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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Massage Establishment Act’

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Future massage “parlor” in Chicago?

I’ve been posting about Chicago’s zoning changes for massage businesses for the past year. For those unaware, Chicago’s City Council voted to restrict new massage businesses to C Districts (also known as isolated industrial corridors and used car lots). Which makes no sense to my fellow massage therapists, clients, and friends.

However, for some people, the only experience they have with “massage” is when they live or have lived  near a “massage parlor” (or what turns out to be a house of prostitution). In that case, I can see why they would want to move “massage parlors” to the same areas as other “adult services,” such as strip clubs, tattoo parlors and the like.

How do you know if a massage business is legitimate?  I am providing a few tips and then a method of reporting massage businesses that you think may not be legitimate.

How to Identify Potential Massage “Parlors”

(aka houses of prostitution that front as massage businesses but are not legit massage businesses):

• Often advertise things like “Beautiful girls,”  “European and Asian beauties,” “sensuous massage.”

• Advertise on “adult” sites that offer strip clubs or sexual services like the ones I found on a site described as a locator for strip clubs which lists 57 “massage parlors” operating in Chicago.

• Are often open 24 hours a day or have late evening hours (beyond 8pm).

• May employ massage therapists without Illinois Massage Therapy licenses.

• Tend to have covered windows which are not visible from the street.

• Provide “happy endings” or sexual services along with or instead of a legitimate massage.

How to Recognize Legitimate Massage Businesses

• Tend to advertise things like “Licensed Massage Therapists,” “Members of AMTA or ABMP”NCBTMB,” “Pain Relief,” “Therapeutic Massage.”

• Have ads that do not mention anything about the massage therapists’ looks or clothing.

• Tend to have more standard business hours, say from 10am to 8pm.

• Do not provide sexual services of any kind.

• Will respond by ending a massage session, if the client is sexually inappropriate or asks for sexual services of any kind.

Note: The list of behaviors for legit and non-legit massage businesses is not a hard and fast rule. Some legit massage businesses may have hours later than 8pm and some non-legit massage businesses may advertise pain relief as a way to camouflage their real services. This is a big part of why it is so difficult to prosecute and differentiate between the “parlors” and legit massage businesses.

So what can you do if you think there is a massage “parlor” (aka non-legitimate massage business) operating near you?  You can report the business to the City of Chicago. There are two main ways to report a massage business you think may not be legitimate: anonymously or via your Alderman’s office.

Reporting Suspicious Massage Businesses Anonymously

The advantage of this reporting method is that you can be anonymous. The disadvantage is that you don’t have an easy way to track the response and resolution of your complaint.

1. Call 311. You do not need to provide your name or contact information.

2. Provide the name of the business, the address and the reason you believe it is not a legitimate business or that you think the business should be inspected.

3. Check the business operator’s Massage Establishment License status to see if they have a license or if the license has been revoked here.

Reporting Suspicious Massage Businesses Via Alderman

1. Call or visit your Alderman’s office. Tell the staff at your alderman’s office that you want to ledge a formal complaint or investigation into a suspicious massage business.

2. Provide the name of the business, the address and the reason you believe it is not a legitimate business or that you think the business should be inspected.

3. You can keep in touch with the staff of your alderman’s office  to follow up on the progress of your complaint.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Chicago City Council

I don’t know about you, but I am getting pretty exhausted by the ups and downs of this amendment to the Chicago Massage Establishment Act process. (More info from my previous posts here and here.) After all the hooplala about the amendment being voted on  in the Chicago City Council meeting on May 12….nothing happened. Well, not nothing, but the amendment did not come up for a vote and there was no word anywhere about the City Council meeting until today.

According to Alderman Moore’s Ward City Council Report, “You might recall from my last City Council report that I delayed a vote on a misguided piece of legislation that restricted the ability of “massage establishments” to operate in business districts.  Fortunately, this legislation did not come up for a vote at this City Council meeting, and I’m told discussions are underway to amend the proposal to make it far less onerous.  I will keep you apprised of this legislation, as well.”

UPDATE: The latest word from AMTA, as of May 15, 2010, is that the amendment did not come up for a vote and this may be viewed as a tentative win.

Thanks to each of you who contacted Chicago officials to voice your opposition to the proposed zoning amendment. The time you took to do this was worthy of the investment. At this time, we’ve stopped the amendment from going to a vote. Your emails and phone calls to city alderman have been heard.

At the same time, according to AMTA, there is still opportunity for this misguided piece of legislation to be reintroduced for full City Council vote on June 9th or any City Council Meeting between then and May 2011 when the new City Council is seated. The Zoning Committee needs only 48 hours notice to the City Clerks office to have the proposed amendment put on the City Council Agenda.

Therefore, the AMTA-IL Government Relations Committee will continue to dialogue with the City to effectively have the proposed amendment tabled (meaning it would not be reintroduced again). The AMTA is also expanding partnerships with City officials to ensure that the application process for a massage therapy business license is fortified and preemptive in an effort to mitigate illicit activity. AMTA will also continue to develop and bolster the relationships forged among other allied healthcare professions and the small business communities that have a stake in this issue.

I will keep you up to date as I learn more. For now, if you are so inclined, thank Alderman Moore for his efforts to make this amendment less damaging to legitimate massage businesses in Chicago!

Alderman Joe Moore  email: ward49@cityofchicago.org

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Used Car Lot
Is this where you want to go for your massage? Image by dumin via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I was in error when I wrote last month that the city of Chicago had defeated the amendment to the Massage Establishment Act. According to the American Massage Therapy Therapy Association (AMTA). The amendment was not defeated, it was tabled for a vote on May 12. So, once again I am calling on you to take a few minutes or email or call your Alderman/woman. I am providing the latest info from the AMTA’s website below along with contact info for Chicago alderman. (Read my original blog post about this issue  here.)

Say “NO” to restrictive zoning! Say YES to better licensing and enforcement!!

It is rare in the Chicago City Council that an alderman gets an ordinance out of committee, only to have it blocked on the floor of the city council as happened on April 14th. Invoking an absolute right of parliamentary rule and exercising tremendous amount of political courage, Aldermen Joe Moore (49th Ward), Mary Ann Smith (48th Ward) and Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) joined together to “defer and publish”. . . Kudos to Moore, Smith and Reilly! The ordinance will come up for a full vote again at the next Chicago City Council meeting on May 12th. All 50 aldermen in the city of Chicago must hear from us!

The amendment is now slated to come up again for a full vote before the full Chicago City Council on Wednesday, May 12th to immediately enact the ordinance.

WE CAN STILL STOP THIS AMENDMENT, BUT YOU MUST ACT TODAY!

Before Tuesday, May 11, please call, e-mail and write to the alderman where you live, work or patronize a massage therapy clinic !

We really need YOUR help, fellow Chicagoans! Please take just a few minutes to call or email your alderman or alderwoman today. Ask them to support legitimate, licensed massage therapists and local economies citywide and Vote NO to this amendment to the zoning ordinance!

Here is a sample email from the AMTA you can cut and paste or use and modify in your own words:

“As a client of a legitimate massage therapy business and your constituent in the (#) Ward, I am writing to voice my opposition to the recent amendment to the City of Chicago Zoning Ordinance that would redistrict “Massage Establishments” out of B-1 and B-2 zoning districts to B-3 and “C” zoning districts as sponsored by Alderman Ray Suarez of the 31st ward.

While I applaud the alderman’s effort to address the problems of illicit activity, the current direction is misguided. First, the amendment is confusing licensed massage therapy with prostitution and adult entertainment. It clearly discriminates against legitimate massage therapists and businesses that offer licensed massage therapy as a primary practice or ancillary service. Further, it is the ONLY professional service that is being singled out. Could illicit activity not happen in a spa, salon or doctor’s office?

Second, licensed massage therapy is recognized as a legitimate profession by the National League of Cities, of which Chicago is a member. It is a licensed profession in the State of Illinois that is protected by The Massage Licensing Act. This over-arching attempt by government to move practitioners and consumers of licensed massage therapy into zoning districts that strike no parity with the needs of small business owners and consumers sends a message that Chicago is out of touch. It communicates that Chicago is unfriendly to small businesses and unsympathetic to those desiring close proximity to the small businesses that serve and support their local economies.

Third, the amendment as proposed, still does not address the issue of mitigating illicit activity; it merely codifies illegal activity, by moving it slightly away from the periphery of public view and flat-out sends a skewed message that the city is not in fact interested in eradicating this kind of crime.

Since the amendment was passed out of committee on April 12th, overt efforts and attempts by the American Massage Therapy Association-Illinois Chapter have been made to reach a fair and amenable solution, including the draft of a Fair Practice Act and a Model Ordinance. Today, we all stand in solidarity with many local chambers of commerce, other allied professionals and consumers.

This matter is scheduled to come before the City Council on May 12th, 2010. I am requesting that you allow common sense to prevail, exercise the same political courage of Aldermen Moore, Smith (48) and Reilly, and that you vote NO to this amendment.

************************************************************************************************************

Feel free to cut and paste our sample email or write your own. I appreciate your help on this important issue!

City of Chicago Alderman Names and Emails by Ward

1st Ward Proco Joe Moreno ward01@cityofchicago.org
2nd Ward Robert Fioretti ward02@cityofchicago.org
3rd Ward Pat Dowell Pat.Dowell@cityofchicago.org
4th Ward Toni Preckwinkle tpreckwinkle@cityofchicago.org
5th Ward Leslie Hairston lhairston@cityofchicago.org
6th Ward Freddrenna Lyle flyle@cityofchicago.org
7th Ward Sandi Jackson Sandi.Jackson@cityofchicago.org
8th Ward Michelle Harris mharris@cityofchicago.org
9th Ward Anthony Beale abeale@cityofchicago.org
10th Ward John Pope jpope@cityofchicago.org
11th Ward James Balcer jbalcer@cityofchicago.org
12th Ward George Cardenas ward12@cityofchicago.org
13th Ward Frank Olivo (Zoning Committee Member) folivo@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 581-8000  City Hall Phone: (312) 744-3076
14th Ward Edward Burke (Zoning Committee Member) eburke@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-471-1414  City Hall Phone: 312-744-3380
15th Ward Toni Foulkes Toni.Foulkes@cityofchicago.org
16th Ward JoAnn Thompson JoAnn.Thompson@cityofchicago.org
17th Ward Latasha Thomas (Zoning Committee Member) lrthomas@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-723-0908 City Hall Phone: 312-744-7738
18th Ward Lona Lane ward18@cityofchicago.org
19th Ward Virginia Rugai vrugai@cityofchicago.org
20th Ward Willie Cochran Willie.Cochran@cityofchicago.org
21st Ward Howard Brookins ward21@cityofchicago.org
22nd Ward Ricardo Munoz rmunoz@cityofchicago.org
23rd Ward Michael Zalewski mzalewski@cityofchicago.org
24th Ward Sharon Dixon Sharon.Dixon@cityofchicago.org
25th Ward Daniel Solis (Zoning Committee Chair) dsolis@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 523-4100 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6845
26th Ward Roberto Maldonado Contact by Phone 773 395-0143
27th Ward Walter Burnett wburnett@cityofchicago.org
28th Ward Ed Smith (Zoning Committee Member) ehsmith@cityofchicago.org
29th Ward Deborah Graham Contact by Phone (312) 744-8805
30th Ward Ariel Reboyras ward30@cityofchicago.org
31st Ward Ray Suarez (Zoning Committee Member that sponsored amendment) rsuarez@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 486-6488 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6102
32nd Ward Scott Waguespack ward32@cityofchicago.org
33rd Ward Richard Mell rmell@cityofchicago.org
34th Ward Carrie Austin (Zoning Committee Member) caustin@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 928-6961 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6820
35th Ward Ray Colon (Zoning Committee Member) ward35@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 365-3535 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6835
36th Ward John Rice Contact by Phone 773)622-3232
37th Ward Emma Mitts emitts@cityofchicago.org
38th Ward Thomas Allen (Zoning Committee Member) tallen@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 545-3838 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6811
39th Ward Margaret Laurino (Zoning Committee Member) mlaurino@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 736-5594 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-7242
40th Ward Patrick O’Connor pjoconnor@cityofchicago.org
41st Ward Brian Doherty bdoherty@cityofchicago.org
42nd Ward Brendan Reilly Brendan.Reilly@cityofchicago.org
43rd Ward Vi Daley (Zoning Committee Member) vdaley@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 327-9111 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-3071
44th Ward Thomas Tunney ttunney@cityofchicago.org
45th Ward Patrick Levar plevar@cityofchicago.org
46th Ward Helen Shiller hshiller@cityofchicago.org
47th Ward Eugene Schulter (Zoning Committee Member) ward47@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-348-8400 City Hall Phone: 312-744-3180
48th Ward Mary Ann Smith msmith@cityofchicago.org
49th Ward Joe Moore ward49@cityofchicago.org
50th Ward Bernard Stone (Zoning Committee Member) bstone@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-764-5050 City Hall Phone: 312-744-6855
Note: Ald. Bernard Stone (50th Ward)  is the only Committee member that was opposed to the ordinance.  Thank you Alderman Stone!!!!!

A Better Idea For Massage In Chicago

In the meantime, the AMTA-IL Government Relations Committee is finalizing language for a model ordinance that would require massage therapy establishments to submit proof of state licensure when applying for business licenses or renewal (currently not done), and levying substantial fines for violations (also not currently done). Members of the Zoning Committee and a City Commissioner want to partner with the AMTA to address the issues of illicit activity in their wards without discriminating against licensed massage therapists and legitimate massage therapy establishments.

The AMTA proposal is designed to protect the public from illegal massage “parlors” without adversely effecting the business of legitimate massage therapists. But this proposal will likely fall on deaf ears if the current nonsensical and damaging amendment to the Massage Establishment Act passes on Wednesday, May 12.

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Thank You
Image by jaredchapman via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Thanks to the overwhelmingly negative reaction of massage therapists and the public, including those of you on this blog that wrote or emailed your alderman, today Chicago City Council defeated the proposed amendment to the Massage Establishment Act.

Link to Chicago Tribune  article about today’s vote here.

Thank you so very very much for taking the time to make your concerns heard. The AMTA and the ABMP are continuing to work with our aldermen to address the issue of massage “parlors” without causing harm to legitimate massage therapy businesses.

Thanks you, thank you, thank you!

Now back to wellness, stress management, nutrition, fitness and ergonomic topics!

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

It is with a very sad and heavy heart that I write this post. This morning, the City of Chicago’s Committee on Zoning passed the amendment to the zoning ordinance that would restrict  “massage establishments” to B-3 and C Zones despite testimony from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), a representative from Massage Envy and other Chicago massage therapists.

The amendment is now slated to for a full vote before the full Chicago City Council on Wednesday, April 14th that would immediately enact the ordinance.

The AMTA Illinois Chapter and I, and all the licensed massage therapists I know, continue to strongly oppose the amendment. The amendment is discriminatory and does not address the issue of illicit activity, the purported impetus of the original zoning amendment. And the worst part yet is the amendment does not allow legitimate massage establishments to operate in B-1 and B-2 districts (safe and busy retail districts where you can now enjoy your massages). It is still unclear if this means that 100’s of legitimate massage business in Chicago will have to relocate or go out of business!!!

WE CAN STILL STOP THIS AMENDMENT, BUT YOU MUST ACT TODAY! Time is running out! We have less than 36 hours for all fifty Chicago Alderman to hear us loud and clear.

On Tuesday April 13, please call, e-mail and write to the alderman where you live, work or patronize a massage therapy clinic !

We really need YOUR help, fellow Chicagoans! Please take just a few minutes to call or email your alderman or alderwoman today. Ask them to support legitimate, licensed massage therapists and local economies citywide and Vote NO to this amendment to the zoning ordinance!

Here is a sample email you can cut and paste or use and modify in your own words:

“As a client of a legitimate massage therapy business, I implore you to oppose the amendment to limit massage therapy establishments to only B-3 and C Zoning Districts.  I value the health care benefits of massage and do not want my legitimate massage therapist penalized for the actions of a few illegal massage parlor operators. I visit my massage therapist in a safe convenient location. I do not want to have to travel to an industrial corridor to get massage therapy. Approving this amendment to the Massage Establishment Act will put a huge financial strain on legitimate massage therapy businesses if they are forced to relocate, would make it unnecessarily difficult for new massage therapists to open a business, and could increase the city’s unemployment by putting legitimate massage therapists out of work.  It will not damage illegal massage parlors–it will only make it easier for them sell their illegal services in less populated areas. And it will hurt legitimate massage businesses and make it less safe for them to provide therapeutic, legitimate massage therapy to tax paying citizens like me. Please oppose this amendment.”

Feel free to cut and paste our sample email or write your own. I appreciate your help on this important issue!

City of Chicago Alderman Names and Emails by Ward

1st Ward Proco Joe Moreno ward01@cityofchicago.org
2nd Ward Robert Fioretti ward02@cityofchicago.org
3rd Ward Pat Dowell Pat.Dowell@cityofchicago.org
4th Ward Toni Preckwinkle tpreckwinkle@cityofchicago.org
5th Ward Leslie Hairston lhairston@cityofchicago.org
6th Ward Freddrenna Lyle flyle@cityofchicago.org
7th Ward Sandi Jackson Sandi.Jackson@cityofchicago.org
8th Ward Michelle Harris mharris@cityofchicago.org
9th Ward Anthony Beale abeale@cityofchicago.org
10th Ward John Pope jpope@cityofchicago.org
11th Ward James Balcer jbalcer@cityofchicago.org
12th Ward George Cardenas ward12@cityofchicago.org
13th Ward Frank Olivo (Zoning Committee Member) folivo@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 581-8000  City Hall Phone: (312) 744-3076
14th Ward Edward Burke (Zoning Committee Member) eburke@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-471-1414  City Hall Phone: 312-744-3380
15th Ward Toni Foulkes Toni.Foulkes@cityofchicago.org
16th Ward JoAnn Thompson JoAnn.Thompson@cityofchicago.org
17th Ward Latasha Thomas (Zoning Committee Member) lrthomas@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-723-0908 City Hall Phone: 312-744-7738
18th Ward Lona Lane ward18@cityofchicago.org
19th Ward Virginia Rugai vrugai@cityofchicago.org
20th Ward Willie Cochran Willie.Cochran@cityofchicago.org
21st Ward Howard Brookins ward21@cityofchicago.org
22nd Ward Ricardo Munoz rmunoz@cityofchicago.org
23rd Ward Michael Zalewski mzalewski@cityofchicago.org
24th Ward Sharon Dixon Sharon.Dixon@cityofchicago.org
25th Ward Daniel Solis (Zoning Committee Chair) dsolis@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 523-4100 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6845
26th Ward Roberto Maldonado Contact by Phone 773 395-0143
27th Ward Walter Burnett wburnett@cityofchicago.org
28th Ward Ed Smith (Zoning Committee Member) ehsmith@cityofchicago.org
29th Ward Deborah Graham Contact by Phone (312) 744-8805
30th Ward Ariel Reboyras ward30@cityofchicago.org
31st Ward Ray Suarez (Zoning Committee Member that sponsored amendment) rsuarez@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 486-6488 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6102
32nd Ward Scott Waguespack ward32@cityofchicago.org
33rd Ward Richard Mell rmell@cityofchicago.org
34th Ward Carrie Austin (Zoning Committee Member) caustin@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 928-6961 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6820
35th Ward Ray Colon (Zoning Committee Member) ward35@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 365-3535 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6835
36th Ward John Rice Contact by Phone 773)622-3232
37th Ward Emma Mitts emitts@cityofchicago.org
38th Ward Thomas Allen (Zoning Committee Member) tallen@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 545-3838 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6811
39th Ward Margaret Laurino (Zoning Committee Member) mlaurino@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 736-5594 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-7242
40th Ward Patrick O’Connor pjoconnor@cityofchicago.org
41st Ward Brian Doherty bdoherty@cityofchicago.org
42nd Ward Brendan Reilly Brendan.Reilly@cityofchicago.org
43rd Ward Vi Daley (Zoning Committee Member) vdaley@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 327-9111 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-3071
44th Ward Thomas Tunney ttunney@cityofchicago.org
45th Ward Patrick Levar plevar@cityofchicago.org
46th Ward Helen Shiller hshiller@cityofchicago.org
47th Ward Eugene Schulter (Zoning Committee Member) ward47@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-348-8400 City Hall Phone: 312-744-3180
48th Ward Mary Ann Smith msmith@cityofchicago.org
49th Ward Joe Moore ward49@cityofchicago.org
50th Ward Bernard Stone (Zoning Committee Member) bstone@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-764-5050 City Hall Phone: 312-744-6855
Note: Ald. Bernard Stone (50th Ward)  is the only Committee member that was opposed to the ordinance.  Thank you Alderman Stone!!!!!

A Better Idea For Massage In Chicago

In the meantime, the AMTA-IL Government Relations Committee is finalizing language for a model ordinance that would require massage therapy establishments to submit proof of state licensure when applying for business licenses or renewal (currently not done), and levying substantial fines for violations (also not currently done). Members of the Zoning Committee and a City Commissioner want to partner with the AMTA to address the issues of illicit activity in their wards without discriminating against licensed massage therapists and legitimate massage therapy establishments.

The AMTA proposal is designed to protect the public from illegal massage “parlors” without adversely effecting the business of legitimate massage therapists. But this proposal will likely fall on deaf ears if the current nonsensical and damaging amendment to the Massage Establishment Act passes on Wednesday.

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