, Salem, MA

Local News

June 13, 2007

Witches: Trouble in cards if psychic fairs unchecked

SALEM - Several psychics are urging city councilors to change some of Salem's long-debated proposed fortunetelling regulations or risk driving the witches out of the Witch City.

Councilors, however, say they've heard enough and are ready to vote on a psychic-licensing ordinance tomorrow night.

The group of psychics - including Salem's official witch, Laurie Cabot - wants tougher restrictions on psychic fairs and the interloping clairvoyants who they say lure business away from group members' shops during the crucial Halloween tourist season.

"They get away with coming in, setting up their tents, and 20 psychics pay one fee," said Laurie Stathopoulos, the owner of Crow Haven Corner. "I think the city deserves more."

The group, known as the Witches' Public Awareness League, has sent letters to city councilors, and members say they may sue the city and take their business elsewhere if the changes aren't made.

"Salem's psychics and witches have promoted the good will of Salem around the globe, year after year, with a level of high standards," the letter reads. "It is in everyone's best interest for this to continue."

Stathopoulos said the psychic fairs should be set at least a few blocks away from local shops.

"We might even go out of business because of that," Stathopoulos said of downtown psychic shops. "We can't compete with 40 psychics on the street."

City councilors have scheduled the final vote on the new ordinance for tomorrow night.

According to a letter sent to councilors this week and signed by seven people, the group wants the city to enact a $25-per-psychic fee for each day of a fair and limit the number of psychics allowed at such a gathering. The group also wants the city to forbid psychics from conducting readings out of their own homes.

Under the regulations the council will vote on, fortunetellers would first have to undergo a criminal background check and either live in or operate a business in the city for at least a year. They'd also have to wear an ID badge during business hours. Operating without a license would be punishable by a $100 fine.

Stores would only be able to license up to five readers. Psychic fairs, however, could license up to 20 fortunetellers, but no more than 10 would be allowed to read at one time. Police working the detail at a psychic fair would be responsible for enforcing the number of soothsayers working simultaneously.

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