Lawmakers work to fix strip club loophole

Memphis lawmakers said Friday they want to fix a loophole in the law that let a strip club open, even though city and county attorneys tried to prevent it.

The opening of the club New York, New York has some people in Memphis singing these little town blues.

"We don't want organized crime operating out of these clubs," said Memphis City Council member Carol Chumney. "We don't want prostitution running out of these clubs."

That's part of what prompted a Memphis and Shelby County moratorium on all new adult businesses.  Thought it took effect last December, New York, New York opened last week.

County attorney Brian Kuhn admits moratoriums are only enforceable about 90% of the time.

"Because of grandfather clauses and other quirks in the codes and things like that there are going to be 10 to 15% of cases that are going to be arguable," he said.

In March, Memphis Code Enforcement mistakenly issued New York, New York a certificate of occupancy.  When they tried to retract it a day later, the club took the city and county to court.  Government attorneys argued unsuccessfully that the previous club had no business license, went months without electricity, and mail was returned to senders.

Court testimony also revealed that Code Enforcement issued at least two other occupancy permits to adult businesses since the moratorium was put in place. It was one of the reasons why the Judge ruled that New York, New York was simply a new name for an old business, and should be grandfathered in and allowed to open.

Chumney said lawmakers aren't attempting to run adult entertainment out of Memphis, "but we certainly don't want to be known as the capitol of strip clubs in America."

Officials hope tougher laws will reverse that reputation.

Management at New York, New York were not available for comment Friday.