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Black Diamonds strip club postpones request for later hours in North Miami Beach

North Miami Beach commissioners balked Tuesday night when the owner of a strip club asked for permission to extend closing time from 4 to 6 a.m.

"Why do we have to be a city where people can go to have a drink at six o’clock in the morning," asked Vice Mayor Phyllis Smith, after attorney Benedict Kuehne brought the request on behalf of Black Diamonds, 17450 Biscayne Blvd.

Councilwoman Beth Spiegel said Black Diamonds is a new business and doesn’t deserve the special privilege that the city has granted to existing adult clubs.

"Maybe I’m drawing a line in the sand, but this is a new business," Spiegel said.

But City Attorney Darcee Siegel said the Black Diamonds is legally not a new business since the owner, SMG Entertainment, remains the same. Only the club’s name is changing.

Mayor George Vallejo and Councilman Frantz Pierre argued in favor of the later hours, noting that competitor Dean’s Gold already has them.

"We hear all of the stories about the terrible ills that befall the community because of this, but where are they? There just happens to be bias against this type of establishment. It’s a legal, lawful business in the state of Florida and in our city. There is no legitimate reason to treat them differently," said Mayor Vallejo.

Councilwoman Speigel interrupted the mayor but before the discussion could escalate, Kuehne withdrew the request.

"If we can meet with city’s attorney and city manager, satisfy them on the matter of the grandfathering issue, and then we will present it to the council, "said Kuehne. "We don’t want to have a legal issue that may embroil the council in an issue that may otherwise not be resolved."

In other business, the council:

• Adopted new rules which would for the first time require lobbyists to pay a $250 registration fee to lobby the council with an additional $125 per issue involved.

• Tentatively agreed to amend the retirement plan for police and firefighters that would sharply reduce benefits.

The changes are to take effect on Jan. 1 and will apply only to the pension participants who have not already attained normal retirement eligibility (20 years of service or age 62).

Pension benefit calculations are based on the participant’s basic compensation, excluding overtime. Normal retirement dates will be changed to age 55 with 25 years of service or age 62 with 10 years of service

There will be no guaranteed cost-of-living adjustment to pension payments.

And the the pension "multiplier" will be 2 percent, down from 3. Accumulated vested benefits would not be lost, however. So an officer with 10 years with the city today, who retires 10 years from now, would get 30 percent for the first 10 years plus 20 percent for the second 10 years, for a total retirement benefit equal to 50 percent of working pay.

According to an Actuarial Impact Statement from Bolton Partners dated Oct. 29, the annual savings in the 2014 budget year is projected to be about $790,366.

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