After more than an hour of conversation, our City Council hammered out an ordinance to improve health and safety for all citizens of Aurora. We will be safe from the ravages of disease festering in our community because of an ordinance designed to control the conditions at eight local tattoo parlors. The second largest city in Illinois again stepped up its attack on local businesses when the Finance Committee worked diligently for weeks drafting and polishing an ordinance to protect us. When asked if there had been health complaints regarding tattoo shops, Ed Sieben, Manager of Aurora Land Use and Zoning replied, NO - after a small hesitation. When asked about police problems at tattoo shops, Sieben again said it was minimal - if at all.
According to shop owners, there isn't a problem - with either health or safety. Heck, a policeman told me that the police have not had problems associated with tattoo parlors. Regardless, the Council agreed to require the existing eight shops to pay a $500 license fee for year one and to pay another $250 each year for renewals. Consider it another tax on the consumers who buy a tattoo in Aurora, because all taxes are ultimately paid by consumers - passed through business to the government.
It seemed surprising to those on the dais that numerous citizens rose to oppose their idea. Dan Hites, a major developer in Aurora sees a significant benefit available if Aurora can become a cultural and art center - a place where body art is an integral part of the arts community. Hites said, "Aurora needs these people to help revitalize downtown". He also stated that he fails to see the rationale for regulation from the municipal level - as the state and county already oversee this industry.
Kevin Mathews called the proposed ordinance, "gross government over reach". Mathews checked with the CDC and suggests if Aurora wants to crack down on disease it should focus on systems other than tattoo parlors. Mathews echoed Dan Hites when he mentioned the possibility of a body arts festival in Aurora - to bring creative people to our town to "celebrate diversity".
Jennifer Evans, a homeowner and a professor at Waubonsee stated that it would be a mistake to pass an ordinance aimed at shutting down some small businesses and pointed out that there is no place for this alarming "cultural discrimination".
Todd Stirn said he opposed licensing because there are already powerful controls on the books dating back to 1979 when Illinois passed regulations for tattoo shops. Todd's wife, Angela echoed her husband, then rolled up her sleeves to show she had no tattoos, and announced her plans to have both arms covered. "I want sleeves in full color", stated Mrs. Stirn.
Despite opposition, the aldermen forged ahead and passed the ordinance - modified somewhat. Aldermen Richard Irvin and Allan Lewandowski proffered the lone NO votes. Alderman Rick Lawrence was not present for the vote. Therefore, rest easy Aurora. Our health and safety have been assured by the stalwart actions of our aldermen.
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