Last week, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for Mount Carmel, Tennessee approved on first reading a new ordinance requiring background checks for anyone wishing to do psychic business in town.
According to Jeff Bobo of TimesNews.net, the new ordinance specifically focuses on “clairvoyants, hypnotists, spiritualists, palmists, phrenologists and handwriting analysts for the purpose of fortune-telling.”
In order to open a psychic business, the new rules require an applicant and their employees to first undergo a fingerprinting background check.
No one who is presently charged with, or has been convicted in the last ten years, of “felonies or misdemeanors involving assault, theft, extortion, fraud, bribery, false personage, perjury or gambling” will be eligible for a fortune-teller permit.
I understand that the people of Mount Carmel want to protect themselves from frauds, etc., but I wonder what prompted Karen Combs, the Kingsport principal planner who proposed the new rules, to take such a strong proactive stand against ‘fortune-tellers’ in particular.
Do they pose such a singular threat?
If the town needs to beef up their anti-assault, theft, extortion, fraud, bribery, false personage, perjury or gambling laws in general, they should. But focusing specifically on psychic readers seems odd, especially since there are none presently working in Mount Carmel, a town of about 5,500 people.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will consider the second and final reading of this ordinance at the end of June.
Presently, it’s illegal to tell fortunes in St. Louis , Missouri, but that could all change soon.
According to St. Louis Today, Alderman Shane Cohn has introduced a bill to repeal his city’s rather complicated-sounding ban on divination.
As it stands now, the law forbids the
“… profession or art of fortuneteller, clairvoyant, spirit medium, necromancer, seer, astrologist, palmist, prophet or other like crafty or occult art, or art of divination, or pretended art of telling past events of another’s life or affairs; of foretelling knowledge of future events of another’s life or affairs; of in anywise revealing things of the past, the future, of a secret or hidden nature; of giving advice or assistance in matters of business or affairs of any other kind or nature by means of such art; or of purporting so to tell, foretell, reveal or give advice or assistance by means of such art.”
Back in 1994, an earlier Alderman made a similar attempt to repeal the law but was unsuccessful. Hopefully, this time round, Alderman Cohn will succeed.
It looks like Wednesday is the day Gaithersburg, Maryland will decide whether or not they’ll be rescinding their present ban against ‘fortune-telling’.
As I posted last September, City Council agreed that as it stands, the law against psychic businesses should be lifted.
What still needs to be decided though, is where psychic businesses will be allowed to operate, as well as the definition of ‘fortune-telling’ itself.
According to Gazette.net, the Gaithersburg Planning Commission will be recommending that City Council enact an ordinance allowing psychic businesses to locate in specific commercial and light industrial zones.
I’ll be watching to see how this turns out and will let you all know as I know more.
She argued that her work constitutes free speech according to the US Constitution, and that the zoning laws and onerous license procedures necessary for her to obtain a business license inhibit her freedom of expression and discriminate against her based on her beliefs, viewpoint, and content of expression.
In October of last year, U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr ruled against King’s argument claiming that her form of counseling was inherently deceptive and therefore not protected by the Constitution.
King appealed the decision, and it was this appeal that was heard by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
Though King’s lawyer, Roman P. Storzer argued that his client’s freedom of speech and religion were at issue, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III commented that he thought the case was more a question of licensing and zoning regulations.
Also at issue was whether or not King’s belief in a ‘new age spirituality’ is actually a protected religious practice or simply a chosen life style or philosophy.
It might take several weeks or even months before a final ruling on the case is made.
The Healdsburg, California Planning Commission unanimously ruled last week against allowing a psychic business to move into the city’s downtown commercial district.
In a vote of 6-0, they decided against Mike Stevens’ application to establish his business in a former insurance office downtown.
According to pressdemocrat.com, the decision was at least partly based on the particular building Stevens wanted to work out of.
The building is primarily occupied by psychologists, psychiatrists, and other licensed practitioners, which as Planning and Building Director Barbara Nelson said, “psychics and palm readers are not”.
In addition, psychic businesses are not the type of industry Healdsburg is looking to develop. As Commissioner Phil Luks is quoted as saying, “It’s perhaps antithetical to the basic image we’re trying to project as a tourist town.”
Mike Stevens plans to appeal the decision to City Council.
Yay!! It’s election day today in the United States!
Though as a Canadian in Toronto, I won’t be participating in this particular democratic process, like much of the rest of the world, I’ll be watching with great interest to see how it unfolds.
And unlike the psychic squirrel in the CNN clip below, I’m not going to try to predict the outcome. I did, however, ask the cards what they had to say about getting out to vote (something I encourage all my American friends to do).
The card I got was the 3 of Pentacles.
In it, an artisan stands on a bench and displays his work for a priest and an architect. They, in turn, seem to be passing judgment on how well the artisan has been following the plans they hold in front of them.
Normally I see this card as describing a growing mastery in one’s work, where people in authority recognize and often reward the technical and spiritual skills of the querent.
Today though, when I look at this card, I’m thinking that the priest and the architect represent the two candidates, each trying to convince the worker to choose him.
The whole story is turned around a bit in the voting scenario, but the main theme of the card remains.
Mastery is still at issue, but now it is up to the artisan (or worker) to judge whose plans are best, and who should be rewarded with the mantle of leadership.
I think that the 3 of Pentacles is reminding us that getting out to vote is a practical and creative activity, where the average person gets a chance to help shape plans for the future.
Don’t miss the opportunity – if you’ve got a vote, use it!!
Per the proposal, fortune-telling businesses would only be permitted ‘in the I-1 Light Industrial zone, and allowed expressly as a special exception in the C-2 General Commercial, CBD Central Business District, CD Corridor Development, and MXD Mixed Use Development zones.’
Fortune-telling would be prohibited as a home occupation.
Though Council authorized city staff to move forward with both establishing the new zoning regulations and repealing the fortune-telling prohibition, they requested a redraft of the actual definition of fortune-telling before official changes are made.
As it stands, the draft presented to Council defines ‘fortune-telling’ as:
‘Any attempt to tell fortunes or predict the future (for pay or voluntary contributions) by means of occult or psychic powers, faculties, or forces; necromancy, palmistry, psychology, psychic psychometry, spirits, mediumship, seership, prophesy, cards, talismans, sorcery, charms, potions, magnetism, tea leaves, magic, numerology, mechanical devices, handwriting analyses, phrenology, character readings, or any other similar means. Fortune telling shall not be considered a home occupation, church, or other place of worship.’
Some Council members were disturbed by the inclusion of both psychology and churches in the definition and would like those words removed. Planning staff will follow up on Council recommendations and present the changes within the next few months.
Interestingly, the Commission’s report noted that fortune-telling businesses have a negative stigma, and have historically fallen into the category of ‘urban decline use’.
Other businesses in that category include pawn shops, tattoo parlors, check cashing, and sexually oriented establishments.
Last month Cook County, Illinois zoning commissioners approved a zoning change that would have allowed a ‘tarot card psychic business’ to open in Maine Township. The Maine Township Zoning Board also approved.
Last week however, Cook County commissioners deferred the final decision on the question until next month.
Apparently, Commissioner Peter Silvestri, who represents the district in which the psychic business is located, received a petition signed by 50 people opposing the shop.
According to Journal On-line, the signatories gave no legal basis for their opposition. They simply don’t want a psychic business in the neighbourhood.
Until last month, the business had been operating without a license, but no other criminal complaints had been lodged against it.
The issue will likely be raised again at the county board’s next meeting on October 2nd.