Monday, October 4, 2010

Easton's Prostitution Problems Solved: A Room, A Bed, A Test and A Tax!

Posted by: Noel Jones

Ed Sieger of the Express Times reported today that Mayor Panto is making a new effort to revive the vehicle seizure ordinance aimed at the johns of local prostitutes. The ordinance was established in 2008, and the cars of several johns were immediately seized, but a legal challenge to the ordinance put the ordinance on hold, and it has not been enforced since. That could be changing now, as with the backing of D.A. Morganelli, the mayor intends to take another stab at enforcing the ordinance. The mayor is also considering a 48 hour vehicle seizure, as a deterrent to johns driving to Easton to find prostitutes.

Personally, I would rather see sex workers taxed and regulated (including regular health tests) and conducting their business legally in code-enforced bordellos, so that we can add to our tax base while getting prostitution off the streets. Let's face it--if prostitution hasn't disappeared in thousands of years of human existence on the planet, then it's not going anywhere soon. And this is a free country--I really do not care who other people have sex with, as long as it is willingly. Easton is famous for more than it's old Victorian homes when it comes to "painted ladies," and has over two centuries of history of speak-easies and bordellos, so it's time to find a way for this revenue to make its way into our tax base. I am passionately opposed to sex slavery and human trafficking, of course, as well as the manipulation of drug addicts into prostitution, but if we're talking about free adults who make a personal decision to do this work, and free adults who want to buy their services, it seems almost un-American to interfere--as long as it is safe, health tested and taxed.

As for the seizures of vehicles, I'm in favor because the bottom line is that it shouldn't be happening in the streets, where residents and their families have to see it. It makes our streets dirtier (literally), less safe and brings down our property values.

I'd rather see it all going on in old-style bordellos and saloons, off the street. Not only would it move prostitution off the street, it would free up beds in our overcrowded jail for more dangerous offenders. And imagine how much tax revenue it could generate--if we are never going to control the moral choices of others, why should we try or care if it is not hurting anyone else, and ends up translating into more repointed brick in this town?


carinne said...

What an obvious solution you bring up Noel, to just as you put it, a thousands of years old problem! Unfortunately based on inconsistent, bias thinking under the disguise of “morals” I am sure many will disagree. When it comes to illegal drugs and sex, we continue to try the same technique for the elimination over and over again, somehow thinking a new positive result will suddenly come. What’s that called again… oh yes, insanity.

noel jones said...

Ah, yes--Albert Einstein--a genius of much more than physics. He said:

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results."

He also said:

"Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. "

Dennis R. Lieb said...


You've done a fine job of simplifying a complex issue for logical mass consumption. Problem is the issue isn't so simple. I'll be the first to admit that a lot of society's problems - from drug abuse to the de-institutionalization of the menatlly ill - need to be addressed in new ways. What we've been doing for decades is an abject failure.

Legalized prostitution looks good in the abstract...reality would soon inpinge on that abstraction with numerous negative side effects. Intimidation, mistreatment and abuse of women goes on in the regular business world everyday so I'd find it hard to imagine the same thing not being ramped up in the sex trades, considering both the abusive and vunerable individuals drawn to the business.

I'm not necessarily saying that it shouldn't be considered. Just remember the unforeseen negative effects all the so-called vices drag into the light when made "respectable" by legalization. We need look no farther than the rash of varied state-sanctioned gambling to see how the negative externalities of taxing "sin" profits comes back to bite us.

Sometimes things are done in the shadows for a reason...there is still a belief among many that there are things we should be ashamed of particpating in and that should be hidden from public display.

More specific to the topic of the mayor championing a return to previous ordinance enforcements; how about the city getting back to mandating evictions for three-time losers under the disruptive conduct report (DCR) section of the rental unit ordinance? We allowed our solicitors to quietly de-claw the ordinance by replacing this language with a three "conviction" requirement. This law was brought to Easton from Allentown, where the language had already been tested and I see no reason to continue to run scared from holding transient residents responsible for their behavior in our neighborhoods.

The mayor should realize from his participation in the Lehigh Valley Housing Summit last Thursday that Allentown's code office and Redevelopment Authority are working hand-in-hand; not to just impliment the more effective DCR version of the ordinance but to also strengthen it with new provisions to leverage the bad landlords out of Allentown.

Let's stop allowing the solicitors to rewrite legislation that is already tested and works. Enforcement of the DCR provisions would have more positive effect on the entire city than any amount of fiddling with vehicle seizures laws or fighting prostitution in general.


Dennis R. Lieb said...
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Dennis R. Lieb said...
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noel jones said...

Thanks for posting, Dennis--I deleted your last two posts because they were duplicates of your first post--this happens sometimes in Blogger...

You make good points, especially about the abuse of women in workplaces across all sectors, but as for keeping certain activity "in the shadows," I would still rather it be kept in the shadows of a bedroom than the shadows of street signs, leaving a trail of condoms behind...