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Florida: County Delays Action on Adult Regulations
By: Eddie Adams (Courtesy of
Posted: 8/19/2006

Hillsborough County, Fla. – A capacity crowd was on hand for a recent County Commissioners hearing concerning instituting tougher regulations for sexually oriented businesses. Strong opinions were expressed during the meeting, as the adult industry was represented by First Amendment attorney Luke Lirot, and the other side of the issue was helmed by attorney Scott Bergthold. Berthold’s law firm in Chattanooga, Tennessee, specializes in helping local governments regulate adult entertainment

The final decision for the regulations was postponed until September.    

Lirot emphasized the weakness of studies which contend to show that adult businesses cause harmful secondary effects. In particular, the side looks to uphold recent research by Hillsborough County.

"What I have found in reviewing the studies … is that the vast majority of these are simply junk science," Lirot told Bill Varian the St. Petersburgh Times, adding that the analysis was “shallow and the assumptions wrong.” He also left the Commissioners with a huge stack of scientific studies debunking the harmful secondary effects arguments.

"The county can rely on any information reasonably believed to be relevant," Bergthold told Varian. Bergthold came armed with secondary effects studies from around the country purportedly showing increased crime and lowered property values. He also brought expert witnesses to testify, validating the studies.

Varian reported that Lirot also had expert witnesses present, who said the studies “don’t follow sound scientific methods and can be refuted by better analysis that suggests the opposite is true. The county’s studies largely fail to show a cause and effect between the presence of an exotic dance club and increased crime, for instance.”

Varian’s report want on to say that Tampa area dance club owner Joe Redner, accused board members at the hearing of being hypocrites. Redner said the new law will cost the county millions in legal challenges when the county should be dealing with more pressing issues.

"Overcrowded schools, gridlocked traffic and environmental rape," Redner said in The St. Petersburgh Times report. "That’s what you should be dealing with."

Portions of this courtesy of the Free Speech X-Press, the weekly newsletter of the Free Speech Coalition. More info at




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