April 22, 2004
And over the edge we go

You know when you've taken a good idea too far? Looks like Carole Keeton Strayhorn doesn't.

Opening another front in her criticism of Gov. Rick Perry's school finance plan, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn on Wednesday said that instead of taxing strip clubs, the state should shut them down.

As one way of raising money to offset property tax cuts and pay for new education spending, Perry has proposed charging a $5 admission tax on strip clubs. He said this would raise $45 million a year.

"The state of Texas does not need to be partnering with these clubs that are degrading, particularly to women," said Strayhorn.


Strayhorn said her office is working on legislation to ban the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages at sexually oriented nightclubs.

"If these clubs can stay in business selling lemonade and iced tea, at least I will feel better about the safety of the dancers," she said.

Apparently, closing the clubs and putting those women out of work is somehow better for them. At least Strayhorn's conscience will be put at ease. And not to put too fine a point on it, but SOBs generate sales tax revenues for the state just like other businesses do. Would the Comptroller care to share with us an estimate of the financial consequences of shutting them down? I'm thinking that's a "no".

The rest of the article is mostly more of the same bickering between Strayhorn and Perry that we've been subjected to lately. We're not even a week into this special session and already it's grating on my last nerve.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 22, 2004 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

I think Strayhorn has plenty of legitimate beefs with much of Perry's agenda, but at this point, I think she's going out of her way to be annoyingly critical and contrary to everything he's saying. Perry could say the sky is blue and she'd claim otherwise. There can be no mistaking this for anything *other* than political posturing and positioning.

And what's more "degrading to women" -- voluntarily working for a living or being forced into unemployment because some politicians don't like your choice of occupation? I would contend it's the latter. We are talking about consenting adults here, presumably; if not, we have a completely different problem on our hands.

Frankly, these folks all need to suck it up and accept the idea that if other revenues need to be raised to pay for property tax relief, the pain needs to be spread broadly and as thinly as possible, rather than expecting 10-20% of the population to finance it all for us. What was that the founders used to call that, the "tyranny of the majority" or something like that?

Posted by: Tim on April 22, 2004 8:31 AM

Good grief. Even the once-infamous Geneva Kirk Brooks recanted her position on SOBs, eventually calling only for restrictions on their locations. If Strayhorn thinks her extreme position will gain traction with the GOP base, I believe she's in for a rude surprise.

Tim, I believe the phrase "tyranny of the majority" means something quite different from your usage. For examples, see GOP legislators' behavior regarding reredistricting, or current congressional committees in which the GOP, with its one-vote majority, often does not seek or accept Democratic input at all. Our founders expected there would be shifting political alliances and ever-changing majorities, and that as a result any tendency toward that particular kind of tyranny would be damped. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way.

Posted by: Steve Bates on April 22, 2004 8:57 AM

Since I've already announced I'm not running for governor, I'm happy to come out as pro-strip club....not that I'm a patron.....recently. With proper regulation I see nothing wrong with them. Besides, it's not just the dancers that would be put out of work, consider the stores that sell stripper costumes, valets, bouncers, plastic surgeons. I'm not sure we can weather that kind of economic impact.

Besides, what would happen to the approximately 9200 buildings used for strip club in Houston alone? Abandoned buildings that become the coolest crack houses on the gulf coast. So to me the choice is simple. I'll take naked people dancing to Prodigy over crack houses any day. TPFIC, BTW.

Posted by: Patrick on April 22, 2004 9:15 AM

"Strayhorn said her office is working on legislation to ban the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages at sexually oriented nightclubs.

"If these clubs can stay in business selling lemonade and iced tea, at least I will feel better about the safety of the dancers," she said."

If you tax the bottles of "champange" some strippers try to get the clients to buy, you'll keep the school system financed forever. On the other hand, I can't see why "sin taxes" (sex (strippers), drugs (alchohol and cigarettes), and rock and roll (stadium taxes plus income taxes charged to visiting athletes) plus the use of casino / lottery gambling) should be the main source of educational financing. Between property, income and sales taxes, as well as usage fees for permits (hunting, fishing, etc), I would think that most states have more than enough money to spend on schools.

Of course, New York is in a similar bind since they have to come up with a court ordered increase to New York City schools due to years of shortchanging the system. Estimated cost: at least $6 billion.

Posted by: William Hughes on April 22, 2004 9:16 AM

OK, I'm pretty good at acronyms, but you've stumped me, Patrick. What does "TPFIC" stand for?

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 22, 2004 10:20 AM

TPFIC - Tongue Planted Firmly In Cheek.

Posted by: Patrick on April 22, 2004 2:53 PM

Don't underestimate the appeal of Strayhorn's position to the Christian right. Oklahoma went down this road over a decade ago. After legalizing liquor-by-the-drink in the 80's, Oklahoma City developed a problem with inebriated strip-club patrons getting in fights, and wanted to pass an ordinance banning alcoholic beverages at the clubs (similar to Strayhorn's fallback position). But they discovered that while they had authority to do this at clubs with liquor licenses, they couldn't do anything about strip clubs with beer bars.

So, they asked the state Lege to change the law. But you can guess what happened. Once the fundies got ahold of the request, the bill morphed from one which would allow cities to ban nude dancing at beer bars into a statewide ban on all nude dancing!

Topless dancing is still legal in OK, AFAIK, so the models just keep a G-string on and not much else has changed. But the point is, never underestimate the willingness of Repugs to do something stupid in order to placate their Christian right base. Strayhorn's proposal may have more support than you think.

Posted by: Mathwiz on April 23, 2004 5:10 PM