A proposed strip club in North Miami has been given the green light to serve liquor with its lap dances after a squeaker of a vote by the North Miami City Council. By a margin of 3-2, the council voted late Tuesday night to overturn a ban on selling alcohol in fully nude adult establishments.
Councilman Scott Galvin, one of the three yes votes, tells Riptide that he felt the moral outrage expressed by some locals wasn't reason enough to keep the ban on the books. "Where do we draw the line on the government judging morality?" he says. "It's not for me to sit there and make moral decisions."
Pastor Jack Hakimian, the leader of the anti-strip club crowd, blasted Galvin and the other yes votes for siding with the club.
"They made a huge political statement that will discredit them from convincing our Caribbean, Latin, and African-American families that they care about the city of Miami," Hakimian says.
The alcohol ban first came under review in late May after Sunny Isles Eatery -- which once owned Sunny Isles' Thee Dollhouse strip club -- put in a bid for a property located at 2050 NE 151st Street. That raised the ire of locals, led by Hakimian, the pastor of Impact Miami Church. Their protests led to a postponement of a vote to June 26 to do away with the ban.
In the weeks leading up to the vote, Hakimian partnered with WPBT Channel 2 -- whose studio is located next to the potential nudie bar -- to encourage residents to speak out against the club.
That union, however, pissed off Galvin, who blasted Channel 2 for aligning themselves with the anti-gay Hakimian and using public money to spread his church's message. Galvin, who is openly gay, says that "Channel 2 getting in bed with this pastor gave this more of a political freedom slant."
"When I can't get married because people deemed me immoral, I can't judge others," Galvin says.
The three votes to lift the ban came from Galvin, Councilman Jean Marcellus and Councilwoman Marie Steril. The two votes to continue the ban came from Councilman Michael Blynn and Mayor Andre Pierre. The mayor initially supported overturning the ban back in May, but according to Galvin, Pierre provided no immediate explanation as to why he changed his mind last night.
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Though the lifting of the ban goes into effect immediately, Galvin says that it's unlikely the club will be open and operating for several months, if not a year. The club has apparently promised to stay closed during school hours and use off-duty North Miami police as security.
Though the ban is no more, Hakimian will continue to hound Galvin and the council for allowing the club into the neighborhood.
"In weeks and months to come, we will inform every Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and Jewish resident about the character of these candidates and their desire to put money before the people," Hakimian says. "I guess bad company does corrupt, as Scripture declares."