August 27, 1996 in Nation/World

City And County Team Up Against Pornography Governments To Share Cost Of Adult-Entertainment Prosecutor

By The Spokesman-Review

Sex may soon get more difficult to sell in Spokane County.

The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a plan that calls for the city and county to share the cost of a prosecutor whose fulltime job is writing and enforcing adult-entertainment laws.

Patty Connolly Walker, a city prosecutor, will devote 40 hours a week to writing, enforcing and defending stricter laws that deal with adult arcades, bookstores, video shops and strip joints.

“I’m so happy!” exclaimed anti-pornography crusader Penny Lancaster, when she learned the plan won council approval.

After the meeting, Mayor Jack Geraghty called the city-county alliance a positive step.

“Obviously, this is an issue of concern to many citizens in the community,” he said. “This is a way for us to join together and make regulations on an areawide basis.”

Some who work in the sex business weren’t so pleased.

“I think the whole thing is a damn sham,” said the manager of Spokane Arcade on West First, which features peep-show booths. “The city can’t afford to pave the roads, but it can afford to take us to court.”

The plan could lead to licensing dancers in strip clubs, pressing obscenity charges against some adult businesses, and closing shops that fail to comply to the stricter laws, city officials said.

Currently, laws that regulate adult businesses differ between the county and the city. Now, Walker will draft and enforce laws that will be used countywide.

“This allows the county to be able to do something it hasn’t been able to do, and it allows the city to enact ordinances it wouldn’t be able to do,” Walker said.

Walker said a laundry list of felonies is associated with sexually oriented businesses: drug dealing, money laundering, prostitution, child pornography and racketeering.

In the past, she worked on criminal cases involving adult businesses in her spare time, making prosecution difficult.

“I’d get information all the time, and I’d just have to file it away,” she said.

Now, she’ll have more time, plus a county and city commitment to putting more police and code-enforcement resources toward enforcing adult-entertainment laws, she said.

The county will pay about $28,000 of Walker’s $70,000 salary-and-benefits package.

Lancaster, who rallied county and city support for the crackdown on adult businesses, said the council’s decision is in “the best interests of the community.”

But the manager of Spokane Arcade disagreed.

“This just appeases a small number of Christians who don’t like adult merchandise,” he said. “If they don’t like it, they don’t have to come in.”

The manager, who asked not to be identified, also disputed Walker’s statement that many crimes are linked to adult entertainment.

“We’ve never had one arrest for drug dealing. We’ve never had one arrest for prostitution,” he said.

Council members approved the plan without any comment. Spokane County commissioners gave their approval last month.

, DataTimes

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