I was wrong back in October about the city's crackdown on lap dancing. Not on the ban itself -- on that I can't get interested either way -- but I thought sure that lobbyist Steve Afriat was just taking the strip club industry's money when he signed on to get the law stopped. Well, on Tuesday the city council retreated.
Hats off to Afriat, whose strategy included a signature-gathering effort with petitions that never mentioned nude dancing -- more than 100,000 voters signed. Now let's hope for some revelatory behind-the-scenes reporting on what really turned the council. It's not in the Times front-page story tomorrow. With no real public outcry to save lap dances, I can't believe the threat of Afriat's referendum was persuasive. Even he doesn't claim (in the LAT story anyway) to have polls showing that L.A. voters would vote for it, only that it being on the ballot would "turn the election into a joke."
An ambitious reporter might pull Afriat's list of other clients, ask some questions around the council offices, then watch the campaign contributions from strip club operators over the coming months. (The Daily News, meanwhile, calls it more of a compromise in which the city will get some restrictions and the clubs will get to continue lap dances. The Daily Breeze agrees. All three stories quote Afriat.)
Updated 9 a.m. Wednesday