The restaurant has been harassed by noise complaints for three years, ever since it re-branded itself as a gay hang-out. The restaurant owners went to talk to the city manager about this harassment and say it didn't turn out well:
Zewe started a petition asking the Lake Worth City commission to investigate the matter. He and others believe transgender Stanton is behind a campaign to harrass The Cottage.
"Susan Stanton said men in dresses and men dancing with men is offensive, and if we would continue that behavior we would just have to suffer the consequences," Zewe said.
Stanton completely denies that happened, and apparently there were only three people in the office at the time. Stanton did send an email to a resident joking with him about how he should egg the The Cottage.
She responded with a resolution:
City commissioners reacted Tuesday to e-mails accusing City Manager Susan Stanton of being biased against gays and lesbians by passing a resolution reaffirming the city's commitment to diversity.
The resolution, approved before a standing-room-only crowd, reaffirms the city's commitment to "full and equal rights for all of its residents and employees regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."
Well, that's a relief. No city that passes such a resolution could ever harass gay people.
I have no idea who's right and who's wrong here, especially since there really are neighbors who complained about the noise but the number of complaints that didn't result in fines seems to be excessive. The Cottage says that they've been visited "daily" by code inspectors, although local news hasn't confirmed that. It's definitely unprofessional for Stanton to have joked with a resident about egging The Cottage since she really doesn't know he's not the sort to actually do it, but that doesn't prove that there's no noise. The Cottage says that some of the noise complaints came in on days that there wasn't live music, but a live band isn't necessary to be noisy.
It seems to be a good enough reason to get the city involved to investigate what's really going on. How many times have code inspectors been sent to The Cottage? How many noise complaints have been made? The Cottage claims that the noise complaints have come from only four individuals; the city should confirm whether that's true.
Mayor Rene Varela said he did not see a pattern of behavior against businesses owned by or catering to gays and lesbians in the city and accused The Cottage of "pulling out the gay card."
(The Vice Mayor also called the online campaign to get attention to this situation "cyber bullying" after the city got emails from as far away from Latvia. No, they didn't hear the noise from Latvia. But the next time gay people complain about the online trans mafia, just remember that we're capable of the same thing.)
The mayor, though, didn't have any harsh words for Stanton playing the trans card:
As for Stanton, she said off-camera that the allegations are untrue and in a memorandum to the city last month wrote this -- "Since coming to Lake Worth, I have focused all my efforts and energy on being an effective city manager. I have tried to keep my personal life ... personal. Unfortunately I also came to Lake Worth with a national profile that seems to invite such allegations and assaults to my professional reputation and integrity."
Local news has covered the situation and the protest that was held last night asking for a city investigation. They say that the sheriff's office has responded 15 times to noise complaints at The Cottage in the last three years, although the sheriff's office isn't the only law enforcement body in the town.