Strip club litigation continues after hearing

Savannah Chastain
The site of the proposed strip club along Airport Road is still garnering plenty of controversy and discussion as court battles continue

After sitting through a legal session between attorneys from the city of Destin and the proposed strip club on Airport Road, Patti Terjack left the meeting with more questions than answers.

“I guess to say I was disappointed would be an understatement,” said Terjak, a member of Citizen's for a Greater Destin.

The public hearing at the Federal Court House in Pensacola gave the attorneys from Trident-Operations LLC and the city of Destin a chance to discuss the current litigation between the two groups. Two topics were on the docket for discussion; a preliminary injunction requested by Trident to address a First Amendment concern — freedom of erotic speech — and a motion to dismiss the strip club settlement set by the city of Destin.

Terjak explained that Usher Larry Brown, who represents the city, fumbled through his presentation and did not represent a strong case for Destin. She also said the plaintiff’s attorneys, Gary Edinger and Dana Matthews skirted around Judge Casey Rogers’ questions, pushing their own agenda instead.

“Both sides just came across to me as idiots; it was almost an embarrassment for the city of Destin that the representation was what it was,” Terjak told The Log.

“None of us really understood it,” Terjak said of the proceedings. “Judge Casey Rogers was more knowledgeable on the case then either attorney representing the case.”

Terjak shared that in her opinion, Destin’s attorneys for the 2010 Trident case, Scott Shirley and Anthony Garganese, would have been a better choice to represent Destin in the current Federal Court proceedings.

“Mr. Brown was not as well informed as either of the other two would have been,” she said.

Terjak was joined at the meeting by fellow residents Kelly Haeusler and Carmen Stiles, but she was disturbed that Brown was the only party in attendance representing the city. She questions how much of a priority the case is to the city.

“Coming away from this, my biggest question and concern is that representation for the city was inadequate,” Terjak said. “This is a case in front of a federal judge that could have gotten this thing thrown out all together. I came away with the feeling that nothing was accomplished, nothing was moving along.”

Ultimately, there were no decisions made during Thursday’s hearing in Pensacola, so the litigation will continue with no definitive end in sight. Judge Rogers will make a ruling, but no timeline has been set.

Public Information Manager, Doug Rainer confirmed that Brown was the only city representative to attend the hearing, but ensured that City Council members will remain informed.

“We have a weekly meeting with our council, and prior to every council meeting we will sit down individually to brief and cover all of the legal proceedings before they go into the executive session,” Rainer said.

A message left for Matthews was not returned before press time.

Representatives from both the city and strip club will convene behind closed doors Monday night for an executive session to discuss the case. The meeting will be held in the City Hall Annex at 5 p.m., and Terjak urges citizens to show up and show unity.

“Anybody that can physically be there, please take an hour out of your busy schedules to be there,” she said. “I’m not sure what it’s going to be, but I’m not going to take that chance.”