City's settlement with Wacko's bans fire marshal from surprise inspections

Documents show city agreed to ban, which applies to 7 clubs in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A settlement reached in October between the city of Jacksonville and an adult entertainment club includes a provision barring the city's fire marshal from conducting surprise inspections at the club and six others, according to court documents obtained by News4Jax.

The consent order was approved by a federal judge Wednesday.

Wacko's sued the city in January seeking compensation for lost profits and other damages after a raid in March 2017. The lawsuit said the fire marshal had no authority to inspect the business or order it to temporarily shut down based on a fire code violation.

According to the lawsuit, the violations involved removing a chair from a hallway that was blocking an exit and changing a wall that had passed many previous inspections.

The raid, which was dubbed Operation Whacking Wacko's, resulted in the arrests of three women at the Emerson Street bikini bar. Two of the arrests were on drug charges, the other on suspicion of prostitution.

A representative from Wacko's met with a representative from the city for a mediation conference in October, and a settlement was agreed upon.

A judge still has to sign off on the settlement, which names Fire Marshal Kevin Jones and says he can't conduct surprise inspections at Wacko's or six other Jacksonville strip clubs for the next nine months unless no other employee is available to do it. 

The other bars listed in the settlement are:

  • Sinsations on Emerson Street
  • Silver Fox on West Beaver Street
  • Gold Rush on North Main Street  
  • Bare Assets on North Main Street
  • Passions on Beach Boulevard
  • Mascaras on Southside Boulevard  

No reason is given for the ban, which doesn't apply to emergencies or weekend inspections. But News4Jax has learned that Jones has a reputation for being a strict, by-the-book inspector, and the lawsuit contended he and the city use raids to target businesses, like strip clubs, that the city doesn't like.

Jones has been involved in over 400 cease-and-desist orders with eight of those against adult establishments.

News4Jax tried to contact Jones, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, the attorney representing Wacko's and the city, but none were available for comment. 

About the Author: