Brewing scandal Kenneth Jackson: Politicians, liquor board claim not to know strip club manager's past.

January 13, 1996

ELDORADO LOUNGE, the West Baltimore Street striptease venue operated by convicted felon Kenneth A. Jackson, is one of the raunchiest places outside The Block. An indication of the type of clientele it draws is that patrons are routinely searched for guns at the door.

Eldorado is widely known for the daring acts of its dancers. And while its liquor license is in the name of Rosalie Jackson, the manager's mother, everybody knows it is the club of Kenneth Jackson, a convicted criminal with a long arrest record.

That's why it is hard to believe that state Senator Larry Young and newly elected City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, who endorsed Mr. Jackson's plans for an even bigger nightclub nearby, did not know about his past. The same goes for the Baltimore City liquor board, which routinely granted a new license to an individual who had not shown any evidence of financial means and simply appeared to be fronting for Mr. Jackson as owner of the new Royal Cafe, which will open in the former Sons of Italy Building on West Fayette Street.

This charade is another shameful episode in the annals of the liquor board, which is supposed to regulate alcoholic beverage outlets but has repeatedly failed to do so. Instead of aggressively enforcing its regulations, the liquor board shruggs off community complaints about disorderly bars and package stores by insisting that complainants collect all kinds of time-consuming but meaningless data, after which the board can dismiss the allegations.

The board's coziness with the people and establishments it is supposed to oversee is easy to explain: The liquor board and its inspectors are part of a patronage system run by Baltimore City's Democratic state senators. Since bars and liquor stores are the source of dependable campaign contributions, the board does not want to do anything to kill the golden goose.

Repeated legislative efforts to reform the antiquated liquor board set-up have failed. Yet the circumstances that led to the granting of a liquor license at the planned Royal Cafe provide such a flagrant example of dereliction of duty that the Maryland special prosecutor should launch a thorough probe into the city liquor board's dubious operations.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.