Happy Holloween to one and all. We hope everyone gets a chance
to enjoy the weekend. If you don’t do Holloween you can still have
fun this weekend. That being said, here are a couple local topics
that have nothing to do with Holloween.
If I remember correctly Alderman Bill Lynn will be a guest
on the Jim Fisher talk show this afternoon at 5 pm. If you
don’t normally listen but live in the 5th Ward and want to
learn more about Alderman Lynn it may be worth a listen.
A recent article in the QC Times regarding the Chorus
Line appeal and subsequent denial left me with a few
questions. The following is the denial letter-
October 26, 2009
5688 Evergreen Place
Bettendorf, Iowa 52772
RE: Chorus Line Denial Appeal
Dear Mr. Mazhar:
This letter serves as the Hearing Officer’s decision regarding your appeal of Chief Financial Officer Guard’s denial of your adult cabaret license application. Process On October 22 and 23, a hearing was conducted in response to your request to appeal the
September 24, 2009 denial of your adult cabaret license application. You were represented by
attorneys Mike Meloy and John Flynn. The City of Davenport (hereafter City) was represented
by attorney Chris Jackson. Upon considering and denying your attorney’s request that I recuse
or disqualify myself from serving as Hearing Officer, the hearing began on October 22 and was
continued on October 23.
The City submitted one exhibit, a series of eight pictures taken within Dr. John’s Lingerie
Boutique (hereafter Dr. John’s) and your attorneys submitted sixteen exhibits, including a second
series of pictures taken within Dr. John’s. All exhibits are retained on file. Every witness
requested by your attorneys was made available for testimony, including those that were objected
to by City Attorney Jackson. An audio tape of the hearing is retained on file and a court reporter
was present, at your attorney’s request. At your attorney’s request, all witnesses were sworn
1. On July 28, 2009, the City received an application filed by Nadeem Mazhar, of 5688
Evergreen Place, Bettendorf, Iowa to open an adult cabaret known as “Chorus Line” at 4128 N.
Brady Street in Davenport.
City of Davenport
2. Chorus Line had operated as an adult cabaret for several years prior, but was not operating as
a business at the time of application. The space within 4128 N. Brady Street that Mr. Mazhar
desired to reopen as an adult cabaret was vacant at the time.
3. Prior to its closure, a consent decree dated August 20, 2004 had allowed the Chorus Line
(issued an adult cabaret license in error on December 12, 2002) to operate at 4128 N. Brady
Street as a pre-existing, non-conforming use.
4. On August 13, 2008, Dr. John’s was issued a business license to operate a retail store at 4128
N. Brady Street, within the same building as Chorus Line. There was no on-site inspection of the
inventory of Dr. John’s prior to issuance of the retail business license.
5. Through August and September of 2009, the Chorus Line adult cabaret license was reviewed
by City staff within the Fire, Police and Community Planning & Economic Development
departments. Staff within the three reviewing departments recommended approval.
6. The recommended approval by the Community Planning and Economic Development
Department, to assure compliance with the City’s Zoning Ordinance, was provided by Senior
Manager Matt Flynn. Mr. Flynn had never reviewed an adult cabaret license before while
employed by the City. Mr. Flynn visited the site and looked through the front window of Dr.
John’s to ascertain whether the business was an adult business as defined by City Code. Mr.
Flynn did not enter Dr. John’s.
7. On September 21, City Administrator Malin conducted a site inspection of 4128 N. Brady
Street. The inspection revealed a western façade (Chorus Line) in a vacant and generally
unkempt state. The inspection revealed an eastern façade (Dr. John’s) as an operating business.
The business was advertised, on its front window, as containing “Adult” costumes and games.
Mr. Malin entered the store to find an inventory that contained explicit material, including
“XXX” videos and magazines, and instruments, novelties and devices designed for use in
connection with sexual activities. The inventory included liquids and gels necessary or helpful
in the utilization of said sexual devices, and garments that were advertised and displayed as
being complimentary or inductive to sexual activity. Mr. Malin was advised by the clerk present
that the store had a policy of not permitting anyone under the age of 18 from entering and was
further advised store personnel were instructed to request age identification in case of any
question. A sign on the entry door required anyone entering to remove hoodies, sunglasses and
8. Upon returning to City Hall, City Administrator Malin conferred with Senior Manager Flynn
and Corporation Counsel Tom Warner regarding his site visit.
9. A letter denying the Chorus Line adult cabaret license on the basis that Section 17.47.030.B
of the Davenport Code prohibits more than one adult establishment from occupying the same lot
was drafted under the guidance of Corporation Counsel Warner. As head of the Finance
Department (which issues licenses) the letter was signed by Chief Financial Officer Alan Guard
on September 24 and mailed via certified mail to Mr. Mazhar. As a courtesy, the letter included
two potential sites for his business, closer to his residence.
10. At the appeal hearing, Corporation Counsel Warner testified that he entered Dr. John’s on
October 20 to review the inventory and take pictures of the store. The pictures document a
significant portion of the inventory is adult material. Mr. Warner testified that there is clearly
more than 10% of the space being dedicated to adult material. Attorney Flynn asked Mr. Warner
if he had taken measurements to support this conclusion and Mr. Warner testified that the
amount of adult material was extensive to the point that measurement was not necessary to reach
his conclusion. Picture A1 depicts lubricants and condoms. Picture A2 depicts adult novelty
items, including a variety of baking supplies for those who prefer dessert items in the shape of
genitalia. Picture A3 depicts appurtenances to affix to, rub on, or insert in, genitalia. Pictures
A4 and A5 continue this theme, with a wall of manually operated and battery powered devices
for a variety of sexual activity. Picture A6 depicts a section devoted to sexually explicit, “XXX”
videos and magazines. There is no sign posted to keep children out of this section evident on the
picture. Picture A7 shows another lubricant display. Picture A8 depicts the garment section of
11. At the appeal hearing, Attorney Flynn presented a series of 19 (lettered A – S) pictures of
Dr. John’s. Of the 19 pictures, 5 (L, M, N O, R) were clearly taken on the south half of the store,
where the substantial majority of the explicit material is displayed. None of the 5 pictures
clearly taken on the south half of the store (L, M, N, O, R) are framed in a manner that accurately
depicts the store’s complete inventory. This distortion was noted by Corporation Counsel
Warner, in response to a question by Attorney Flynn if the 19 pictures accurately displayed the
store’s inventory. Corporation Counsel Warner testified that they did not. Picture “E” of the
collection depicts the same “Adult” costumes and games advertisement on the front window that
City Administrator Malin observed on September 21. Pictures F, G, H, I, J, L, N, P, Q and S
display apparel neither Corporation Counsel Warner nor Attorney Flynn could distinctly identify
(later identified by the store manager as garments worn by exotic dancers or couples engaged in
role playing and / or amorous activities). Pictures L and N depicts such garments hanging on a
rack, and serving as an incomplete screen to the explicit video area. Anyone perusing the
garments on these racks would be exposed to explicit depictions of sexual activity. Picture P
depicts similar garments, and packets of “Tongue Joy” which Attorney Flynn could not classify.
Picture R depicts a rack of colorful items, which, again, Attorney Flynn could not identify (later
identified as lubricants for sexual activity). Picture S depicts a cornucopia of see thru lingerie.
12. Attorney Mark Engelmann, who had represented Mr. Mazhar prior to the license denial,
offered his opinion that the consent decree permitted the continuation of the business at the
current address. Attorney Jackson disagreed, noting the business had been evicted and the
presence of Dr. John’s as an adult business on the same lot precluded the Chorus Line adult
cabaret license from being approved. Exhibit 7, submitted by attorneys Flynn and Meloy,
includes an admission by Michael Siegel that Chorus Line had been evicted and that Chorus Line
did not contest the eviction. Further, there was no lease or proof of payment entered into the
record to substantiate that Chorus Line was operating as a business.
13. Kelly Smith, Dr. John’s Store Manager, testified that Dr. John’s opened in the last week of
August, 2008, under a retail business license. Ms. Smith opined that the percentage of adult
material in Dr. John’s was less than 10%, and that some items in the inventory were available for
purchase in other general retail and apparel stores, including Walgreens, Spencer’s Gifts and
Victoria’s Secret. She noted she was personally offended that children were exposed to some of
this similar merchandise at Spencer’s Gifts. She explained that the prohibition against children
in Dr. John’s was threefold; 1) to keep teenagers from continually trying on items though rarely
buying anything, 2) to keep small children from damaging the merchandise, and 3) to keep
children from viewing material that was clearly adult in nature. Ms. Smith identified some items
that Attorney Flynn could not identify and, under questioning, opined that the demarcation
between the adult material in Dr. John’s and the material that those under 18 could be exposed to
was best defined by the division of the store between the floor surface covered by carpet versus
linoleum, the linoleum portion of the store being adult in nature.
15. Chief Financial Officer Guard, Customer Service Representative Rudy Cuevas, Mr. Nadeem
Mazhar and Mr. “Jay” Hameen (who works for Mr. Mazhar) were called as witnesses and
questioned by Attorneys Flynn and Meloy, to no substantive effect.
16. In closing, City Attorney Jackson argued that the Chorus Line denial was proper, in that
Chorus Line was evicted, that Dr. John’s was clearly an adult establishment, and that City Code
does not permit two adult establishments from occupying the same lot.
17. In closing, Attorney Meloy argued that Chorus Line was a legal, non-conforming use, that
Dr. John’s was not an adult establishment and that the City had no basis to deny the Chorus Line
adult cabaret license. Attorney Meloy also reiterated his objection to City Administrator Malin
serving as Hearing Officer.
After the hearing, a follow up site inspection of Dr. John’s was conducted to ascertain the
approximate percentage of adult material for sale at the store. In my capacity as Hearing Officer,
I conducted this inspection, and Store Manager Smith was present as I arrived at the store.
Utilizing the linoleum (adult material) vs. carpeted (arguable material) demarcation referenced
both by Corporation Counsel Warner and specifically by Store Manager Smith, an
approximation of the amount of floor space on both sides of the store was determined by
counting the 2’ x 2’ ceiling tiles above the sales floor.
Extracting out dressing room and storage space, and otherwise approximating the space in the
most favorable manner to the Chorus Line petitioner, the calculations result in approximately
2,340 square feet of sales area devoted to unquestionably adult material while 1,820 square feet
is devoted to material that is arguably adult material. The site visit further confirmed that there is
no evident means of separating the space between adult and non-adult material. Patrons are free
to wander throughout the store, and all customers buying something have to enter upon the
linoleum to pay at the cash register, which itself is festooned with adult novelties.
To be clear, in my judgment as Hearing Officer, more than 90% of the apparel on the carpeted
area is intended to be utilized in, at least, a sexually suggestive manner. The apparel is
constructed and packaged in ways distinct from what one may find in a typical intimate apparel
department or store. To be further clear, there is no value judgment ascribed by the undersigned
to this distinction, or to the adult items in the store. The undersigned is not an administrator for a
Shaker Village. The undersigned is a City Administrator for a populous and diverse city. Cities
can neither exist, nor can be sustained, without sexual activity.
In the interest of promoting public health, safety and welfare, cities are empowered to regulate
adult businesses. The ability of cities to require appropriate licenses and distance separations
between adult establishments to avert the degradation of property into “red light” districts is well
established in law. The City of Davenport has such a law, regulating adult establishment
location and prohibiting any two adult establishments from operating on the same lot, or within
500 feet of each other.
It is the undersigned’s opinion, confirmed by direct inspection and calculation at the post hearing
site inspection, that Dr. John’s is, by its inventory, advertisement and admission of its own
employees, an adult establishment. There are thousands of items in plain view that are clearly
adult in nature and to deny such strains all credibility.
The undersigned recognizes John Coil, President of Doctor John’s Inc., Mr. Mazhar of Chorus
Line Inc. and Attorney Mike Meloy all contend that Dr. John’s is not an adult establishment.
These contentions are blatantly self-serving and are so utterly contrary to any honest assessment
of the inventory clearly visible upon entry to the Dr. John’s operating at 4128 N. Brady Street
that they call into question whether any statements made by these men may be believed.
The October 9, 2009 appeal is denied. The September 24 denial of the adult cabaret license
for Chorus Line is upheld.
Should you have any questions, feel free to contact Corporation Counsel Warner.
City Administrator / Hearing Officer
via certified mail
cc: Corporation Counsel Warner, Attorney Mike Meloy (via Corp Counsel Warner), Chief Financial Officer Guard,
Community Planning & Economic Development Director Miner, Mayor Gluba & City Council
Comments are always welcome.