City shrugs at inquiry from Net porn business
A Bulgarian company asks about the city. Officials play it straight.
By ANNE LINDBERG, Times staff writer
Published July 29, 2007
This city is run by a pretty straight-laced group of officials.
They winced when the porn awards came to town. They cringed when Pinellas Park hit the headlines for being the site of a voyeur dorm. And they refused to annex a topless bar because they didn't want "that kind" of business in the city.
But now, a Bulgarian company has asked about locating an adult Internet business in Pinellas Park. Rather than ignoring the request or telling the company to go away, officials have sent a matter-of-fact e-mail outlining where "adult entertainment establishments" can be located and referencing parts of the city code that govern such businesses.
"You do have to treat it as a legitimate inquiry," Pinellas Park spokesman Tim Caddell said. "You can't go back and say, 'What are you, nuts?' "
The e-mailed letter was sent to City Manager Mike Gustafson. It comes from a company called Power Vision Ltd. In strained English, it outlines a proposal to rent both an office and "separate premises."
The "separate premises" will be used "for creation of production which is going to be on-line shown over the internet space, and also for records of such over an internet platforms. ... The production which is going to be created and to be on-line broadcasted over the internet or in other ways may be saved, will be consisted of showing and exposing of specific anatomical zones and specific sexual activities."
"OBSCENITY and HARDCORE PORNOGRAPHY" will not be permitted, according to the letter.
Gustafson said he opened the e-mail, skimmed it and said, "Eeeeuuuuwwww."
"We do get a lot of strange e-mails," he added.
That's the problem.
"You don't know what to take seriously and what not to take seriously, so I sent it to the proper person to answer the question," he said.
Seminole would have handled the e-mail the same way, said Mark Ely, head of that city's development department. Legally, he said, the request has to be treated as legitimate, whether the city wants such a business or not.
"I'm feeling deprived," Ely joked. "I'm shocked and appalled that the Bulgarians would not think Seminole was a quality place to come and do business. Some people get the gold, and some people get the bronze. Some things I'll just have to live with."
Ely raised an interesting question.
Why would someone in Bulgaria look at a map of the United States and choose Pinellas Park as the perfect place for an adult Internet business?
"They just didn't know who to send it to in Lealman. That's the problem with being an uncity," Caddell said of the unincorporated community that's next to Pinellas Park. "Everyone knows Pinellas Park is the gateway to Lealman."
As for Seminole's bit of jealousy?
"They're deprived. We're depraved. That's why we got the e-mail," Caddell said jokingly. "We could try to steer them toward (Seminole)."
Or, better yet, Caddell said, "we might be able to find a location right on the border. Suite A could be in Pinellas Park. Suite B could (be in Seminole)."
Pinellas Park Mayor Bill Mischler, who gets a kick out of grand openings, said it was "premature" to discuss whether he'd attend a bash for the Bulgarian business, should it open.
But council member Rick Butler urged Mischler to attend, saying, "Listen, I'll go with you. You'll be fine. We'll have a good time. We'll drink Coke, Bulgarian Coke."
Butler even suggested an outfit for Mischler - "his T-back."
Mischler turned red.
[Last modified July 28, 2007, 20:55:52]
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