Making Adult Entertainment Go Away – NOT!

By Paul Gable

Horry County’s proposed adult entertainment ordinances will have second reading at the August 13, 2013 regular meeting of county council. There is no public review listed on council agenda, so that, presumably, will occur at third reading.

The ordinances were subjected to scrutiny at a recent county council ad hoc committee meeting with the Tennessee attorney Scott Burgthold on the phone to answer questions from committee members. Bergthold is the ‘specialist’ attorney the county has contracted to help with the ordinances and the expected lawsuits that will result from adoption of the new proposed ordinance provisions.

During the meeting, Bergthold outlined his legal approach to defending these ordinances in court and referred to a four year court battle (2003-07) in Daytona Beach, FL, which he won.

However, if you Google strip clubs in Daytona Beach today, you will see that many adult entertainment clubs are still operating, quite legally, six years after the case was settled giving court approval to the ordinances.

That is the main point Horry County taxpayers must understand. Even if these ordinances are approved and a long court battle is won, adult entertainment establishments will still be operating in Horry County. As Bergthold admitted, it is constitutionally illegal to ban their operation.

They may have to move from their current locations. Interestingly, a map of where they will be able to operate in the county was recently received from the county planning department. Suffice it to say that the 501 corridor through the Carolina Forest area from just south of Coastal Carolina University to the area around River Oaks Drive will be wide open. Continuing the 501 corridor from the River Oaks Drive area to the intersection of U.S. 501 and U.S. 17 Bypass is a second wide open area.

That doesn’t include the adult entertainment establishments in Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach that will not be affected in any way by the new ordinances. They are subject to ordinances of the city in which they are located.

It’s beginning to look like Bergthold, far from being a St. Patrick leading the adult entertainment ‘snakes’ out of Horry County, is really looking more like the ‘Music Man’ who will pad his retirement accounts with hundreds of thousands of Horry County tax dollars defending the ordinances, which will not stop adult entertainment in Horry County.

Below is a press release from Todd Martin, who represents one of the adult entertainment video stores in Horry County. Obviously, Martin has a vested interest in seeing these ordinances defeated, but that does not change the accuracy of his research.

More about the Horry County maps and the Carolina Forest problem tomorrow.

The Press Release from Todd Martin, corporate spokesman for Airport Express Video, LLC is printed below:

Date:   August 9, 2013

 Re:       Horry County Adult Entertainment Ordinance Changes

 This material will supplement our prior Press Release dated August 1, 2013. It appears that County Council this coming Tuesday evening will hear, debate, and ultimately forward the current proposed Adult Entertainment Ordinance changes on to a “third reading”. We are optimistically hopeful that the local media outlets will devote a good bit of attention to the following matters which have since either been disproven or miscommunicated:

 1.     Council Chairman Mark Lazarus stated in an earlier meeting regarding the changes “in enacting this ordinance, we are not going to close any businesses.” Does it not seem odd that “if” this ordinance passes to third reading it will effectively shutter ALL businesses involved?

 2.     Representatives of Airport Express Video personally met and/or conferred with four members of council and at the onset each and every one asked (in some form or fashion) “how does this affect you, you’re not a topless club.” One of those same members (as recently as yesterday) stated “this won’t affect you guys – you don’t have any homes near you” (in fact we have a plethora of residential developments directly behind us and across the street.

 3.     In that this matter has been so swiftly advanced (at the demand and insistence of a couple of attorney’s who stand to profit by the hundreds of thousands of dollars if the ordinance passes and the county is sued – and it most definitely will be) that the vast majority of those polled do not even think that the individual council members even understand the vast effects of the sweeping changes, let alone the vast legal issues surrounding them.

 In last weeks “workshop” attorney Scott Bergthold states that “now we advance the court cases to a speedy conclusion by asking for a hearing on the merits.” Hummmm, interesting point Scott. Let’s take a careful look. Mr. Bergthold was involved in the Hillsboro County, Florida case(s) and we think that there are more currently operating topless clubs in Tampa, Florida than about anywhere else in the US (per capita). Did they have an expedited hearing? Why are they still open and operational?

 Please review the attached PACER docket sheet. Mr. Bergthold has formed a cottage industry “defending counties” only after coming in as their knight in shining armor … with his boilerplate ordinances in tow. So let’s get this straight Horry County – Scott Bergthold didn’t come to you to “help you draft your ordinance” he came running to you with his boilerplate ordinance – to get you sued as many times possible so that he can then be PAID a bunch of money to defend you. It’s not a POSSIBILITY … rather a CERTAINTY! Scott Bergthold has defended millions of dollars in cases, 55 in federal court to be exact.

 He talks a lot about Sandy Springs, Georgia – right? Sure, Flanigan’s Enterprises Inc. v. City of Sandy Springs.  United States District Court, federal court to be exact – and it was filed October 5, 2009 and guess what? Must be they didn’t get those “expedited hearings” he told ya’all about, because just this May the judge in that case took the motions under advisement to issue his ruling. Let’s do the math shall we? This October the case will be four YEARS old and the docket will have reached 35 pages in length. Motion after motion, hearing after hearing. Mr. Bergthold, can you tell us the status of those store operations in Sandy Spring? They’re closed right? Like you told the Horry County Council when you rode into town, you can have them all closed in 90-days…. Right?

 He will surely claim that Sandy Springs is a “limited exception” but wait folks, it’s not. Let’s look at another fine example. Keepers Inc . v. Milford, Ct. again, in the federal court there. This one is an even BETTER example of the king of adult billable hours at work. Filed August 13, 2007. By the time council meets again this case will be in YEAR number SIX and thus far, there are page after page of motions, hearings, etc. Please don’t take our word for it, you be the judge. We have attached exact duplicate copies of all of these docket sheets for your perusal. You take a look. It’s awful funny that Mr. Bergthold didn’t share this side of the picture with ya’all, now did he?

 This list goes on and on. These meetings have the fine, God fearing church folks in this county believing that you pass this today and the Gold Club issue is solved. You pass this today and in 90-days all the so-called adult clubs, bookstores and what not simply get there doors closed. Ask the folks in Sandy Springs. Ask the folks in Milford. Ask yourself when you are going to stop believing that Scott Bergthold came here to help Horry County. There is not but one thing that he came here to help you with; and that it to deplete your checkbook by way of his extremely expensive billable hours for the next five or six years … and then folks, there is the appeal process. I didn’t bother to look those up, as the good taxpayers can’t afford police cars and fire trucks – but this “snake-oil salesman” has them believing that they can afford millions of dollars in litigation and possibly damage expense.

 Please take time to review the attached official documents and just for a second, ask yourselves what the heck you are getting yourself into. Who wins in this battle? Not the church’s, not the clubs, not that taxpayers … but that one who came in on that white horse, waiving that save the day flag … he WINS big time! Five years from now after full re-assessment happens and you don’t have money to fight the real crime, the street crime, to put out the fires, to maintain your roadways – just be thankful that those businesses will still be there, their doors wide open and Scott Bergthold will be too, in a courtroom near you – sending you an enormous bill each and every month. Wow, I’m thankful as a taxpayer he came to save us!

 Respectfully submitted,

 Todd Martin




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