Public official blows town's reserve fund on strip club.

Elizabeth's picture

Pop quiz - Subject: Local politics

Instructions: Read the question carefully and then select the best answer from the choices provided.

Question: Your town has a million dollars in its reserve fund. The plan is to spend it on paying off a bond that financed the town's water treatment plant. Suddenly, the plan changes. The mayor has learned that a strip club in the area has come up for sale and he wants to buy it and shut it down. He arranges the financing through an anonymous third party because he knows that the club owners would never agree to sell to the town. According to the local newspaper the city manager describes it like this:

“We knew they would never sell it to us, but a third party, who does not want to be identified, offered to buy it for us. Just before noon (Tuesday) we closed on the property, and the keys were turned over to us. They (former Cafe Risque owners) won’t find out until (today) who really bought it.”

The mayor announces this radical change in spending priorities at a standing-room-only meeting at City Hall. Which of the following do you think happened at the meeting:

a) The townspeople started heated arguments amongst themselves about the use of the money.
b) Taxpayer outrage over the diversion of funds ensued and the mayor was ultimately sanctioned.
c) The mayor received a standing ovation and then led the righteous crowd in a convoy a mile and a half to the club's parking lot, right off the freeway, where they built a bonfire and burned the signs that once advertised the Cafe Risque.


Answer: If you guessed C you get a gold star.

From the north Georgia paper the Independent Mail we have this description of what happened in Lavonia, a small town off of I-85 in the northeast corner of the state. :

The news resulted in cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd, who then followed the mayor out to the Cafe Risque site. There, all of the signage was removed from the building by a tractor, dragged to the center of the parking lot and burned in a large bonfire as more onlookers clapped and cheered.

It is appalling that a town would spend its money shutting down a sexually-oriented business rather than spending on infrastructure. The town spent just shy of one million dollars. In the original plan, spending that money would have saved over a million dollars in future interest payments on a bond that had been issued to pay for upgrading a water treatment plant. Instead it spent the money to destroy a business that no doubt paid taxes into the towns revenue stream.

It is even more appalling that the townspeople would react in manner of the villagers-with-pitchforks-and-torches ritual of burning the businesses signs. What does it mean when a group of people is so morally outraged by the thought of men paying to look at naked women, or of women dancing naked for money, or of men and women interacting erotically outside of the proverbial marriage bed that they will build themselves up into a frenzy and burn parts of a building?

The backwards priorities of the town of Lavonia are shocking and the pleasure taken by the townspeople is evidence that this is not a matter of a single-mindedly misguided politician. The "protect the children/family values" rhetoric juxtaposed against the irresponsible spending of taxpayer dollars could not be more obvious.

Lavonia residents gather to burn the signs from Cafe Risque

I'm curious. Are there citizens of Lavonia who are as outraged by this as I am? Or do the townspeople in this Independent Mail photo represent all of you? I suspect they don't. I suspect that there are more reasonable voices in your town. I'd love to hear them.


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