ADULT ORIENTED ESTABLISHMENT MEETING MINUTES
17 FEBRUARY 2022
Chairman Roger Reedy called the meeting to order asking Tommy Pollard to offer a prayer and to lead the pledge. The minutes from 6 October 2020 were moved for approval by David Adams and seconded by Shelly Goolsby. Minutes approved. The Chairman noted that at the end of the meeting new officers were to be elected, and County Executive Melissa Greene said that this meeting was not just a commissioner meeting but was a public meeting. All attendees should then sign the attendance sheet.
First Item on the agenda – The Midnight Express Show Club, located nearby Exit 22, I-65, Cornersville, Tn. With a beer license, the Club was to operate as a bikini bar, similar to a Hooter’s. However, allegations have been brought that the Club is operating more as an Adult Oriented Establishment, a Gentlemen’s Club. Under TN 5-1200 such an establishment has, as a minimum, as its principal business, entertainers who expose to public view of the patrons the bare female breast, human genitals, pubic region or buttocks. Further the establishment designation means any premise to which the public patrons or members are invited and which are arranged to provide booths, rooms, stalls for the purpose of providing adult entertainment to the public and is maintained for a profit to the owner, direct or indirect.
County Attorney Lucy Henson along with Chief Deputy Capt. Purvis and Inspector Bass of the Giles County Sheriff’s Office described those instances where the Club provided services as outlined in the Adult Oriented Establishment law rather than following their beer license law. Details on why a beer license was pursued and statements that were made at that time were given by the Attorney, the law officers and members of the Board. The allegations were supported by both photographs and videos obtained during the law officers bar checks (while undercover in several instances), by the Establishment’s own website and own facebook pages. Of particular note was in those media, bared breasts were shown as were lap dances in some of the cubicles. Included in handouts were names of specialty drinks with sexual names, but no specific ingredient listed, although one of the entertainers noted that they did include alcohol
Questions were raised about police harassing almost daily, but per the officers’ reports, only three instances had occurred when the establishment was visited by police in 2022. Cruising the parking lot was identified as a duty performed at various establishments/businesses rather than as a harassing. David Adams said that if they were operating legally, they wouldn’t worry about being checked occasionally by the police. It was noted that the bare breasts and the separate cubicles for lap dances would be in violation of the laws for both beer licenses or adult oriented establishment laws. For the undercover operation it was noted that on the first visit the manager said he was unaware of the law, and on the second and third that he had talked to his lawyer who said they didn’t have to have one. It should be noted that this Club is owned by a Mahony, who is the largest owner of adult oriented Gentlemen’s clubs in the US with some locations in other countries as well. Per Attorney Henson, the club is an adult establishment operating without a license. Several of the board members saw the club as bypassing this board, and discussed their options.
Capt Purvis stated that the only violation was a regulatory one, rather than a constitutional one. He stated the women were not the focus of their investigation. The bared breast “ticket” would go to the dancer. Those dancers are at the lowest end of the entertainment for stripping and are generally transitory, all of which is time intensive and generally a lower-level offense. The Sheriff’s office has been doing a continuing investigation on a bigger picture, with human trafficking and drugs being mentioned. However, no specific proof either for or against those charges could be made at this time.
Questions about the recommending to the beer board about revoking the club’s beer license was made, but per Lucy this board’s purview does not cover the beer board. She described two options. Option 1 – Ask for an injunction under 751 1108 to restrain or make them do something (person or establishment) in court to ensure compliance, and she didn’t know if that could be on a permanent basis. Option 2 – Under 751 109, annulment or suspension of their license. Since they don’t have one, a letter listing on why that could have happened, with response within 10 days after receipt of letter required, and forward to the court. The Chairman Reedy said then our best option is to file an injunction and get them into court. And Lucy said, the court could give them an injunction and then some time for them to comply, all of which takes considerable time.
Additional discussion was on the following: why can’t we shut them down now (from public attendee) and response we can only go through the courts; Commissioner Brooks – do we have adequate info to revoke beer license at next meeting? Answer there are other avenues and they could appeal; Commissioner Gayle Jones – if state law is adopted here, and is not adequate, how do we change (talk to state representatives); Re nuisance laws and Nashville with so many bars being closed, our illegal activities at this Club do not meet the threshold that many bars in Nashville meet, e.g. murders, fights, etc; Commissioner Stoney Jackson – get an injunction and the club continues to violate what happens. There is a cash penalty but potentially not effective unless could shut them down permanently; Dewitt Booth we have to show we have resistance and it is up to the courts on how well will stand; Commissioner Sutton – don’t’ comply will be arrested. Still be talking about this in five years – (public attendee), Chairman perhaps but we have had many such “clubs” and now we are down to two (one not yet operating) and this one.
Motion by Dewitt Booth to file with the court an injunction prohibiting the Midnight Express Show Club from operating until they comply with the Adult Oriented Establishment Act. David Adams seconded and the motion was approved. Attorney Henson mentioned she would have to develop a detailed petition for the court, and also how much she appreciated the Sheriff’s department and staff in their ongoing efforts on this subject.
Next item – Election of Officers. Chairman Roger Reedy was re-elected after nomination by David Adams and seconded by Gayle jones, and with nominations ceasing after no other nominations. Dewitt Booth was elected Vice Chairman after nomination by Shelly Goolsby and Gayle Jones, with Gayle Jones and David Adams moving nominations cease on no other nominations (Dewitt Booth abstained in voting). Shelly Goolsby was elected Secretary after nomination by Gayle Jones and seconding by David Adams, and with nominations ceasing after no further nominations (Shelly Goolsby abstained in voting).
New Business – Gayle Jones asked about the Drag Queen event to be held at the Ag Park and does such an activity fall under this Board’s mission. Attorney Henson said “this is a dangerous slope given federal laws) and County Executive Greene said this falls under First Amendment Rights and affects any receipt of federal funds. All of which have to be marked that the county does not discriminate. Capt Purvis stated no matter his or others’ beliefs for or against, unless there is something being done illegal, there is no legal option to prevent such an event. Commissioner Sutton said they can “protest” and if it is peaceful, you have to let them come. A member of the public protested over the “bump and grind” of some of this type activity and considered too much attention paid to the money involved. Commissioner Gayle Jones said we follow the law, not vigilante justice. County Executive, they have followed all our requests, filled out the paperwork, no alcohol, and stressed we do the law, not on any personal beliefs.
A motion to adjourn by Dewitt Booth and seconded by Gayle Jones was made and approved.
Attendees: Members of the Board – Chairman Roger Reedy, Shelly Goolsby, Dewitt Booth, Gayle Jones, David Adams Other Attendees – Commissioners Brad Butler, Joseph Sutton, Tommy Pollard, Larry Worsham, Rodney Journey, Harold Brooks, David Wamble, Joyce Woodard, Duane Jones, Stoney Jackson Other County Executive Melissa Greene, County Clerk Carol Wade, County Attorney Lucy Henson, Beth Moore-Sumners Public Richard Brewer, Phil Glover, Bill Wendt, Annelle Guthrie and Barbara Harmon