family, I could no more get by with having a juice bar. I'm sure there are going to be some lawsuits. I know there will."

John Pfannenstiel, the Basehor mayor, said he'd talked with a man who told him part of the building would be transformed into a juice bar. Pfannenstiel would not identify the person who told him that.

In a letter last week to county commissioners, in which he said he supported the ban, Pfannenstiel also said about the Ma Belles building:

"It has been said the building is being renovated to divide it into two businesses. One would be a bar and grill that would serve alcohol. The other a 'juice bar' that would feature nude dancing."

The mayor said his actions had nothing to do with politics.

"It's certainly no secret that I don't want to see Wayne Eldridge re-elected," he said. "But that's not the motivation behind this."

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