The opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OnMilwaukee.com, its advertisers or editorial staff.
"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com – brought to you by Stoli Vodka, Altos Tequila, Fireball, OR-G, Jim Beam, Plymouth Gin and 2 Gingers – is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
Now that the City of Milwaukee is on the hook for what may well become $2 million when it’s all over, city fathers have to figure out what to do about the continued refusal to grant a license to Silk Exotic.
Silk wants to build a strip club Downtown. Its owners have applied any number of times, but each time have been shut down by the Utilities and Licenses Committee of the Common Council.
The ball, as they say, is back in the city’s court. There is another lawsuit floating around, a suit just like the one the strip club won last week. The only difference is the new lawsuit covers a longer period of time for the lost revenue claim and presumably would result in a bigger damage award if Silk wins that case.
City Attorney Grant Langley confirmed that there are three options available to the city:
- Pay the money and wait for the other shoe to drop
- Appeal the case to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which is guaranteed to increase the attorney’s fees
- Find a way to settle the case with Silk
He wouldn’t not reveal which he would recommend but did say he expected to suggest one of them to the aldermen within 30 days.
"Those are the options and we’ll let the council know what we think is best," he said.
Council president Michael Murphy left no doubt about his duty.
"My primary concern is to protect the financial liability of the city," he said, and I asked if that meant he would take one of the alternatives that would keep the city from having to pay the judgement.
"Avoiding these kinds of judgements or expenses is at the top of my list. I’m not going to talk about a specific resolution, but my top priority is protecting fiscal liability."
Ald. Joe Davis, who is running for mayor, didn’t leave much doubt about where he stands on this issue.
"It may be time for us to lick our wounds and figure out how to give that entity a license," Davis said. "It’s not like they are opening some kind illegal business. It’s a legal business and it may be time for us to do what’s right.
"We have too many cases where a small group of 30 or 40 people protest something and the local alderman goes along with it, saying that it’s the 'community' that’s opposed."
Ald. Nik Kovac would not comment on the record but he did say he would "encourage" me to put forth the idea of giving Silk the license in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.
Downtown Ald. Robert Bauman was around when Silk, itself, offered to drop its lawsuit if the city would give it a license to operate in a vacant, city-owned space across from the BMO Bradley Center. The city balked and now is faced with one judgement, attorney fees and a potential additional judgement that could put the city on the hook for $2 million.
In addition to the expenditure for paying the judgement, the city is losing out on a business that will generate jobs and about $10,000 per month.
These negotiations may well be delicate, but Bauman seems ready to actually take a leadership position in the debate. He understands the difficulties of the "serial denial" of these license applications and gets that it could open the city up to even more lawsuits.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bauman take a leading and courageous role in finding a place for the strip club in his district.
Silk's owners are keeping their powder dry so far. It seems clear that the ball is in the city’s court and people are going to wait to see what our government does.
The solution is simple. Go to Silk with a half-dozen sites in hand, and offer them a license to run a strip club. Strike a deal and get taxpayers off the hook on this kerfuffle.
And for God’s sake, Milwaukee, loosen up.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.