Flag causes a flap in ScanlonOver the holiday weekend, Sugar Daddys — a gentlemen’s club in Scanlon known for its night-time spotlight, and more recently its selection of football-field-size flags — struck its illegal “Sugar Daddys” flag and hoisted up Old Glory.
By: Luke Heine, Pine Journal
There’s something in the air tonight, and it’s not Phil Collins.
Over the holiday weekend, Sugar Daddys — a gentlemen’s club in Scanlon known for its night-time spotlight, and more recently its selection of football-field-size flags — struck its illegal “Sugar Daddys” flag and hoisted up Old Glory.
Whether the club chooses the patriotic over the pin-up for the future, though, remains uncertain.
According to the city of Scanlon’s sign ordinances, as detailed in a previous Pine Journal story, the club’s frequently-flown “Sugar Daddys” promotional flag is illegal.
Despite the legalities or illegalities, rather, the Scanlon business has continued flying its commercial colors on some nights of the week, most often when the club is open for business.
“I just wish it would go away,” Scanlon Mayor Jim Putnam said. “We’ve sent them numerous citations.”
Dennis Korman, Scanlon’s city attorney, defined “numerous.”
“We’re taking the position that each day it flies is a separate violation,” Korman said, explaining that the ordinance violations carry a fine of up to $1,000 per violation. “They’ve been ticketed, as I understand, at least six times.”
Additionally, the Scanlon city attorney wrote the club a letter allowing a grace period for the business to remove the flag before issuing any violations. They didn’t. The city then began issuing citations.
The city of Albert Lea, Minn., has also reported trouble when dealing with Dima Corporation, the company which owns Sugar Daddys. According to Doug Johnson, Albert Lea’s building official, Dima Corporation employs a large, pull-behind, portable sign to advertise its Albert Lea strip club despite portable signs being in direct conflict with the city’s sign ordinance.
“The messages the sign displayed were never disturbing … birthdays, restaurant specials, that kind of stuff,” Johnson said.
Still, the sign was illegal.
Similarities exist between the company’s reaction to Albert Lea’s and Scanlon’s laws.
“Twice a year, we would give orders to remove signs,” Johnson said. “For that particular sign [Dima Corporation’s], we’d hear complaints, but by the time we got there, it’d be gone.
“It would go up for a couple days, and then we wouldn’t see it. And then it’d go up again.”
There are differences too. Unlike Scanlon, Albert Lea never issued a “formal citation.”
Later, according to Johnson, Albert Lea officials approved the use of portable signs, but Dima Corporation’s sign still exceeded the size limit. The city of Albert Lea requested the sign’s removal, but Dima Corporation resisted and tried to go through the Board of Appeals, Johnson described. The board rejected the company’s appeal.
The disagreement didn’t end there.
“Dima Corporation took out a restraining order on the sign and has agreed to continue fighting in court,” Johnson said. “It has gone on to district court.
“The sign issues started two years ago…and that’s the current status.”
Like Albert Lea, Scanlon’s zoning ordinance clearly defines the legalities concerning the banner, but public opinion regarding the flag flutters as much as the banner itself. In recently conducted “Man on the Street” interviews, nine people — all of whom wished to remain anonymous — said the flag was inappropriate.
“I don’t want my 11-year-old daughter to see that,” said one source.
Other members of the community, who agreed to be named, see the public disapproval as an overreaction.
“The flag doesn’t bother me a bit,” said Tom Romundstad, an adjacent store owner in Scanlon. “They pay taxes. Their customers help my business. They’re just trying to run a business. People just need to find something else to worry about. If you don’t like a club like that, don’t go to it.”
James Vick, a store worker in the surrounding area, echoed Romundstad.
“I really don’t care…it’s their business,” Vick said. “Do what they want to do. There are more important things to worry about. It’s just a sign.”
Korman stressed that the flag advertising the club is a violation of Scanlon city’s zoning ordinance. (The U.S. flag, however, is not.)
“We’re hoping they voluntarily comply and we can be done with this whole thing,” Korman said.
If Albert Lea serves as an example, it may not be so simple.