Blowing it

Was it a conspiracy or city bungling that let Baby Dolls keep its license? Guess.

According to Blomgren, that's hardly the case. Baby Dolls under the law has been operating as an adult cabaret rather than a sexually oriented business--a distinction that has to do with whether dancers must wear pasties. So it would be an additional sexually oriented business were it to be licensed. Braggs declined to comment.

Dallas City Council member Donna Blumer, who reviewed a tape recording of the hearing, says an "out-and-out conspiracy is hard to believe...I think it was mostly a lack of experience on the part of the attorney handling the case."

Dickey say the city wins such hearings most of the time because the burden of proof is on the clubs. The city attorney handling the case usually instructs the panel that it can deny the appeal on the slightest bit of evidence against the club, such as the lewdness arrests, he says.

Strip-bar opponent Tim Dickey suspects the city threw its fight with Baby Dolls.
Mark Graham
Strip-bar opponent Tim Dickey suspects the city threw its fight with Baby Dolls.

Now, the city will be going back to court--suing its own appeal board--to try to reverse the decision, city officials announced last week.

While the loss at the May hearing appears to have been a group effort, only one person has been made to pay.

Blomgren says her superiors supported her in the days after the hearing, and she was taking steps to meet with neighborhood leaders and hammer out a better approach for future hearings.

Then, she says, she was suddenly pulled off all her cases last week with no explanation and told she could only work as a legal researcher for other attorneys. "They took an attorney with 12 years experience, and they've got me fetching coffee," says Blomgren.

She says she worked high-profile, controversial cases in her past job with the state child welfare office in Illinois. "I've always been backed up before, but this time I got screwed," she says. "I'm the lamb led to the slaughter."

Rather than face what seemed to be a demotion, she resigned. What hurt most, she says, is that her boss, City Attorney Madeleine Johnson, would not give her an explanation. Johnson did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.

"I worked before in Chicago, and you hear they have tough politics," she says. "Chicago is nothing compared to Dallas."

Blumer says she doesn't know why Blomgren's short career with the city ended over the Baby Dolls hearing. But she agreed about the general atmosphere at Dallas City Hall. "It's a ruthless place," Blumer says. "I'll show you all my bruises."

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