Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Fighting City Hall.

September 15th, 2009 by

As a community, we of the tattoo world have had our share of prejudice because of our art. Many of us have had the nagging suspicion that we may have been denied basic rights, or lost out on a job because we were tattooed. Granted, this is not as prevalent as it was when tattoos were not as mainstream as they are now, but every once in a while the “good old days” seem to rear their collective ugly heads.
Ryan Coleman
The Mesa City Council in Arizona rejected an application by Ryan Coleman to open Angel Tattoo studio about six months ago. Coleman promptly hired attorney Michael Kielsky, and filed a claim against Mesa seeking $69,800 plus interest for the money they spent to try to open the business and profits lost, as well as asking for either the right to open the parlor, or an extra $25,000 plus interest. The city has 60 days to respond.

According to Kielsky, Ryan has a case against the city because his application was denied based on “a negative perception” about such establishments, not any tangible proof that it would be detrimental to the neighborhood. Also, there is a recent court ruling of a case in which a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered Tempe, AZ to reinstate a couple’s tattoo studio permit. Judge Robert Oberbillig ruled that the Tempe City Council’s decision to revoke the permit was arbitrary and lacked credible evidence that the business would have decreased the area’s property values.

“In my case, city staff could not provide any reason to deny the permit because my client met every criteria laid out, but still for the council, it all boiled down to ‘We don’t like tattoo people,'” Kielsky said. “These things have to be decided on merits beyond mere whim.”

Kielsky also claims Mesa’s decisions have been arbitrary in that the council previously issued a permit to the now closed Damage Ink, a tattoo studio, despite that store being within 1,200 feet of a school, which is a required buffer under city ordinance and current tattoo laws there.

Kielsky said, “In that case, too, there was similar resistance from the neighbors, and the city even had a valid reason in the code to deny the permit. But the council issued the permit anyway.”

So now I’m wondering what the problem is with Angel Tattoo? Is it that they just don’t like Ryan’s face? Something is definitely rotten in the state of Denmark, or Arizona in this case, here.

You would think with the state of the economy they would be happy for the additional revenue and a few more jobs that could keep someone from turning to crime as a solution for their financial woes. Then again, I rarely try to understand the twisted logic of politicians. Most of the time their solution for a bad back is to rip out the spine.

Remember, these are the same kind of people who, trying to curb the woes they thought drinking brought on made alcohol illegal. As a result they turned street hoods into millionaires, and gave us what we now know as organized crime.

If I kept my head where they obviously keep theirs, I’d be getting tired of the smell of my own shit by now.

Anyway, I wish Ryan and Angel Tattoo all the best, and hope that maybe, just maybe, there will be another safe sterile environment for getting some killer ink in Arizona.

Image ©Thomas Boggan, East Valley Tribune

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