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Clark County Commissioners reluctant to adopt ban, levy fines over drivers getting tips from Strip Clubs

Las Vegas – from – Clark County commissioners have expressed little desire to referee the contentious debate over strip club owners who pay cabdrivers to shuttle business their way.

Commissioner Larry Brown said he is bringing the matter up at Tuesday’s commission meeting. But some commissioners questioned whether the county should do anything. At least three think that cracking down on such activity would be almost impossible, especially with the county’s strained budget.

‘I want to hear from my colleagues and find out if this is something the county should address,” Brown said. “I’m going into it to learn.”

Critics say strip clubs pay cabdrivers to divert tourists to unintended destinations where prices are higher. Strip club owners complain that the drivers threaten to deliver no passengers unless they are paid extra.

Taxicab regulators say the county could fine strip clubs that pay cabbies, as well as suspend their business and alcohol licenses.

“I think it’s a more appropriate way to go after this problem,” said Gordon Walker, Nevada Taxicab Authority’s administrator. “They (clubs) started it. They can end it.”

But Commissioners Tom Collins and Rory Reid argued that enforcement isn’t feasible. Both opposed the county stepping in when the issue came up in 2005.

“I don’t think it’s a good use of our tax dollars to have an agent on every corner to ensure taxicab drivers aren’t being paid by business operators,” Reid said.

Collins said his position hasn’t changed either.

“With all the budget crunches, is this something we want to make a priority?” Collins said. “I don’t expect much more to happen than (what) happened four or five years ago.”

In 2005, commissioners killed a proposal to step up enforcement when they learned it would cost an additional $650,000 a year in staffing. To take the county completely off the hook, they also repealed a 20-year-old rule that barred businesses from giving cabbies payouts.

The county would have to enact a new rule prohibiting the payments to cabbies before anything could be enforced. This could prove troublesome because the county would have a rule that the city of Las Vegas lacks, said Commissioner Steve Sisolak, a former Nevada Taxicab Authority member.

Cabbies, in turn, might funnel all the customers to strip clubs within the city, where they could still legally receive payments, Sisolak said.

Sisolak said he doubts the county could resolve this dispute any better than the Taxicab Authority could. He also questioned where the county would get the money to fund a crackdown, and whether it was right to take money away from cabbies.

“Is this going to cost cabdrivers their jobs?” he asked.

Payouts to cabbies reportedly are as much as $100-plus per head. Smaller clubs complain they can’t compete with the payments made by bigger clubs.

Walker said the clubs must be flourishing if they can afford to pay so much. He suggested they all agree to stop payments to cabdrivers; then the problem will vanish.

“All the rhetoric about cabdrivers extorting strip clubs is ridiculous,” Walker said.


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