LA City Council Ditches Lawsuit Challenging AHF Initiative

LOS ANGELES—"Several"—or at least two—Los Angeles City Council members were "surprised... and angered" by the lawsuit filed December 8 by LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to prevent AIDS Healthcare Foundantion's (AHF) mandatory condom initiative from getting a place on the June 5 city ballot, according to news reports, so on December 13, Councilmembers Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz introduced a motion whose purpose is to quash the suit. According to search of the city Clerk's records, the motion passed.

"The filing of this litigation was unknown to members of the Council until after the posting of the agenda for today's meeting," Rosendahl and Koretz stated in their motion, even though AVN (and presumably other, more mainstream publications) wrote about the lawsuit on December 9.

Rosendahl and Koretz, both of whom have received campaign donations from AHF president Michael Weinstein, claimed in their motion that "Counsel for the California Occupational Health and Safety Agency has opined that the City can require the use of condoms in the adult film industry as a condition of the City's grant of a film permit." The pair appears to have been referring to a letter dated July 20, 2011 from James D. Clark, Staff Counsel to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CalOSHA), which reads in part, "Conclusion: It is the Division's position that State law does not preempt such action [requiring condom use as a condition of receiving a filming permit] by the city because the City does not seek to enact an occupational health and safety standard but rather a public health standard applicable to any film activity (regardless of employment relationship) within the City Boundaries."

There's just one problem: Of course requiring that condoms (and possibly other "barrier protections" such as dental dams, goggle and face shields) is an "occupational health and safety standard," since by and large, the public plays no role in the creation of adult content, and no public outbreak of any sexually transmitted disease has ever been traced to the adult industry. But the most damning piece of evidence that CalOSHA regards this as an "occupational health and safety standard" is the fact that CalOSHA itself has held more than half a dozen public meetings over the past 18 months or so to discuss that exact issue: Condoms in porn.

So based on that absurd conclusion, Rosendahl and Koretz sought in their motion that "the Council act immediately to review this litigation prior to the Clerk issuing any opinion on the validity of this ballot measure"—and according to the City Clerk's website, they were successful.

It's important to state, however, that with 16 days having passed since AHF presented its petitions to the City Clerk for verification, the City Council has taken no steps as yet to simply enact the "condom clause" for adult film permits into law, as it has the power to do. And while it's unclear just how long the Council still has to take such action, in the absence of an affirmative vote on the issue, the initiative will appear on Los Angeles' June 5 ballot.