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Bikinis on beach stir up election

Some might wonder what a bikini bar and a mayor's race have to do with each other.

But in this city and in an election marked by nastiness, one has become the most explosive issue in the other.

It all has to do with a bar called Teasers, politely described on its sign as a Gentleman's Club. Teasers opened last month and was shut down 72 hours later by police because its employees dressed too scantily and danced too suggestively.

For weeks, talk has circulated on the campaign trail that Mayor Michael Horan, up for re-election Tuesday, once owned the building that Teasers now occupies and continues to have a financial interest in the business.

Horan stridently denies that, saying he only owned the restaurant that once was located there, but never the property. He has threatened slander lawsuits against those who say he does, and has been at the forefront in efforts to shut Teasers down.

But public records show the mayor is a vice president of a company, Dorel Inc., that until September owned the property at 85 Corey Circle where Teasers is located.

Horan acknowledges his tie to Dorel, but said it does not mean he personally owned property that the corporation owned.

The property was sold to Patricia Eileen Little, records show. The name "Michael J. Horan" is signed on the warranty deed for the property. But the mayor says his son, Michael J. Horan Jr., also a vice president in Dorel, signed that deed. Michael J. Horan Jr.'s signature appears on other papers concerning the sale.

Records also show that Little pays about $1,700 a month to Dorel Inc. for the property, which she in turn has leased to Teasers.

Horan said he and his son had the authority to act for Leo Schwartz, the corporation's sole stock owner. Schwartz, a Canadian businessman, died in September about the time of the transaction, Horan said.

Horan said on Thursday he only worked for Schwartz, selling and managing the property, but was never his partner. He said he draws no salary from Dorel.

Records show Horan also is listed as an officer in six current and former corporations with Schwartz.

Horan said he has been victimized by speculation surrounding his ties to Teasers.

"I'm a dedicated family man," he said this week. "To think I would do anything to discredit myself in the eyes of my children and my grandchildren . . ."

Horan blames his opponent in the mayor's race, George Manthos, a former mayor and the current District 3 commissioner. He says either Manthos or his campaign workers have fanned the rumor fires.

"It has become a smear tactic because of the lack of any issues," Horan said. He said he is disgusted and infuriated by the issue that shows no signs of going away.

On Thursday, he characterized Manthos campaign workers as "vicious, vindictive people who live in a world that sees conspiracy all around them."

He added that if Manthos became mayor, the town would "be in absolute turmoil as it was when he was mayor before."

Manthos, 70, was mayor from 1974 to 1978. He said this week he is not spreading any rumors about Horan's connection with Teasers.

He said he has heard about it when he has campaigned door to door, but contends he has nothing to do with it.

Horan and former Mayor Ron McKenney operated the Corey Avenue Seafood House at 85 Corey Circle from January until August last year. They then sold the business to Little, one of their waitresses, Horan said.

About the same time, Little bought the property from Dorel and began making mortgage payments to that corporation.