NAC Update
KANSAS: Topeka
September 24, 2014

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DOCUMENTS

PREVIOUS NAC COMMUNIQUÉS

PUBLIC OPINION

CITY OF TOPEKA

OTHER CITIES IN KANSAS - ANTI-NUDITY ORDINANCES

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                     NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
                             UPDATE
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http://www.naturistaction.org
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Copyright 2014 by the Naturist Action Committee, which is responsible for its content. Permission is granted for the posting, forwarding or redistribution of this message, provided that it is reproduced in its entirety and without alteration.

DATE: September 24, 2014
SUBJECT: Topeka, Kansas: proposed anti-nudity ordinance
TO: Kansas naturists and other concerned citizens

Attention naturists:

This is an Update from the Naturist Action Committee (NAC) concerning the proposed anti-nudity ordinance in Topeka, Kansas.

QUICK BACKGROUND
In an overreaction to an incident of public nudity, something that happens infrequently, Topeka City Council member Michelle De La Isla filed a proposed anti-nudity ordinance for the consideration of the council. A rescheduled council meeting to address the proposed measure was held last evening, Tuesday, September 23.

THIS IS NOT YET SETTLED, BUT YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE AN IMPACT
The Naturist Action Committee issued a NAC Action Alert on September 18, asking you to write to members of the Topeka City Council. Your emails have made an impact. Thank you!

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE COUNCIL MEETING ON TUESDAY?
The Topeka city council heard from council member De La Isla, the author of the proposed ordinance, who said that the proposed Topeka ordinance is modeled after ordinances in Wichita (which it clearly is not) and Hutchinson, Kansas. City Attorney Chad Sublet confirmed that the proposed Topeka ordinance was modeled after the year-old ordinance in Hutchinson, but did not entirely contradict the Wichita reference. Both De La Isla and Sublet referred to the proposed restriction as a "tool" that they say is required by police.

Members of the public were allowed to speak to the issue. Speaking in favor of the anti-nudity ordinance, Ruth Ann Schoonover, a 63-year old from Topeka, said: "Whether you call this pornographic or not, it can be." She closed with a plea to pass the ordinance "for our children and our grandchildren's sake."

Topeka resident Webb Garlinghouse spoke forcefully against the ordinance, pointing out that no individual has the right not to be offended. "I sent each of you an email on the subject, and invited you to inform me of any credible scientific study connecting simple nudity with any harm at all," Garlinghouse told the councilmembers. "No one responded."

NAC Area Representative Dave Bitters reminded the council: "Naturists think the Body Acceptance model constitutes a sensible middle ground between the leering prurience that CNN displayed in manufacturing this controversy and the cultural prudery that brought it to your attention.

"You may or may not consider tattoos, or dreadlocks, or body piercings appropriate," Bitters continued. "Here you'd be making value judgments. But I doubt that you'd seriously consider banning them.

"Nakedness in the public space differs only in degree, not in kind. Of itself it's harmless. Sufficient laws already are available to deal with problem cases that might arise. Beyond that, the current initiative amounts to creating a novel new crime - the crime of 'Inappropriate.'"

Prairie Haven nudist resort is located 23 miles south of Topeka. It is affiliated with The Naturist Society and with AANR. Peg Dunlap of Prairie Haven spoke against the proposed ordinance. She raised specific points that exposed the poorly written nature of the proposed local law. City Attorney Sublet, who had a hand in the creation of the language, tried to deflect Dunlap's criticisms by saying things like, "I don't think the intent is to go into back yards." That, despite any durable assurance in the ordinance itself.

Faced with clear statements from both Garlinghouse and Dunlap that condemned the proposed ordinance for its explicit discrimination against women, City Attorney Sublet simply chose not to respond.

On a motion by councilmember Richard Harmon, with a second by councilmember Chad Manspeaker, the council voted 5-3 to send the matter to the council's Health and Safety Committee "for further work, with the possibility of perhaps somewhat narrowing the scope of the ordinance." Councilmember Harmon noted that "there seems to be some more legitimate interest, perhaps, to restrict the application of this ordinance to the environs of schools and daycare centers. Councilmembers De La Isla, Schwartz and Miller voted against the referral to committee. Councilmember Denise Everhart was not present for the meeting.

The Health and Safety Committee presently has two assigned members: Councilmember Sylvia Ortiz and Councilmember Everhart, who was absent from the public comment on the proposed ordinance.

WHAT IS NAC ASKING YOU TO DO?
This is a NAC Update. NAC is not asking you to take any action at this time. However, it's likely that NAC will be asking for your involvement in this matter again soon.

Specifically, NAC asks that you please suspend, at least temporarily, your correspondence with Topeka council members. One thing we don't wish to do at this time is raise the profile of an issue that has been sent to committee to be reworked substantially, or even to die. There will be plenty of opportunity for you to take action when we see what the committee and the council intend next. Watch for NAC Action Alerts, Advisories and Updates on this situation.
 
For more information, see the NAC web site:
www.naturistaction.org/topeka

WHAT IS NAC DOING?
NAC continues to work closely with Lake Edun Foundation, a TNS-affiliated naturist retreat on the outskirts of Topeka. Individuals from Prairie Haven Resort have also been of great help in the coordinated opposition to the proposed ordinance.

NAC acknowledges and appreciates the cooperation it has received from the American Association for Nude Recreation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
You can find additional information, including the initial NAC Action Alert and this NAC Update, at http://naturistaction.org/topeka or by visiting the NAC web site www.naturistaction.org and clicking on UPDATES.

On the NAC Update page for Topeka, you'll find a link to the actual text of the proposed Topeka ordinance. There, for your reference and comparison, you'll also find the ordinances from Wichita and Hutchinson.

PLEASE HELP NAC HELP NATURISTS!
The Naturist Action Committee is committed to vigorous activism on behalf of naturists. NAC relies entirely on the voluntary financial support of concerned naturists like YOU.

Please consider sending a generous donation to NAC.

   NAC
   PO Box 132
   Oshkosh, WI 54903

Or call toll free (800) 886-7230 (8AM-4PM, Central Time, weekdays) to donate by phone using your MasterCard, Visa or Discover Card. Or use your credit card to make a convenient online donation:

   www.naturistaction.org/donate/

Thank you for choosing once again to make a difference.

Naturally,
Bob Morton
Executive Director
Naturist Action Committee

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Naturist Action Committee (NAC) - PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Dir. Bob Morton       -
execdir@naturistaction.org
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick  -
naturist@sunclad.com
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