Klub 24 in Opa-locka sues; city manager fired

Klub 24 is officially closed

There will be no happy hour at Klub 24 Friday night.

The strip club, which is normally opened 24 hours, Opa-locka police served the business a cease-and-desist notice, according to City Manager Newall Daughtrey.

This comes more than two weeks after the Opa-locka City Commission voted to close the business.

“I followed the instructions of the City Commission and stop them from operating,” said Daughtrey.

5ad50a2dd2216.image

Klub 24 opened without the City Commission’s approval and the special exemption from the Planning Council required by Opa-locka law for an adult business. Depending on who you ask, the club also violates the city’s nudity, alcohol and theatrical laws.

Daughtrey, who was just appointed to the position on Wednesday, ended a nearly three month debate over closing the business.

The nightclub became a trending topic a week after it opened. At the Jan. 24 commission meeting, Opa-locka building director, Esin Daniel Abia told the Commission that a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy was issued to give the business a grace period – Jan. 17 to April 20 – to get the appropriate approvals.

Former City Manager Ed Brown advised the Commission by memo and at two meetings that it would be best to let the club live out the length of the occupancy certificate despite city attorney’s recommendation.

However, the officials voted 3-2 on March 28 to close the business.

5ad50a82235d4.image

Klub 24 in Opa-locka sues; city manager fired

Klub 24 owners backed away from their position to resolve peacefully a dispute they have with the city of Opa-locka.

An attorney for B & G Holdings Inc. and B & G Opa Land Holdings LLC, operators of the 24-hour adult entertainment business, filed a lawsuit against the city, demanding it reopen their nightclub it shuttered Friday evening.

Attorney Raven Liberty filed the complaint on Monday in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court asking a judge to not only reopen the business but to extend its occupancy certificate, which is set to expire Friday, April 20.

Liberty said owners Gregg Berger and Philip Gori tried to end the three-month dispute peacefully. Now, Opa-locka, the employees of Klub 24 and former City Manager Ed Brown are the latest causalities in ongoing battle over the club’s legality.

“We have employers that don’t know how they are going to pay their rent, or how they are going to feed their kids,” she said. “The owners don’t want a dispute; they just

want to get back to business and keep their employees employed.”

But work stopped at about 3:35 p.m on Friday, as the general manager of Klub 24 prepared his staff for the happy-hour rush. He was met with a cease-and-desist letter from an Opa-locka city official.

Giovanni Acajosi said before he could figure out for himself what the letter meant for he and the other estimated 100 employees, he was told by Opa-locka Police Chief James Dobson that everyone had to leave the premises.

After speaking to Chief Dobson Friday, Acajosi asked the DJ to turn off the music. Then he cleared the building – not before he issued refunds to patrons.

He then explained to employees what happened.

Some of them waiting outside for rides.

On Tuesday, he said employees were calling for their paychecks.

Before the police’s chief’s visit, newly appointed Opa-locka City Manager Newall Daughtrey said Friday he ordered the letter to be hand-delivered to the club.

“I followed the instructions of the City Commission and stopped them from operating,” said Newall.

Newall is referring to a March 28 vote by the Opa-locka Commission. Commissioners Timothy Holmes, Matthew Pigatt and Joseph Kelley voted to close the business.

Commissioners wanted to know how the club was issued a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy on Jan.17, without special approval from the Commission and Planning Council. City Attorney Vincent Brown told commissioners the adult entertainment business was an illegal operation prior to the vote.

“In light of an improperly issued Certificate of Occupancy, a prohibition against adult entertainment within the City, violation of several ordinances pertaining to time and manner of operation, an improperly issued license and failure by Klub 24 to pursue the proper avenues of approval after being informed multiple times to do so, I am of the opinion that Klub 24 is NOT permitted to operate an “adult entertainment” business within the City of Opa-Locka at this time,” the city attorney wrote in a Feb. 12 memo.

However, as city manager, Ed Brown argued the laws changed in 2016 and 2015 respectively regarding hours of operation and nudity. He said since the Temporary Certificate Occupancy was already issued, in order to avoid a lawsuit, it would be best to give the operators an opportunity to resolve any issues.

After the vote, Ed Brown did not act on the resolution to close the club instead he met with the owners on April 2. He was ousted from his seat and replaced by Daughtrey at the April 11 commission meeting after another 3-2 vote.

Attorney Liberty said the owners made clear to city attorney, city manager, building director and a state oversight inspector at the April 2 meeting their willingness to get the missing approvals.

According to Liberty, the Commission does not have the right to regulate the business and the resolution to close the business is not quite valid.

Court documents filed by Liberty said that the resolution should be overturned since it was not approved by “Florida Governor’s office.”

In June 2016, Gov. Rick Scott assigned a financial oversight board to Opa-locka after the city accumulated millions of dollars in debt, which means the Inspector General must review any decision that will financially impact the city.

In an April 6 email, Eric Miller, chief IG, said the resolution to close Klub 24 is still under review. Miller said regardless of the status, Opa-locka has the “right and responsibility to enforce federal, state and local law within its jurisdiction.”

The property and the building are owned by Gori and Berger who, according to the lawsuit make an estimated $50,000 per day from the club.

Liberty also said that the city ordinance used by the city attorney in his recommendation for closing the club is also at issue.

She told The Miami Times that the city’s law prohibiting nudity was replaced in 2015 and by doing so will be a violation of state law.

City Attorney Vincent Brown could not be reached for comment.

Every day general manager Acajosi said he has been getting calls from concerned patrons about the club’s status. But a copy of the cease-and-desist letter was still taped to the door Tuesday, the club shuttered with chains.

“We weren’t given any notice that the club was going to close until 45 minutes before,” said Acajosi, who has worked for the corporation who owns the business for six years. “I am dealing with 100 people that don’t know where they’re going to go or what they’re going to do next, for half of them, this is their only job.”

These stories were originally published in The Miami Times.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s