In 1978,a public feud erupted between the owners of the Parliament House, and owners of the new opened San Juan/Grand Central. Here is a letter written by Michael Hodge and Bill Miller, published in a 1978 edition of David Magazine.
OPEN LETTER TO THE GAY COMMUNITY
After sitting back and taking all the abusive and slanderous allegations being made against the Parliament House, its staff and management by the operators of the competitive business in Orlando, we have decided the time has come to speak up, tell the truth and set the record straight about what is going on.
For David readers who have seen advertising and articles as well as gossip in another Florida gay publication, you will be able to understand the followig comments.
First of all, in the most recent issue of that publication, there is a grossly editorialized interview with a man who calls himself "owner" of the competitive bussiness in Orlando. At this time, I would like to say that the publisher of that magazine is also involved in management of that business which will explain why there are 11 pages of advertising for it and a club in Tampa whose operator is also involved financially with the Orlando business, an obvious "conflict of interest." Secondly, the downtown competition is owned by a straight Orlando attorney who bought the business about 3 years ago and recently attempted to sell it to this group of straights and gays from South Florida. The sale has not been completed and the liquor license is still owned by the attorney. According to the Florida State Beverage Department, the license "has charges pending against it and cannot be transferred from its real owner."
One of the prospective purchasers to of the business had applied for the license, but because of charges of narcotics violations, a felony, filed in South Florida against him, the license must remain under the current owner until these charges are cleared. If he is convicted, he will never be able to hold an alcoholic beverage license in the State of Florida.
My partner and lover, Mike Hodge and I have been owners of gay businesses in Central Florida since 1968. In 1975 we had an opportunity to buy the Parliament House Motor Inn and did so, opening the doors to the new resort on June 10, 1975. By this time the staff had grown to about 50 people, who all worked to build the new club to its present high standards. Many thousands of dollars and hours were expended on renovating the motel and night club which had been neglected for nearly two years before we bought it. To this day, we are still spending money to constantly improve the quality of the club and motel. We are the only gay resort to have closed circuit color T.V. in every room showing some of Hollywood's best movies each night and at no additional cost to our guests. We have always tried to give our guests the best in a quality place to stay and enjoy themselves.
In the other publication's interview I was accused of charging Kenneth Bray to enter the Parliament House and "had a bad attitude about it." This is an outright lie. In the first place, I have never charged anyone at the door, that is the job of my doorman who is hired for that purpose. Secondly, I don't even know the man, have never met him or talked with him. I only know him from police newsfilms on television when he was arrested on a South Florida warrant charging him with narcotics violations. As a businessman, if I may use his own remarks, I would say Kenneth Bray is "very disgusting" and only out to make a fast buck off the gay community.
It is a general feeling among Parliament House personnel and many customers that the only reason this group of people opened the business downtown was in an effort to put the Parliament House out of business. Published F.B.I, reports already indicated that certain persons connected with the downtown business are being investigated for their possible part in a fire last November which nearly destroyed El Goya, our other club in Tampa. When we opened there, it was because the people of Tampa asked us to, not because we wanted to hurt anyone else's business. We also staffed El Goya with our own people as well as employees who were already there. Our competiters here, have sent people to the Parliament House continuously offering members of my staff more money and filling their heads with pipe dreams to persuade them to leave my employ. Out of more than 50 employees, only 3 left the Parliament House, already one has gotten fed up with their bull and quit. They have had a tremendous changeover in staff since their openingâ€”a little over 2 months ago. Some of their former employees have told us they left because they were not being paid for sometimes 3 weeks or were fired because they did not sell enough! drinks.
Mr. Bray has accused me of promoting anti-gay publicity against the business downtown. Once again that is an outright lie. If we did anything like that, we would be hurting ourselves and we have much, too much invested for anything that stupid. Mr. Bray seems to think we have turned suppliers against him by "people making their phone calls and various other types of things" to fight against him. If the city turned against him, it's because he brought it upon himself by contacting all the news media to do big stories the week before opening on the fact that the old hotel was going to be turned gay. This upset a lot of citizens in the community and started people calling city offices complaining it would "ruin the downtown area." I feel that Mr. Bray himself was the publicity seeker who stirred up the entire city.
Of Mr. Bray's employees, he states that they are "mannerly and courteous, but from some of the incidents that have occurred downtown, I find that hard to believe. A prominent man who has been a good customer of mine for years, was recently severely beaten and thrown down the stairs there by one of Mr. Bray's employees. This type of incident has been going on since the place opened. The police have been called there numerous times to break up such disturbances. Just this past week a young girl was raped there and abducted to a nearby town. This is not rumor, it was in the papers. Their manager came to the Parliament House earlier this week and for no reason walked up to one of my customers and started to attack him. The bar manager was asked to leave the property and was reminded that he was not downtown and that we didn't like that kind of activity here. Customers have also said that some of their bartenders and waiters as well as management have treated them very rudely while visiting there.
I can only say that when people ask us about the competitioin, we simply suggest that if they have not been there, they should go and see for themselves what it is like. Usually the people come back to the Parliament House disgusted because they find the club not to be as advertised and the
staff and management very discourteous.
I just feel it is a shame that people of the supposed business calibre of these people have to resort to dirty, false advertising and crooked tactics to try to make a failing business succeed. People know the Parliament House is a quality place to stay where they can relax and enjoy themselves without worry of harrassment, fights, thefts, rape and other such things which occur regularly at the downtown club. If the Parliament House were an "old truck stop that is blown out it's tires" as Mr. Bray so unkindly stated, I don't think Bob Damron in his guide to gay businesses would have said of the Parliament House, "this super complex is one of America's finest." The Parliament House has received several outstanding awards from the gay community as well as from the city of Orlando.
In closing I would like to say the staff and owners of the Parliament House believe that only you, the gay people, will be the judge.
William G. Miller and Mike Hodge