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Tuesday, Jul 30 2013 12:11 PM

'First Look': Councilman talks about Internet cafe concerns

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    Bakersfield City Councilman Russell Johnson talks about Internet cafes on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Bakersfield City Councilman Russell Johnson talked about concerns about Internet cafes Tuesday on "First Look with Scott Cox."

"It's really just illegal gambling happening in a commercial center," Johnson said.

Californian President and CEO Richard Beene asked about the current status of such cafes, as City Attorney Ginny Gennaro has previously said "we believe that Internet cafes, as a general rule, are just a front for conducting illegal gambling acts," according to a previous Californian story.

Johnson said some cases have been prosecuted, and are now on appeal.

"We're in this legal no-man's land" right now, said Johnson, chairman of the city's Safe Neighborhoods and Community Relations Committee.

So in the meantime, Johnson said, the city sends cafes cease and desist letters outlining the city's belief that they are operating illegally, and also notifies landlords in hopes they won't lease to them.

The Californian has previously talked to staff at cafes who have said their businesses are legitimate, and people come to them to use the Internet.

Bakersfield Police officers have also been asked to write their reports while parked outside cafes to monitor any illegal activity, Johnson said. He said the idea is to "make these guys realize they are not welcome in Bakersfield," Johnson said.

The councilman said business people including a dentist and a laundromat owner have complained about the impact of the cafes on their businesses.

 

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