Winter Park quietly slips $250,000 into Club Harem's panties in secret settlement!

Well, isn't this interesting. If you've followed this publication (and its fascination with breasts and city politics) for any amount of time, you'll be well aware of the seemingly endless battle between the city of Winter Park and its one and only adult-entertainment pagoda, Club Harem – a property formerly known as "The Booby Trap" that the city begrudgingly annexed from unincorporated Orange County in 2004. The Winter Park Police Department, seemingly informed by the booby-trap methodology employed by young boys that smell of treehouses, has done everything in its power to pop the beloved landmark's inflated enticements – feeling up staff during raids, purchasing $850 worth of drugs on the taxpayer dime, playing "teacher" with strippers and generally being the kind of douchebag cops you reflexively expect to see on television cruising strip joints. As a result, numerous bits of litigation have flown around, cops have been fired and the business has been left barely standing (save for it's two iconic towers of mammary), while Winter Park has maintained that that the den of ill repute is ruining everything that is magical about the beloved municipality. Poor, poor Winter Park.

Not that poor, though. As the city has been waving its "broke" flag throughout recent months, it's also been negotiating a settlement with the attorney for Club Harem, Steve Mason. The price tag for the city to put the booby nightmare behind it? A quarter-million dollars. Now, we'll go over this more thoroughly in next week's print edition of Orlando Weekly, but we thought it was worth noting there have been NO headlines about the cash-strapped city having to write a $250,000 check to settle an extensive – and revealing – federal lawsuit, not even a peep from the people-savers of the local evening news brigade. Why? Because the city, which is by nature a public entity, has been doing its dealings behind close doors to save face. In the conditional settlement agreement, all parties involved are encouraged to keep their mouths shut. (This following a "lawfully closed" meeting of city commission members a couple of weeks ago, because who in the public would want to know about THIS?)

"No party, including any employee, agent or attorney for a party hereto, shall make any statement disparaging the other party or disparaging any employee, agent or attorney of a party," the agreement reads. "In any public statement, the parties and their agents/attorneys shall state only that this case was amicably resolved and that neither party admitted liability."

We'd have to say that $250,000 is a pretty hefty liability, actually. Also, the cast of characters listed in the federal lawsuit filed last year – coupled with their implied actions – would make for a pretty substantial Cinemax screenplay. Tits everywhere!

We reached out to Mason, Club Harem's attorney, and sure enough he kept up his "amicable" end of the deal.  Winter Park spokeswoman Clarissa Howard promised to get back to us if she could, saying that she was "out of the loop" on matters involving Club Harem litigation. As a public service, we thought local residents might like to know that they are pretty good tippers when it comes to city-sponsored lapdances, though. Big tippers. Way to go, guys!


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