As I have stated earlier, we should be concerned when a private parties can "rent out" the Grand Rapids City Attorney's Office to litigate their private agendas. This is what is happening with the initiative of Judy Rose of the Black Hills Citizens for a Better Community to establish a $100,000 fund to reimburse the City for its costs in defending a proposed adult entertainment ordinance targeting at driving Mark London's new strip joint out of the section of downtown targeted by "Mystery Developer" Duane Faust for a residential-retail-entertainment complex.
London has renewed his commitment to opening his strip club in May. Meanwhile, the Grand Rapids City Commission seems set on approving the ordinance to oust him next month. However, the courts have not been kind to efforts like the City's, especially when they are specifically focused upon a particular business. So with passage of the ordinance, the City is likely to be sued by London, and City taxpayers stand a good chance of picking up a hefty tab as they did in the wake of the Velvet Touch fiasco.
But maybe not, because the City Attorney's Office has been "sold" to Ms. Rose and unnamed cohorts to ply their agenda to run London out of town. They're going to pick up the tab if this thing goes south. Well, no. According to a statement by Assistant City Attorney Catherine Mish, there is no agreement between the City and Ms. Rose's group (or anyone else for that matter) to reimburse the City for its legal expense. The $100,000 legal fund Ms. Rose has promised to the City is just that, a promise. In fact, it doesn't exist except $1,043 in a bank account. All of the rest of the money, according to Ms. Rose in a letter to City Attorney Phillip Balkema, consists of pledges of area businessmen who want to remain anonymous. It is on this basis the City Commission will charge forward with another foolhardy assault on a business that the courts have repeatedly protected from most local regulation.
Of course, even if Ms. Rose's fund were real, no private party should be able to purchase the standing of the City government to ply their own agenda in the courts. Letting this happen will a set a dangerous precedent that will let any angry neighbor with enough cash and enough clout to threaten your liberties. Think about it.