Mount Carmel OKs ordinance requiring background checks for psychics, palmists

Jeff Bobo • May 29, 2013 at 8:11 AM

MOUNT CARMEL — Professional psychics probably already saw this coming, but in the future they will be required to have a background check and a permit to practice their trade in Mount Carmel.

An ordinance establishing those guidelines was approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on first reading Tuesday evening.

Occupations affected by the proposed regulations include fortune tellers, clairvoyants, hypnotists, spiritualists, palmists, phrenologists and handwriting analysts for the purpose of fortune telling.

Mount Carmel currently doesn’t have anyone performing those trades, although the town has had fortune tellers operating on Main Street in the past.

The ordinance will require persons wishing to do business in Mount Carmel in those occupations, and their employees, to apply for a permit.

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and undergo a fingerprinting background check along with any of their employees.

They cannot be currently charged, or convicted within the past 10 years, with any felonies or misdemeanors involving assault, theft, extortion, fraud, bribery, false personage, perjury or gambling.

The ordinance was recommended by Kingsport principal planner Karen Combs, who also serves Mount Carmel’s city planner through a contract with Kingsport.

Combs told the BMA on Tuesday the proposed ordinance mirrors Kingsport’s ordinance that treats clairvoyant and fortune teller permit applications with the same level of scrutiny as alcohol sales permit applicants.

“We felt that in order to protect the citizens that it would be wise to be able to do a background check on individuals,” Combs said. “Normally, in this type of business, they’ll come in, set up shop for two or three months and then leave. What we’re doing here is setting up a permit process so we’ll know who is wanting to come in.”

The first reading was approved 6-1 with Alderman Lean DeBord casting the only no vote.

DeBord noted that alcohol selling establishments aren’t required to have background checks for their employees.

“Normally, clairvoyants are self proprietors or maybe have one individual working with them, and the background checks are what we’re trying to accomplish in order to protect the public,” Combs noted.

DeBord noted, “It seem like we’re picking these people out and setting ourselves up for a lawsuit.”

Combs said, “I’m not an attorney, but I don’t think that you’re picking them out. Clairvoyants aren’t a protected class under the law.”

The BMA will consider the second and final reading of this ordinance when it meets in regular session June 25.

In other business Tuesday, the BMA:

•Approved three resolutions related to participation in Governor’s Highway Safety Office programs. The first was a grant that pays $9,999 for MCPD Chief Mike Campbell’s appointment as regional GHSO law enforcement coordinator, $2,000 for his travel expenses and $3,000 for capital purchases.

The second is a $5,000 GHSO high visibility grant related to DUI enforcement; and the third is a grant that provides $14,985 for DUI enforcement overtime pay and $6,000 for capital purchases.

•Approved a request by two companies that installed decals on police vehicles and fire vehicles to use photos of those vehicles in their advertising. Those companies included Brakes Performance of Chatsworth, Calif., which did the police vehicles, and Griff Paper and Film of Fallsington, Pa., who did the fire vehicles.

•Gave its approval to a request from Volunteer Ruritan of West Carters Valley Road that if it ever ceases to operate as a Ruritan Club the property will revert to the city of Mount Carmel for use as a community center. That agreement had already been made many years ago, but wasn’t reflected in the deed, and the club wanted the BMA’s approval on the record before placing it in the deed.

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