Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations. - Thomas Jefferson
In my column of July 5th I described how Jean O’Hara took advantage of the bigotry of the white Honolulu elite by buying houses, letting the neighbors know what she did for a living and then allowing herself to be bought out at a huge profit. Well, almost 70 years later and a quarter of the way around the globe, the scheme still works…though I doubt either the taxpayers of Fredericton, New Brunswick or the employees of the business in question are very happy about it. The story appeared in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal on July 13th and came to my attention via the July 14th “link roundup” on the SWAAY website:
The capital city’s only strip bar will be closed…after city council voted to spend $500,000 of taxpayers’ money to shut it down. Geoff Pawsey, bartender for the past 16 years at the North Star Sports Bar Pub & Eatery, said Tuesday his head is still spinning after council endorsed the plan to purchase the property and served notice to the bar’s staff, including its exotic dancers. “I’d say at least 30 of us will be out of work,” Pawsey said in an interview. “The bar had just been given a facelift – a new stage and new poles and mirrors. I’m terribly disappointed. This was a bartender’s dream here. It’s not the Royal York, but it was a busy, busy bar.”
…Holly Ramsay, 27, day manager at the bar…said between 10 and 14 full and part-time staff, plus the five exotic dancers who work at the establishment [some are moms with children and some are students working their way through university], aren’t happy to be bidding the bar goodbye. “It’s very sad. I’ve only been here since January, but I’ve seen the improvements and changes,” said Ramsay. “It’s very sad to see the business is going so well and for the city to decide to do whatever they want to do with it.” She said staff members were told Monday by the five children of the late Ken Flinn, who ran the business before his death last October, that the city would be purchasing the property for $500,000…
Mayor Brad Woodside said the decision to buy the bar is in the best interests of the city. “It’s a non-conforming property and it will certainly result in a lot better neighbourhood for the people who have been calling for so many years, and it’s a progressive move that’s in the best interests in the city of Fredericton.” While there’s some difference of opinion on council about the decision to purchase the property, development committee chairman…Stephen Chase says it’s a good deal, especially after council learned [from police] that the North Star was being eyed by Hell’s Angels for a headquarters in the Fredericton area…But Pawsey said he has never seen any Hell’s Angels sizing up the bar. “That’s an urban myth,” he said of the police intelligence reports.
…Marilyn Kerton voted against the $500,000 deal, saying the price is too rich for her blood. “For us to keep purchasing properties without any long-term plans for them and the investment and the cost, I don’t think we should be doing that,” Kerton said. ”It should be something left to the developers.” If the city’s intention is to make the bar, exotic dancers and hard-drinking patrons disappear, then Kerton isn’t buying it. “I guess the question that begs to be asked is, does the city go around and purchase properties because they don’t like what’s taking place there, for example a scrap yard, for example other bars or drug houses or other places in the city that we don’t like,” Kerton said…Deputy Mayor David Kelly [also] said the $500,000 price tag is too steep. “Where do we draw the line on this? $500,000? To my knowledge that thing is overpriced by about $150,000. Personally, I would rather leave that up to a private developer,” Kelly said. “It’s too much money.”
So, what have we learned, kids? If you want to make a lot of money off of prudes, just use the O’Hara method! Step One: Start a business which, though legal, is hated by bluenoses; even if you have to bribe a few people to get it established you needn’t worry, because you’ll eventually get it back along with a substantial profit. Step Two: Run a good, clean business so you’ll attract a lot of customers and avoid any entanglements with municipal code Nazis. Step Three: Continue step two until a bunch of irresponsible busybodies who think it’s justifiable to use public money to promote their own moral crusades gets into office. Step Four: If they don’t buy you out right away, start an idiotic rumor about the Hell’s Angels or some other legal but unpopular group congregating at your business and make sure the local stool pigeon hears about it. Step Five: Charge at least 40% more than your business is actually worth. Step Six: Repeat until you are as wealthy as you would like to be.
One Year Ago Today
“Whores and Wives” examines the different ways wives react when they discover their husbands have visited whores.