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Red Door Presents Ordinance Issues

Bastrop, La. – Bastrop citizens will have the opportunity, in a public hearing Monday, to make their voices heard on two city ordinances that would regulate and zone sexually oriented businesses.

The ordinances were introduced in Thursday’s meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. The Rev. Cal Adams obtained copies of the ordinances before the meeting and found evidence they may have been copied from those of Shreveport.

Adams’ copy of the zoning ordinance reads in Section 307 that officers or agents of Shreveport may inspect sexually oriented businesses. The embarrassing slip has been fixed in copies made available to the public to read “City of Bastrop” instead of Shreveport.

Current Morehouse Parish law prohibits a sexually oriented business from operating within 2,500 feet of any school. Adams contracted a surveyor to draw a 2,500-foot line from The Red Door and presented the findings to the board Thursday, showing Oak Hill Elementary falls within this range.

The proposed zoning ordinance would lower the range to 1,000 feet.

“My question is, why does the mayor want to lower the standards?” Adams asked.

The Red Door, which sells pornographic movies and sexual devices, obtained its occupational license and opened in Bastrop last month. Store owner Lori Tremaine has told the Enterprise she was assured by city attorney Doug Lawrence and Mayor Clarence Hawkins she could operate here.

The Board of Aldermen voted to revoke the license in its September meeting. Hawkins vetoed the action, and Lawrence warned board members they could be sued during a 10-minute recess which two attorneys have since said was “improper” and “questionable” under state public meeting law.

When Adams brought his concerns to Hawkins, the mayor gave him a copy of an attorney’s opinion titled “Dirty Rotten SOBs and Other Sordid Topics,” written in 2002 by the assistant city attorney of Shreveport.

“The community standards of Shreveport are not the community standards of Bastrop,” said Adams. “I’ve spoken to other public officials, and they can’t understand why the mayor is so adamant about keeping the store when he has the capacity to expel it.”

The case for revocation is straightforward. Bastrop Code Section 13-9 provides for the process of revoking a license should the city find violation of “local, municipal, state or federal laws and ordinances.”

La. Revised Statute defines criminal obscenity and “hard core sexual conduct” in terms of actual or simulated ultimate sexual acts, lewd exhibition of genitals and a variety of other categories. The Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Office confiscated 916 DVDs believed to fit this definition from The Red Door last month. That case is pending.

Then there is the parish law about a store’s distance from schools. When confronted with the problem of Oak Hill Elementary in Thursday’s meeting, Hawkins told Adams the city is incorporated under a separate charter from the parish.

“If Morehouse Parish law does not apply to me, then why do I have to pay parish taxes?” Adams asked. “What the mayor is saying is that I could go out and break parish laws just because I live in the city.”

Council member Betty Alford-Olive moved to re-locate the store in Thursday’s meeting because of its closeness to both Oak Hill and South Side Elementary. Boo Robinson seconded. Eddie Gorden, Willie Lenoir and Arthur Hamlin voted down the motion.

Adams said Alford-Olive and Robinson “stood their moral ground, while the others did not. It just really disappoints me the stand Eddie Gorden has taken in this matter. He’s my representative on the council. He could stand on the law, and he won’t do it.”

Adams said he has looked into recalling Gorden.

“Logistically, getting the recall in place before the next election is a moot point. We couldn’t get a recall vote on the ballot before the next election.”

The mayor and aldermen are up for re-election in April.

“If the mayor’s so proud to have this business here, why doesn’t he have a ribbon-cutting?” Adams asked. “Isn’t that how we normally welcome businesses?”

On a more serious note, Adams cites data showing the detrimental impact of pornography on families and society. He invites the public to look at the evidence from online sources such as the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards or the American Family Association.

The Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Office reports 13 registered sex offenders live within two miles of The Red Door.

“We’re trying to raise our children here, and we’re trying to make this a safe place for families,” said Adams. “Every person who lives in the city or does business here has a stake and should come to the hearing Monday. And they should call every member of the council and let their voices be heard.”

The public hearing is slated for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20 at Bastrop City Hall.

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