CITY HALL — A progressive alderman blamed the mayor Tuesday for a "warped" proposal on strip clubs he can no longer support after originally sponsoring it.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said he was originally trying to prevent adult businesses like bookstores from morphing into strip joints simply by declaring themselves cabarets and starting in at taking it all off. He submitted an ordinance amendment to that end.
"What came out was, I think, different," Waguespack said Tuesday. "It went up to the Mayor's Office, basically, and what came out was a discussion just completely different from what I wanted."
The Mayor's Press Office denied drafting the ordinance, but otherwise did not respond to requests for comment.
Ald. Edward Burke (14th) first raised eyebrows when the proposal was under consideration in committee. He supported it by saying a "world-class city" should have "realistic kinds of adult entertainment venues."
The ordinance amendment is a complex piece of legislation involving zoning, liquor and adult-entertainment statutes. What Waguespack and others discovered was that in striking existing language stating, "The consumption of alcoholic liquor on the premises of any adult use where nude dancing is permitted is strictly prohibited," it appeared to therefore "codify" allowing liquor and nude dancing to mix.
"What came out of it was just warped into something completely different," Waguespack said.
The North Side establishment VIP's is the only known city business offering liquor and topless dancing, and it won that after years of controversy in a $2.5 million settlement reached with the Emanuel administration. Mayor Rahm Emanuel later boasted of plowing that money back into a Chicago Lawn domestic-violence shelter.
The amended ordinance was deferred last month at the last moment in City Council by Waguespack's Progressive Reform Caucus colleagues Aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd) and John Arena (45th). Fioretti raised issues over the effect on the estimated 16,000 to 25,000 prostitutes working daily in the city, saying, "We can all beat our breasts that this is a world-class city and we need world-class adult entertainment, but the truth of the matter is we have an underlying social problem. ... That underground activity undermines us as a city — a world-class city."
Arena worried about aldermanic control being lost in the confusion, for instance before the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Yet the proposal will be back, as is, on the docket at Wednesday's City Council meeting and figures to draw more attention before it's ultimately voted on.
"I basically will not be voting for it," Waguespack said. "I've already talked with several aldermen and told them if they don't want to vote for it, then don't vote for it."