Fane Lozman Accuses North Bay Village Commission Of Violating Sunshine Law In Strip Club War
All Fane Lozman wants is to
make sure elected officials don't operate in the shadows and to protect everyone's first amendment right to look at naked boobies. But the civic activist claims North Bay Village officials are engaging in chicanery to put the kibosh on plans to build a strip club next to the headquarters for WSVN, the local TV station that has been leading the fight to stop the titty bar from opening. According to Lozman, the North Bay Village City Commission violated the state's open meetings Sunshine Law by voting in secret to draft legislation banning alcohol sales at adult entertainment venues. The comissioners approved the new law 4-0 without discussion on July 10.
"The commissioners decided behind closed doors what is in the best moral interest of the residents," grouses Lozman, who has filed a complaint with Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. "Without question they violated the Sunshine Law."
According to Lozman, the city commission met on April 23 during an executive session to discuss a federal lawsuit filed against North Bay Village by Isle of Dreams, the company that wants to open the strip club. Under state law, commissioners are allowed to discuss in secret their legal strategy, but they cannot discuss any measures that they would subsequently vote for in a public hearing.
Lozman claims the elected officials, at the urging of Commissioner Richard Chervony, came to a consensus during the non-public executive session to draft and then approve the ordinance banning booze at titty bars.
"Chervony is using his anti-adult entertainment stance as a political tool to pander to the large voting block of senior voters who are against a strip club in North Bay Village," Lozman says.
Chervony and the three other members of the commission, including Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps, did not return phone calls and emails seeking comment.
This won't be the first time Lozman has tangled with North Bay Village elected officials over Sunshine violations. In 2004, he filed a complaint against then-Mayor Alan Dorne and then-Commissioner Armand Abecassis, who had met in secret to plan a vote to remove the city manager at the time.
Both men subsequently resigned. In 2005, Dorne was convicted of a criminal misdemeanor and Abecassis pled no contest.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.