To be entered as testimony at the Schenectady City Council
public hearing on Oct. 10 on the amendment to the adult-businesses
law that would dramatically increase the classes of businesses
limited to industrial zones, with the admitted and explicit
intention of shutting down one bed and breakfast on Union
Street at which the owner holds swingers parties:
council members. Thank you for the opportunity to make my
thoughts on this very important issue known. I support this
amendment whole-heartedly, but are you going to stop with
just this and a beefed-up noise ordinance? Just a paltry response.
I mean, sure, the original complaint was supposedly just about
noise, which could surely be handled with your new noise ordinance,
but we all know, as you have so wisely shown by pushing this
amendment through, that this is not actually about quality
of life, but about sex.
Schenectady surely has no greater problem to deal with than
appeasing a twitchy segment of its small cadre of remaining
middle-class residents. If those good citizens are afraid
that their children are going to become ill, get bad grades
in school and/or lose all sight of the moral values they were
raised with because strangers are having sex together somewhere
in their neighborhood, behind closed doors, in a building
that otherwise resembles all other buildings on the street,
it is right and good that the city government should step
in to make them feel better.
To wit, perhaps the city should consider a more comprehensive
overhaul of its statutes and policies:
To begin with, trying to be business-friendly is overrated.
It’s so complicated to act consistently enough to let business
owners know they will be treated fairly under the law, and
still protect quality of life.
Therefore, rather than wasting time trying to figure out all
the specific things that businesses would need to do to be
good neighbors—appropriate design, building upkeep, keeping
noise levels down, snow-shoveling, etc.—putting those into
law and then enforcing them, not to mention supporting and
encouraging neighborhood associations that have relationships
with their local businesses (phew! I mean, I’m out of breath
already), why not just give the morally righteous squeaky
wheels ultimate power? I propose an ordinance that says if
someone who pays taxes doesn’t like something about what you’re
doing and complains about it at least six successive city-council
meetings, then you’re out of the city. Period. Finito. No
need to resort to tricky excuses about zoning and the like.
Next, people keep circling around the question of whether
these swingers parties are in fact part of Mr. Alexson’s business
or not. It’s a good question, but you know he’s going to sue
the pants off you before it’s decided for good. So all your
good work at trying to corner him could go to naught, or at
least be seriously delayed. Instead, how about an adult behaviors
zoning ordinance? Everyone knows life is better in neighborhoods
where the only people who have sex are married couples. (Or
you know, it’s not the middle ages here, so probably civil-unioned
couples or people who’ve been together for a really long time
and have maybe started talking about marriage are OK too.
Let’s not be draconian.)
Of course, you have to be careful of the civil liberties.
I don’t care what people do in their personal lives, and you
wouldn’t have to get into regulating that either. This ordinance
would say just that if you want to engage in racy,
bawdy behavior, you would have to do it far, far away
from our property values.
In case you’re accused of only taking away rights, and never
giving any, you could also add the Jeanine Pirro’s Political
Life Memorial Act, which would state that behavior that would
otherwise be illegal or morally questionable, such as trespassing,
wiretapping, stealing someone else’s mail or using an elected
position to pressure someone else to do one of those things
on your behalf would be acceptable if you did it “as a wife.”
Maybe civil liberties are overrated anyway. Maybe fornication
should just be plumb outlawed in Schenectady. It would get
challenged, of course. But think of all the hotel stays (in
hotels that don’t rent rooms for the purpose of sex, of course)
by outside lawyers. You could charge inflated rates for hedonistic
ACLU lawyers. It could go all the way to the Supreme Court,
and you could use the publicity to attract a new wave of immigration
of right-wing fundamentalist wingnuts. By the time you lost
the court case, it wouldn’t matter—Schenectady would be a
morally upright town with no need for adult-business or adult-behavior
regulation in the first place.